Mercury rising – On the consequences of the climate catastrophe | 29 July 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the consequences of the climate catastrophe that has enveloped the globe.


  • GS3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment;
  • Essay;
  • Prelims


  • Recently, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, talked about the consequences of the climate catastrophe that has enveloped the globe.
  • He also said that the earth had passed from a warming phase into an “era of global boiling”.


  • Hottest July: July is set to be the hottest month in the last 12,000 years. Scientists from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service described conditions this month as “rather remarkable and unprecedented”, with July seeing the hottest three-week period on record. Average July temperature so far has been 16.95° Celsius, 0.2° C warmer than in July 2019 — a record in the 174-year observational data of the European Union.
  • Rapid rise in ocean temperatures: Ocean temperatures have risen rapidly in recent weeks, with surface waters reaching their highest temperatures on record
  • Transition from La Niña to El Niño conditions: The rise in ocean temperatures is due to the transition from La Niña conditions to El Niño conditions in the Central Equatorial Pacific Ocean
  • Impact of high ocean temperatures: The warm air resulting from the high ocean temperatures has increased the atmospheric capacity to hold moisture, causing short torrential bursts of rain and floods in north and western India.
  • Decades-long trend of rising heat in oceans: The rise in ocean temperatures is part of a decades-long trend of rising heat in the world's oceans.
  • Need for more ambitious emission cuts: The COP28 President-designate, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, emphasized that the world's largest economies should be more ambitious with emission cuts.
  • Immediate climate action necessary: To limit global temperature rise to 1.5 °C and avoid the worst of climate change, “dramatic, immediate climate action” is necessary.
  • India's greenhouse gas mitigation responsibilities: India may need to advance its net-zero commitments from 2070 to 2050 and generate fossil-free electricity by 2040 to take on a greater share of greenhouse gas mitigation responsibilities.

Distribution and impact of high temperatures: High temperatures have various impacts on the environment, economy, and human health. Here are some of the distribution and impacts of high temperatures:

  • High temperatures can cause increased mortality, reduced productivity, and damage to infrastructure. The most vulnerable members of the population, such as the elderly and infants, will be most severely affected.
  • Higher temperatures are also expected to cause a shift in the geographical distribution of climate zones. These changes are altering the distribution and abundance of many plant and animal species, which are already under pressure from habitat loss and pollution.
  • Temperature rises are likely to influence phenology – the behaviour and lifecycles of animal and plant species. This could, in turn, lead to increased numbers of pests and invasive species and a higher incidence of certain human diseases.
  • Extreme heat exposure increases delivery risk for pregnant women, leading to shorter gestation. An average of 25,000 infants per year were born earlier as a result of heat exposure, with a total loss of more than 150,000 gestational days annually.
  • High temperatures can compromise the body's ability to regulate its internal temperature, resulting in various illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and hyperthermia from extreme heat events. Temperature extremes related to heat can also worsen chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease, and diabetes-related conditions.
  • High temperatures can lead to other impacts such as damaging crops, injuring or killing livestock, and increasing the risk of wildfires. By driving down productivity, extreme heat could cost the Indian economy. The industries most affected by extreme heat are construction and agriculture, where workers are most exposed.
  • In conclusion, high temperatures have significant impacts on various aspects of life, including the environment, economy, and human health. It is essential to take immediate and dramatic action to limit global temperature rise and avoid the worst of climate change.

Climate Change Related Quotes:

  • For many developing countries, climate change is a very big crisis looming before them, one that threatens their very existence. Today, to save the planet, we must all work together.” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  • The world must come together to confront climate change.” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  • Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now.” – Barack Obama
  • We are the last people who can prevent catastrophe on the planet. We have no excuse for failure.
  • Climate change is moving faster than we are, but we don’t give up because we know that climate action is the only path.” — António Guterres

Way Forward:

  • In conclusion, the record-breaking temperatures in July 2023 are a clear indication that climate change is a pressing issue that requires immediate action.

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