It Could Be Too Hot To Survive In South Asia By 2100

It Could Be Too Hot To Survive In South Asia By 2100

The millennial generation have grown up with the the implications of climate change being very much a tangible reality. Alongside creating papier-mâché volcanoes in Geography, we also studied the hole in the ozone layer and the properties of greenhouse gases. But despite our increasing education on the topic, it's becoming more and more apparent that we, as a global community, have not done nearly enough to stave off the much-feared consequences of global warming.

If you're a user of the thing called the internet, I can guarantee that you've seen picture after picture of forlorn polar bears and penguins who are struggling with the rate at which their habitat is being destroyed. Whilst their plight has caught the public's consciousness for the better, our own land is also under threat.

According to a recent study, by the end of this century, temperatures in South Asia could become too hot and humid for humans to live there.

Drought Credit: International Water Management Institute

A new study published in the journal Science Advances claims that one quarter of the human population could be under threat as South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka could soon become too hot to sustain human life.

Researchers used data which was collected to analyse variations in terrain and vegetation, inputting it into global circulation models to extract computer simulations. The results showed extremes in "wet-bulb" temperatures in the South Asia region, which houses nearly 1.5 billion people.

"Wet-bulb" temperatures that are warmer than 35 degrees celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) stop the body from cooling down naturally. As researchers corroborated, "Human exposure to TW of around 35 degrees C for even a few hours will result in death even for the fittest of humans under shaded, well-ventilated conditions."

Heatwave Credit: CNN

At present, "wet-bulb" temperatures do not tend to exceed 31 degrees celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit), however, there is evidence that they are beginning to reach unprecedented highs. During the summer months of 2015, a heat wave hit Iran and areas of the Arabian Gulf, resulting in a "wet-bulb" temperature of 35 degrees celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

Despite there being concerns about "wet-bulb" temperatures in the Middle East, scientists have chosen to focus on South Asia as the consequences could prove to be much more deadly. Not only does South Asia have a much larger population, but a great number of its civilians live below the poverty line and work outdoors in agricultural industries. Indeed, when India and Pakistan were hit by an extreme heat wave in 2015, around 4,500 people lost their lives.

Additionally, the warmest of the temperatures recorded in the Middle East occurred over the ocean, leaving citizens mostly unaffected.

Heatwave Credit: CNN

As the study's leading researcher, Elfatih Eltahir states: "Most of these people rely on agriculture, and so they have to spend time outdoors that exposes them to natural temperatures." Eltahir, who is also a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, continued: "these three factors —extremely high temperatures, hundreds of millions of poor people and the reality of having to work outside — combine to define a very acute level of vulnerability."

The study concluded with the bleak assertion that were the second-hottest "wet-bulb" temperatures to occur in South Asia, they would occur over land, threatening the lives and livelihoods of billions of people.