Record-breaking temperatures continue in the Indian subcontinent, endangering the lives of millions of people and scorching crops amid a global food crisis. The average maximum temperature for northwest and central India in April was the highest since records began 122 years ago, reaching 35.9º and 37.78ºC (96.62º and 100ºF). New Delhi saw seven consecutive days over 40ºC (104ºF), three degrees above the average temperature for the month of April. In neighbouring Pakistan, the cities of Jacobabad and Sibi in the country's southeastern Sindh province recorded highs of 47ºC (116.6ºF). Land surface temperatures—a measure of how hot the Earth's surface would feel to the touch in a particular location—exceeded 60ºC or 140ºF in parts of northwest India.
April's sweltering temperatures came on the heels of India's hottest March in more than a century and one of its driest. Meanwhile, the region's annual monsoon season is still weeks away.
Climate scientists and activists are warning that deadly public health crises of this sort will only grow worse as long as societies keep burning fossil fuels.
"This heatwave is definitely unprecedented," Chandni Singh, senior researcher at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and a lead author at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told CNN. "We have seen a change in its intensity, its arrival time, and duration." He continued, "This is what climate experts predicted and it will have cascading impacts on health. heatwave is testing the limits of human survivability."
Although heatwaves are common in India, especially in May and June, overpowering temperatures arrived several weeks earlier than usual this year—a clear manifestation of the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency, according to Clare Nullis, an official at the World Meteorological Organization.
Shibaya Raha, a senior digital organizer with 350.org South Asia, said that "we cannot deny this climate crisis any longer. We are experiencing heatwaves in spring. The heat is unbearable and people are suffering," Raha continued. "Many in heavily populated areas do not have access to air conditioning, and workers with outdoor jobs are unable to carry out their work in this extreme heat, impacting sources of income." He went on to say, "The IPCC report predicts significant increases in heatwaves globally, but we are the human faces of that science. It looks daunting on paper but is even more devastating in reality and we demand immediate climate action."
Namrata Chowdhary, chief of public engagement at 350.org, stressed that "the truth behind these heatwaves is searingly clear: fossil fuels did this. While these temperatures are quite literally shocking, they come as no real surprise to communities that have long since lived on the frontlines of the climate crisis," Chowdhary continued. "This is the latest spike in a rapidly worsening disaster, one that was foretold by climate activists the world over."
IPCC Scientist Warns India-Pakistan Record Temps 'Testing Limits of Human Survivability' (commondreams.org)
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