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Earth Science

Being Outside Could Become Deadly In South Asia, Says Study (go.com) 416

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: Venturing outdoors may become deadly across wide swaths of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh by the end of the century as climate change drives heat and humidity to new extremes, according to a new study. These conditions could affect up to a third of the people living throughout the Indo-Gangetic Plain unless the global community ramps up efforts to rein in climate-warming carbon emissions. Today, that vast region is home to some 1.5 billion people. While most climate studies have been based on temperature projections, this one -- published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances -- is somewhat unique in also considering humidity as well as the body's ability to cool down in response. Most of those at risk in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are poor farmworkers or outdoor construction laborers. They are unlikely to have air conditioners -- up to 25 percent in of India's population still has no access to electricity. In some areas that have been deforested for industry or agriculture, they may not even have very much shade.

For the study, the researchers carried out computer simulations using global atmospheric circulation models under two scenarios -- one in which the world comes close to meeting its goal of curbing emissions to limit Earth's average temperature rise to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels, and one in it continues emitting at current levels. Both scenarios play out dangerously for South Asia. But with no limit on global warming, about 30 percent of the region could see dangerous wet bulb temperatures above 31 degrees C (88 degrees F) on a regular basis within just a few decades. That's nearly half a billion people by today's population levels, though the full scale could change as the population grows. Meanwhile, 4 percent of the population -- or 60 million in today's population -- would face deadly highs at or above 35 degrees C (95 degrees F) by 2100. But if the world can limit global warming, that risk exposure declines drastically. About 2 percent of the population would face average wet bulb temperatures of 31 degrees C (88 degrees F) or higher.

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Being Outside Could Become Deadly In South Asia, Says Study

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  • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

    ...up to 25 percent in of India's population still has no access to electricity.

    Fix this issue and your problem will be solved.

    • by millertym ( 1946872 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @03:12AM (#54931463)

      That's like someone having terminal cancer and just taking pain killers to 'fix' it. You have the fix the root of the problem, if you really want things to be fixed. That means halting global warming. And that means drastic action to limit Carbon and Methane emissions by humanity's machines and realistically a healthy dose of atmosphere engineering at this point to pull those molecules out of the air.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EzInKy ( 115248 )

        So you'd rather have the infinitely easier problem to remedy of providing electricity to everyone be put on the back burner in order further some political goal of yours? Tell me, just how many people would you have die to further your agenda?

        • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @02:18PM (#54934803)

          Well... he didn't suggest we NOT give painkillers to those with terminal cancer. This would be one of those "in addition to" sort of things. But his analogy sucks. You don't fix terminal cancer. Kinda... by the definition of "terminal". And yeah, killing the pain and giving them a comfortable send-off is about all you can do. I'm.... pretty sure the Earth doesn't have a "terminal" case of warming. If it does, then anything we do, good or bad, is pretty pointless.

          But I get what you're saying: "Doing anything about global warming is just a political agenda". Like it's just politics for politics sake. That kinda sucks. And there IS a lot of that. But it'd be wrong of me to simply dismiss the policy of my opponents as "just a political agenda". I fully understand why they want to kick out all the illegal immigrants, or have a strong military, or disrupting the governments South America that got too cozy with communism. There are concern and fears. Some of them legitimate, some of them bullshit.

          Sure, "We need to do something about global warming" is on the agenda of the democrats/liberals/progressive/Not-Your-Team. Whatever. But the reason it's on that list is because there's a legitimate concern that we're setting ourselves up for a massive clusterfuck where a ton of people die. Is "Drastic action to limit carbon and methane" on that agenda? You know, as a "what we going to do about it?" sort of thing? Eh, there's not a consensus on that. If you want to attack or call to question THIS specific plan, go for it. That sort of debate is useful and informative. At least when it's not low effort "so how many people do you want to die?" sort of partisan hacks. Better debate topics would be "How do you get China to play along?" and now "How do you get Trump to play along?" and "How do you convince others to conserve while you yourself are wasteful? Because I'm looking at you USA's CO2 per capita". And that loops back around to the article with "Meanwhile India is really green per capita... But oh look they might start dying from it".

          Anyway, none of that doesn't exclude Indian rural electrification. That will help, but it won't solve the bigger problem.

        • Infinitely easier? The claim is that being OUTSIDE is going to be deadly and you think AIR CONDITIONING (which is the context in which electricity was mentioned) is the solution?

