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    Delhi’s Heatwave: A Warning For Worse Summers To Come?

    EnvironmentClimate changeDelhi’s Heatwave: A Warning For Worse Summers To Come?
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    Delhi’s Heatwave: A Warning For Worse Summers To Come?

    India could experience further unprecedented and prolonged heatwaves, extreme weathers, increased hospitalizations even leading up to fatalities and irreparable damage to agriculture and wildlife risking our food and nutritional security.

    Delhi’s maximum temperature could be 4oC higher than average between 2080 and 2099 in the scenario of CO2 emissions doubling by 2050, according to an assessment by Greenpeace India.

    In the same period, Delhi’s average temperature will be 5 degrees warmer than now with the maximum temperature reaching 48.19o C, the environmental group has said.

    The national capital’s recent heatwave recorded 43oC on 29th April, 2022 – well above its average maximum temperature for the month of April. Analysis of the historical daily temperature for April from 1970-2020 suggests that only four years have recorded a value higher than 43oC.

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    Greenpeace says that such drastic and rapid increases in temperature will mean India will experience more unprecedented and prolonged heatwaves, extreme weathers, increased hospitalizations even leading up to fatalities and irreparable damage to agriculture and wildlife risking our food and nutritional security.

    “The heatwaves are fatal for public health and the economy. It also puts ecosystems at risk. We have enough science to link such extreme weather events to climate change. Unfortunately, if we do not act now, the threat is only going to increase in frequency, duration and magnitude.” says Avinash Chanchal, Campaign Manager, Greenpeace India.

    Greenpeace says that the hottest days for India have increased from 40 days in a year in the 1950s to 100 days in a year in the 2020s. This sharp increase and a heat index of over 35°C has significant health impacts that the population is already experiencing. But a matter of greater concern is the fact that multiple climate models have projected that the scenario will worsen significantly.

    “There will be more heatwaves, more wildfires and it will be too late,” the organisation says.

    Vulnerable communities

    In such a situation the temperature will increase by 4°C on average by the end of the century; which means unprecedented and prolonged heatwaves, more frequent extreme weather events, increased hospitalizations even leading up to fatalities and irreparable impacts on agriculture and wildlife risking our food and nutritional security.

    Inland cities are at a significantly higher risk of heatwaves in the absence of regulation by the oceans and a higher temperature range than coastal areas. The impaling temperature rise is expected to severely impact citizens particularly in cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Jaipur and Kolkata that share similar temperature patterns. According to the assessments in the same scenario, in the 2080 to 2099 period, Mumbai and Pune will be 5oC warmer than now on average with the maximum temperature 4.2oC hotter and Chennai will be 4oC warmer than now on average with the maximum temperature 3.7oC higher.

    Unfortunately, as always, it will be the vulnerable communities that will face the crisis at its worst form, the organisation says. “The most vulnerable populations, including the urban poor, outdoor workers, women, children, senior citizens and sexual minorities are at a significantly greater risk, as they lack adequate access to protective measures,” the organisation says.

    It has called on governments to fortify the resilience of such vulnerable populations by immediately providing aid in a just and equitable manner. Besides, Greenpeace says, state and city authorities must strengthen the public health system, and coordinate with meteorological agencies to relay timely warnings and advisories to citizens.

    “As long term measures, urban planning must provide for and maintain adequate green cover which includes rooftop gardening, community nutritional gardens, parks, mini forests, road-side tree cover and water bodies. Reducing the CO2 emissions, such as shifting to renewables and phasing out internal combustion engines, contribute to reducing the rate of warming in the long run. Phasing out fossil fuels, particularly for energy and transportation systems, is the most practical and immediate solution to tackling climate change and protecting public health.” Chanchal added.

     

    Image: Hippopx, licenses to use under Creative Commons Zero – CC0

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