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ISLAMABAD: Deadly heatwaves are going to be a country’s much bigger socio-economic and health problem in the coming decades, particularly in densely populated urban areas of the country, as these global warming-induced extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and occurring over a much greater portion of the country.
Climate change ministry spokesperson Mohammad Saleem said, “But devastating fallouts of heat waves on humans can be largely mitigated through timely and effective responsive measures.”
He said that extreme heatwaves, such as the one presently torching the various cities and towns of the country, are frequently cited as one of the most direct effects of global warming-induced climate change.
Saleem said the Pakistan is most likely to suffer more frequent and intense heatwaves as the average temperatures in the country are constantly increasing.
Heatwaves matter because they kill large number of people through heat stress, cause forest fires, reduce crop yields and damage ecosystems, which are not adapted to high temperatures, he emphasised.
The spokesperson said that the World Meteorological Department’s reports show that annual average temperature in the country has jumped up by roughly 0.5°C, which has led to five-fold rise in heat wave days over last 30 years. Besides, the country’s annual temperature is well on path to rise by 3°C to 5°C due to a heat-trapping global carbon emissions.
“Such dangerously rising trends in temperatures will potentially continue to cast various negative effects on the country’s human health, spike frequency and intensity levels of extreme weather events including heat waves, cloudbursts, floods, glacial melt, agricultural productivity, water availability, coastal erosion and seawater incursion,” the climate change spokesperson Mohammad Saleem highlighted.
He said humans are adapted to body temperatures of around 37°C. If humidity – the levels of water vapour in the air – goes up with the thermometer, then people caught in a zone of extreme heat cannot adjust body temperatures by perspiration.
And, with every 1°C rise in temperatures, the capacity of the air to hold moisture goes up by 7%. People with no access to air conditioning or a cool breeze become, however, at high risk, he added.