Asia's heatwave 45 times more likely due to climate crisis — study

A pedestrian holds an umbrella to protect from the sun in Bangkok, Thailand (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Sizzling heat across Asia and the Middle East in late April that echoed last year's destructive swelter was made 45 times more likely in some parts of the continent because of human-caused climate crisis, a study has found.

The study was released on Tuesday by the World Weather Attribution group of scientists, who use established climate models to quickly determine whether human-caused climate change played a part in extreme weather events around the world.

Scorching temperatures were felt across large swaths of Asia, from besieged Gaza in the west — where over 2 million people face clean water shortages, lack of healthcare and other essentials due to Israeli bombardment — to the Philippines in the southeast, with many parts of the continent experiencing temperatures well above 40 degrees Celsius several days in a row.

In the Philippines, scientists found the heat was so extreme it would have been impossible without a human-caused climate crisis. In parts of the Middle East, the climate crisis increased the probability of the event by about a factor of five.

Alarming findings

"People suffered and died when April temperatures soared in Asia," said Friederike Otto, study author and climate scientist at Imperial College in London. "If humans continue to burn fossil fuels, the climate will continue to warm, and vulnerable people will continue to die."

At least 28 heat-related deaths were reported in Bangladesh, as well as five in India and three in Gaza in April. Surges in heat deaths have also been reported in Thailand and the Philippines this year according to the study.

The heat also had a large impact on agriculture, causing crop damage and reduced yields, as well as on education, with school vacations having to be extended and schools closed in several countries, affecting thousands of students.

Climate experts say extreme heat in South Asia during the pre-monsoon season is becoming more frequent and the study found that extreme temperatures are now about 0.85 degrees Celsius hotter in the region because of the climate crisis.

Internally displaced people, migrants and those in refugee camps were especially vulnerable to the searing temperatures, the study found.

"These findings in scientific terms are alarming," said Aditya Valiathan Pillai, a heat plans expert at New Delhi-based think tank Sustainable Futures Collaborative. But for people on the ground living in precarious conditions, it could be absolutely deadly." Pillai was not part of the study.

Pillai said more awareness about heat risks, public and private investments to deal with increasing heat and more research on its impacts are all necessary to deal with future heat waves.

"I think heat is now among the foremost risks in terms of personal health for millions across the world as well as nations’ economic development," he said.


Source: TRT