The Rising Temperature in Asia: Impact and Precautions

The scorching heat in Asia this summer has reached unprecedented levels, impacting millions of people across the continent. Record-breaking temperatures, fueled by climate change, have caused heat-related deaths, heat exhaustion, floods, and infrastructure damage. Heatwaves are becoming increasingly deadly natural disasters, surpassing earthquakes, typhoons, and floods in their impact.

In South Korea, 23 people have died from heat-related injuries between May and August, a significant increase compared to last year. Japan issued heatstroke alerts after temperatures broke records, and over 9,000 people were hospitalized due to heatstroke in just one week. China and India experienced their hottest temperatures on record, with temperatures soaring above 50C. Even Southeast Asian countries faced record-breaking heat in April and May.

These heatwaves have severe consequences for individuals’ health, with heatstroke posing a significant risk. Heatstroke occurs when the body’s core temperature rises above 40C, leading to organ failure, cardiac arrest, and even death if left untreated. The increased heat also puts a strain on the heart, raising the heart rate and potentially causing long-term cardiovascular issues.

Climate scientists warn that the globe is warming at an alarming rate, with temperatures in Asia rising even faster than the global average. A recent report revealed that temperatures in several parts of Asia were up by 2C this year, far surpassing the target set by countries to limit global warming to 1.5C. If the current pace continues, this limit will likely be breached within the next four years.

The impact of these heatwaves extends beyond human health. Heat can melt roads, destroy infrastructure, and start forest fires, causing further damage to the environment and leading to more adverse effects on communities. The economic and social consequences of heatwaves in Asia are significant, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.

Experts emphasize the urgency of both reducing emissions and adapting to the intensifying heatwaves. While wealthier countries like Singapore have implemented measures to shield citizens from heat, like air-conditioned spaces and green spaces, poorer countries lack the resources to implement similar strategies. Plans to combat heatwaves often overlook the poorest communities who suffer the most from natural disasters.

Countries must tailor their plans to address the specific needs of marginalized groups, such as the homeless, disabled, or elderly, to ensure their safety during heatwaves. One successful example is the implementation of white paint on tin and asbestos roofs in Ahmedabad, India, to cool homes in migrant slums. More initiatives are necessary to protect the most vulnerable populations.

As Asia’s population continues to grow, particularly in tier-two cities, it is crucial to prioritize reducing the risks posed by heatwaves. Construction must adapt to hotter conditions, and infrastructure must be designed to provide shelter and mitigate the effects of extreme heat. It is crucial to invest in early warning systems, cooling shelters, and educational campaigns to raise awareness and protect communities.

Climate change is a global issue that demands immediate action. Governments need to allocate sufficient funds and resources to tackle heatwaves effectively. The international community must collaborate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, limit global warming, and support vulnerable regions in adapting to the changing climate. Only by working together can we ensure a safer and more resilient future for Asia and the world.