The April-May heatwave that has hit Pakistan and India offers a rather alarming glimpse of the region’s environmental future under current climate change patterns, says a study by International scientists. Early findings had suggested that long heatwaves that affect a massive geographical area are a rare and once-a-century occurrence. Global Warming is making these otherwise rare chances 30 times more likely, which is affecting and will affect the people of the region directly in terms of health-related risks and indirectly through distorting the food chain.
“This is a sign of things to come,” said Arpita Mondal, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, while studying the impact of increased global heating. If it surpasses 1.5°C, it will increase the likelihood of such heatwaves occurring twice in a century and once every five years.
According to an analysis published by Columbia University’s Climate School, South Asian region is the most affected by heat stress. The current streak of heat waves took 90 lives in Pakistan and India. The number could be greater due to the region’s insufficient death registration. The poor are at greater risk due to their living conditions in crowded slums with no access to cooling mechanisms or water. Similarly, street vendors and construction workers are more vulnerable as they mostly do not have a shaded or cool place to rest.
The brutal heat waves have shown the knock-on effects in the form of rapid glacier melts in Pakistan amid lakes bursting their banks. India’s power outages due to spike in electricity demand resulting in depletion of coal reserves and affecting the global food chain as the wheat yield has dropped leading to ban on exports, thereby heightening the global food insecurity and bringing the non-traditional aspects of security to the forefront, calling for immediate response and climate action.