With El Nino around, the heat is on - Hindustan Times
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With El Nino around, the heat is on

ByHT Editorial
Nov 01, 2023 10:48 PM IST

Record temperatures and El Nino threaten India's future

This year, forest fires turned swathes of hills and forests to ash in Europe, virtually wiping out an entire town as all past temperature records fell. Next year is unlikely to be any different. The warming pushed average temperatures above the 2°C threshold for 75 countries. El Nino conditions, a phenomenon where the equatorial Pacific waters become warmer than usual, are partly to blame for the trend, and it is just getting stronger, making next year likely to become even worse than 2023. India has borne the brunt too. It recorded its hottest February and August and saw the worst bouts of monsoon. The past month was its third warmest ever, experts estimate. And with the El Nino strengthening, next year’s rains — crucial for India’s farms, and therefore, the economy — are in jeopardy.

The world is firmly in the grip of the climate crisis and temperatures at least 1.5°C-2°C higher than pre-industrial years look unavoidable, if not inevitable. (PTI) PREMIUM
The world is firmly in the grip of the climate crisis and temperatures at least 1.5°C-2°C higher than pre-industrial years look unavoidable, if not inevitable. (PTI)

This year, forest fires turned swathes of hills and forests to ash in Europe, virtually wiping out an entire town as all past temperature records fell. Next year is unlikely to be any different. The warming pushed average temperatures above the 2°C threshold for 75 countries. El Nino conditions, a phenomenon where the equatorial Pacific waters become warmer than usual, are partly to blame for the trend, and it is just getting stronger, making next year likely to become even worse than 2023. India has borne the brunt too. It recorded its hottest February and August and saw the worst bouts of monsoon. The past month was its third warmest ever, experts estimate. And with the El Nino strengthening, next year’s rains — crucial for India’s farms, and therefore, the economy — are in jeopardy.

The writing has been on the wall for a long time now. The world is firmly in the grip of the climate crisis and temperatures at least 1.5°C-2°C higher than pre-industrial years look unavoidable, if not inevitable. This holds bad news for a country like India, where heat waves are projected to become eight times more likely and last approximately three times longer even if warming is limited to 2°C. At most risk will be India’s urban centres, where a heat island effect can push temperatures 1-5°C higher. A jump from 41°C to 46°C can lead to a higher number of deaths and heat exposure illnesses.

Here, experiments such as Ahmedabad’s heat action plan hold the key. Simple solutions, like reflective roof installations that help lower indoor temperatures, could go a long way. The country must devise scientific and home-grown solutions since in this global crisis, it now appears that all countries are likely to be on their own.

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