The Long Run

In Karachi and the surrounding areas of Pakistan many people are suffering from heat exhaustion and some are dead as a result of very high summer temperatures. Karachi is a city of some twenty million inhabitants. It has poor infrastructural services – electricity is in short supply and clean water is short in summer- and this makes life almost unlivable when temperatures reach 45 Centigrade, as they have recently. The record temperature recorded at Karachi is 47 degrees Centigrade, which it hit in 1979. This is not a pleasant start to Ramadan.

A human body can live in reasonable comfort at temperatures up to 45 degrees. As it gets hotter than than heat exhaustion kicks in. At 45 degrees the body starts to stop working and people die.

Clearly for places like Karachi without massive energy to power air conditioning units an average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius will lead to many deaths. It is not just low lying areas which will be affected by global warming. Large cities in very hot places populated by mainly poor people will suffer the most, which makes it imperative for nations to address three problems. They must understand that limitless human expansion of its population will greatly add to the problems that we must cope with as the planet warms; they must employ more energy in order to mitigate the effects of more heat on the human body in such places, and finally they must stop the planet warming by their activities.

So far humanity, despite paying lip service to all three problems is doing very little to solve the problems. It is as though humans are intent on destroying themselves. Of course, in the long run we are all dead, but it is better to keep that run as long as possible and leave conditions so that others may comfortably run the race that leads to death and enjoy it while they run instead of living a short life of suffering.

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