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
        Terminal cancer can't be fixed - that's why it's called terminal. So you give the patient painkillers and try to maximize patient comfort for the last days. The painkillers are not supposed to "fix it".
      • That's like someone having terminal cancer and just taking pain killers to 'fix' it. You have the fix the root of the problem,

        Too late... We're already locked into killer temperature in some parts. Sure, solving the root will help other people and prevent the problem getting worse- but essentially, we knew what was happening in the 80's and almost no one did anything. Now it's too late to come out of this unscathed.

      • by XXongo ( 3986865 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @08:18AM (#54932271) Homepage

        ...up to 25 percent in of India's population still has no access to electricity.

        Fix this issue and your problem will be solved.

        It won't be "solved," but, indeed, giving access to electricity would indeed be a useful thing to do for many reasons.

        That's like someone having terminal cancer and just taking pain killers to 'fix' it. You have the fix the root of the problem, if you really want things to be fixed. That means halting global warming. And that means drastic action to limit Carbon and Methane emissions by humanity's machines

        The clear solution to the problem of lack of electricity in remote parts of India is photovoltaic solar panels. For a country with a million villages that aren't on the electric grid-- and a country with a very unreliable electric grid-- the distributed nature of solar arrays is a good feature.

        And solar panels are now cheap enough that it actually is economically feasible to use them for this.

        and realistically a healthy dose of atmosphere engineering at this point to pull those molecules out of the air.

        Sorry, you're moving out of science and into science fiction. Carbon dioxide is only 400 ppm in the atmosphere. That's enough to absorb outgoing infrared, but ppm levels are hard to distill out of the atmosphere.

        It is much, much easier to sequester CO2 from emissions, where the concentration is high. Once you've diluted it into the atmosphere, it's not easy to remove.

        Massive plantings would do it. But you have to then sequester the plants afterwards, since if they then decay there's no point.

        • Trees are a decent way to remove carbon ( in the form of CO2 ) from the atmosphere. Wood is about 50% carbon.
          [partial sarcasm] Fight global warming - buy at your local lumber yard.
        • Massive plantings would do it. But you have to then sequester the plants afterwards, since if they then decay there's no point.

          It depends on the nature of decay. Aerobic decomposition produces less GHG output than anaerobic. And if the rate of decomposition is rapid, then you'll wind up with soil, and there's plenty of point to soil. Our farming practices deplete it, so we could really use more of it if we want to re-green the earth.

    • by shilly ( 142940 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @03:24AM (#54931499)

      How does this solve the problem for people working outside, exactly? You know: farmers, construction workers, police officers etc.

    • by schleimkeim ( 4962311 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @03:50AM (#54931591)
      they are in the lower caste, no one cares.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 03, 2017 @03:51AM (#54931599)

      > ...up to 25 percent in of India's population still has no access to electricity.
      > Fix this issue and your problem will be solved.

      Contrary to what you think, India knows electricity well, e.g. they are in Top10 worldwide regarding electrified railways, they have a huge 25kV AC based traction network.

      Generating more electricity, however causes even more pollution. If you use hydro-carbons, CO2 will be released, further accelerating the AGW.

      If you use nuclear, radioactive waste will be created and India already has a health problem, birth defects, etc. due to high radiation background in much of the country. (Scientists says it is caused natually by the ancient, thorium-rich bedrock, while vedic legends say there was an all out nuclear war there about 8000 years ago). Fusion energy is still promised 50 years into the future...

      Hydro-electricity isn't very practicable in India, because the mountains are in the northern-most part but the population lives mostly in the southern tip of the vast subcontinent, so transfer losses would be too high even at 750kV AC. Furthermore, the northern region's borders and resources are contested by Pakistan and China and trying to build a dam there would probably ignite warfare.

      Wind, I have no idea, but Asia usually experiences extremely strong weather phenomenon never seen in Europe, so one must wonder if those fancy "Made In Germany" fiber laminate wind pylons would topple in a monsoon?

      • by XXongo ( 3986865 )

        > ...up to 25 percent in of India's population still has no access to electricity.
        > Fix this issue and your problem will be solved.

        ...Generating more electricity, however causes even more pollution...

        Not if you do it with solar.

      • Transmission line losses for 1 GW over 1000 miles at 765 kV range from 5% to 11% (extrapolated from wikipedia).
    • by Kiuas ( 1084567 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @04:01AM (#54931625)

      Fix this issue and your problem will be solved.

