How India’s heatwave is pushing the limits of human endurance

“India is in the grip of what feels like an eternity of heat waves,” he said The Hindu (Chennai). Punishment began in March; then followed the hottest April in 122 years in central and north-west India. Since then, temperatures have regularly topped 45C in some Indian cities, while parts of Pakistan have recorded highs of over 47C.

Dozens of people are said to have died, schools had to be closed and water taps have dried up. In late April, a garbage dump in New Delhi spontaneously caught fire, releasing toxic fumes into the air. The increasing demand for electricity to run air conditioning systems has led to power outages of up to eight hours a day; Crops are scorched. And to add to the misery, “little recovery is expected” in the worst-hit areas until June, when the monsoon rains should finally arrive.

“Heat waves are common at this time of year,” said Sandhya Ramesh The pressure (New Delhi). May and June are India’s hottest months. But conditions have been uniquely harsh this year, thanks to a “heat dome” over South Asia — a persistent anticyclone that traps warm air underneath like a lid on a pan.

In drier areas, surface temperatures (as opposed to air temperature) have exceeded 60 °C, contributing to a sharp increase in wildfires. But in wet areas, conditions have become almost impossible for humans, he said The statesman (Kolkata). Public health officials speak of “wet-bulb temperatures,” which are measured by wrapping a thermometer in a wet cloth. These give a rough idea of ​​how the human body will deal with it. In dry heat, evaporation lowers the temperature. But when the humidity is high, the water cannot evaporate, so there is no cooling effect.

On May 1, the wet-bulb temperature in Chennai, southeastern India, reached 31C, making physical activity dangerous. If it reached 35°C, our body would not be able to cope with it. Even the fittest people would die in about six hours.

It is clear we can no longer ignore the brutal realities of climate change, Pratap Bhanu Mehta said in The Indian Express (Noida). According to The Lancet, 356,000 people died worldwide in 2019 as a result of excessive heat. As temperatures rise, this number will only increase.

Many Indian cities now have “heat action plans,” it said The economist. Work shifts are changed to keep people out of the sun; additional medical centers are opened; Roofs are painted with reflective paint. But there is only so much that can be done. Unless CO2 emissions are reduced, “heatwaves will become more severe and more difficult to adapt to.”

https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/south-and-central-asia/956711/how-indias-heatwave-is-pushing-the-limits-of-human How India’s heatwave is pushing the limits of human endurance

Fry Electronics Team

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