Climate Change Fueled Deadly April 2024 Heatwave in Asia and Middle East, Study Finds

A severe heatwave in April 2024, exacerbated by climate change, swept across Asia and the Middle East, resulting in at least 36 heat-related deaths, widespread crop damage, and devastating impacts on vulnerable populations, including displaced people in Gaza and outdoor workers in South and Southeast Asia. The extreme temperatures, which were 45 times more likely due to climate change, highlight the urgent need for improved heat action plans and strategies to protect communities and mitigate the suffering caused by extreme heat events." This description focuses on the primary topic of the heatwave and its connection to climate change, the main entities affected (vulnerable populations, displaced people, and outdoor workers), the context of Asia and the Middle East, and the significant consequences and implications of the event. The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the severity of the heatwave, its impact on communities, and the need for action to mitigate its effects.

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Muthana Al-Najjar
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Climate Change Fueled Deadly April 2024 Heatwave in Asia and Middle East, Study Finds

Climate Change Fueled Deadly April 2024 Heatwave in Asia and Middle East, Study Finds

A new study has found that climate change made the deadly April 2024 heatwave that swept across Asia and the Middle East 45 times more likely, resulting in at least 36 heat-related deaths and widespread crop damage. The extreme temperatures, which echoed last year's destructive heat, affected countries including India, Philippines, Bangladesh, and Gaza.

Why this matters: The increasing frequency and severity of heatwaves due to climate change pose a significant threat to global health, food security, and economic stability. If left unchecked, these extreme weather events could lead to catastrophic consequences, including mass migrations, social unrest, and unprecedented loss of life.

The analysis, conducted by the World Weather Attribution (WWA) initiative, revealed that the 15-day heatwave in the Philippines, which started in mid-April, would have been "virtually impossible" without the impact of man-made global warming. In the Middle East, climate change increased the probability of the extreme heat event by about a factor of five in parts of the region, with Tel Aviv hitting a record-breaking 40.7°C over April 24-26.

"From Gaza to Delhi to Manila, people suffered and died when April temperatures soared in Asia," said Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute of Climate Change and the Environment. "Heatwaves have always happened. But the additional heat, driven by emissions from oil, gas and coal, is resulting in death for many people."

The heatwave had a devastating impact on the 1.7 million displaced people in Gaza, who were already struggling with insufficient water access and inadequate healthcare amidst the ongoing humanitarian crisis. "The heat that we saw is really compounding an already dire crisis at the moment in Gaza," noted Carolina Pereira Marghidan of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.

In South Asia, the heatwave was particularly severe, with temperatures reaching as high as 46°C (114.8°F) in India. The eastern part of the country recorded its highest mean temperature since records began in 1901. Bangladesh reported 28 heat-related deaths, while India and Gaza saw five and three fatalities, respectively. Surges in heat deaths were also reported in Thailand and the Philippines.

The extreme heat forced thousands of schools to close across South and Southeast Asia, exacerbating the education gap faced by children from low-income families. It also disproportionately affected outdoor workers, such as farmers, construction workers, and street vendors. Experts emphasized the urgent need for improved heat action plans and strategies to protect vulnerable populations in rapidly growing cities and exposed areas.

"Considering that rate at which extreme heat is rising... we see a big need for heat action plans to be scaled up and current plans to be improved across Asia," said Carolina Pereira Marghidan. The study's findings underscore the urgent need for unprecedented steps to reduce emissions and limit global warming to 1.5°C to mitigate the suffering caused by extreme heat events in Asia and beyond.

Key Takeaways

  • Climate change made April 2024 heatwave 45 times more likely in Asia and Middle East.
  • Heatwave caused at least 36 deaths and widespread crop damage across the region.
  • Extreme heat events pose significant threat to global health, food security, and economy.
  • Heatwave would have been "virtually impossible" without man-made global warming.
  • Urgent need for improved heat action plans to protect vulnerable populations.