There is indeed a climate change that has been observed around the Globe. The climate change is not something new or a sudden outbreak like the novel Covid-19 virus. It is something the scientists and researchers have been warning us about for years.
How can we measure the climate change?
Well, the climate change can be measured as well as observed. Living here is Asia, this is indeed the hottest September I have lived through. Being young, September was cold, then gradually it became moderate and now it is hot with an average indoor temperature of 33 degree Celsius.
Similarly, the Western Sydney, has observed the hottest summers in their history for the year 2019-2020. Australia has observed coolest summers in 9 years which is due to the temporary cooling effect of La Niña.
While in the Western Sydney the average number of hot days have rose from mere 9.5 in 1970s to 15.4 in 2010s.
Why is climate change even an issue?
The increased temperature and the prolonged summers are a health threat to the people. At such high temperature, it becomes difficult for the body to regulate the internal temperature. This causes illness such as temperature, heat cramps, exhaustion and strokes. Such is also a cause of death in certain extreme cases.
Why is it even an issue, well, according to WHO heatwaves has killed as many as166,000 from 1998 to 2017. Also, less people in Australia and US have died of natural cases as compared to the heatwaves.
The worst ever heatwave witnessed was that of 2003 in Europe which caused about 30,000 deaths.
What is a heatwave?
A heat wave, as per the definition of the World Meteorological Organization as five or more consecutive days where the daily temperature is more than the average maximum by 5°C (9°F) or more.
The economic drain and the heatwaves
The Urban heat Island effect is visible and is one of the potential threats to the 354 cities of the world. These cities house more than 200 million people and the temperature there is going beyond 35°C (95°F). As the urbanization continues and the 2050 economic project cease, it is likely that the effect of Globalization would reach out to 970 cities by affecting 1.6 billion people.
The Heat waves tend to put pressure on the services such as human health, water sanitation and transport infrastructure. Amar Rahman, who is the Global Head of climate Change Resilience Services at Zurich Insurance Group says that an example of this would be power breakdown causing shortage.
During extreme heat, the entire power infrastructure tends to collapse. The hydraulic power system is most prone to such issues. The demand for electricity is high during extreme heat and the capacity to generate electricity is low. Also the transmission lines, the transformers and inverters experience high failure rates.
Heat waves have a direct impact on the economy and are now being categorized as an economic drain. They tend to reduce the productivity in industries such as construction and manufacturing. There is an estimate which calls out for a decrease in the output of manufacturing industries by 8-22 percent with a global loss of $2.5 trillion.
What is the solution?
The only solution we have is Adaption. As per the researchers, there is a need to have plans. Plans that can help the cities to adapt with the heatwaves and plans that would help people to stay safe.
The buildings, the infrastructure of the cities and the working time shall be in accordance to the high temperatures. This is an expense yet the losses of ignoring them are high. There is also a need to upgrade our working areas in accordance to heat. The favorable working conditions during high temperatures shall help in productivity.
Berlin, for instance, aims at becoming the Sponge city. It is substituting all its hard surfaces with green and water-permeable surfaces. This would help to fight against the urban heat island effect.
By planting more trees, creating urban wetlands, having shaded sidewalks, installing heat-resistant road surfaces, ensuring light-colored buildings and having roof gardens this is possible.