The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Heat Wave in India:
A Sign of Things to Come

May 9, 2022

Temperatures soared as high as 120 degrees in Western India and Pakistan this spring, with the months of March and April the hottest ever recorded there. Across the region, more than a billion people are at risk of heat stroke or other illness. With the high heat and humidity, "the body just cannot cool itself, a large fraction of our population in India still works outside in the fields, on building construction, in factories which are not cooled," said an Indian climate expert.

Working and poor people resort to wearing damp towels, and trying to rest in any shade they can find during the hottest hours of the day. For many workers, farm laborers or small outdoor vendors, the choice is a stark one between life and livelihood: to work under killing conditions or to starve from poverty.

Only the wealthy have air conditioning. Nonetheless the high demand for electricity for A/C and fans has led to widespread blackouts, amidst the worst electricity shortage in decades. As of May 5th, heat has killed 26 in India this season according to the government. This number is almost certainly an undercount.

The heat dries out reservoirs, leading to water shortages. It has ruined the harvests of fruit farmers, and dried up the wheat growing in the country’s wheat fields. And there is a growing risk of floods, when mountain glaciers melt and collapse suddenly in the high heat, wiping out villages.

Global warming is exacting a heavy toll. The World Meteorological Organization notes, "Heatwaves are more frequent and more intense and starting earlier than in the past." Indeed, twelve of India’s fifteen hottest years have occurred since 2006. Climate change is upon us, and we see it weighing most heavily on working people and the poor.