Deadly rise heats up cli­mate de­bate

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

peo­ple who are ill or el­derly.”

Un­der a busi­ness-as-usual sce­nario, “wet-bulb tem­per­a­tures are pro­jected to ap­proach the sur­viv­abil­ity thresh­old over most of South Asia, and ex­ceed it at a few lo­ca­tions, by the end of the cen­tury,” said the re­port.

About 30 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion in the re­gion would be ex­posed to th­ese harm­ful tem­per­a­tures, said the re­port.

The densely pop­u­lated farm­ing re­gions of South Asia could fare the worst, be­cause work­ers are ex­posed to heat with lit­tle op­por­tu­nity for es­cape into air-con­di­tioned en­vi­ron­ments.

“Deadly heat waves could be­gin within as lit­tle as a few decades to strike re­gions of In­dia, Pak­istan, and Bangladesh, in­clud­ing the fer­tile In­dus and Ganges river basins that pro­duce much of the re­gion’s food sup­ply,” said the re­port.

But re­searchers said their mod­els gave cause for hope, too. Un­der the sce­nario in which steps are taken to limit warm­ing over the com­ing decades, the pop­u­la­tion ex­posed to harm­ful wet-bulb tem­per­a­tures would in­crease from zero to just 2 per­cent.

Tem­per­a­tures would still reach dan­ger­ous lev­els (over 31 C), but would not be quite so close to the fa­tal thresh­old.

“There is value in mit­i­ga­tion, as far as public health and re­duc­ing heat waves,” said lead author El­fatih El­tahirhe, pro­fes­sor of en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer­ing at the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

“With mit­i­ga­tion, we hope we will be able to avoid th­ese se­vere pro­jec­tions. This is not some­thing that is un­avoid­able.”

Deadly heat is al­ready com­mon. In 2015, a heat wave across In­dia and Pak­istan killed 3,500 peo­ple. Dis­as­ter man­age­ment of­fi­cials al­ready have urged In­dia’s cities and states to cre­ate heat ac­tion plans, af­ter record­ing 13 of the coun­try’s hottest 15 years on record since 2002.

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