Urban-India will see twice more heat-related deaths by 2080: Study

Summers in India mean availability of various fruits – most significantly mango, fetching those bright colors from your wardrobe to wear in the bright sunshine, and sipping down chilled soft drinks while hanging out with friends. But when the heat gets too much, people die. In the past, we’ve observed a lot many deaths due to heat, and now a new research says that the numbers are only going to double in urban India by 2080.

The study was carried out by Amit Garg from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Vimal Mishra from Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar and Hem Dholakia from Council for Energy, Environment and Water – a Delhi-based NGO.

The research was conducted by utilizing downscaled and bias corrected temperature predictions from the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) models. The observed records that ranged from 2005-2012 were used to create temperature-mortality relationships with the Poisson regression models for the chosen urban cities in India.

It showed that under the estimated temperature of 23 CMIP5 models, the summer-mortality rates are predicted to increase 71 percent and 140 percent for the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 scenarios, respectively; in the late 21st century.

The research team discovered that metropolitan cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Ahmedabad are predicted to encounter “the highest absolute increases” in the heat-wave deaths by 2080, for RCP 8.5 scenario.

The paper aims at highlighting the necessity for Indian rule makers “to anticipate, plan and respond to the challenge of climate change.”


Photo Credit: Guian Bolisay

It has added that future casualties will fundamentally be established by the “current and future levels of preparedness.” Therefore, premature caution systems and receptive health assists in the developed countries – Europe, Australia, the United States and Canada, “may significantly reduce the health impacts;” albeit the countries are expected to meet hurdles due to “aging population and other socio-economic factors.”

The study stated that developing countries, including India are at a higher risk of encountering heat-wave deaths due to “high population and low preparedness.”

The study said that owing to the absence of researches, which evaluate the future temperature associated health impacts in India; they used the CMIP5 models to understand it – because temperatures are probable to “increase by 3.3 degree Celsius to 4.8 degree Celsius by 2080s.”

The research team assembled figures of registered deaths on a daily basis from the municipal corporations of six cities – Bangalore, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Mumbai, Shimla and Ahmedabad that ranged from 2005-2012. Heat-wave deaths for the summer season was predicted between March to July while cold associated deaths were for the winter season was predicted from November to February.

They discovered though the cold associated deaths are likely to decline in the late 21st century, the massive increase of heat associated deaths will outshine it.

The chosen 52 urban areas account for 157 million people, which is 13 percent of India’s total population. Due to the effects of urbanization and modernization, these 157 million is likely to grow due to surge of people from the smaller towns and cities.

Seeing from the policy point of view, the study said that owing to the rush of population, heat-wave deaths will increase in Delhi (15200), Ahmedabad (17600), Bangalore (14900), Kolkata (19400) and Mumbai (15300). However, only Ahmedabad is the one that has lately started a heat-health caution system thereby; stressing the aim of the research – to stay prepared.

The study added that developed countries have “better infrastructure, higher incomes, better governance, and more responsive health systems,” which make them better prepared to confront the heat-health issues. However, India and the developing countries are prone to huge impacts because “they lack resources to mount a coherent adaptation response.”

The paper is titled as “Predicted Increases in Heat related Mortality under Climate Change in Urban India.” Similar research in the UK predicted that the heat-wave related death there will be more than double at 257% by 2050, not even until 2080.

The climate change will be the task to address ultimately.

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