South Asia to face more heatwaves due to climate change

DHAKA: Deadly heatwaves in South Asia is likely to experience more deadly heatwaves in the future, with the region’s exposure to lethal heat stress potentially nearly tripling if global warming is not curbed, researchers said.
But the danger could be halved if the world meets a goal set under the paris agreement on climate change to limit warming to 1.5 degree celsius above pre-industrial times, according to the researchers in a study this week by the american geophysical union, an international scientific association.
“The future looks bad for South Asia, but the worst can be avoided by containing warming to as low as possible,” Moetasim Ashfaq, a climate scientist at the US-based oak ridge national laboratory, said.
Still, with global temperatures already having risen more than 1 degree celcius, “the need for adaptation over South Asia is today, not in the future. It’s not a choice anymore,” Ashfaq further added.
The intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) has said global-heating emissions must fall by about 45% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels, to limit warming to below 2 degree celcius, the higher temperature goal in the paris agreement.
But updated plans to decrease emissions, submitted by 75 nations before planned COP26 UN climate talks in November, barely made a dent in the huge cuts needed to meet the global climate goals, a UN report said last month.
The new study used climate simulations and projected population growth to estimate the number of people who could experience dangerous levels of heat stress at warming levels of 1.5 and 2 degree celcius.
It looked at the predicted “wet bulb temperature”, which includes humidity and temperature and aims to more accurately show what people experience on a hot day.
Health experts and scientists say that at a wet bulb temperature of 32 degree celcius, labour becomes unsafe. They also highlighted that 35 degree celcius, the body can no longer cool itself.
If warming hits 2 degree Celsius, the number of South Asians exposed to unsafe temperatures could rise two-fold, and nearly three times as many people could face lethal heat.
South Asia is home to a quarter of the world’s population and thus heatwaves could have a big impact on the ability of workers to produce crops in regions such as West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh in India and Punjab and Sindh in Pakistan, study said.
Workers in cities such as Karachi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Peshawar could also be affected as majority of the people living here, do not have access to air conditioners, the study pointed out.
The study also noted that Pakistan and India already experience deadly heatwaves, with one in 2015 causing about 3,500 deaths,

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