The 2022 heat wave has triggered an extreme Glacial Lake Outburst Flood in northern Pakistan and forest fires in India. It led to at least 90 deaths across both countries. In India, the shortage of coal led to power outages, limiting people’s access to cooling, compounding health impacts, and restricting outdoor activities. The heat affected wheat crop yields, impacting the crop’s exports.
With future global warming, heat waves like these are anticipated to be more common and intense. In both countries, daily wage earners are the worst-hit in extreme heat. Consequently, lack of access to constant electricity and cooling at home limits their options to cope with prolonged heat stress.
It is extremely important to mitigate further warming to avoid loss of life and livelihood. Adaptation to extreme heat can be effective at reducing mortality. Heat Action Plans that include early warning and early action, awareness raising and behaviour changing messaging, and supportive public services can reduce mortality, says the India-Pakistan heat wave scientific report.