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 Asia Hits Workers and Poor

Jun 3, 2024

April 2024 was the hottest April on record, and the heat only intensified in many parts of the world in May. Across Asia, from the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, India, and Pakistan all the way to Gaza, extreme heat has caused hundreds of deaths, ruined crops, and forced thousands of schools to close.

This heat hits workers and the poor the hardest. The last week of May, the temperature in Jacobabad, Pakistan hit 126 degrees one day and 124 for days on end. Blackouts already last 12 to 20 hours a day—if there is electricity at all.

Most working class people there don’t have a working fan, let alone air conditioning: a solar panel to run two fans and a lightbulb costs a month’s wages for a laborer. On top of which, there is an extreme shortage of water, with many forced to buy it from vendors who distribute it using donkeys. And for farmworkers, brickmakers, construction, garment, and textile workers, taking a day off from the heat means no pay—and for many, no food.

In Delhi, a massive Indian city with over 16 million people, the temperature hit over 120 degrees for the last week of May. Delhi also faces a shortage of water, which falls heaviest on the millions of poor, who live in massive slums surrounding the center of the city. Across India, run-down public hospitals could not handle the rush of heat-stroke patients, as their own air-conditioning often failed.

Extreme heat can cause long-term health problems, especially for those who have to do physical work. Sweating lowers blood pressure, causing the heart to work harder, which can actually raise body temperature. If the body’s core temperature stays above 98 degrees for very long, cellular damage begins to take place. This can lead to organ failure and death, sometimes many days after the temperature has dropped, so the toll from this heat wave will continue to climb even after the weather cools.

While no one weather event can be blamed on climate change, scientists agree that this extreme heat wave, sustained for so long across such a large part of the world, would have been very unlikely to occur without all the greenhouse gases humans have released into the atmosphere over the last 150 years. One team of researchers found that the extreme heat in India and Pakistan was made about 45 times more likely because of human-produced climate change, for instance.

The capitalist system and the political leaders who run it are leading the world straight into climate disaster, the worst effects of which will be suffered by the working class and poor populations of this world. The only way to head off even worse heat waves in the future will be for the working class of the world to overthrow this capitalist system and begin to fix the mess it has made of our planet.