As summer hits full on, many of us take refuge indoors from the heat and the beating sun. Our cool air conditioning (AC) and fans wick away the sweat. However, for many people in developing countries, it is not an option to stay cool.

People lack access to electricity or a reliable source of it; therefore, they cannot run air conditioning or a fan. In India, there are millions in such a state. Many people have jobs that require them to toil outside in the heat with no shelter: tending crops, selling products by the street, driving rickshaws, washing clothes and even wandering looking for work. They cannot just take a day off from work because it is hot. They need the money to support their family.

Pakistan and India seem to be the hardest hit by these heat waves. Just recently the heat waves in Pakistan have killed over 800 people and close to 1,700 people died during May in India. Temperatures recorded were as high as 113 degrees, some of the highest since the mid-90s.

Pakistan’s citizens complain about the power shortages due to the fact that everyone is running their AC units. When there is no power, everyone suffers from the heat. No one can escape. There is also an extreme shortage of water. Not to mention in other places there is a lack of clean water to drink. Without access to water, the body has an even more difficult time dealing with the heat.

Pakistan’s government deployed the military to set up heat stroke centers around the country to deal with the heat waves. Many of the hospitals both in India and Pakistan are overwhelmed with people. The morgues are full. Doctors are on the clock 24/7 treating patients.

With such a strain on the health centers and hospitals, there needs to be plans to cope with extreme heat waves. There should be awareness to help people understand how to stay cool in such heat as well as places to get water and protection form the sun and the heat.

Ahmedabad, a city in India, has taken on a plan similar to this. They have installed a campaign to educate people through radio, television and newspaper. Health centers have stocks of ice packs and liquids to help rehydrate and cool heat stroke victims. While no city can avoid the heat and the unfortunate deaths caused by it, Ahmedabad’s program has helped to keep the death toll down.

– Katherine Hewitt

Sources: CNN, Reuters
Photo: WTNH

climate shift
Recent studies have officially linked a variety of extreme weather disparities to climate change. According to a report in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, nine of 2013’s 16 key weather abnormalities were in direct relation to shifts caused by long term human activity. This is arguably the most definitive assessment of direct weather effects climate scientists have made.

The most absolute circumstance explored in the report was Australia’s ruthless heat wave. Five individual groups of researchers studied the trends in the country last year. All concluded the abnormal heat was a direct result of long term climate shifts.

“We can say that this was virtually impossible without climate change,” said climate scientist from the University of Melbourne, David Karoly.

The 2013 heat wave was so intense that the Bureau of Meteorology added a completely new color to the top of its charts. The heat, which often scorched Australia at 111 degrees Fahrenheit, led to the country’s harshest recorded drought and devastating wildfires.

In that same year, the severity of heat waves and/or droughts in New Zealand, China, Korea, Japan and Western Europe could all be attributed to climate change, according to the report.

The California droughts were also explored, though the results were not definitive. The state, which has endured its driest year on record, was studied by three separate teams of climate scientists. One study, conducted by a group from Stanford University, found human activity was responsible. The other two were inconclusive. All agreed, however, that climate change intensified the drought.

Abnormally heavy rains across the Midwest were confirmed as products of manmade climate change, according to the report. These rains caused flooding in the region, delayed plantation of crops and at one point halted shipment down the Mississippi River.

On the other hand, two 2013 weather abnormalities were deemed less likely to occur under the effects of climate change. Research concluded the U.K.’s cold spring and Colorado’s heavy rains weren’t in congruence with expected trends. In Colorado’s case, there was limited data and scientists say further study is necessary.

Ellie Sennett

Sources: NY Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, The American Meteorological Society
Photo: Flickr