“To die of heat”: the fatal temperature for humans reached in India and Pakistan in recent days

Unusual heat waves have hit India and Pakistan for two months. However, the heat and humidity now exceed the survival threshold for people outside.

Now we can literally die of heat on Earth. India and Pakistan, for example, are suffocating. These two countries experienced a record spring with temperatures sometimes exceeding 40 degrees in New Delhi in April. And the trend does not seem ready to reverse, with values ​​between 43 ° and 45 ° C in New Delhi, and perhaps 50 ° C on the border with Pakistanto believe Science and life.

49.5 ° C: this is the temperature recorded on May 1, 2022 in Nawabshah #Pakistan. Up to 47.2 ° C in Band #India and Jacobabad #Pakistan April 30, 2022.

44.6 ° C: this is the AVERAGE TEMPERATURE of the afternoons of April 2022 in Nawabshah (the hottest month of April on record!). pic.twitter.com/1zSFgVMFv5

– Dr. Serge Zaka (Dr. Zarge) (@SergeZaka) May 2, 2022

Without forgetting that the monsoon, with an ever higher humidity rate in a context of climate change, could do this area which is difficult to live long term. Recall that in 2018 the strongest monsoon in a century had killed at least 400 people. Furthermore, according to the IPCC, South Asia is the area most affected by the increase in heat waves linked to global warming.

What is the tolerance threshold for humans?

Scientists rate it at 35 degrees “wet bulb” (Tw) for healthy people. This value takes into account the humidity of the air to measure our resistance to heat, details The Huffington Post. The human body does not tolerate heat and humidity very well. A study of theAmerican Physiology Society published in January 2022 confirms this. The latter measured the ability of healthy young adults to perform simple tasks in six different extreme weather conditions. The experiment lasting a few hours revealed that no participant reached the limit of 35 ° Tw.

At less than 35 ° C, without being able to cool down, the body succumbs in about six hours.

A deadly threshold exceeded in Asia

On the continent, in fact, this threshold has been exceeded in recent days. And the consequences are dramatic: in the Indian state of Maharashtra, 25 people have died since March from the heat. And heatwave-related mortality in India, already a victim of deadly heatwaves in 2015 and 2019, has increased by more than 60% since 1980, according to India’s Earth Sciences minister, our colleagues from the UK report. Huffington Post.

Another consequence: more and more fires. Last week, The world denounced the damage caused by the fire of a huge landfill in India. “Under the effect of the heat, methane generated by decaying organic matter ignited. The capital of India, which, like the rest of South Asia, is in the middle of a record heat wave, has been enveloped from a thick acrid smoke “. More than 7,800 fires were reported over three days at the end of last week in the areas of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya, Pradesh and more, warning Science of the future.

\ ud83c \ uddee \ ud83c \ uddf3 India: a gigantic fire has raged for 4 days in the landfill near Delhi. The country is experiencing a heat wave not seen in more than 120 years, with temperatures exceeding 50 ° C. The human and natural consequences could be dire. pic.twitter.com/5SwhjgsmIK

– ???? ???????? ??? ???????? (@ 72power) April 30, 2022

A problem, and no less important, also raised by our colleagues from National Geographic : power plants are running out of coal and they are no longer sufficient to meet the demand because with the heat wave there is a sharp increase in the demand for electricity, reaching the point of scarcity.

India is one of the countries in the world where the frequency of heat waves has increased the most in 40 years: the Indian Meteorological Service counted 413 days with temperatures above 40 ° C between 1981 and 1990, and 600 days between 2011 and 2020, details Future Science. A large part of the world’s population will therefore have no choice but to desert these places in the most extreme conditions, warns Friederike Otto, of Imperial College London, Huffington Post.

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