MIT computer simulations show that deadly heat waves could hit India if emissions are not reduced

Using the most up to date global circulation models, simulations from MIT have shown that deadly heat waves could hit regions in South Asia later this century, if drastic measures are not taken to reduce emissions. More than one-fifth of humans on the planet will be affected by these heat waves. One of the worst affected regions would be the Indus and Ganges river basins, fertile regions which supply much of the food consumed in the region.

Image: MIT

Image: MIT

Elfatih Eltahir, a professor at MIT says, "With the disruption to the agricultural production, it doesn’t need to be the heat wave itself that kills people. Production will go down, so potentially everyone will suffer."

Matthew Huber, a professor at Purdue University and unrelated to the study says, "The study shows that unfettered warming is likely to do substantial harm to the health and well-being of the most populous democracy on Earth. This is very bad news."

The heat waves could start striking in a few decades, if no action is taken. While more intense heat waves are expected to strike in the Persian Gulf region, the number of people affected by the heat waves in the Indian subcontinent would be much more. This is because the smaller population in the Persian Gulf region are relatively wealthy, and there is very little agricultural land. By comparison, southern Pakistan, Bangladesh and Northern India together have more than 1.5 billion people, and these areas are among the poorest in the region.

A significant portion of the population in these areas are subsistence farmers, who spend long and grueling hours working in the harsh sun. Emissions of greenhouse gases in India and China continue to rise, considering that these are emerging economies. The simulations show the deadly heat waves will occur under the "business as usual" scenario, but even moderate efforts at mitigation can reduce some of the severest effects of the heat waves.

The simulations show that India will be among the worst affected by global warming, and will have among the hottest regions on the planet, if no action is taken.

Published Date: Aug 03, 2017 11:02 AM | Updated Date: Aug 03, 2017 11:09 AM