Global warming can put billions at risk of malaria, dengue: Study

Global warming can put billions at risk of malaria, dengue: Study

Global warming has always raised the spectre of deluge and drought; now add diseases to it. A 3.7 degrees Celsius rise in temperatures by 2100 from pre-industrial levels can unleash fatal outbreaks of malaria and dengue, a study claimed.

At that level of warming, some 4.7 billion more people may be at risk from such deadly diseases than were during 1970-99, the study said. It was published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

The researchers used an integrated multi-model multi-scenario framework to measure the impact of climate change in the length of the transmission season. They also used this to measure the global population at risk of malaria and dengue for different altitudes and population densities for the period 1951-99.

The study was led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, along with Umea University, Sweden, Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Italy, University of Heidelberg, Germany and the University of Liverpool.

The study predicted the population at risk of malaria and dengue will be higher in densely populated urban areas in the World Health Organization (WHO)’s African region, South-East Asia region and the region of the Americas. It also estimated that 1.4 billion additional people will be at risk of malaria and dengue in urban areas in Africa and southeast Asia.

The study found that the transmission season of both diseases would also increase due to climate change. Recent studies have shown that winters are becoming warmer and summers are arriving earlier. Hence, vectors like mosquitoes get more time to breed.

The study found that the risk of transmission of malaria will increase by 1.6 additional months in Africa’s tropical highlands, the eastern Mediterranean and the Americas. The risk of dengue transmission will increase in the lowland areas of the western Pacific and the eastern Mediterranean by four additional months.

The study suggested that policy makers should prepare appropriate strategies to build resilience to major mosquito-borne diseases in a warmer and more urbanised world.

The study also acknowledged that the researchers did not consider the effects of socio-economic development, disease and vector evolution or the development of more effective drugs and vaccines, all of which could lead to important differences in the amount of risk simulated.

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Climate crisis intensifies: Coastal areas may become unliveable by 2100, flags report

Climate crisis intensifies: Coastal areas may become unliveable by 2100, flags report

People living in and near the coastal areas in India may be compelled to stay indoors during working hours for more than half of 2100. Severe heat conditions — and not the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic — would be driving people to do so, a recent report by Climate Trends has flagged.

Millions in India are currently reeling under a severe heat wave. Scientists have warned that the rising climate crisis will make the situation more unbearable in the coming years.

The report said most parts of India experience 12-66 days of potentially deadly heat and humidity combinations in a year — expressed by ‘wet bulb temperature’. It is an index that measures the impact of heat and humidity on the human body.

A temperature increase of 4.3 degrees Celsius by 2100 relative to pre-industrial temperatures may happen under RCP (representative concentration pathway) 8.5 scenario, the report pointed out. The wet bulb temperature will cross the deadly threshold for six months or more by another nine decades, it said.

Aarti Khosla from Climate Trends said:

“Even fit and acclimatised people can’t work at a wet bulb temperature of 32°C; at 35°C, even fit and acclimatised people sitting in the shade die within six hours. Climate change is making these wet bulb temperatures more likely.”

Heat and humid hotspots to suffer most  

Most of India experiences 12-66 days of a combination of potentially deadly heat and humidity with hotspots along the east coast.

The report predicted that under RCP 8.5 scenario such days may increase to:

  • 221 from 124 in Kolkata
  • 253 from 171 in Sundarbans
  • 282 from 178 in Cuttack
  • 285 from 173 in Brahmapur
  • 365 from 113 in Thiruvananthapuram
  • 309 from 140 in Chennai
  • 261 from 47 in Mumbai
  • 131 from 63 in New Delhi

“The west coast will be increasingly affected with around 269 days of wet bulb temperature days in Goa (up from 35 currently); 362 days in Kochi (up from 98); and around 349 days in Mangalore (up from 72 currently),” the report said.

The report warned of a substantial worsening of situation even by 2050. Kolkata may experience 176 deadly heat-humid days; the Sundarbans 215; Cuttack 226; Brahmapur 233; Thiruvananthapuram 314; Chennai 229; Mumbai 171; and New Delhi 99.

Under RCP 2.6 — a very stringent pathway that requires carbon dioxide emissions to start declining by 2020 and go to zero by 2100 — the number of critical heat-humid days will be 157 in Kolkata; 193 in the Sundarbans; 216 in Cuttack; 218 in Brahmapur; 240 in Thiruvananthapuram; 179 in Chennai; 112 in Mumbai; 81 in New Delhi; 94 in Goa; 163 in Mangalore; and 206 in Kochi by 2100.

“Air can hold more moisture with more heat, and the combined impact of heat and humidity becomes critical. With more warming under climate change impact, the combined impact of heat and humidity is set to rise,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.

