A short walk in afternoon can be exhausting. The heatwaves will only get worse if we stop burning fossil fuels
For about an hour I had no energy. I crashed on my couch. I was extremely irritable and sweaty, and in no mood to talk with anyone.
I hadn’t done any intense training or run a marathon. I had simply left my home in Delhi around 3pm to drop my six-year-old son at a friend’s house, less than two kilometers away.
India experienced its hottest March ever. We are currently in a heatwave with high temperatures exceeding 40C (100F), in many parts. This is what climate changeImagine what it feels like to be driven by fossil fuels. Unbearable.
I decided to ditch my car that day and walk the short distance. My son was not too affected by the accident. He was busy playing with his friend after drinking a bottle of juice. But I had learned my lesson. No more walking in the middle of afternoon.
The problem is, many of the options to make the heat more tolerable involve either somebody else’s sweat or burning more fossil fuels.
I returned from work a few days later and took a bicycle rickshaw pulled by a man in his 40s. The rickshaw puller, who was a Muslim, kept silent throughout the 15-minute ride to my house. He said that he wouldn’t be able to keep his Ramadan fast until the evening due to the heat while waiting at a red signal.
On my return journey, I met many other people who were working in the heat to make a living, mostly men. There were fruit and vegetable sellers, repair shop workers, and hawkers of all kinds.
They were sweating and seeking shade beneath the few trees. GamchaA small, white scarf that is very popular in northern India. I wore a scarf as well on my trip. It can reflect the sun and draw sweat away. These traditional ways of coping with the environment have their limitations.
After my bout of heatstroke, I decided not to go out without my vehicle no matter how hard it hits my monthly budget – a reality considering the rising prices for petrol, diesel and gas. I vowed to keep all my meetings in the mornings or late afternoon – avoiding the hottest 3-4 hours.
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I also thought about the people who travel the length and breadths of the city to deliver food or consumer goods. I asked the lady who helps me manage the house if she would prefer to order groceries online and not go out to buy them. She said that she could choose a delivery time, morning or evening. I set out water for birds and other animals.
I have the privilege of owning a car as well as air conditioning at home. These cars run on fossil fuels, which makes global warming worse. Even the 10% richest Indians have smaller carbon footprints that citizens in developed nations, who are most responsible for the dire situation we find ourselves in.
As a regular viewer of news, I have seen stories about deadly heatwaves in Rajasthan and regions in Pakistan that are even more severe. It is too frightening to think about what must be happening to the people there.
Climate scientists warned that summers will get hotter. That is now unfolding and it won’t stop until we all end our dependence on coal, oil and gas.
What we need now is to have all hands on deck – come together, stop working in silos and find solutions now. There is no other way to tackle this but to join hands – rich and poor – because when climate change impacts intensify, the ones with more resources won’t escape the impacts either.
It is time to look at better public transport and energy-efficient systems, and learn how we can help.
Source: Climate Change News