Residents of India are in need of relief from constant high temperatures, which have been heightened by climate change. Over 100 people have died due to high temperatures — but government officials deny that a heat wave is occurring.
A week-long heat wave in the region has caused 130 deaths from heatstroke and exposure. According to climate watchdogs, Bangalore reached a record-high temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sandeep Sarma, who works in Bangalore, noted that there is a struggle between the country’s need to develop infrastructure with frequent high temperatures.
“A lot of trees are being cut down on a regular basis as part of expansion for the city and there are thousands of vehicles being released onto the roads every month,” said Sarma. “Pollution is getting worse, too, and couple that with the heat, it can be quite dangerous.”
Experts say climate change disproportionately impacts low-income communities and other vulnerable populations. A recent UN report wrote: “People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalized are especially vulnerable to climate change.”
During the summer of 2015, temperatures above 110 Fahrenheit killed at least 2,500 people in India. However, Bangalore was mostly spared during that heat wave — it is nicknamed the “air-conditioned city” due to the cool rains that typically alleviate summer heat.
But this year, the rain hasn’t come. Residents are struggling to cope with unusually high temperatures, but government officials say the city is not dealing with a heat wave.
While the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Center, a non-government organization that measures weather and climate, recorded temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of Bangalore, the Indian Meteorological Department denies that temperatures exceeded 104 degrees. 104 is considered the official threshold for a heat wave designation.
Sarma believes that this squabble over numbers is insignificant. What matters is that the area is much hotter than usual, as a direct result of the country’s actions.
“I don’t think it really matters whether they accept it or not,” said Sarma. “Whether it’s 39 or 40, in terms of numbers they may seem different. But for a city that was known as the Garden City of India and to have a cool climate, this is unacceptable — especially since it got this bad as a result of our actions.”
India isn’t the only nation dealing with overwhelming temperatures as a result of climate change. In the United states, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently stated that 2016 is on track to overcome 2015 as the hottest year on record globally.
Hrishikesh Halase, a Bangalore resident, explained what he experiences upon coming home to his top-floor apartment.
“It feels like I’m entering a pre-heated oven. My floor, bed, water from the cold tap, and even the shampoo in the bottle is warm!,” he said.