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Southeast Asia in Humanitarian Danger as El Nino Looms

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Southeast Asia is facing a severe drought threat as cities in the region endure high temperatures exacerbated by air pollution.

Pollution is contributing to climate change, which is driven by natural processes.

Pollution is contributing to climate change, which is driven by natural processes.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/17/2023 (1 year ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Asia, El Nino, disaster, drought, heat, danger, crisis, weather

The Vietnamese city of Tuong Duong reached a record high temperature of 44.2°C, while Luang Prabang in Laos recorded 43.5°C. Bangkok, Thailand's capital, experienced a record-breaking temperature of 41°C, and Dipolog City in the Philippines reached 47°C. Singapore also reported its highest temperature in 40 years, reaching 37°C.

These soaring temperatures are linked to multiple factors, including worsening air pollution leading to thick smog covering the region. The combination of poor air quality and extreme heat resulting from trapped greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases the risk of heat strokes and various respiratory, cardiovascular, and kidney diseases.

In Thailand, approximately 2.4 million people have already sought medical treatment for pollution-related ailments, according to data from the country's Public Health Department. Malaysia's Health Ministry reported 14 cases of heatstroke on Friday, and these numbers are expected to rise in the coming weeks due to the ongoing high temperatures.

Dr. Pedro Walpole SJ, Chair of the Environmental Science for Social Change, warned about the development of an El Niño phenomenon after several years of La Niña. While El Niño is a natural occurrence, it becomes more extreme under the influence of climate change. Dr. Walpole noted that the Pacific region, which plays a significant role in Southeast Asia's climate, is experiencing heating in specific areas. This expanding warm zone across the Pacific indicates the potential for a major drought, possibly worse than the 1997 drought, which caused significant environmental degradation and food insecurity in countries like Indonesia.

The current situation raises concerns about the impact of climate change on the region, highlighting the urgent need for proactive measures to mitigate the effects of rising temperatures and air pollution.

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