Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s minister for climate, said that the country was facing an “existential crisis” as climate emergencies were being felt from the north to south of the country.
Rehman warned that the heatwave was causing the glaciers in the north of the country to melt at an unprecedented rate, and that thousands were at risk of being caught in flood bursts. She also said that the sizzling temperatures were not only impacting crops but water supply as well. “The water reservoirs dry up. Our big dams are at dead level right now, and sources of water are scarce,” she said.
Rehman said the heatwave should be a wake-up call to the international community. “Climate and weather events are here to stay and will in fact only accelerate in their scale and intensity if global leaders don’t act now,” she said.
Experts said the scorching heat being felt across the subcontinent was likely a taste of things to come as global heating continues to accelerate. Abhiyant Tiwari, an assistant professorand programme manager at the Gujarat Institute of Disaster Management, said “the extreme, frequent, and long-lasting spells of heatwaves are no more a future risk. It is already here and is unavoidable.”
The World Meteorological Organisation said in a statement that the temperatures in India and Pakistan were
“consistent with what we expect in a changing climate. Heatwaves are more frequent and more intense and starting earlier than in the past.”
A heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature is over 40C and at least 4.5C above normal.