Record-Breaking April Heat Wave in Asia: A Dire Consequence of Climate Change

climate change

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Intense Heat Waves Linked to Climate Change

The April heat wave that swept across Asia, bringing temperatures soaring up to 46°C (115°F), was significantly more severe due to climate change, scientists have confirmed. Without climate change, such extreme temperatures would have been far less likely.

Impact on Millions Across Asia

Last month, extreme heat affected hundreds of millions of people in Asia, compounding the difficulties faced by 1.7 million individuals displaced by the war in Gaza and those lacking access to cooling systems. Hundreds of heat-related deaths were reported, with researchers suggesting that many more fatalities likely went unreported.

Climate Models Highlight Human Influence

The World Weather Attribution (WWA) group utilized computer models and ground observations to trace the impact of heat-trapping gases in the affected regions. “We wanted to determine if such temperatures were possible in the past and predict their future occurrences,” explained Mariam Zachariah, a climate change researcher at the Grantham Institute of Imperial College London and the study’s lead author.

Economic Impacts of Extreme Heat

Ashish Fernandes, CEO of the consultancy Climate Risk Horizons, emphasized the extensive economic impacts of these heat waves. “Current economic issues in India, such as food inflation, low productivity, and unemployment, will worsen with each new heat wave,” he stated. A 2022 study revealed that extreme heat could lead to 650 billion hours of lost labor globally each year, costing an estimated $2.1 trillion in 2017 alone.

Health and Productivity Challenges

Fernandes likened the situation to “chronic inflammation of the body.” While people may not be collapsing and dying immediately, their daily lives become significantly more difficult. The ongoing stress of high temperatures affects health and productivity in numerous ways.

Insufficient Heat Action Plans

While countries like India have implemented heat action plans, the scale of these measures is insufficient to protect the most vulnerable populations from temperature stress. Jaya Dhindaw, a sustainability expert at the World Resources Institute, highlighted the vast number of people in India who lack the resources to shield themselves from extreme heat. “For many, it is a matter of survival,” she noted.

Complex Realities and Local Challenges

Aditya Valiathan Pillai, a fellow with the think tank Sustainable Futures Collective, pointed out the complexities on the ground. He conducted an extensive analysis of India’s heat action plans at the state level in 2023. “Making preparedness a priority across thousands of local governments in India is a massive challenge,” he said. Despite limited funding, public awareness about the dangers of heat exposure remains critically low. Many are only beginning to realize that extreme temperatures can be fatal and severely impact productivity.

Building Resilience Through Local Cooperation

Pillai suggested that encouraging cooperation among numerous local administrations could lead to a robust resiliency framework for India. Such a model could serve as an example for other heat-prone developing nations. “While it is not easy, achieving this could significantly enhance the country’s resilience to extreme heat,” he concluded.


The April heat wave in Asia underscores the urgent need for comprehensive climate action and preparedness strategies. As climate change continues to exacerbate extreme weather events, countries must enhance their heat action plans and increase public awareness to protect vulnerable populations and sustain economic stability. The lessons learned from Asia’s recent experience should inform global efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change and build resilient communities.

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