Billions SIZZLE as Climate Change Fuels Record-Breaking Heat in Asia

Human-driven climate change significantly intensified and increased the likelihood of last month’s extreme heat waves in Asia.

Extreme heat waves that scorched Asia last month, affecting billions of people, were significantly intensified and made more likely by human-driven climate change, according to a report by an international team of scientists.

The World Weather Attribution group revealed that April’s record-breaking heat caused widespread disruption, forcing school closures, damaging crops, and leading to hundreds of heat-related deaths across the continent. Countries such as Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam experienced their hottest April days on record, while temperatures in India soared to 46 degrees Celsius (114.8 Fahrenheit).

“From Gaza to Delhi to Manila, people suffered and died when April temperatures soared in Asia,” said Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute of Climate Change and the Environment, and one of the report’s authors. “Heatwaves have always happened. But the additional heat, driven by emissions from oil, gas, and coal, is resulting in death for many people.”

In the Philippines, one of the worst-hit countries, authorities were compelled to issue health warnings, shut down schools, and ration electricity as the high temperatures strained the nation’s power grid. The 15-day heatwave, which began in mid-April, was described in the report as “virtually impossible, even under El Nino conditions” without the influence of man-made global warming.

Meanwhile, parts of the Middle East also recorded unprecedented temperatures between April 24-26, with Tel Aviv reaching 40.7C. The report estimated that extreme temperatures in western Asia were made five times more likely due to climate change.

“The heat that we saw is really compounding an already dire crisis at the moment in Gaza,” commented Carolina Pereira Marghidan of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre during a briefing on Tuesday.

India’s Kolkata faced temperatures as high as 46C, 10 degrees above the seasonal average. The report emphasized that climate change has made extreme temperatures in South Asia approximately 45 times more likely.

Marghidan stressed the urgent need for Asian governments to implement and enhance measures to adapt to rising temperatures and mitigate health risks, particularly for vulnerable populations. “Considering the rate at which extreme heat is rising… we see a big need for heat action plans to be scaled up and current plans to be improved across Asia,” she said.

As Asia grapples with these unprecedented heatwaves, the call for comprehensive climate action and adaptation strategies becomes ever more urgent. The findings of the World Weather Attribution group underline the stark reality of climate change and its tangible impact on the lives of billions across the continent.