Scorching Asia in the Era of Global Boiling

Scorching Asia in the Era of Global Boiling

Extreme Heat, Climate Change, and Mitigation Strategies Across Asia in Summer 2024


Asia is currently experiencing one of the most severe heatwaves in recent history, with record-breaking temperatures affecting millions. This extreme weather highlights the urgent need to address climate change. Notably, New Delhi recently recorded an unprecedented temperature of above 50 degrees, the highest ever in the city. This article explores the current heatwave situation across Asia, its links to climate change, the effects on health and society, and strategies for mitigation.

Current Heatwave Situation in Asia

The ongoing heatwave has set alarming new records across several Asian countries. In India, on May 29, 2024, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported that a weather station in Delhi's Mungeshpur recorded a staggering 52.3 degrees Celsius which is a outlier. While this reading is under investigation due to its extremity that may be attributed to glitch in the monitoring station, it underscores the severity of the heatwave. Other areas in Rajasthan and Haryana have also experienced temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius.

Similarly, countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Thailand are facing extreme heat conditions. In Pakistan, cities such as Jacobabad and Sibi have recorded temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius. Bangladesh's Dhaka has experienced prolonged heatwaves, severely affecting daily life and public health. In Thailand, the capital Bangkok and other major cities have seen temperatures soar above 40 degrees Celsius, coupled with high humidity levels, making conditions almost unbearable.

Climate Change and Its Role in Heatwaves

Climate change is a significant driver of the increased frequency and intensity of heatwaves across Asia. Decades of scientific research have established that global warming leads to more extreme weather events. Rising greenhouse gas emissions, increasing urban landscapes trap more heat in the atmosphere, causing temperatures to soar. The current heatwave in Asia is a stark reminder of these trends and the urgent need for climate action.

The most vulnerable are suffering the most. Current policies are taking the world to a 2.8 degree temperature rise by the end of the century. That spells catastrophe. Yet the collective response remains pitiful.– Antonio Guterres, Secretary General UN

Effects of Heatwaves on Health and Society

Heatwaves pose severe health risks, particularly to vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, outdoor workers, and low-income households. Heat strokes, dehydration, and other heat-related illnesses can become rampant during extreme temperatures. The IMD has issued a red alert health notice for Delhi, warning of a very high likelihood of developing heat illnesses across all age groups.

In Bangladesh, hospitals are seeing a surge in patients with heat-related conditions. Pakistan has issued health advisories and opened cooling centers to help residents cope. Thailand has implemented public awareness campaigns to educate citizens on heatwave safety.

The economic impact of heatwaves is also significant. Increased power consumption strains electricity grids, leading to potential blackouts. Medical costs rise as more people seek treatment for heat-related conditions. Additionally, productivity drops as workers struggle to function in extreme heat.

Heatwaves and Mental Health

The impact of heatwaves extends beyond physical health, significantly affecting mental health as well. Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can lead to increased stress levels, anxiety, and depression. High temperatures can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to irritability and cognitive impairment. Communities in areas like Northern India, where temperatures have reached record highs, report increased cases of mental health issues during heatwaves. Living in Eastern part of India with temperature above 44 degrees Celsius, I am unable to sleep more than 2-3 hours since March as the coolest temperatures are only prevalent between 3-5 a.m causing sleep deprivation related cognitive issues. Providing adequate mental health support and ensuring access to cooling spaces can help alleviate these pressures.

Greening Urban Areas to Combat Heatwaves

Urban areas can play a crucial role in mitigating the effects of heatwaves through greening initiatives. Planting more trees and creating green spaces in cities can significantly reduce temperatures by providing shade and facilitating evapotranspiration. Agroforestry practices following Biotic Pump Principle might be the thing we need to implement immediately, to acquire the much needed cooling effect. In India, initiatives to increase urban greenery have shown promise in creating cooler microclimates. Additionally, green roofs and walls can insulate buildings, reducing the need for air conditioning and lowering overall energy consumption. Integrating these green solutions with urban infrastructure planning is essential for creating sustainable and resilient cities capable of withstanding extreme heat.

Mitigation Strategies for Individuals

Individuals can take several steps to mitigate the effects of heatwaves

    1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks which can lead to dehydration.

      1. Stay Indoors During Peak Heat: Avoid outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its strongest.

      2. Use Fans and Air Conditioning: Keep cool with fans, air conditioning, or cool showers. If you don’t have air conditioning, visit public places like malls or libraries.

      3. Wear Appropriate Clothing: Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing to help keep your body cool.

      4. Apply Sunscreen: Use sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays when going outside.

      5. Cool Your Living Space: Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day to block out the sun. Use reflective materials or light-colored curtains to reduce heat absorption.

      6. Limit Physical Activity: Reduce strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day. Take frequent breaks if you must be active outside.

      7. Eat Light: Consume small, light, and frequent meals. Avoid heavy, hot foods that can increase body temperature.

      8. Check on Vulnerable People: Ensure that elderly, children, and those with health conditions are staying cool and hydrated.

      9. Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illness: Be aware of symptoms like heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and fainting. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen.

Community and Government Actions

Communities and governments across Asia play a crucial role in combating heatwaves:

  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Educate the public about heatwave risks and prevention measures.

  • Cooling Centers: Establish public cooling centers for those without access to air conditioning.

  • Urban Planning: Enhance green spaces and urban forestry to reduce urban heat islands.

  • Infrastructure Improvements: Upgrade the electricity grid to handle increased demand during heatwaves.

Long-Term Solutions to Combat Climate Change

Addressing the root cause of increasing heatwaves requires long-term solutions to combat climate change:

  • Renewable Energy: Transition to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Energy Efficiency: Promote energy-efficient appliances and buildings.

  • Sustainable Practices: Encourage sustainable agricultural practices and water conservation.

  • Policy and Advocacy: Support policies that address climate change and advocate for international cooperation.


The severe heatwave affecting Asia, particularly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Thailand, is a dire warning of the impacts of climate change. Individual actions, community efforts, and government interventions are essential to mitigate the immediate effects of heatwaves and address the long-term challenges posed by global warming. Staying informed and proactive is crucial as we navigate these increasingly extreme weather conditions.


  1. NDTV. "Is It Really 52.3 Degrees In Delhi? Weather Chief Says Investigating Readings.", 29 May 2024. Link

  2. BBC News. "Heatwave: Record Temperatures Hit Pakistan and India.", 28 May 2024. Link

  3. The Guardian. "Bangladesh Heatwave: Hospitals Overwhelmed as Temperatures Soar." The, 27 May 2024. Link

  4. Bangkok Post. "No letup, more hot days ahead", 26 May 2024. Link

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