      Well, no. First of all, fixing access does not mean fixing affordability. You can build power stations and power lines all you want to get those people access, but that doesn't mean those people can suddenly afford the price of an AC unit and the cost to run it.

      According to United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (MDG) programme 270 millions or 21.9% people out of 1.2 billion of Indians lived below poverty line of $1.25 in 2011-2012.

      (wiki) [wikipedia.org]

      A quick google search for 'air conditioning price in India' tells me that the low end AC units sold start at around 19 500 rupiees [mysmartprice.com], which at today's exchange rate is just slightly above 300 dollars. [xe.com]. So that's almost a year's salary for most of the poorest 200-300 million Indians to just afford the machine. And that's just the acquisition cost. The cheaper ones are usually ones with higher power consumption (this one [mysmartprice.com] which I used as an example for the price has a 3 star rating), but we shouldn't be too far off even with a 3 star rating for a 1 ton machine if we assume a power consumption of about 1 kWh.

      The one good thing is that increasing warming makes solar cheaper and cheaper. According to this story from last year [theguardian.com] the prices have at times shrunk to 2.62 rupiees per kWh, roughly 4 US cents.So if you run the machine for the hottest part of the day, say from 10 to 17, that's 28 cents a day.

      So for those living in poverty they need to spend about 1/5th of their income just to be able to operate the machine if they somehow managed to save enough money to actually buy one in the first place. Given that people with children especially tend to have other notable expenses, it's unlikely that many at those income levels will even be able to acquire such a machine. Granted, increasing supply will further bring prices down so this estimate is not fully reflective of the future, but I'm using these figures to highlight that 'fixing this issue' is just ever so slightly more complicated than just building a few solar plants and some power lines.

      • by slashdot_commentator ( 444053 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @08:35AM (#54932361) Journal

        The one good thing is that increasing warming makes solar cheaper and cheaper.

        What is the basis for that (ridiculous) statement? The increased warming isn't coming from an increase in solar radiation. You can argue that "global warming" makes solar a more attractive power source, even if "marginally" more expensive to produce than fossil fuels. But "climate change" is not going make solar "cheaper and cheaper".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Gavagai80 ( 1275204 )

      If you fix the issue of 25% of Indians not have electricity, you've just increased global warming a few more degrees by making them contributors.

      • If you fix the issue of 25% of Indians not have electricity, you've just increased global warming a few more degrees by making them contributors.

        Unless you fix it with renewables, in which case they will contribute less because right now they're burning anything they can lay hands on.

      • Hydropower and solar power are close to warming-neutral, assuming that carbon is driving global warming. Electricity will tend to reduce the burning of dung and peat for heat, reducing carbon in the air and reducing really nasty pollution.
  • Weather (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @03:09AM (#54931453)

    As long as authoritative people call global warming "Just Weather"...

    As long as we vote said authoritative people into office...

    Our hope lies in education. Lots of it. Regardless of anything.

    • Education? Can't have that - said authoritative people would be voted right out. Clearly education must only be attainable for privileged kids.

  • by aberglas ( 991072 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @03:36AM (#54931547)

    I met a Russian back packer from Siberia who thought global warming was a great idea.

    • I was just about to say.
      Also, Greenland would be quite nice.. and it's largely uninhabited.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Also, Greenland would be quite nice.. and it's largely uninhabited.

        Once the ice pack melts, Greenland will be largely underwater. Much of the actual land is below sea level.

        • Also Greenland isn't as big as most people think. Thanks to the Mercator projection used on most world maps it appears to be twice as large as Australia, when in reality it has less than a third of its area.

        • by aevan ( 903814 )
          What about majority of say, northern asia and upper (haha, okay, all of) canada? Pretty sure the Shield is above sea level, being the remains of mountains. That said, no clue on the soil quality.
        • Much of the actual land is below sea level.

          Where in the world did you get that idea? Unless the parts of Greenland I've been to just happen to be completely outside the norm, your claim seems to be total bullshit.

          • by Muros ( 1167213 )

            Much of the actual land is below sea level.

            Where in the world did you get that idea? Unless the parts of Greenland I've been to just happen to be completely outside the norm, your claim seems to be total bullshit.

            He is correct, much of the bedrock underneath the icecap is below sea level. It would rebound if the ice cap melted, but would take millenia to do so.

        • Canada wins from global warming. An area of tundra the size of the entire USA gets converted into desirable and resource rich prime real estate. It will have plenty of room for all the Americans who have to move when large sections of the USA turn into desert.

