Over 2 Billion in India, Pak at Risk of Unbearable Heat

In a startling revelation, a recent study has sounded the alarm for more than 2.2 billion people residing in India’s Indus River valley and eastern Pakistan. The study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) predicts that if global temperatures rise by just 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, these regions, along with northern India, eastern Pakistan, eastern China, and sub-Saharan Africa, will be gripped by heat waves with dangerously high humidity levels.


The study emphasizes that even a 1-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures from current levels could expose billions of people to heat and humidity beyond their natural cooling capacities. Researchers from institutions like the Penn State College of Health and Human Development and Purdue University highlight the devastating impact of global warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels on human health worldwide.

Major cities including Delhi, Kolkata, Multan, Shanghai, Wuhan, and Nanjing are expected to be affected by these heat waves. Moreover, the study predicts that if global warming continues to reach 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, even regions like the Eastern Seaboard in the United States and cities such as Florida, New York, Houston, and Chicago will experience deadly heat levels.


Not limited to India and Pakistan, South America and Australia are also on the brink of facing extreme heat conditions unless significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion, are realized.

The study underscores the importance of taking immediate action to combat rising global temperatures. While a young, healthy individual’s limit in ambient wet-bulb temperature is approximately 31 degrees Celsius, the threshold for any individual at a given moment depends on various factors, including exertion level and environmental variables.

This research serves as a stark reminder that the world must act decisively to mitigate the impact of global warming and protect the well-being of billions of people, especially in low and middle-income countries where the consequences could be most devastating.


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