A brutal heat wave that’s seen temperatures of 122° persist across much of India is in its second week with no signs of cooler conditions ahead. Officials have been pouring water on roads to prevent them from melting while Indians struggle to sleep and work in such dangerous conditions.
India’s Health Officials Issue Warnings: The Independent reported that earlier this week the Health Ministry issued an advisory with do’s and don’ts for staying safe in rising temperatures. They included avoiding the sun between noon and 3pm and refraining from drinking alcohol, tea and coffee. Regardless of these warnings, some people have no means of escaping the heat and there have been dozens of deaths.
Take a Look for Yourself: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are among some of the worst-affected states from the extreme heat, having experienced the longest spells of dry weather this year.
The New Normal: As the Washington Post explained, this heat wave is part of a trend of rising temperatures in India. Last year was the sixth-warmest since national record-keeping began in 1901; 11 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2004. The frequency of heat waves is also increasing, a government minister told India’s Parliament earlier this year.
Indian Cities Being Forced to Make Plans for Extreme Heat: Ahmedabad started an early warning system to inform the public about extreme temperatures, expanded access to drinking water, encouraged employers to change work schedules so people spent less time outdoors and repainted roofs so they reflected rather than absorbed heat. This plan has been saving lives.
Why This Matters: Not only is India getting hotter but pollution and climate change are destabilizing monsoons which act to cool extreme heatwaves in the summer. The human body simply can’t function in this type of heat and parts of India may soon become literally unliveable unless a true global effort to fight climate change emerges. Additionally, if people begin to emigrate from places that are unliveable that can cause massive political instability and can serve as a catalyst for violence and refugee crises. Now imagine that X the 1.3 billion people living in India to get a sense of the magnitude of a warming planet.