Author: Mimansa Verma

Rising temperatures are pushing India towards the deadly "wet bulb" threshold

Source(s): Quartz

Climate scientists are now worried about an increased possibility of deaths if human body temperatures exceed the “wet bulb” threshold of 35°C. A Lancet study found a 55% spike in fatalities in India between 2000-2004 and 2017-2021 due to extreme heat. This is besides the loss of labour hours and the resultant loss of income.

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It is estimated that beyond 35°C, a human body can no longer cool itself through perspiration. “India is typically more humid than equivalently hot places, like the Sahara. This means sweating is less efficient, or not efficient at all,” Kieran Hunt, a climate scientist at the University of Reading told Bloomberg.

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India’s heat action plans (HAPs), designed to tackle economically damaging and life-threatening heat waves, generally focus on dry extreme heat. It does not consider the threats posed by humid heat, according to a report by The Centre for Policy Research (CPR) released on Monday (March 27).

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India has 37 HAPs across 18 states at the city, district, and state levels. Only two of these, however, have explicitly targeted vulnerable groups. The rest only have broad categories such as the elderly, outdoor workers, and pregnant women. Even the solutions proposed do not necessarily focus on them, the CPR report stated.

Moreover, these HAPs do not have enough funds. Insufficient capacity building and a lack of transparency are also matters of concern.

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