In Manipur, people tend not be serious on climate change issues, specifically the impact on agriculture and crop production as a direct consequence of changing climatic pattern. The issue is more pronounced in Manipur, a state having deficit rainfall these past years and the temperature is steadily soaring up to 40 degree Celsius.
By Salam Rajesh
GlobeScan’s ‘Healthy & Sustainable Living’ (2022) report reflects on a growing consumerism-based lifestyle that deviates from healthy living, and whereupon the report reaches out to people in general with this pervasive statement: “Enabling consumers to live more healthy and sustainable lives is not only crucial for our collective future, but also an enormous opportunity for brands to build more trust, loyalty, and engagement with consumers”.
Everywhere across the globe, the current trend is sky-rocketing prices on consumer items, with even vegetable prices crossing the limit in many cases. Even in a non-descript place like Manipur, more precisely in the capital city Imphal, vegetable items cost more than thrice their original prices – making consumers frown on making the purchase. Then, edible oil cost is going beyond the limit, more than double the original price within a year’s time-scale. In short, living cost is rising enormously by the year.
On this note, GlobeScan’s report says, “The cost-of-living crisis is affecting consumers’ ability to access healthy and sustainable living. Soaring inflation across much of the world is making it more difficult for people to afford to live healthier and more sustainable lifestyles, with consumers across several markets reporting less willingness to pay more for responsible products and brands while most perceive of environmentally friendly products as more expensive and potentially out of reach. Now more than ever, brands need to make sustainable options more accessible”.
This observation does reflect on the buying power of the average consumer whereupon the common citizen would not be going for the consumer items labeled as ‘organic’ as the price difference between the normal vegetable and the organic-branded items are fairly large.
The supermarkets, and fashionable malls, are showcasing organic items as ‘healthy, hygienic’ foods, whereas, the price difference and reach of the average citizen does not encourage bulk buying of the more fashionable foods. This reason does give enough reasoning for the average buyers to go back to the old markets – the street vendors with their original price-tags.
Going a bit further, GlobeScan’s report reflects on the food and water crises that are said to be impacted by the processes of ‘climate change’ – give or take the debates on this issue. Climate debates speak of the human induced impacts on micro-climatic regimes wherein the first casualties are the farmers when rains fail and droughts hit crop production.
On this note, the report says, “Our children are driving a sense of urgency about the climate. Global concern about climate change is at an all-time high and a majority of people living with children under the age of 18 say their children are very worried about environmental problems and climate change. People living with children who are worried are more likely than the average to have a strong desire to live sustainably and are much more likely to have made major changes to do so, suggesting the youngest generations are having direct and indirect impacts on consumer behavior”.
Climate behavior and the consciousness on the impending impacts of changing climatic conditions worldwide is a growing concern across boundaries and the call is for a generalized effort in containing the factors responsible for inducing such impacts.
The report says that ‘people want to do their part, but progress is slow’. It further analyses the reasoning that, “Although there have been slow but steady increases in frequency of a range of sustainable behaviors compared to before the pandemic, there is a persistent gap between the desire that people have to make major changes to their lifestyles and significant action taken. But the intention is there, with as many as two-thirds claiming to be willing to reduce their consumption by half to prevent environmental damage and climate change, especially among those with worried children at home and among those who say they have been personally affected by climate change – suggesting this willingness to take action will increase over time”.
So, that’s it. The debate is there and the perceived impacts of changing climatic conditions is said to influence changing lifestyles and food preferences. When crops fail due to erratic rainfall or changing rainfall pattern and the decrease in ground water recharge, the resulting fallout impacts upon food availability and the marginalized sections are the first to fall prey to climate change impacts.
The report is critical on this point stating that, “Consumers are highly receptive to information about sustainable products. Contradicting worries about a consumer backlash, results clearly show that those who have been exposed to information about the environmental benefits of products in a range of categories tend to be mostly trusting of the information – and most also say environmental friendliness plays a role in their purchase decisions. However, the reach of sustainability messages has been limited, with only half of consumers saying they have seen, read, or heard at least ‘some’ information on sustainability for a range of product types – suggesting communications should be ramped up to reach more consumers”.
This is still a long way to go in a place like Manipur where people tend not be serious on climate change issues, more specifically the impact on agriculture and crop production as a direct consequence of changing climatic pattern, more pronounced in the stated report that Manipur is having deficit rainfall these past years and the temperature is steadily soaring up to 40 degree Celsius.
The catchword in the key messages of the report has this to say, “We need to make sustainable living feel inevitable. Only about half of people believe that it is at least probable that most people will live sustainable lifestyles within the coming decade. However, those who believe that sustainability is probable in the near future are much more likely than others to feel compelled to live more sustainably themselves, and to have taken major steps to change their habits in the past year. Making inevitability – and desirability – of sustainable lifestyles an integral part of the narrative going forward may help accelerate more systemic behavior change”.
(The writer looks at environmental stories through the journalistic lens. He can be reached at [email protected])