          • I wouldn't consider real estate anywhere near prime when you have no daylight for half a year. I've lived near Helsinki for a while, the utter lack of sunlight in winter made me even more depressive and the very bright summer nights made sleeping well difficult. Global warming will probably make the area even more depressing due to clouds and rain.

      • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @06:27AM (#54931903)

        The current estimates are that the inland ice will take millennia to melt, so you will have to be patient. Same goes for the arctic tundras - there will be a long time in which underground permafrost is melting, making the ground unstable, swampy etc. I take it you've never actually been to the high arctic? It does in fact get surprisingly warm in many areas during the summer, at which time you will experience the main feature of tundra + warm temperatures: insects in their hundreds of billions, all want to get to know you very intemately. Put in another way: if you walk around with your mouth open, you'll end up putting on weight. I don't know about you, but I would probably not want to live there.

    • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday August 03, 2017 @08:52AM (#54932453) Homepage Journal

      I met a Russian back packer from Siberia who thought global warming was a great idea.

      He'll change his tune when he finds out how much of the stuff in Siberia is built on so-called permafrost. Hint: Permafrost isn't permanent, especially during global warming. It's already becoming a major issue in Alaska.

  • being outside is a problem in australia

    yes the wildlife will kill you

    yes the sun will cause cancer

    but honestly australia does not have a clue with regards to weather we only have 600 weather stations for an entire continent and apparently we cant calibrate them...

    accurate weather stations that people can purchase would be nice...

    regards

    John Jones

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @03:38AM (#54931561)
    We need to put an end to climate change denial - by environmentalists. Their advocacy of renewables as the only solution to climate change is based on there being just the right amount of climate change. Enough for us to have to abandon fossil fuels, but not enough that we have to do it immediately thereby leaving us enough time to develop renewable technologies.*

    The projections are growing more and more dire. Environmentalists need to stop using climate change as a means to advance their renewables agenda, thereby putting the survival of humanity (and a bunch of animal species) at risk. We need to phase out fossil fuels ASAP and switch over to the only power generation technology available which can provide enough base load cheaply enough to satisfy our modern needs - nuclear.

    Once we've switched to nuclear and have arrested global warming, then we can work on developing renewables. And as renewables improve in scalability, come down in cost, and battery technology improves allowing us to even out time-variances in renewable production, then we can start using renewables to phase out nuclear plants. Their current tactic of blocking nuclear power, thereby leaving fossil fuels and renewables as our only choices, is literally playing chicken with the survival of the human race. It's like being on a sinking ship but preventing anyone from using the life rafts, insisting that the only solution is that everyone needs to learn how to swim in the short time we have.

    *(This is why a lot of climate change deniers don't believe environmentalists about climate change. They figure if environmentalists really believed climate change threatened our existence, they wouldn't be advocating half measures which will take decades to develop and implement. They'd be advocating eliminating fossil fuels immediately, without caring what replaces it short-term as long as it doesn't emit CO2. But since they are opposed to nuclear, climate change deniers logically reason that the environmentalists are lying about climate change.)
    • by Cryacin ( 657549 )
      Yep, liquid metal reactors, or Gen IV all the way.
      • by dunkelfalke ( 91624 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @07:08AM (#54931981)

        Look up why the Americans replaced liquid metal reactors in their only liquid metal reactor submarine with conventional pressurised water reactors and why the Soviets never again built liquid metal reactor submarines after the Alfa class and the K-27 accident, with the first submarine of the Alfa class being scrapped just a couple of years after comissioning and second one having its reactors replaced with PWRs. While you are at that, read about the Monju reactor accident.
        Please also note that all Gen IV reactors only exist on paper. Not one of these has been built.

    • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @04:02AM (#54931627) Homepage

      There's nothing short term about nuclear, either in building the reactors or dealing with the waste. Nuclear power would be awesome if we could trust humans not to fuck it up but we can't.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > if we could trust humans not to fuck it up but we can't.

        Citation needed. Nuclear has had its share of accidents (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima) but the death toll of these accidents pales in comparison to any other form of fossil fuel energy generation. Coal kills thousands per year through emissions. I would confidently bet that more oil refinery workers have been killed in accidents than people via nuclear accidents.

