Heatwave strikes South Asia: A warning of what is to come

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Natalie Richmiller

The greenhouse at the PV high school has reached over 100 degrees during the temperature spike this past week.

Natalie Richmiller, Photo Manager

Climate change has been at the forefront of news in recent years. The dueling topic has sparked controversy between citizens and governments. South Asia is experiencing an extreme heatwave that scientists say is a warning of what is to come. 

Temperatures have surpassed 120 degrees Fahrenheit in some regions of India. High temperatures are common in May but not in March and April; schools have been forced to close early and many people have died from heatstroke. The past two months have been the hottest in local history. 

More than a billion people are at risk for heat-related illnesses. Hospitals have started to prepare but are unlikely able to treat everyone as they are not equipped for the influx of civilians. 

Due to the economic status of most families, the majority do not have air conditioning; instead, they rely on soaking rags in water and hanging them on doorways and windows. The demand for electric fans and AC is higher than can be accommodated. Senior Megan Schiltz is concerned about the state of the climate. “It’s scary to see these significant changes in temperature, and yet, no one seems to be addressing the actual issues,” she said. 

This heatwave has also impacted wheat production in the country. Farmers have experienced lower crop yields and fewer profits at a time when they were hoping to boost production to accommodate for the shortages from the war in Ukraine. During this time of conflict which has caused the inability to import goods, the rising consequences of climate change have become more apparent to the people of India. 

“I think this is all really concerning. I think that climate change needs to be addressed immediately. The heatwave is undeniably an effect of climate change,” senior Ava Kwak explained. “And the fact that people are already suffering the consequences shows how real and threatening this situation can get.”

Other regions across the globe have been experiencing the effects of climate change as well. President Joe Biden officially approved the wildfires in New Mexico as a declared disaster. The fires began in early April and span 24o miles of the alpine forest and grasslands of the Rocky Mountains. Many residents have been forced to flee from their homes to avoid the rampant fires. 

Locally, there have been subtle climate shifts from this period of global warming that can be seen. The weather in Iowa this year has been the most inconsistent in history. Temperatures have ranged from freezing to the 80s within a two-week span. This past April, the lowest recorded temperature was 21 degrees and the highest was 82 degrees; there were many drastic spikes and drops throughout the month. A year ago, the weather still ranged from 30-82 degrees but the mean temperature was more consistent at around 50 degrees. 

“I’ve definitely noticed changes in the weather compared to previous years. Iowa’s temperatures are always very up-and-down, but this year they felt much more drastic. It would go from 30 degrees one week, then up to 60s-70s and back down again,” Schiltz said. 

The growing effects of climate change can be seen all around the world. Temperatures are changing, natural disasters are becoming more destructive and the lives of billions are actively being affected. Without change, these issues will continue to worsen.