Climate Change Has Made Heat Waves Much More Deadly, Mainly for the Poor
It is generally held that if we can avoid warming the planet by 2 oC above pre-industrial temperatures, we may be able to avoid the worst effects of climate change. In India, though, just a quarter of that warming has more than doubled the risk of deadly heat waves.
A study published in Science Advances shows that as average summer temperatures in India rose 0.5 oC from 1960 until 2009, the chance of a heat wave causing more than 100 deaths more than doubled. As the authors write, their work is far from theoretical: heat waves in 2010, 2013, and 2015 each killed thousands of people across the country. In May 2016, the northwestern city of Jaisalmer recorded India’s most intense heat wave ever, while just last month a city in nearby Pakistan recorded a temperature of 53.5 oC (over 128 oF)—the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth in the month of May.