Intense heatwave in South Asia ‘signs of something to come’

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NEW DELHI – The catastrophic heatwave that has baked India and Pakistan in recent months has made climate change more likely, according to a study by an international group of scientists on Monday. They say it’s a glimpse into the future of the region.

The World Weather Attribution Group has analyzed historical weather data and suggested that at first, long heat waves that affect a vast geographical area are a rare, one-century event. But the current level of global warming caused by man-made climate change has made those heat waves 30 times more likely.

If global warming is 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the pre-industrial level, such heat waves could occur twice a century and once every five years, says Arpita Mandal, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute. Those who were part of the research on Mumbai technology.

“It’s a sign of something to come,” Mandal said.

Results Conservative: An analysis released last week by the United Kingdom’s Meteorological Office found that heat waves were probably 100 times more likely to be created due to climate change, with such burning temperatures likely to recur every three years.

The World Weather Attribution Analysis is different because it is trying to calculate how specific aspects of heat waves, such as length and region, have been affected by global warming. “The actual results of how much climate change has exacerbated this phenomenon probably lie somewhere between the results of us and the (UK) Met Office,” said Frederick Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, who was part of the study.

The catastrophe that caused the heat waves is certain. India has been through the warmest March in the country since the record started in 1901 and April was the warmest on record in Pakistan and parts of India. The effects have been cascading and widening: a glacier eruption in Pakistan, sending floods downhill; Early heat burned the wheat crop in India, forcing Ukraine to ban exports to countries suffering from food crisis due to the war in Russia; This is due to the initial spike in electricity demand in India, which has reduced coal reserves, resulting in severe power shortages affecting millions of people.

Then there is the effect on human health. At least 90 people have died in the two countries, but the region’s inadequate death registration means it’s probably a low count. South Asia is the hardest hit by heat stress, according to an Associated Press analysis of a dataset published at Columbia University’s Climate School. India alone is home to more than a third of the world’s population living in areas where extreme heat is rising.

Experts agree that heat waves are not intended to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but to emphasize the need for the world to adapt to its harmful effects as soon as possible. Children and the elderly are most at risk from heat stress, but the effects are even greater for the poor who may not have access to cold or water and often live in crowded slums that are warmer than in leafy, rich neighborhoods.

Rahman Ali, 42, a rag picker in the eastern suburbs of New Delhi, the Indian capital, earns less than $ 3 a day collecting garbage from people’s homes and sorting out what can be sold. It does backbreaking work and gives little respite from the heat of his tin-roofed home in the crowded slums.

“What can we do? If I don’t work … we won’t eat,” said the father of two.

Some Indian cities that have tried to solve. The western city of Ahmedabad is the first in South Asia to develop a heat wave plan in 2013 for its population of over 8.4 million. The plan includes an early warning system that tells health workers and residents to be prepared for heat waves. , Empowers the administration to keep parks open so people can cast shadows and provide information to schools so they can change their schedules.

The city is trying to “cool” the roof by experimenting with different materials, absorbing heat differently. Their goal is to create a roof that reflects the sun and lowers room temperature using inexpensive materials such as white, reflective paint or dry grass, says Dr. Dilip Mavalankar, head of the Indian Institute of Public Health in Gandhinagar, West India, and a 2013 design designer. Helped to do.

Most Indian cities are underdeveloped and the federal government of India is now working on a similar plan with 130 cities in 23 heat-prone states across India. Earlier this month, the federal government asked states to sensitize health workers on the management of heat-related illnesses and to ensure that hospital ice packs, oral rehydration salts and cooling equipment are available.

But Mavalankar, who was not part of the study, pointed to the lack of government vigilance in newspapers or on TV for most Indian cities, saying the local administration had “not woken up from the heat”.

The Associated Press receives support from the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Health and Science. AP is solely responsible for all content.

The Associated Press gets support from a variety of individual foundations for climate and environmental coverage. See more about AP’s climate initiatives here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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