India has become 15 per cent more vulnerable to extremes of heat than in 1990, according to the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, a flagship report of the medical journal The Lancet.
The "2021 report on health and climate change: code red for a healthy future" pointed out that between 2018 and 2019, India and Brazil registered the biggest absolute increase in heat-related mortality. Almost 3.45 lakh people above 65 years died of heat-related causes in 2019, more than 80·6 per cent of the 2000-05 average, in an indication of the health impact of climate change, reported The Indian Express.
Among the age groups, in 2020, the elderly (over 65) were affected by 3.1 billion more days of heatwave exposure, compared to the 1986-2005 baseline average. Chinese, Indian, American, Japanese and Indonesian senior citizens were the most affected, the report stated.
Impact On Productivity
The report noted that 295 billion hours of potential work were lost across the globe in 2020 due to heat. The three most populous countries in the medium-HDI (Human Development Index) group (Pakistan, Bangladesh and India) had the greatest losses among this group (2.5-3 times the world average).
Impact On Food Production
Climate change is responsible for an increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of drought events, thereby causing a threat to water security, sanitation, and food productivity, with 19 per cent of the global land surface in 2020 affected by extreme drought in any given month, the report added.
In 2020, up to 19 per cent of the global land surface was affected by extreme drought in any given month, a value that had not exceeded 13 per cent between 1950 and 1999. Rising temperatures shorten the time in which plants reach maturity, meaning smaller yields and an increased strain on our food systems.
Maize has seen a 6 per cent decrease in crop yield potential, wheat a 3 per cent decrease and rice a 1.8 per cent decrease, compared to 1981-2010 levels.