Intense Heat Wave In India Brings Sunstroke Deaths, Electric Grid Meltdown, And Spoiled Fruit

Heat wave conditions have claimed the lives of over 500 people in India since April. India’s Department of Disaster Management reported that 524 people have died of sunstroke since April 1. The Indian Meteorological Department said tomorrow’s forecast called for clear skies and continued heat, warning that “the heatwave will continue.”

The Times of India reported that the state of Hyderabad’s 500 sunstroke deaths in just three days is the highest such death toll in recent history.

New Delhi saw 43 degrees C (or over 109 degrees Fahrenheit) today, western states such as Gujarat saw highs between 116-118 degrees Fahrenheit, and the northern state of Uttar Pradesh hit 45 C (113 F). This state is one of the nation’s poorest, with 190 million people. Its energy infrastructure is inadequate to the demand of so many residents trying to cool themselves. Since pumps are often required to provide water, this also means that a power outage comes with a water outage. Angry residents attacked power company officials and even set fire to a power station. For the rest of the population, power outages combined with humidity caused most people to stay indoors.

India’s neighbor Pakistan has responded to its own extreme heat by turning off the air conditioning government offices and telling civil servants not to wear socks.

The government may be moving to include heat waves as natural disasters covered by the National Disaster Relief Fund, which provides financial compensation for victims’ families.

It isn’t just the daily highs during a heat wave that cause suffering, the daily lows are also dangerous. State capital Jaipur saw a low of over 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday, well above average.

Kanpur resident Bholanath Paul said, according to Newstrack India: “Summers are always difficult but usually the temperatures come down in the evenings. But this time even that is not happening. It remains hot during the night too.”

One odd development: fruit prices dropped as sellers tried to clear out their inventory in anticipation of food spoilage.

Tourist Eijaz Ahmed came to India to escape the heat in Mumbai, and instead found record-breaking heat no matter where he went: “I am here with my family and have come from Mumbai to enjoy the cold weather, but it is very hot right now.”

Rain has been sporadic and though some regions have found some relief from the heat, millions are baking in the record temperatures. Monsoon season begins on June 15, which could bring some relief from the heat.

Only China, the United States, and the European Union emit more greenhouse gases than India. Coal is India’s primary source of energy, and aside from deaths related to heat waves, 100,000 Indians die each year from coal-fired power plant pollution.

Extreme heat waves continue to happen all over the world, as Australia saw in January, and as a report predicted earlier this year will be the norm for Washington, DC. Increasing heat waves driven by climate change bring with them larger numbers of temperature-related deaths — as recent research predicted for New York City over the next decade.

One way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and at the same time allow Indians some independence from electrical blackouts is to increase the use of solar energy. As India’s grid is fairly distributed in nature already, employing more solar in place of coal plants and dirty household fossil fuel generators is a seriously viable option to give Indians some relief.

15 Responses to Intense Heat Wave In India Brings Sunstroke Deaths, Electric Grid Meltdown, And Spoiled Fruit

  1. Villabolo says:

    What was the humidity in those areas?

  2. M Tucker says:

    Pakistan electric power is not doing all that well, Bangladesh is having water problems, and Egypt is suffering enormous food inflation and import problems.

    Everest glaciers are developing many ice dams that threaten unpredictable flooding. A Russian Arctic mission has had to evacuate its base about a year early due to ice breakup.

    In the US, flooding in Iowa and Texas has been mostly ignored due to the tornado news from Oklahoma. The rains have been delaying the spring planting in several states after late snow had already caused delay.

    In the UK they are worried about a poor wheat harvest.

    I’m glad you managed to squeeze in the news about what has been happening in India.

  3. Mark Shapiro says:

    Intense, extended heat waves are really bad.

    Running out of cooling water for thermal power plants during a heat wave? Really, really, bad.

  4. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I hope they don’t place too much faith in the coming monsoon. Australia has had a severly disrupted monsoon with a consequent trail of problems, ME

  5. Mike Roddy says:

    Delhi at 43C is unbearable, and you perspire constantly. It feels hotter In Delhi at 109 and humid than Palm Springs in the Mojave Desert does at 118. When global warming hits India harder, it will be extremely difficult.

  6. prokaryotes says:

    Maybe this heat wave is part of the decision for the largest miner of coal on the planet to plan for solar?

    Coal India gets into solar power

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The signs of a quickening collapse are everywhere, and it can only worsen from here on out. Mind you, the sub-continent always swelters in May. The monsoon will need to be good. Probably too good, with epic flooding, if recent history is a guide.

  8. Superman1 says:

    “Maybe this heat wave is part of the decision for the largest miner of coal on the planet to plan for solar?” Well, look at what they actually say. “India has an abundance of sunshine and the trend of depletion of fossil fuels is compelling energy planners to examine the feasibility of using renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, and so on,” Coal India’s bid document said.

  9. Superman1 says:

    The above is a response to PK #4. The point is, they’re moving towards solar because they’re starting to run out of fossil fuels (according to their words). Nothing new here; that’s true for many countries. Unfortunately, well before we run out of fossil fuels globally, we will have established the conditions that will take us over the climate cliff; we may have done that already!

  10. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    In Andhra Pradesh,India we have been experiencing severe heat unparalleled in the last 50 years. Is it due to Climate Change? Has Global Warming anything to do with it? Hundreds of deaths due to sunstroke – never heard in such large numbers in the past.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  11. toby says:

    I don’t understand someone going to India to eascape the heat “in Mumbai”.

    Surely Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is in India?

    Presumably, what is meant is “Northern India” – the British used to disappear into the foothills of the Himalayas during the summer months, to “hill stations”.

  12. Jessica Mand says:

    We need to learn how to use what God gave us to stay cool and safe First of all start by digging a hole in the ground and then put a metal garbage can inside drill a few holes in the bottom and leave a lip of about two inches above ground fill the garbage can with fresh produce and cover it after putting the lid on with mulch or hay that will help keep your vegetables cool in the hottest part of day. next build a root cellar or basement if you can afford to otherwise a large root cellar is good it keeps food cold naturally and free. next put grass on your roof yes grow grass on your roof and then use foil to deflect the sun rays in the windows stay away from caffeine and drink lots of water

  13. Jessica Mand says:

    Also remember that gutters around your roof can do more than keep water from forming around your foundation it also can be used to collect water that can be stored in water barrels and boiled for drinking or used for water plants or used to let the kids play with. Give them spray bottles and let them make a game of spraying each other with it

  14. Jan Freed says:

    I am a member of Citizens Climate Lobby. Our answer to Tillerson is the “carbon tax (or fee) and rebate” where 100% is returned to citizens. When that is policy, I apologize, Mr. Tellerson, about Exxon’s loss of market share, but I guess that is just part of the suffering.

    Readers can help by joining Citizens Climate Lobby. On the web…