Extreme heat events to kill an addtional 1.5 million Indians annually by 2100: Study

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 31, 2019

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will be affected the most, the study says.

A new study, which was released on Thursday, claimed that extreme heat events precipitated by climate change may kill an additional 1.5 million people in India every year from 2100. However, not everybody agrees with huge increase in mortality projected by the study carried out by the Climate Impact Lab of the University of Chicago and the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago on Thursday.

The study, which was released by Jalshakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat at an event here, said the if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow at the current rates, India is projected to see a rapid increase in the number of extreme hot days by the turn of the next century, increasing mortality risks.

It said most of these additional 1.5 million deaths will occur mainly in six States -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The study claimed that the average annual temperature experienced in India would go up by 4 degree Celsius from 24 degree Celsius to 28 degree Celsius by 2100, and the number of average extremely hot days (over 35 degree Celsius ) will increase by eight times from 5.1 days in 2010 to 42.8 days.

"The study shows that India needs to have aggressive and innovative adaptation techniques -- the techniques that we do not probably have right now. The report has very detailed information what is it going to look like in each district in India," said Michael Greenstone, Faculty Director at the Tata Centre for Development UChicago and Co-Founder of Climate Impact Lab, participating a panel discussion on the report.


However, Kamal Kishore, Member, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), who also participated in the discussion, contested the projections on mortality. The scenario portrayed by the report is "appropriately shocking" and "we were not expecting it to be so bad", he said.

Kishore also agreed that India has been witnessing changing geographies of floods and heat waves and more number of heat wave days of late. "While there is no dispute on whether there would be more hot days, it may not necessarily mean that the society will be sitting passively. It is an interaction of two complex systems -- climate system and social system. Social system is not an inert, neutral system that is waiting to be hit," the NDMA member said.

The study also said that Punjab is projected to witness 85 extremely hot days, double of the what is expected as national average, while Odisha and Delhi will experience 30 and 22 times more extremely hot days as compared to now, by the end of the century.

Published on October 31, 2019

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