India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other parts of South Asia may experience heat waves, in which people can not survive, by the end of this century if nothing is done to curb global warming, says a new study.
The hot and humid temperatures in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP), home to over 900 million people, would exceed the upper limit of what normally people can tolerate, leading to higher mortalities due to heat waves, said a team of researchers led by Elfatih Eltahir, a professor of climate and hydrology at the MA of Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.
There is still time to avert such severe warming if measures are implemented now to reduce the most dire consequences of global warming.
The agricultural areas in the Indus and Ganges river basins will be hard-hit and deadly heatwaves will strike parts of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh if the climate change continues at its current pace, Reuters reported.
The regions likely to be hardest hit include northern India, Bangladesh and southern Pakistan, home to 1.5 billion people.
"What we see in this study is a convergence of intense weather projections and acute vulnerability", co-author and MIT environmental engineering professor Elfatih A B Eltahir said.More news: Search continues in Grand Canyon for missing Texas hiker
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The survivability threshold is considered to be 35 degrees Celsius, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
The summer of 2015 also produced one of the deadliest heat waves in South Asia, killing an estimated 3,500 people in Pakistan and India. One is a "business-as-usual" scenario in which little is done to contain climate change, and the second is aimed at limiting temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius, as pledged by more than 190 nations under the 2015 Paris climate accord.
"That was only the tip of the iceberg", Eltahir said. About 2 percent of the region's population would be exposed to harmful wet bulb temperatures, which highlights the significant impact of climate change mitigation efforts, according to the team.
Climate change could make much of South Asia - home to a fifth of the world's population - too hot for human survival by the end of this century, scientists warned on Wednesday. If the weather went unchecked, it would affect one-fifth of the worldwide population, which is roughly 1.5 billion people, the study said. Meanwhile, 4 percent of the population - or 60 million in today's population - would face deadly highs at or above 35 degrees C (95 degrees F) by 2100. And because the region is important agriculturally, it's not just those directly affected by the heat who will suffer, Eltahir says: "With the disruption to the agricultural production, it doesn't need to be the heat wave itself that kills people".
While the study provides a grim warning about what could happen, it is far from inevitable, Eltahir stressed. "With mitigation, we hope we will be able to avoid these severe projections".
"Countries in South Asia are put in a hard situation of balancing economic and population growth and protecting its populations from the negative impacts of climate change", Pal said. "This is very bad news".