Rise In Temperature Causing Severe Wave Of Deaths In India

Ramganga River, India. Credit: Gnishith 95/Wikicommons

Even a slight rise in temperature can have extremely detrimental effects on the planet and human life. New research reveals that a 0.5°C rise in temperature in India has increased the number of deaths due to heat wave by two and a half fold.

Published June 7, 2017, in the journal Science Advances, the article is titled “Increasing probability of mortality during Indian heat waves”. The study considers data from the India Meteorological Department and health department for the period of 1960 to 2009, subsequently proving a substantial increase in mortality due to high temperatures caused by climate change.

According to the study,

“Mean temperatures across India have risen by more than 0.5°C over this period, with statistically significant increases in heat waves… we further show that the increase in summer mean temperatures in India over this period corresponds to a 146% increase in the probability of heat-related mortality events of more than 100 people.”

Credit: Corbis/Telegraph

When compared with data for the period of 1960 to 1984, the study reveals that the southern and western parts of India experienced 50 percent increase in heat waves from 1985 to 2009.Death by hyperthermia is characterized by heatstroke, causing severe damage to the brain, kidneys and other internal organs. It is especially dangerous for children, infants, the elderly, malnourished and those with pre-existing heart conditions or respiratory problems.

India’s 2016 Prevention and Management Guidelines for heat waves reads, “The increased occurrences and severity of heat-wave is a wake-up call for all agencies to take necessary action for prevention, preparedness and community outreach to save the lives of the general public, livestock and wildlife.”

The surge in temperature causes more than deaths due to hyperthermia. Heat devastates crops, compromising food security, exacerbates desertification and causes power outages due to air conditioning use. The authors warn that future increases in global temperatures, which are projected to increase exponentially, will take a “relatively drastic human toll” especially for low-latitude, third world countries.

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