A few weeks ago there was a very severe heatwave in parts of India - now there is one in parts of Pakistan. It has been worsened by its occurrence during Ramadan. The requirement for fasting during daylight hours include to abstain not just from food, but also water, though this requirement can be relaxed for health reasons.
Electricity cuts have also made it worse. The BBC reports as at June 24, 2015, that "612 people had died in the main government-run hospitals in the city of Karachi during the past four days. Another 80 are reported to have died in private hospitals." But a lot more will have died before getting to hospital - really, once at the hospital, hardly any should die .. like a lot of things from the sub-continent, this statement needs interpreting.
Heatwaves are, of course, getting worse due to climate change. This week the Lancet released a major report into climate change and health. I was invited to speak at the Canberra launch, especially on the implications for Australia from migration and conflict, but decided at the last minute that I couldn't. My slides, however, are available here.
Some of our friends in India have been affected by the heat, but I haven't heard of any that have died. But no doubt productivity has been harmed. Climate change is a slow emergency. Solutions are emerging, but one that is vastly under-recognised is of a fairer world. Related to that is the need to reduce fertility, especially in low-income countries, not because that will slow climate change (much) but because it will promote development and reduce poverty. That will better prepare societies for the emergency that is unfolding. The failure to recognise this is the greatest weakness in the otherwise excellent Papal encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si . The much shorter Lambeth Declaration on climate change did not mention population at all. Of interest, it was signed by representatives of several faiths, including the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a Zoroastrian, several rabbis, a Buddhist and a Sikh.
Colin Butler, June 24, 2015
I have been corresponding with Hemant Raj Kafle, principal of a private school in Nepal, and founder of an NGO called Climate Care Campaign. Following is an edited version of our conversation:
Hemant: Namaste .. we are trying to work on climate change. Despite no science training, I think a lot about environment, human population pressure and climate change. I have taught students on these subjects. Few people in Nepal take my concerns seriously – some even laugh. I want to do something on it.
Colin: One thing we can do is publish one or two of the best essays by your students. I also suggested it would be good if he could establish links with other climate activists in Nepal, a country of course with many problems, including the earthquake and a lot of soul-destroying corruption.
Here is the essay, by Singh Raj Rokaya, class 9 at Samabeshi English High School, Nepalgunj, Nepal (see gallery). I have edited it a tiny bit. This is published just as India's very severe pre-monsoonal heatwave, undoubtedly worsened by human-wrought changes to the atmosphere, appears to be finally clearing, as the rains approach. Note that the reported death toll (now about 2,200 people) is likely to be a gross underestimate, due both to undercounting of the poor in many regions, and particularly because thousands of vulnerable people - already sick - are likely to have died earlier than they otherwise would have.
Here is Singh Raj Rokaya's essay:
Climate change is measurable increases in the averages temperatures of earth’s atmosphere, oceans & land masses. Rapid warming brought on by rising levels of heat-trapping, gases known as green house gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases retain the radiant energy provided to the earth by the sun in a process known as
green house effect. Greenhouse gases occur naturally and without them the planet would be too cold to sustain life as we known it. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the-1700s, however human activities have been added more and more of these gases into the atmosphere.
There are several effects of climate change. Icecaps have started to melt; the sea level is rising which can drown coastal areas. General weather patterns of the world have been changing seasonal harvests; agricultural growth is hampered by irregular weather patterns. Drinking water has becoming scarce owing to drying water sources. Natural balance is damaged, destroying biodiversity. There are frequent storms and irregular rainfall. Acid rain may occur in the conditions of climate change. With greenhouse gases in the mix, the atmosphere acts like a thickening blankets and traps more heat. It has been making the Earth hotter than the previous years.
We should control the climate change for the welfare of living creatures. We should adopt the following measures to control and to prevent harm from climate change. We should reduce greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. We should plant trees and reduce deforestation. We should use alternative energy and renewable sources of energy. We should control unattended urbanization and rapid growth of industries. We should conduct public awareness programs about the climate change we should take a legal provision for preservation of bio-diversity and it should be implemented. We should maintain the global partnership and collaboration.
Climate change has severely affected the flora and fauna climate change occur acid rain destroy the beauty of peaks and several others old monuments so we should conduct afforestation programs and tree should be planted in desert areas as well as other areas people should be aware from climate change and it’s effects on the living creatures. For the control of the climate change rapid growth of populations, urbanization & industrialization should be managed in proper place.