• 27 April 2022
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Our Earth is warming- Are we on the brink of a point of no return?

Our Earth is warming- Are we on the brink of a point of no return?

The recent heat wave that has engulfed South Asia, particularly India and Pakistan, was due to climate change and is a warning sign for things to come if we don’t clean up our act, warns top climate scientists. The human-caused heatwave is a glimpse of the future.

The World Weather Attribution has said that heat waves this early in the year are once-century events, but the human-caused climate change has meant that these heat waves are 30 times more likely.

If global temperatures continue to increase by 2 degrees Celsius, which are more than pre-industrial levels, then heat waves would occur once every five years, warns a top Indian meteorologist. The results are conclusive, a study by the UK meteorological department has predicted that such scorching weather could occur every three years if temperatures continue to rise caused to man-made causes.

What is certain though, is that the recent heatwave has wreaked so much devastation in India and Pakistan. India baked through its hottest March since records began in 1901, and parts of Pakistan and India were the hottest in April causing sweltering heat in both countries. The effects have been devastating for both countries. A glacier burst in the northern area of Pakistan causing widespread floods to flow downstream, and the heat wave scorched the wheat crops in India forcing India to place a ban on its wheat exports causing a worldwide shortage already on the brink of panic due to the Russian invasion of wheat exporting nation of Ukraine. It also resulted in increased demand for electricity that has depleted its coal reserves, resulting in acute power shortages affecting millions of underprivileged people in India. The same could be said for Pakistan where electricity demands are already short, and with the heatwave coming in early, Mango production declined by nearly 60 percent, as Pakistan exports Mangoes in abundant form, the exports were also badly affected increasing the difference between imports and exports in an already fragile economy.

Then there is the impact on human health. At least 90 people have died due to heat strokes in both countries, but that may be an undercount, because of the region’s insufficient death registration. South Asia is being affected the most by heat stress. India alone is home to one-third of the world’s population that live in areas where heat waves are most likely to occur.

Experts have already rung the alarm bells and have agreed that the world needs to combat climate change, by cutting down on greenhouse emissions, but also to adapt its harmful impacts as quickly as possible. Children and old people are most likely to be affected by the heat waves, but also at much more significant risk are those people who cannot afford to live in big houses and have no access to cooling water, and often live in crowded slums under roofs made from tin which increases the heat inside the homes.

Some cities have already started preparing for the worst. Cities like Karachi in Pakistan and Ahmedabad have begun preparing for the heat waves as far back as 2015. The plans include early warning systems for all its public and private hospitals to prepare for heat waves in advance. Additionally, they let parks stay open later so that people can get shade, and they let schools know so that they may adjust their timetables.

They are also trying to “cool” by using different chemicals that refract heat from the roof keeping the rooms relatively cooler.

Most of the cities in both India and Pakistan are less prepared for the heat waves due to a lack of resources. But the recent heat waves have woken up the authorities to act swiftly or risk facing the wrath of mother nature.

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