- Climate change is here and affecting
our health, with extreme heat in particular also having effects on
productivity, food supply and disease transmission, a new global report
- According to Indian Meteorological
Department, Heat wave is considered if maximum temperature of a station reaches
at least 40°C or more for Plains, 37°C or more for coastal stations and at
least 30°C or more for Hilly regions.
- Tracking Progress on Health and
Climate Change between 1901 and 2007, India’s mean temperature increased by
more than 0.5 degree Celsius.
- India experienced an additional 40
million heatwave exposure events in 2016 as compared to 2012, raising concerns
over a “dangerous surge” in negative health impacts.
- Over the last two decades, there has
been a “marked increase” in the duration of heatwaves in India, as well as the
numbers of Indians exposed to heatwaves.
- The country will likely be among the
worst affected by climate change given its “weaker health systems and poorer
- These are the findings of a study
called Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change.
waves and Heat Stress
- Heat exposure can lead to heat stress
— illnesses which occur as a result of the body’s inability to prevent its temperature
rising from beyond a normal range.
- Severe heat stroke can lead to
multiple organ failure, seizures, and death.
- Children, the elderly and those with
pre-existing morbidities are particularly vulnerable.
Impact of Climate Change
1990, every region of the globe has become steadily more vulnerable to extreme
increases of heat.
exposure to heat can cause
- A decrease in labour output
- Burden health systems ill-equipped to
cope with the effects of heat stress
- Promote the spread of diseases like
cholera and dengue fever across endemic areas.
- Climate change threatens to undermine
the public health gains of previous decades.
- With each additional tonne of carbon
dioxide emitted costs India $86 — almost double the expense borne by the USA
($48) and Saudi Arabia ($47), according to a study.
- IPCC warned that if the global
community is not able to limit a temperature rise to 1.5 degrees,
climate-related risks to livelihoods, food security, health, water supply and
human security will further intensify.
- India lost nearly 75 billion hours of
labour in 2017 as a result of rising temperatures.
- This made sustained work increasingly
difficult and negatively affecting workers’ output.
- The agriculture sector experienced the
largest increase in labour loss
- The “climate-related impacts” on the
workforce and economy could be significant for India, with 18 percent of the
country’s GDP tied to the agricultural sector.
- An urgent review of occupational
health standards and labour laws must be carried out.
Emissions Exacerbating Premature Deaths
- India’s dependency on fossil fuels is
contributing to high levels of ambient air pollution containing PM 2.5
Land-based transport is “responsible for a substantial number” of PM 2.5
- However, these emissions can be
addressed through improvements to travel infrastructure.
- Cities should tackle the population’s
transport needs through public infrastructure, limiting the rise in of
car-users and keeping vehicular pollution at bay Raising awareness of such pollution-related
issues, their associated health risks and climate change overall is the
- Increasing regional, non-english media
coverage of climate change and health issues across states can further help to
stimulate a “state-by-state policy response”.
- Carrying out comprehensive city-level
traffic surveys to guide urban infrastructure while promoting safe walking and
cycling to reduce the emission load.
- It is of prime importance for India to
reduce its carbon emissions and air pollution levels, specifically targeting
the use of coal, oil and natural gas.
- Advance implementation of local Heat
Action Plans, plus effective inter-agency coordination is a vital response
which the government can deploy in order to protect vulnerable groups.
- This will require identification of
“heat hot spots”, analysis of meteorological data and allocation of resources to
- Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC)
has adopted a heat action plan which necessitates measures such as building
heat shelters, ensuring availability of water and removing neonatal ICU from
the top floor of hospitals.
- It has helped bring down the impact of
heatwave of vulnerable population.
- Similar action plan should be
developed by other states also.