Friday August 19, 2022

Deadly heat

By Editorial Board
May 09, 2022

Scientists from around the world are warning that Earth may face more and more heatwaves over the coming years. The current heatwave in India and Pakistan, with temperatures topping 40 degrees centigrade, is just a warning of what lies ahead. The hottest part of the year is yet to come and temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees centigrade are expected as normal. The kind of increase in temperatures seen in April and May is virtually unprecedented, and lays out a pattern that could be followed over the coming decades – a swift rise in temperatures and a consequent impact on not only the people living in these conditions, but also on agriculture, soil, housing, livestock.

Scientists say that many of the changes about which they have been warning for years are a result of human-based activities and the failure to heed warnings scientists have been giving out year after year. In addition to this, the usual wave of heatwaves, which previously came once every 50 years in various parts of the world, could now arrive about once every four years. Again, this would cause extreme hardship for many people, notably the poor, the elderly, children, and those who are in poor health. The planet itself seems in some ways to be turning against us with scientists also warning of a major earthquake in California over the coming years.

We need to think about climate change far more seriously. For too many years have world leaders largely ignored the problem. But it is now obvious that those who had been warning of a devastating increase in heatwaves and global warming were right after all. India and Pakistan at the moment are an example of just what the world can expect. The current heatwave has been terrifyingly potent, and a new heatwave has been predicted for this week. This, say climate change experts, will be a regular occurrence. The greenhouse effect is naturally a factor and we need to think of strategies that can change the situation, including out-of-the-box solutions. For the moment, this summer promises to be a long and cruel one. City governments across Pakistan should be ensuring the provision of clean drinking water at spots around the city for labourers and others who have to work in the heat. Hospitals need to be prepared to deal with a sudden influx of patients suffering from heatstroke. We all remember the heatwave of 2015 that claimed more than a thousand lives in Sindh. Our cities have barely any shade to offer. They need green belts. They need trees. They need a more eco-friendly development paradigm. And they need public water sources. This is the kind of planning that will prepare us for more extreme climate events.