Extreme heat in India and Pakistan could claim many lives

/Chinnapong, stock.adobe.com

PARIS – For two months, the inhabitants of India and Pakistan have been experiencing an unprecedented heat wave with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees. Over a billion people are affected. In addition to health problems, serious economic consequences can also be expected.

“This heat wave could kill thousands of people,” warns Robert Rohde of the American institute for climate analysis Berkeley Earth, referring to the high temperatures since March. It will be some time before the exact number of victims, especially among the elderly and the poor, is known.

According to the Indian government, heat-related mortality in India has increased by more than 60% since 1980. More recently, there were heat waves in 2015 and 2019 with many deaths.

The head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Petteri Taalas, speaks of a “cascade of effects” of heat on agriculture and the supply of water and energy. In addition, the air quality deteriorates due to high temperatures and the risk of fire increases.

From the point of view of climatologists, the increase in heat waves in South Asia is a disaster announced. “I’m surprised most people are shocked, even though we’ve been warning them for a long time that disasters like this are coming,” said Camilo Mora, a biologist at the University of Hawaii. “This region of the world and most tropical areas are among the most heat sensitive areas.”

In a widely publicized 2017 study, Mora and his team predicted that by the end of this century, nearly half of the world’s population would be exposed to “deadly heat” for at least 20 days a year.

This also applies if global warming were limited to two degrees compared to the pre-industrial era. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world is currently heading towards a warming of 2.8 degrees. © afp/aerzteblatt.de

Rosemary Rowse

"Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Web maven. Infuriatingly humble creator. Typical tv specialist. Music aficionado. Proud explorer."

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