Post-apocalyptic themes make for popular action films. This summer’s blockbuster hit ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is set in a world that has become a deadly, desert wasteland. A similar deadly, overheated scene is the reality over Andhra Pradesh this week.
In ‘Mad Max’, after the ravishes of nuclear war, a few apocalypse survivors attempt to live inside the desert fortress. After the ravishes of toxic industries emitting carbon, the punishing heat that has already killed 1800 Indian people could be a glimpse of our globally warmed future. Human-induced global warming is increasing incidents of extreme heat, erratic rainfall patterns, and freak weather, the IPCC and a host of other scientific experts warn.
May and June are India’s hottest months, with temperatures regularly pushing above 40°C. But meteorologists say the number of days when temperatures touched 45°C has increased in the past 15 years. In this year’s deadly heatwave temperatures have soared above 47°C, twisting tarmac, over-burdening hospitals, and leaving a horrendous deathtoll.
Heat waves are projected to be more intense and occur more often with climate change. The impacts will be felt hard in developing nations such as India, due to the fact that only half the Indian population has access to electricity, and far less having access to luxury cooling like fans or air conditioning.
“Recent research shows that heatwaves are currently five times more frequent than they would be in the absence of human-caused warming, and the chance of any particular heatwave being caused by climate change is 80%,” a spokesperson for Greenpeace said, adding that unless efforts are made to cut carbon emissions, heatwaves are forecast to be 12 times more likely by 2040. These trends will push the capabilities of the human body beyond the limits of the cooling systems it has evolved and raise serious questions about the future of food production and farming. Globally, more than half of all working hours outside the home are spent outdoors, mainly in agriculture. As the heatwave in India shows, those who have to work outside in hot conditions are at the greatest risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.