Koll pointed out that so far, neither Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change nor India’s own official assessment has considered the combined impact of weather-related events and suggested that such studies and assessment needed to be undertaken at the earliest.

Heat humidity combination may affect health, productivity

The report warned:

“In hot conditions, humans cool themselves by sweating; but if the humidity is too high, sweating no longer works, and we risk dangerous overheating. Heat stroke can cause symptoms from light-headedness and nausea to organ swelling, cell signalling disruption, unconsciousness and death.”

There are five physiological mechanisms, according to the report, which are triggered by heat exposure: Ischemia (reduced and restricted blood flow), heat cytotoxicity (cell death), inflammatory response (swelling), disseminated intravascular coagulation (abnormal blood clotting), and rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of muscle fibres).

These mechanisms affect seven vital organs: Brain, heart, intestines, kidneys, liver, lungs and pancreas. “There are 27 lethal combinations of these mechanisms and organs that have been shown to be caused by heat,” the report said.

A recent paper authored by top meteorologists in the country, including M Rajeevan, secretary in the Union ministry of earth sciences, and published in journal Weather and Climate Extremes claimed that heat waves caused 17,362 deaths during the last five decades. These accounted for 12 per cent of total deaths due to extreme weather events.

According to the study, India experienced 73 heat wave spells in 2019 against an average of 17 as measured during 1986-2016.

It also warned that most of India is presently facing a ‘high’ risk to workability during the hottest months with wet bulb temperature ranging from 30-33°C. It estimated that India currently loses an estimated 21 per cent of effective outdoor working hours due to extreme heat and humidity.

A McKinsey report, published 2020, stated that under the worst possible climate impact scenario of RCP 8.5, the loss of outdoor working hours may increase to 24 per cent by 2030 and 30 per cent by 2050.

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India Bhutan sign MoU for cooperation on climate change waste management

India Bhutan sign MoU for cooperation on climate change waste management

NEW DELHI: India and Bhutan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the environment sector, Union Environment Prakash Javadekar said on Friday.
“India has symbiotic relationship with Bhutan. Today, both countries signed an MoU which will open new vistas of bilateral cooperation in the areas of climate change, waste management, etc.,” the minister tweeted.
The MoU between India’s Ministry of Environment and Bhutan’s National Environment Commission will strengthen technological, scientific and management capabilities, and expand the areas of cooperation in the field of environment to promote a mutually beneficial partnership, ministry officials said.
“The MoU will be the platform to further enhance our partnership and support, exchange best practices in areas of #AirPollution, Waste Management, Chemical Management, #ClimateChange, etc.,” the ministry tweeted.

Javadekar and Tandi Dorji, Bhutan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairperson of the National Environment Commission, signed the MoU during a virtual meeting.

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IISc study finds traditional dwellings are better for changing climate

IISc study finds traditional dwellings are better for changing climate

BENGALURU: As most people gradually shift from traditional houses, which rely on locally available building materials and knowledge, to modern dwellings, even in rural areas, a study by IISc’s Centre for Sustainable Technologies (CST) that evaluated houses in three different villages in India that had temperate, warm-humid and cold climates has found that traditional houses were better suited for climate change.

“Climate change affects the durability, indoor temperature and energy demand of buildings,” IISc said.
India has diverse traditional housing architectures spread across its varied landscape and climatic zones, and Khadeeja Henna, Aysha Saifudeen and Monto Mani from CST recently studied which of the two were more resilient to climate change.

The researchers, in their study published in Nature, while pointing out that Climate change impacts buildings in multiple ways, including extreme weather events and thermal stresses, said rural India comprising 65% of the population is characterised by vernacular dwellings evolved over time to passively regulate and maintain comfortable indoors.

“The team evaluated houses in three different villages in India that had temperate, warm-humid and cold climates. Using data loggers, the researchers recorded temperatures inside these houses every 30 minutes for almost a year,” IISc said.

Based on these recordings, they built a mathematical model to predict how the indoor temperatures would be in the future, IISc said, adding that the team then simulated three future global warming scenarios with different levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

The team, which also estimated how houses constructed using traditional and modern materials behaved in these scenarios, found that in all three climates, traditional houses – such as ones with timber walls or slate roofing – were less affected by climate change than modern houses.

“In the cold climatic zone, traditional dwellings were warmer indoors, making them more suitable for residence. But in the warm-humid and temperate climatic zones, modern houses had relatively higher indoor temperatures. This would make them more dependent on artificial air conditioning, thereby fuelling global warming further. The study, therefore, suggests that traditional dwellings have design solutions that can help mitigate and adapt to climate change,” IISc said.

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Climate Change will decimate India’s GDP by 2050

Climate Change will decimate India’s GDP by 2050

New research says that India can lose over 25% of its GDP annually by 2050 unless the world reduces carbon footprint drastically.

