New Delhi: Global temperatures and the frequency and intensity of heatwaves will rise in the 21st century as a result of climate change, says the World Health Organization. It further explains that high air temperatures can affect human health and lead to additional deaths. In its latest report, Greenpeace India has analysed data acquired from Accuweather to study the average increase in temperatures over the month of April in 10 capital cities of India, with an aim to show the increasing intensity of the global warming-induced crisis. As expected, cities located in the plains and hilly regions have shown a drastic increase in the intensity of heatwaves, while coastal cities have fared relatively better, the evidence shows.
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Here Are The Findings Of The Greenpeace India Study:
1. New Delhi recorded the highest maximum temperature range of 40-44°C in the month of April 2022 compared to 40-42°C in April 2021. The city recorded temperatures above 40°C after April 6, whereas the same was observed after April 12, in 2021. The city experienced these temperatures for 20 days in 2022 as opposed to 9 days in 2021.
2. In Jaipur, while the maximum temperature range of 40-43°C was recorded across both years, the city experienced temperatures above 40°C after April 1, in 2022 compared to April 12, in 2021. Also, the city experienced these temperatures for 26 days in 2022 compared to 11 days in 2021.
3. Lucknow recorded the maximum temperature range of 40-42°C in April 2021, compared to 40-45°C in April 2022. A temperature above 40°C was recorded from April 1, in 2022 as opposed to April 5, in 2021. These high temperatures were experienced for 27 days in 2022 compared to 11 days in 2021.
4. Shimla, too, saw an increase in the maximum temperature range from 40-42°C in April 2021 to 40-44°C in April 2022. The city recorded temperatures above 40°C after April 6, in 2022 as compared to April 13, in 2021. Such high temperatures were experienced by citizens of the hill station for 17 days in 2022, an increase from 6 days in 2021.
5. Similar, though slightly less severe, patterns were observed in Bhopal and Patna, where the cities recorded temperatures above 40°C earlier in 2022 than 2021, and experienced extreme heat for longer periods of time.
6. Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai recorded relatively mild temperatures, although Kolkata and Hyderabad did experience temperatures above 40°C for two days and ten days respectively.
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Impact Of Heatwaves On Human Health
As per WHO, extended periods of high day and nighttime temperatures create cumulative physiological stress on the human body which exacerbates the top causes of death globally, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, mellitus and renal disease.
Unbearable summer heat is becoming the new normal in India as the effects of climate change become increasingly real. This year, India witnessed high summer temperatures beginning from the end of March and early April. The summer temperatures peak typically occurs towards the end of April and May, states the Greenpeace India analysis.
According to Indian Metrological Department (IMD), North, West, and Central India faced the hottest weather in 122 years. According to multiple climate models, the situation is only set to worsen in the coming decades if adequate measures are not taken.
The Greenpeace report also highlights the various impacts of heatwaves on human health such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, life-threatening complications, and worsening of pre-existing conditions. The rising temperatures have an economic cost as well, resulting from crop failures, food insecurity, loss in total working hours and more.
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Suraj, a rickshaw driver in Delhi says,
On some days the heat is so unbearable that I fall ill. We don’t have any amenities to protect us from these extreme temperatures. We are recommended to drink more water but there are no facilities for us to acquire clean drinking water frequently in this city. I try to keep myself and my rickshaw cooler using a cloth for shade but despite that, it is difficult to get customers during the summer.
Avinash Kumar Chanchal, Campaign Manager, Greenpeace India and the co-author of the study, tells NDTV that the conclusion is quite clear, we are living amidst a ‘deteriorating climate crisis’.
We need just and equitable responses. Apart from governments and corporations focusing on adaptation and mitigation measures required to deal with climate change, we will also require measures specific to increase the adaptability of the population during extreme events like heatwaves in India. These responses need to include effective communication, efficient warning systems, special response for vulnerable populations, increase in green cover and conservation of water bodies in our cities. We need practical and urgent solutions, and we need them now.
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 diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.