Heat Heat Go Away
The miseries of the heatwaves are back! Breaking records better than ever, Delhi is experiencing its hottest May after almost 18 years (https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/18-year-old-record-broken-in-delhi-churu-sizzles-as-world-s-hottest-place-all-you-need-to-know-about-heatwave/story-wbax5MsJunWXrUVMeMN1WI.html). The temperatures do go up to this level in the summers, but that only occurs in the month of June. Experiencing this level of heat in month of May is alarming, to say the least.
The main cause of this increase in temperature and the frequency of heatwaves is the increasing rate of
deforestation. The felling of trees directly leads to the increase of carbon dioxide in the air, which is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gasses trap sunlight on Earth, which leads to an increase in temperature. This increase in temperature has been noticed for years now and the average global temperature has shown a significant increase and has led to Global Warming. Trees are also a natural carbon sink, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and using it as a source of food in the process.
Trees also have a natural cooling effect. This occurs through the process of evaporation of water from their leaves to the surroundings. Water is a universal coolant, hence it aids in keeping the atmosphere cool. When trees are cut down, the process of evaporation from them does not occur, which reduces the amount of water in the air. The cooling effect of the water is limited and hence the rise in temperature is experienced.
Urban cities are now replacing green covers around them with pavements and buildings, leaving the environment in the urban areas feeling extremely hot. This is known as the urban heat island effect. (https://researchmatters.in/news/rapid-urbanisation-and-deforestation-are-warming-state-odisha-finds-study )
Temperature under a tree shade is 4-5 degrees cooler than direct sunlight.
Threat to Human Health
When intense heat is experienced, the body is unable to cool itself through the means of sweating and may go through a heat stroke. This is when the body undergoes heat stress. It may lead to death as well. Cardiovascular and respiratory systems may get impacted by the high intensity of heat and cause heat-related illness. This can highly impact individuals with low income as they might not have cooling technology installed in their households and their jobs may be situated outdoors in the hot atmosphere.
With the increase in temperature, more water is consumed, which leads to water shortages to occur in many parts of India. With having their crops being destroyed due to high temperatures, being unemployed, having water shortages and having to deal with the heat with no cooling at home, people especially from the low-income groups experience immense amounts of stress. The economy also experiences a downfall during this time as there is not much produce during this time due to it getting damaged in extreme heat. This again leads to the low-income groups to not get paid as much as before, hence adding to the pressure and stress on them. Feeling constantly hot also leads to feelings of tiredness and fatigue physically, which can lead to mental exhaustion and feelings of demotivation.
About the author
Sukriti is a 3rd year college student pursuing Psychology. She helps lead the Environment Club which actively spreads awareness about environmental issues on campus. She believes that nature heals people and must be protected at all costs.