Climate change and Diversity equity and Inclusion are 2 sides of the same coin
Last year’s pre-monsoon hot season, which runs from March until early June, was one of the most extreme and economically disruptive on record.
2023 year’s could rival it.
The opening scenes of “The Ministry for the Future”, the American novelist Kim Stanley Robinson imagines what happens to a small Indian town hit by a heatwave.
“Streets empty as normal activity becomes impossible. Air-conditioned rooms fill with silent fugitives from the heat. Rooftops are littered with the corpses of people sleeping outside in search of a non-existent breath of wind. The electricity grid, then law and order, break down. Like a medieval vision of hell, the local lake fills with half-poached bodies. Across north India, 20m die in a week.”
Can this turn into a reality ?
If there is a 2 degree increase in temperature
“vast regions of South Asia are projected to experience [wet-bulb temperature] episodes exceeding 31°C, which is considered extremely dangerous for most humans,” according to a paper by Elfatih Eltahir of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues.
What is a “wet bulb measurement” ?
Scientists record heat stress as a combination of temperature and humidity, known as a “wet-bulb” measurement.
As this combined level approaches body temperature, 37°C, it becomes hard for mammals to shed heat through perspiration. At a wet-bulb temperature of around 31°C, dangerously little sweat can evaporate into the soup-like air. Brain damage and heart and kidney failure become increasingly likely. Sustained exposure to a wet-bulb temperature of 35°C, the level Mr Robinson imagines in his book, is considered fatal. The Indo-Gangetic Plain is one of the few places where such wet-bulb temperatures have been recorded, including on several occasions in the scorched Pakistani town of Jacobabad.
A report by the World Bank in November warned that India could become one of the first places where wet-bulb temperatures routinely exceed the 35°C survivability threshold.
In Jacobabad, the air temperature last year peaked at 51°C. Half the town’s population of 200,000 had by then fled in search of more bearable weather elsewhere.
Where do they go?
During last year’s hot season, the wheat harvest was down by around 15% in both countries. Livestock perished. The normal agricultural day became impossible. Electricity outages shut down industry and, worse, air-conditioning. Even India’s capital, Delhi, faced blackouts.
What, can be done?
This is what the government of Gujarat suggests
“warn people of extreme temperatures, advise them to stay indoors and drink lots of water, and put emergency services on alert.”
USA seems to be taking this seriously
Robinson – in this book imagines the heatwave spurring transformative climate action around the world.
Can this happen to help stop one of the most dire threats of our planet becoming a a horrifying reality?
India’s deadly heatwaves are getting even hotter from TheEconomist