India and Pakistan heatwave: an "existential crisis"

One of the most populated parts of the world is facing higher temperatures than it has ever had to bear before, and the crisis is expected to last much longer.

Cc Lee
16th May 2022
A fire on a landfill site in India. Image: BBC News, YouTube
India and Pakistan are facing the worst heatwave in their national records with average temperatures reaching 50⁰C. Not only is this devastating crops and water supply but electricity is not functioning so there is a lack of air conditioning too. People are suffering tremendously and this is a direct result of the climate crisis.

The heatwave is unprecedented for this time of year, where surface level temperatures are normally 45⁰C - 50⁰C, but at the moment they are 60⁰C and will potentially exceed even that. Over one billion people are facing the effects of climate change over the subcontinent. And the residents are only expecting things to get worse.

The heat has become so bad that there is a lack of electricity in cities, meaning that many can’t work during the day (where temperatures are at their highest) so people have to work during the night – providing that the temperature drops enough for the electricity to work. Many people’s refrigerators have stopped working, so food is being wasted and not being stored sufficiently. This can also have an effect if people are eating the rotting food, making them unwell and sick.

Crop failure is at an all time high

Crop failure is at an all time high at the moment; many plants had ripened too early this year but subsequently died due to the heat wave. Wheat crops have declined by 50% this year which is resulting in a lack of food, but also means that farmers' income is at an all time low as well. Many fear that this will result in more shortages, following those after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Pakistan’s Minister for Climate, Sherry Reham has described what’s happening as an “existential crisis", as climate emergencies are being felt throughout the North and the South of the Country. The heat is also melting the glaciers in the North of the country, meaning that many people could be hit with flood bursts. This is another devastating effect of climate change, and will continue to impact many people in the country.

A massive landfill site caught fire during the heatwave, making the air for many incredibly toxic. The UK exports much of its waste to countries like India.

The heat is also having an impact on travel issues, where coal is being prioritised and taken to power plants. Over 600 passengers were turned away from a train in order for this to happen. This is happening to try and curb the effects of the electricity shortage.

Needless to say, those in India and Pakistan are suffering immensely during this heat wave. And throughout the Summer these effects of climate change are only going to worsen.

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