Climate change leads to worst heatwave seen in India in the past 122 years

Climate change leads to worst heatwave seen in India in the past 122 years

In recent years the South Asian country has seen the worst side of nature in terms of rising temperature. The number of deaths annually, caused by heatwave have never been so high. The capital city of New Delhi which already is amongst the worst polluted cities in the world feels like it’s on fire. Blistering waves coming off roads and hot water flowing from the taps are common. The day temperature stands at a whooping 44° C and night temperature does not fall below 30° C. Last week spontaneous combustion occurred in a landfill in the outskirts of the city and continues to keep burning making the air pollution worse.

The extremity of such a heat wave was unseen for the last 122 years, with March 2022 being the worst. The extreme temperature was continued in April and May and might continue till June when monsoon arrives. The most worrisome measurement, however, is not the heat but the wet bulb temperature. Wet bulb temperature combines humidity and heat to indicate the amount of evaporation absorbed in the air. If the wet bulb temperature reaches north of 35° C, it becomes impossible to reduce body temperature by sweating, potentially leading to a fatal heatstroke within few hours.

The effects of climate change have been pushing countries such as India and many others to the level where climate change remains the biggest threat to humans and nature. Outdoor workers and laborers are mostly at risk. Between 2003 to 2010 many thousand deaths were reported in countries in Europe and Russia due to wet bulb temperature exceeding 32° C.

When temperature rises, humidity falls, such a scenario was previously thought to be rare. However, in 2018 a study concluded, most severe temperature close to 35° C never occur in current global climate, but data collected from 2020 suggests that its already happening frequently in the largely populated regions between Persian Gulf and North Western parts of India.

12% population of India has access to AC meaning millions aren’t able to cool themselves off when bodies reach a point where heatstroke is inevitable. Daily wage workers and laborers who work in factories, farms, construction sites etc. are at the biggest risk.

The heatwaves are seen across many parts of the country in cities like Kolkata, Nagpur, Bhubaneshwar. Government has issued action plan on illnesses caused by heatwave and have urged hospitals to be on standby.

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