India is currently facing its highest temperatures in our lifetime, with temperatures in the capital, reaching 49⁰C. In Pakistan the temperature has reached a blistering 51⁰C.
When we think of India and Pakistan we think of hot weather and blue skies. However, the temperatures they are facing are much higher than India’s average summer’s day which reaches around 41⁰C. The heatwave they are experiencing is putting pressure on livelihoods and businesses, especially those in the areas where the temperature has reached between 49-51⁰C.
This rise in temperature has caused the Indian Meteorology Department (IMD) to release an official warning, calling for people to stay within their homes and to stay out of the sun. They have also advised people to drink more water than normal as heat related hospital admissions have risen dramatically, adding more strain to hospitals that are still feeling the pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people are trying to stay out of the heat and others that cannot avoid it are trying to stay as cool as possible.
People are struggling to feed and provide money for their families, especially farmers whose crops are shrivelling and dying. India now has a ban on wheat exportation causing the global price of wheat to soar. Those in India that rely on their wheat yields for their income are now looking at a huge dip in their yearly earnings.
The heat is also causing power outages throughout the two countries, with many being without power between eight to twelve hours a day. This is the longest India has been without sufficient power for six decades and the country is struggling to get enough coal to end the power cuts. Not only does this affect families, but it also has a huge negative effect on the country’s economy as businesses that rely on power cannot carry out their work.
The heatwave in Pakistan has led to damaging flash floods. As the heat rose, the Himalayan Glacier, to the north of the country had begun to melt, creating a huge lake of melt water. On Saturday 7th May 2022, the lake burst its banks, causing large amounts of damage to infrastructure, homes, and businesses. One of the biggest blows to Pakistan was the damage to its historical Hassanabad Bridge, causing a huge hit to Pakistan’s economy. As this bridge is one of the country’s most important links for tourism and also is one of the main roads to China, who are one of Pakistan’s biggest trading partners.
When researching the heatwaves effects in both countries, it is clear that many news outlets are blaming climate change, and so they should. However, there is never any mention of global emissions or our global carbon footprint. These parts of the conversation appear to be missing, although the emissions we release are the major drivers of climate change. These heatwaves and other natural disasters are only going to get worse and will happen more frequently, if we don’t start talking about climate change properly, which includes talking about global greenhouse gas emissions. More talking will lead to more awareness, and more awareness will lead to more action.
Meteorologists have advised that this kind of heatwave of such extreme temperature should only occur once every 312 years. For India they have been reaching extreme temperatures for the past few years with this year being a record high, with the heatwave of 1944 being the previous record of 47.5⁰C.
As inhabitants of the same planet, we need to start looking at ways to lower our global emissions and we need to take responsibility for that we emit. Both businesses and individuals need to be doing everything they can to lower their carbon footprints. In the Maharashtra State of India alone 25 people have already lost their lives due to the heat, and this heatwave is predicted to carry on into June and July. As the world warms up due to our greenhouse gas emissions, these heatwaves are going to occur much more frequently and all over the world, meaning more lives will be lost. We must act now to stop the effects of climate change, that we are seeing in the news and through our own eyes, or articles and news stories like this one will continue to be written and will increase in number.