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Climate Crisis Made Crippling April Heat Wave In South Asia 45 Times More Likely: Scientists

As global average temperatures have risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius compared to the cooler pre-industrial climate, scientists predict West Asia is expected to experience similar heat waves about once every 10 years

Climate crisis made crippling April heatwave in South Asia 45 times more likely: Scientists
Over 166,000 people died as a result of heatwaves between 1998 and 2017, as per the World Health Organization

New Delhi: Annu Mishra kept her modest food stall shut as temperatures in Odisha’s Bhubaneswar remained above 40 degrees Celsius for 17 consecutive days in April. This streak was the longest since 1969, severely impacting health and livelihoods. “The crippling heat made it extremely difficult to stand near the gas stove,” said 51-year-old Mr Mishra, noting that the only time her food stall remained shut for such a long duration was during Cyclone Fani in 2019.

Leading climate scientists on Wednesday (May 15), citing historical weather data said,

Similar heatwaves could occur once every 30 years and they have already become about 45 times more likely due to climate change.

The team of scientists, called the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group, emphasized that heatwaves intensified by climate change are making life much tougher for people living in poverty across Asia.

Also Read: Heat And Heart: There Is A Link

Amid a prevailing but weakening El Nino and the increasing concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, millions of people in South Asia endured brutal heat in April.

Record-smashing maximum temperatures were logged in parts of India, prompting health warnings from government agencies and some states to suspend in-person classes in schools.

The oppressive heat also shattered temperature records in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar.

In West Asia, including Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, April heatwaves with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius have become more frequent due to climate change.

Also Read: How Is Climate Change Impacting Our Health?

As global average temperatures have risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius compared to the cooler pre-industrial climate, scientists predict that West Asia is expected to experience similar heatwaves about once every 10 years. If warming reaches 2 degrees Celsius, similar heatwaves will occur about once every five years.

Heatwaves can be deadly, with the elderly and children particularly at risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. According to the World Health Organization, more than 166,000 people died as a result of heatwaves between 1998 and 2017.

Extreme temperatures can also impact economies. People are less productive during hot weather, even if they work indoors, while children struggle to learn in extreme heat.

In Bhubaneswar, Mr Mishra suffered a loss of Rs 20,000 due to keeping her food stall shut during the prolonged heat wave spell (16 days), the longest since April 2016.

Mr Mishra, who is also a member of the local street hawkers’ association, said,

Other street vendors were allowed to sell their produce and articles between 6 am and 10 am in the morning and 6 pm and 10 pm in the evening, resulting in massive losses for them. Many suffered heatstrokes.

Also Read: Climate Change And Increase In Diarrhoeal Disease – What’s The Connection?

Experts suggest that the population aged above 65 and below 15 needs special attention in terms of preparedness to reduce the impact of extreme heat on health.

Vishwas Chitale, senior program lead at the Council for Energy Environment and Water said,

Cities in India need to identify vulnerable populations expeditiously and prepare heat action plans accordingly.

The WWA emphasized that some countries, such as India, have comprehensive heat action plans in place.

Yet, to protect some of the most vulnerable people, these plans must be expanded with mandatory regulations, such as workplace interventions for all workers to address heat stress.

(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 in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. 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 populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation 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 well-being, 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 pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual 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 diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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