        Nuclear is incredibly safe compared to all other forms of fossil fuels. Whi

      • That's bs. Muzzle the NRC and build licensed French designs. Nobody has the willpower to do it.
    • by Misagon ( 1135 )

      The big problem with nuclear (as well as with some renewables at some extent) is that they are very slow to start and stop. The energy grid has to be actively balanced all the time - to make sure that supply is always closely matched to the varying demand. Whey they are not, you will get spikes and/or rolling blackouts. This implies that energy sources have to be started and stopped at short notice.
      That is where fossil fuels have their biggest strengths, and why they are likely to be important energy source

      • by Qwertie ( 797303 )
        Traditional large reactors are slow at load-following, but it doesn't seem as though this has been a serious problem in the past. New SMR/LFTR reactors [medium.com] are smaller and can adjust their output more quickly.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Renewables are ideal for rapid stop/start.

        Wind and solar have large numbers of individual small generators, which can be turned on/off easily by angling the blades of the turbines or simply disconnecting/reconnecting them. Hydro is as easy as opening or closing the slew gates.

        Battery storage is also ideal for load following, as well as other kinds of storage like below ground pressurised air or pumped water.

        • It's not quite that easy. It's why stations used to be built with resistor banks the size of a house to "burn" excess production.

          Stopping a turbine costs brakes and with too high wind speeds you just can't without breaking something. Solar cells will destroy themselves if they are left in large arrays without a load, suddenly stopping the flow to a turbine will likewise destroy it due to its inertia.

          Steam turbines are probably the simplest to stop although the reactor will take a lot of time to adjust and g

    • by Qwertie ( 797303 )
      If you'd written your comment ten years ago, it would be very timely. Two years ago, many would agree. But recently there has been a breakthrough in solar energy prices [extranewsfeed.com], one that people might have seen coming if they had been familiar with the solar equivalent of Moore's law [wikipedia.org].

      It does amaze me how people can cheer whenever a nuclear plant closes while also saying climate change is an urgent problem. But just as deniers use myths to ignore science [medium.com], some environmentalists believe myths that greatly exaggerat
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Renewable technology is developing fast enough for our needs. The problem is that it has become somewhat politically toxic and some governments are finding it hard to invest enough in it. For example, in the UK they are wrongly blamed for high energy costs and opposed by NIMBYs.

      By the new the UK finishes its latest nuclear power stations, they will be obsolete and unnecessary.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      Fucking stop. Nuclear baseload is a myth, clean nuclear power is a myth, cheap nuclear power is a myth, and the only reason anyone accepted it in the first place was that it was supposed to be too cheap to meter which was always a lie.

      Your ideas are fucking stupid because we can develop renewable capacity faster than we can develop nuclear capacity. If your assertion is that we need zero-emissions energy now, then building more nuclear plants is an idiot's move on all levels.

      Stick your nuclear playboy scrip

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @03:44AM (#54931583) Journal
    In a part of the world that has leeches raining from trees, 400 pound catfish, giant scorpions, spitting cobras, and oh yes, man-eating tigers.........eh, what were we worrying about again?
  • That's the general attitude here. On /., and the west in general. Who gives half a fuck about Indians? There's so many of them anyway, a few million of them dying, so what? I got my air condition, I got my office job, why should I not continue driving my SUV just so some Indian pariah can survive?

    Welcome to the wonderful Christian world of compassion. You may vomit now.

    • by hord ( 5016115 )

      Are you on a jet with your ass on the line next to these people helping them? What about Hindu compassion that holds the cow to be so sacred that people allow them to eat plastic in the filthy streets? Do you think they will care if I have A/C or an SUV when they get one?

  • So, like Panama then?
  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Thursday August 03, 2017 @07:58AM (#54932177)
    What has me even more concerned than this study is not that 1.5 billion people may find themselves living in an inhospitable region, but the reaction people will have to it. Will they just roll over and die by the hundreds of millions? Somehow adapt using new training, technology, and wealth they don't have today? Perhaps they might simply start a war over the fact they can't live within thier sovereign territory and feel they need others resources to live? Several of these countries have nuclear weapons and many aren't super stable on a good day. Its not far fetched that the consequences of resource wars could be far more severe than the actual climate differences itself.
    • Yes, that's why the Pentagon has been worried about climate change. They need to ramp that up with Fox or something, though, as I think the voice of the military would hold more sway over some swaths of denialists than any number of scientists.
  • Isn't that where emissions are increasing the fastest? India is #3 or 4 on the list of polluters, neighboring China is #1. India is expected to surpass the emissions of the entire EU by 2020, and their recent increases canceled out decreases in the US and China. India is already making it's air unbreathable, maybe they should stop before it also cooks them.

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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