Last week I wrote about the importance of the current G7 summit of the world’s richest nations (from 11-13 June) when it comes to deciding on a roadmap to tackle the climate crisis. After all, it is now clear that most of the biggest economies in the world—including India, which is attending the summit on invitation—have hedged their bets on fossil fuels to spur economic recovery following the covid-19 pandemic. All hopes of a green recovery that would help shift the world away from planet-heating fossil fuels to renewable energy (RE) has been dashed. Nations have instead invested millions of dollars to support coal, oil and gas.

This is nothing less than agreeing upon mutually assured destruction. That’s exactly what a new report prepared by the international not-for-profit charity Oxfam and one of the world’s biggest insurance firms, Swiss Re, says. The report, The Economics Of Climate Change: No Action Is Not An Option, lays down, in stark financial terms, the consequences of not meeting the climate goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The report states that if global temperatures rise by 2.6 degree Celsius in the next 30 years, then G7 countries will lose 8.7% of their GDP every year. This is twice as much as the effect of covid-19 on their economies. For poorer countries like India it will be worse, with its GDP shrinking by over 25%.

The report points out that the latest global pledges to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would result in average global temperatures rising by 2.6 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050. The Paris Agreement seeks to limit this temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius by 2100.

The fact that the 1.5 degree Celsius goal is slipping rapidly away was made clear by a World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) report last month. It said that at least one of the next five years will see the world touch the 1.5 degree Celsius mark. Currently, the world is 1.2 degree Celsius hotter than pre-industrial times. Without greater ambition to abolish fossil fuels, especially from the world’s richest economies, there is a very real chance that we will see catastrophic warming in the near future.

The focus right now is on the UK government, which is hosting both the G7 summit as well as a key global climate change summit in early October. While it is of paramount importance, as the report points out, that richer countries finance climate mitigation and adaptation of poorer countries that are more at risk, the UK has instead slashed its global aid.

Some of the world’s biggest emitters like China and the US have announced ambitious climate targets recently, but all analysis shows that this is nowhere near enough. The longer that fresh GHG emissions in the atmosphere keeps rising, as is currently the case, the harder it will be to course correct. In fact the Oxfam-Swiss Re report also envisages an even worse 3.2 degree Celsius rise by 2050, which would see a country like India losing up to 35% of its GDP every year. Now, this is entirely possible, since the later we act, the greater will be the rise in variable risks. Once it gets so hot that the word goes past certain climate tipping points, it would be too late to pull back from the abyss.

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Climate change to worsen Indian monsoon, global warming sets stage for dangerous rains: Study

Climate change to worsen Indian monsoon, global warming sets stage for dangerous rains: Study

The Indian monsoon is likely to get much more dangerous and wetter as global warming alters the system, new research says. India has witnessed a change in monsoon pattern over the years as climate disruptions take a toll on the system in the subcontinent.

The research published in the journal Science Advances stated that scientists analysed changes in the past million years to conclude that monsoon is set for the worse. “We find that the projected monsoon response to ongoing ice melt and rising carbon dioxide levels is fully consistent with dynamics of the past 0.9 million years,” the research paper said.

Led by Steven Clemens, a professor of earth, environmental and planetary sciences at Brown University, the team of researchers analysed mud samples recovered from the Bay of Bengal to reach the conclusion.

The team drilled 200-meter long core samples during a two-month research tour on a converted oil-drilling ship, the JOIDES Resolution. The samples provided an in-depth analysis of monsoon rainfall. Scientists analysed the fossils of plankton embedded in the sample that had died over hundreds of years as monsoon rains put more freshwater into the bay, reducing the salinity at the surface.

The samples provided an in-depth analysis of monsoon rainfall

The samples provided an in-depth analysis of monsoon rainfall.

Analyzing the samples, researchers found that the high rainfall and low salinity came following a period of high carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and falling ice volumes. “We can verify over the past million years that increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been followed by substantial increases in rainfall in the South Asian monsoon system. The predictions of the climate models are wonderfully consistent with what we see in the past million years,” Clemens was quoted as saying by New York Times.

The Indian monsoon, which is one of the prime cause of floods in several parts of the countries as rivers get inundated from excessive rainfall, could emerge as a major worry for people as the risk of dangerous season grows. The monsoon is also key in agriculture that is dependent on seasonal rains for irrigation.

Meanwhile, the Indian Meteorological Department said that the Southwest Monsoon has covered the northeast region, nearly four days after its normal date. The Southwest Monsoon made an onset over Kerala, which marks the beginning of the four-month rainfall season, on June 3 after a delay of two days. The system has already covered Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana since its arrival just days ago.

However, the weather body has predicted that the monsoon is expected to be normal this season as well as in June, a month critical for sowing.

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