India is already baking under the weight of summer heat, which the country’s Meteorological Department expects only to get worse in the coming months. And, in extreme cases of extreme heat, recent days have seen India become home to the fifteen hottest cities in the world.
On Friday, April 26th, the fifteen hottest cities in the world were in India. By Sunday, fourteen of the fifteen hottest cities in the world continued to be in the country as heatwaves in many parts of the country intensified. Khargone, in Madhya Pradesh, recorded the maximum temperature, at 46.6°C on April 26th. This rose to 47.5°C on Sunday, April 28th.
Central India, in particular, is bearing the brunt of the heat. On Friday, all fifteen of the world’s hottest cities were from the region. Nine were from Maharashtra; three from Madhya Pradesh; two from Uttar Pradesh; and one from Telangana. The alarming implication of this is that, not only did India account for all fifteen of the world’s hottest cities, this burden was shared by just four states.
The rankings come as a reminder of India’s climate woes, with temperatures across the country intensifying at an alarming pace. Climate change is the driving force behind this, with the 2008-17 decade standing as India’s hottest on record. Rising temperatures carry with them dire implications for India: as previously reported by Health Issues India
“The Paris Agreement on Climate Change, to which India is a signatory, commits nations to avert a global temperature rise of below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels, with a limit of 1.5℃. For India, a 1-2℃ temperature rise by 2050 is a best-case scenario if decisive action is taken now. Without action, temperatures could rise by up to 3℃. Such a scenario could have devastating effects on living standards for roughly 600 million Indians and cost India as much as 2.8 percent of its GDP by 2050,” according to the World Bank.
“Even a temperature increase of just 1.5℃ could carry severe implications for India. The United Nations predicts a 1.5℃ rise in global temperatures by 2040. For India, impacts could conceivably result in mass displacement due to regions becoming uninhabitable, either through extreme temperatures or flooding due to rising sea levels.”
Heatwaves in recent years have incurred significant death tolls, meanwhile. Since 1992, more than 22,000 people have died as the result of exposure to extreme heat. Rising temperatures also have implications on a number of other health fronts, driving natural disasters and changing the breeding patterns of mosquitoes, leading to increased outbreaks of vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever and malaria.
It is clear that, although summer heat can be enjoyable, it can be deadly when it intensifies beyond control. That India was, in effect, the hottest place in the world to be in recent days must hammer home again the reality of climate change and how the lives of Indians will suffer if the country’s environmental health catastrophes are not kept in check.