Wednesday, June 21, 2023

#172 / When Shit Gets Real, II


This blog posting is about global warming, and about what seems to be coming our way. Think of it as a follow up to my blog posting from last Monday, which was titled, "My So-Called Friends."
My first "When Shit Gets Real" blog post, which was published about a year ago, had some pictures that were a lot more "dramatic" than the picture above. Still, if we could appreciate the implications of what the picture above portrays, we'd have to admit that it depicts a genuine "When Shit Gets Real" moment. 
The above picture is from the June 19, 2023, edition of The New York Times. The article it accompanied, by Alex Travelli and Hari Kumar, is titled, "Northern India Endures a Heat Wave, and a Wave of Deaths." It shows a man being carried into a hospital in the Ballia District, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, last Sunday. Here is a brief excerpt from the article: 

The nightmarish prospect of mass deaths caused by a sudden rise in temperatures has become more urgent in recent years. And the phenomenon in this area of the world may portend a warning beyond India’s borders.
The heat in this part of India has been hovering around the critical “wet-bulb temperature,” the threshold beyond which the human body cannot cool itself to a survivable point by perspiration, defined as 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), adjusted for 100 percent humidity. The wet-bulb reading in Ballia on Saturday reached 34.15 degrees Celsius (about 93 degrees Fahrenheit).
It is expected that more older or infirm patients than usual will die in heat waves like this one, which climate change has made more common across India’s historically scorching plains, as in most of the world, scientists say (emphasis added).

In the article from The Times that I have just quoted, a major focus is on reporting that government spokespeople in India have gone out of their way to deny that anyone should be over-concerned by climate-related heat deaths. However, it is my sense that the reporters are not really very much convinced by what the government officials have been saying. For instance, the reporters explicitly refer in their article to a book by Kim Stanley Robinson, Ministry For The Future, about which I have written before. Here's from the article in The Times

The fact that wet-bulb temperatures in much of South Asia have been inching nearer to the critical level has provoked global concern over the past few years. It has even made its way into literature. “The Ministry for the Future,” a science fiction novel written by Kim Stanley Robinson in 2020, imagines a scenario in which 20 million Indian citizens living in the same part of the country — men, women and children — are killed by an intense heat wave within one week, immediately changing the course of history.
Go back and read that recent blog posting titled, "My So-Called Friends." The phenomenon that Bob Dylan documented in his song, in 1979, is all too apparent in how government officials in India are dealing, today, with a genuine "When Shit Gets Real" moment in Uttar Pradesh.

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