Heat waves, deaths, and us

Heat waves, deaths, and us

In this era of high- end technologies as well as organisational developments, somewhere our climate is being left behind and it is affecting us in monumental ways. Facing the brunt of human activities, our planet is suffering and so are we. Leaving numerous deaths in its way, one of the most deadly yet extensively under reported consequences of global climate change is a heat wave.


heat wave is a period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity, especially in oceanic climate countries. Now many of you would want to know what comprises a heat wave. A heat wave occurs when a system of high atmospheric pressure moves into a region. In such a high-pressure system, air from upper levels of our atmosphere is pulled towards the ground where it becomes compressed. This high concentration of pressure makes it difficult for other weather systems to move into the area and the longer the system stays in an area, the hotter the area becomes. Due to this kind of high-pressure system, clouds are unable to enter the region which makes the sunlight punishing and it heats up the climate even more.


In today’s times, the latest climate change like variations in the sun’s energy, changes in the reflectivity of earth’s atmosphere and surface and changes in the greenhouse effect are destroying our earth. Due to heavy pollution, like burning coal, fossil fuels, oil, etc hampers the climate as they slow down the earth’s process of reflecting heat back into space, making it even warmer. This increase in temperature is causing glaciers to melt and gives rise to heat waves.


Heat justice expert Sharon Harlan, professor of Health Sciences and Sociology at Northeastern University, claimed that heat waves are “projected to become more intense, more frequent, and longer- lasting over the next century.”



In the year 1995, the Chicago heat wave had caused approximately 739 deaths in a period of 5 days. In 2019, Australia heated up this as a mass of hot air swept east across the continent. The dominant climate driver behind the heat has been a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) – an event where sea surface temperatures are warmer in the western half of the ocean, cooler in the east. The difference between the two temperatures is currently the strongest in 60 years. In addition to physical stress, excessive heat causes psychological stress, to a degree which affects performance, and is also associated with an increase in violent crime. High temperatures are associated with increased conflict both at the interpersonal level and at the societal level. Heat waves also cause bushfires and as a result, it also promotes animal deaths and extinction. Australian bushfires and Amazon forest fires were one of the most talked- about results of heat waves and other climate changes.


Therefore, it is on us as to know how to protect ourselves as well as our planet. Spreading awareness is important but it will be futile if none of us pay attention to our world we live in. People are dying and so are animals while we are busy counting our faults, rather than searching for solutions and creating a better earth.


Shivangi Sinha

Shivangi Sinha


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