Climate change is making India’s brutal heat waves worse

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Some local governments are trying to adapt to extreme heat. Ahmedabad, a city in western India, experienced an especially devastating heat wave in May 2010: the official death count reached 800 people, and up to 1,300 deaths have been attributed to it indirectly. In 2013, the city launched a heat action plan, which included early warning systems for residents, training for health-care professionals, and adjustments to help cool buildings naturally.

Since then, other local governments have followed suit and created plans of their own, but some hope to see more national action to help people adjust to heat, Mondal says.

Cutting emissions will help prevent the worst future warming scenarios, but the current reality is already difficult to endure for many. And India’s deadly heat waves offer just one example of who will be most affected by a changing climate.

“Here are 1.4 billion people who will be affected by this heat wave, the majority of whom contributed very little to global warming,” Mondal says. “This phenomenon should put an end to the question of why people should care about climate change.”

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