Climate change worsens brutal heat waves in India

To support the journalism of MIT Technology Review, please consider subscribing.

Some local governments are trying to adapt to the extreme heat. Ahmedabad, a city in western India, experienced a particularly devastating heat wave in May 2010: the official death toll reached 800 people, and up to 1,300 deaths were indirectly attributed to it. In 2013, the city launched a heat action plan, which included early warning systems for residents, training for healthcare professionals, and adjustments to help buildings cool naturally.

Since then, other local governments have followed suit and created their own plans, but some are hoping to see more national action to help people adapt to the heat, Mondal says.

Reducing emissions will help prevent worst-case scenarios of future warming, but the current reality is already difficult for many to bear. And India’s deadly heat waves are just one example of those that will be hit hardest by climate change.

“Here are 1.4 billion people who will be affected by this heat wave, the majority of whom have contributed very little to global warming,” Mondal says. “This phenomenon should put to rest the question of why people should care about climate change.”