Global warming and climate change have strengthened a severe heat wave that has smothered most of Pakistan and India for several weeks, climate scientists said today.
The blistering heat has scorched the homes of more than 1 billion people, and is reported to have killed at least 90 across the two nations.
Scientists said that the chances of such a heat wave increased by at least 30 times since the 19th century, which is before widespread emissions of global warming gases began.
The report on the heat wave was conducted and published by World Weather Attribution, a collaborative effort among international climate scientists to examine extreme weather events for the influence, or lack thereof, of climate change.
One of the authors of the report, Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, warned that climate change is a real game changer when it comes to heat waves, and is a major factor in this severe weather.
The report echos that of an estimate from the UK Meteorological Office last week, which said that human influence had increased the likelihood of extreme heat by a hundredfold.
The two analyses highlight the extent to which carbon pollution is already waking havoc on society. Forest fires were sparked by the heat in India, and melted glaciers triggered flash floods in Pakistan. Both countries had severe blackouts that made it even harder for citizens to stay safe.
Food and farming has also suffered, with crop yields massively suffering due to the heat. It could not come at a worse time either, with global hunger creeping up and wheat supplies completely rocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The effect on crops is particularly worrying, a UN agency has said. A series of crises — conflict, climate, COVID and the economy — has already “undermined decades of progress” toward food security. Russia’s invasion has again disrupted grain exports from two of the world’s biggest wheat exports. With heat scorched farms ravaging crops in India, the second-largest wheat producer after China, global hunger is a massive fear.
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