Very affecting heat wave grips parts of country

Scorching heat wave affecting aquatic species, livestock

Staff Reporter,April 21 ,2024 (HP News) ,Soaring heat wave will have adverse impacts not only on people’s life, it will disturb the balance of nature affecting the overall food production by putting aquatic species and livestock in danger.

Climate scientists said heat wave-induced complexities among humans are always being taken into the account, but its impacts on aquatic species and livestock are not considered properly. Heat wave contributes to decline of dissolved oxygen in water-bodies, they said, adding that farm animals also get sick frequently cutting the farm output. Severe heat wave has been sweeping over many parts of country for the last few days. The temperature soared to 42.6 degrees Celsius yesterday (Saturday) in Jashore, while the maximum temperature in Dhaka was 40.4 degrees Celsius. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) warned that there was no end in sight for the heat.

According to the BMD, very severe heat wave is sweeping over Pabna, Jashore and Chuadanga districts. Severe heat wave is sweeping over Dhaka and Khulna divisions and the district of Rajshahi too.

Mild to moderate heat wave is sweeping over Barishal division and parts of Rajshahi divisions and Mymensingh, Moulvibazar, Feni, Cox’s Bazar, Chandpur and Rangamati and it may continue over the next three days.

Scientists have said climate change is contributing to more frequent, severe, and longer heat waves in Bangladesh during its summer months.

“Apart from causing heat stokes due to exposure to heat wave, germs like bacteria and viruses can spread amid extreme heat affecting humans.

The cases of pneumonia and influenza may increase in the country due to high temperature,” Dr Mohan Kumar Das, climate scientist at Bangkok-based Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES).

He said although heat wave-induced complexities among humans are always being taken into the account, its impacts on livestock are not considered properly. Citing findings of a study, Dr Mohan said heat wave severely hits the livestock sector, contributing to the decline of milk production and making cattle ill.

As water bodies and greenery coverage have been declining in the country, the heat in summer months are increasing, he said, adding that heat wave also contributes to the decline of dissolved oxygen in water, affecting aquatic species.

“People dwelling in city heat islands are feeling more heat, so they should remain careful and drink enough water to avoid heat stokes,” said Dr Md Iqbal Kabir, director at Climate Change and Health Promotion Unit under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Predicting that the heat wave may delay rainfall in upcoming monsoon affecting agriculture, he said fever and water-borne diseases like diarrhea, hepatitis and typhoid may spread due to heat wave.

Heat wave hits food production  

Just like heat waves make life difficult, especially in cities, agricultural lands suffer heavily from rising temperatures. Heat wave endangers nature’s ability to produce food, according to experts.

In 2021, heat shock ruined 21,000 hectares (52,000 acres) of rice crops across Bangladesh.
The burning temperature even causes flowers of mangos and lichi to dry out and wilt.

“The production of mangos and lichi are going to be affected by heat wave. Famers have already understood this,” Dr Mohan said.

The World Bank in 2021 estimated that heat waves can lead to a 10-15 percent decrease in rice yields, a staple crop for the nation. This not only impacts food security but also disrupts the entire agricultural value chain, affecting farmers’ income and food processing and transportation.

A study of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) shows reduced crop yields due to heat-stress on plants and increased water demand for irrigation, compounded by dry spells.

Bangladesh has been severely affected by extreme heat wave. Extreme climate events, particularly heat wave, impacts on the food system, pose risks to human health in Bangladesh, explicitly in the north-west part of the country, says a new research published in a journal Science Direct in January 2024.

Education being impacted

Due to the ongoing heat wave, the government has already decided to close primary and secondary schools for seven days, from Apr 21 to Apr 27, as the heat wave cooks the country. Classes will remain closed in colleges across the country affiliated to the National University until further notice. However, no decision has been taken yet from the public universities.

Falling in poverty due to their livelihood loss due to extreme weather events, parents stop their children going schools and force girls to marry off to ease their family burden and boys to get involved in child labor to support their families, said Dr Golam Rabbani, head of Climate Bridge Fund Secretariat at BRAC.

He said as part of a study, consultations were held with school teachers in Rajshahi and Khulna and they informed that many of the students, especially girls, did not attend classes due to heat wave during pre-monsoon (March-April-May) and the trend of absence is on the rise as the hot days are increasing.

A 2021 report by the World Bank said Bangladesh regularly experiences some of the highest maximum temperatures in Asia, with an average monthly maximum of around 30 degrees Celsius and an average April maximum of 33 degrees Celsius.

“Bangladesh will experience emerging hot and humid seasons, in which the Heat Index surpasses 35 degrees Celsius,” the report said.

Over the past 44 years, the average temperature in Bangladesh has risen by 0.5 degrees Celsius, the World Bank said in its “Climate Afflictions” report. By 2050, that average will rise by 1.4 degrees Celsius.

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