Global warming is driving temperatures to alarming levels of above 40 deg C across Asia, with 50 deg C summers recorded in India. This trend shows no signs of abating. The World Meteorological Organization warns that temperatures are projected to surge to unprecedented highs in the coming five years, intensifying the severity and frequency of health-threatening heatwaves in the region.
As temperatures rise, a variety of health issues emerge. Extreme heat disrupts the body’s natural temperature regulation, leading to illnesses like heat exhaustion, heatstroke, hyperthermia, and even death. It can also worsen pre-existing illnesses such as heart diseases, diabetes and respiratory ailments. Additionally, research has shown that aggression, anxiety, depression and suicide rates increase with temperature spikes, highlighting the lesser-known impact of extreme heat on our psychological well-being.
While affordable air-conditioning options may seem like a quick fix, the anticipated addition of one billion air-conditioners worldwide comes with a caveat. The coolants used in these systems have a warming potency 1,600 times greater than carbon dioxide, negating the potential benefits they offer. Exploring alternatives like solar geoengineering offers a viable means to cool the Earth by reflecting sunlight back to space. Through sustainable practices and innovative technologies, we can shape a future where the impacts of climate change are minimised to safeguard our health and our communities.