• Outdoors Outdoors

Scientists alarmed by 'unprecedented' April heat wave in Southeast Asia: 'The real boiling sea has arrived'

Governments are advising citizens on avoiding heatstroke, but many workers have no choice but to endure the severe conditions.

Governments are advising citizens on avoiding heatstroke, but many workers have no choice but to endure the severe conditions.

Photo Credit: iStock

Spring is the time of year when winter thaws. But this year, southeast Asia is feeling the heat in a big way.

What's happening?

Southeast Asia was sweltering under an unprecedented April heat wave. Temperatures soared to record highs across the region, reaching a blistering 44°C (111°F) in central Myanmar, according to the Guardian.

Thailand, Vietnam, and other countries also experienced unseasonably hot weather, shattering records for this time of year. The extreme heat followed a scorching February that saw temperatures frequently exceed the seasonal average by large margins.

Why was this heat wave concerning?

The impacts were far-reaching. In the Philippines, nearly 4,000 schools suspended in-person classes as the heat index topped dangerous levels, according to BenarNews.

Teachers reported health issues like dizziness and headaches, while students struggled to focus in sweltering classrooms with inadequate ventilation. Two fans were not enough to keep 60-70 students comfortable, as Ruby Bernardo, the president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in the National Capital Region, told the Guardian.

Agriculture was reeling from the heat wave, too. In Indonesia, rice prices spiked over 16% in February compared to last year, as prolonged dry weather hampered production of this staple crop. Low water levels in Vietnam made it tough for farmers to get their harvests to market. In Thailand, falling yields could drive up farmers' debt by 8% this year, as the outlet reported.

Even the oceans were overheating. Coral in the Gulf of Thailand faces destruction if the hot spell continues. Fish in local farms are at risk, too.

As Thon Thamrongnawasawat, an assistant professor in the faculty of fisheries at Kasetsart University, put it: "The real boiling sea has arrived."

What's being done about the heat wave?

Governments advised citizens on avoiding heat stroke, but many workers had no choice but to endure the severe conditions.

Schools and businesses adapted by allowing comfortable clothing and shifting schedules to cooler times of day. Looking ahead, societies must invest in resilient infrastructure, like well-ventilated classrooms. However, policies like renewable energy incentives are reducing our carbon footprint, a critical step in mitigating the effects of our warming planet.

Most importantly, we need urgent action to tackle rising global temperatures. Even with pollution cuts, we'll be dealing with extreme heat for decades. But the sooner we act, the more suffering we can prevent.

You have the power to help. Simple changes add up, so consider:

•Eating less red meat and more plant-based meals
•Walking, biking, or taking public transit instead of driving
•Using fans instead of air conditioning when possible
•Supporting leaders who prioritize climate action

Together, our daily choices can put the brakes on rising temperatures and build a safer future for us all. Beat the heat — start today.

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