At risk of rising temperature  

Published: July 19, 2018 22:11:22 | Updated: July 21, 2018 22:10:22


There is hardly any disagreement over the fact that Bangladesh is at the highest risk of global warming. The risks are many-fold but usually those refer to the consequences or after-effects such as loss of land in coastal areas to the rising sea, intrusion of saline water much deeper inland and ravages wrought by frequent natural calamities. Contrary to this, aridity triggered by absence of streams provided by the Himalayan glaciers may affect lives and livelihoods in parts of the country. Apart from this, not many studies have pointed to the direct and immediate impact rising temperature will have on people and their surroundings. One such study carried out a few months back pointed to the dire consequences of exposure to what is dubbed wet-bulb temperature. The WetBulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) measures heat stress in direct sunlight, taking into account temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover. On that count, South Asia is likely to suffer most with low-income people involved with intense physical labour finding themselves at the perilously wrong end.

Another report, generated by the Reuters from Oslo echoes the sentiment. Quoting the non-profit Sustainable Energy for All Group, it says that about 1.1 billion in Asia, Africa and Latin America were at grave risk among the world's 7.6 billion people. Here the stress is on affordability of people. This large number of people will be unable to afford the electricity and appliances needed for keeping them cool. Lack of air conditioning will not help them stay cool and in the absence of refrigerators they will not be able to preserve foods and medicines. Both farmers and fishermen will thus suffer in terms of health and livelihoods. Apart from heat strokes caused by dehydration, people's economic productivity will get reduced.

When communities engaged in particular livelihoods but serving society in general are badly hit, its ripple effects tell on a country's economy and health. Right now the process has already begun but still it gets managed by interventions somehow. When the country's population will increase further and it will leave no scope for food waste, the issue will count in a big way. For example, if farmers cannot store produces in cold storages and fishermen cannot preserve their catches in refrigerators before marketing, not only will they suffer losses but the consumers too will be deprived of protein supply.

It is against this backdrop that the need for adaptation to temperature rise has to be redefined and redesigned. There is an anachronism between the current modes of energy consumption and global warming. Use of fossil fuel for generation of electricity actually pollutes and warms up the environment. So the need is to go for renewable energy and smarter gadgets and appliances using as minimum energy as possible. The report has suggested manufacture of low-cost and efficient air-conditioner for the rising middle class. But what about the poor exposed directly to sun? One answer can be plantation of trees in an increasing number. If they are fruit trees, they will be doubly beneficial. 

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