Climate change’s effects are already unequal.
India has contributed little to climate change: Home to 18 percent of the world’s population, it has emitted just 3 percent of planet-warming greenhouse gases.
But India is suffering from climate change. It is happening right now: Over the past three months, a heat wave has devastated North India and neighboring Pakistan. Temperatures surpassed 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It is so hot that overheated birds fell out of the sky in Gurgaon, India, and a historic bridge in northern Pakistan collapsed after melting snow and ice at a glacial lake released a torrent of water.
Scientists say global warming almost certainly played a role in the heat wave. And rising temperatures stand to make unusually hotter weather more common not just in India and Pakistan but around the world, including in the U.S.
Indians have responded by staying indoors as much as possible, particularly during the afternoon hours. The government has encouraged this, pushing schools to close early and businesses to shift work schedules. The measures have kept down deaths — with fewer than 100 recorded so far, an improvement from heat waves years ago that killed thousands.
But these measures have costs. Schooling time is cut short, so students learn less. People do not travel to their jobs, so work is less productive. The heat kept some farmers inside and stunted harvests, so crop yields fell and global food prices increased. Social life is disrupted.
The situation reminds me of the mixed effects of Covid lockdowns: Measures adapting to climate change can help prevent the worst health outcomes, but they come with real costs. “We’re saving lives, but then livelihoods are lost,” Roxy Koll, a climate scientist in India, said.
And many people still have to go out in the heat. Koll told me that his son recently showed signs of heatstroke after getting home from school. (The episode prompted Koll and his wife to push the school to end classes earlier.) In Delhi, the afternoon heat left Chandni Singh, a climate researcher, “extremely tired, nursing a throbbing headache and completely dehydrated” the following morning, she wrote in Times Opinion.
A global disparity
The geography of poor countries — many are close to the Equator — is not the only reason climate change is such a burden for them. Their poverty is another factor, leaving them with fewer resources to adapt.
“Climate change is one of the most profound inequities of the modern era,” said my colleague Somini Sengupta, the global climate correspondent who writes The Times’s climate newsletter. “Those who did not cause most of the problem are feeling most of the impact already.”
There is a paradox to the climate crisis. Because India never fully industrialized, it has not released as many greenhouse gases as the U.S., European nations and other rich countries. But because it has not industrialized, it also has fewer resources to adapt than the richer, polluting nations.
Fewer than 10 percent of Indians have air-conditioning at home. Many lack reliable electricity, limiting their ability to use fans. The problem was especially bad lately, with a coal shortage causing power failures.
There is a tension here: To adapt, countries have to adopt modern technologies. But since these technologies often require planet-warming oil and coal, their use aggravates climate change and, consequently, extreme weather. The weather then requires still more adaptation.
The rush for clean energy technologies, like solar and wind power, is an effort to break that tension — to give countries a way to industrialize without the planet-warming pollution. With climate disasters already hitting much of the world, that effort is in a race against time to prevent more crises like India’s.
Related: In the U.S., less access to air-conditioning, pools and even trees causes poorer Americans also to suffer more from heat waves. These recent photos from New York highlight the differences.
THE LATEST NEWS
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The police have not identified the victims or the assailant, but they suggested that the gunman had chosen the location deliberately. Here’s what we know.
War in Ukraine
Russian troops stormed Sievierodonetsk from three directions, prompting fierce street fighting. If the city falls, Russia will have seized the last main pocket of Ukrainian control in the eastern region of Luhansk.
Some Ukrainian volunteers who signed up to defend their hometowns have now been sent to the brutal eastern front. Morale is starting to dwindle.
Germany has promised to send more weapons: an air-defense system and a tracking radar to help locate Russian artillery.
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The U.S. will airlift baby formula from Europe, President Biden said.
The Education Department said that it would wipe out $5.8 billion in loans owed by those who attended Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit chain that collapsed in 2015.
The Biden administration will reduce the fees for building wind and solar projects on federal lands.
Adm. Linda Fagan, the new Coast Guard commandant, became the first female officer to lead a branch of the American armed forces.
The U.S. will hold trade talks with Taiwan, a move likely to anger China.
John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981, will be unconditionally released this month.
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ARTS AND IDEAS
A decision in the Depp-Heard trial
A jury found yesterday that the actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp had both been defamed in the fallout from their tumultuous, one-year marriage. But it ruled more strongly in his favor, awarding him more than $10 million in damages and her $2 million.
Depp had sued Heard over an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post, which he said falsely implied that he had been abusive; Heard countersued over one of Depp’s lawyers calling her accusations a “hoax.” The trial, which was shown live on TV and online, revealed a deeply toxic relationship, with both stars accusing the other of violence.
More on the case:
The trial was a showcase for stan culture — that is, die-hard online supporters who treat fandom like a sport.
Those who followed the trial through TikTok saw Depp cast as a hero and Heard as a villain, Amanda Hess writes.
While spectators treated the case like a circus, victims of domestic violence watched on in horror, Jessica Bennett writes in Times Opinion.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David
P.S. Dodai Stewart, an editor at The Times, is joining the Metro desk to cover life in New York City.
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Natasha Frost, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Ashley Wu contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at [email protected].