Singapore: Record-breaking heatwaves that hit large parts of South and Southeast Asia in April were made “30 times more likely” as a result of human-induced climate change, an international team of scientists said on Wednesday (May 17). The region saw temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) last month, with Bangladesh at its hottest in 50 years, Thailand registering a record 45C and Laos exceeding 42C, causing widespread infrastructure damage and power shortages as well as a spike in heat stroke cases.
A team of scientists with the World Weather Attribution group studied heat and humidity levels in parts of India and Bangladesh, as well as Thailand and Laos, and concluded that they were at least 2C hotter as a result of underlying climate change, which has seen average global temperatures rise 1.2C since 1900.
Humid heatwaves that used to happen once a century in Bangladesh and India are now expected to occur every five years, while the heat in Thailand and Laos would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change, the scientists said.
“The heatwaves were not natural,” said Chaya Vaddhanaphuti, a team member from Chiang Mai University in Thailand, during a media briefing on Wednesday. He said,
Unless we take drastic measures to reduce carbon emissions, heatwave events like this will continue to become more common.
The study showed that in some parts of the region the estimated heat index – which factors in humidity – was close to the “extremely dangerous” level of 54C, posing considerable health risks throughout South and Southeast Asia.
While some parts of the region have put “heat action plans” in place to provide emergency health care and water or shut down schools, others are ill-prepared and have limited access to the resources needed to cope with extreme temperatures, it said.
It remains unclear how many fatalities resulted from the April heatwaves, but extreme temperatures in India have caused at least 24,000 deaths since 1992, with 90% of the country’s total area situated in heat “danger zones”, scholars said last month.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.