Swaths of India and Pakistan are facing an unprecedented heat wave, putting the lives of millions of people at risk as temperatures hover around 50°C. This Monday, 2, Pakistani authorities issued an alert after recording the highest temperature in 61 years, 47°C.
As a precaution, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, urged measures by the federal and provincial government to relieve residents. In the north of the country, thousands of glacial lakes were created by melts in the Himalayan, Hindu Kush and Karkoram ranges, and there is a risk of flash and dangerous floods, leaving 7 million people in possible scenarios of vulnerability.
In India, the average temperature in the central region of the country was the highest since measurements began 122 years ago, reaching 37.7°C, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMB). The summer months in India (April, May and June) are always hot, before the monsoon season eases temperatures, but the heat wave arrived earlier than expected.
Last month, New Delhi had already recorded seven consecutive days with temperatures above 40 degrees. In some states, it was so hot that schools were closed and there was intense pressure on power supplies as officials warned residents to stay indoors and stay hydrated.
“This heat wave is definitely unprecedented,” Chandni Singh, a researcher at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, told CNN. “We saw a change in its intensity, in its arrival and duration. This is what experts have predicted and will have cascading health impacts.”
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According to Mona Desai, former president of the Medical Association of Ahmedabad, in the Indian state of Gujarat, many patients have complained of heat stroke or similar heat-related problems. Of these, about 60% were school-aged and complained of vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, weakness, and other symptoms.
Despite forecasts indicating that temperatures should ease this week, according to the IMB, experts say the climate crisis will cause more frequent and lasting heat waves, affecting more than a billion people in both countries.
In a report published in February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted that India is one of the countries most likely to be affected by the climate crisis. Since 2010, heat waves have killed more than 6,500 people in the country.
Em another document, published last year, the IPCC indicated that global warming is advancing faster than expected and that human activity is altering the planet’s climate in “unprecedented” ways. In addition, some of the changes have already become “irreversible”.
According to the IPCC, temperature spikes will become more frequent as the planet gets warmer. There is no longer any doubt that humanity is responsible for the advance of global warming. For scientists, the question is no longer whether or not the temperature will rise, but by how much.
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