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Study: Asia facing dire future toll from climate change

  • Published at 07:02 pm July 14th, 2017
Study: Asia facing dire future toll from climate change

A study by the Asia Development Bank says Asia will endure extreme heat, rising sea levels, growing losses from severe weather and increasing food insecurity in coming decades as climate change raises temperatures and alters weather patterns across the globe.

The survey released Friday by the Manila-based lender paints a grim outlook for many communities in Asia, home to about 4 billion people. It's based on the latest scientific research, with or without more aggressive efforts to curb carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

[caption id="attachment_74835" align="aligncenter" width="800"]FILE - In this May 4, 2016 file photo, Indian women walk home after collecting drinking water from a well at Mengal Pada in Thane district in Maharashtra state, India, after a heatwave and severe drought conditions struck the region. A report by the Asia Development Bank on Friday, July 14, 2017, says Asia will endure extreme heat, rising sea levels, growing losses from severe weather and increasing food insecurity in coming decades as climate change raises temperatures and alters weather patterns across the globe. (AP Photo/ Rajanish Kakade, File) In this May 4, 2016 file photo, Indian women walk home after collecting drinking water from a well at Mengal Pada in Thane district in Maharashtra state, India, after a heatwave and severe drought conditions struck the region AP[/caption]

Extreme heat

Even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, from mountain communities in Japan to the tropics of South Asia and deserts of Australia, rising temperatures are altering ecosystems, damaging crops and causing thousands more deaths each year.

The report forecasts that Asian summer temperatures could rise by 6°C by 2100 if warming trends are not curbed. India suffered heat waves in 2015 and 2016 with temperatures at times around 50°C.

[caption id="attachment_74836" align="aligncenter" width="800"]FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2015, file photo, a woman holds her daughter stands awaiting her husband who went to collect drinking water after flood waters enter their house following heavy monsoon rains in Gauhati, India. A report by the Asia Development Bank on Friday, July 14, 2017, says Asia will endure extreme heat, rising sea levels, growing losses from severe weather and increasing food insecurity in coming decades as climate change raises temperatures and alters weather patterns across the globe. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath, File) In this September 25, 2015, file photo, a woman holds her daughter stands awaiting her husband who went to collect drinking water after flood waters enter their house following heavy monsoon rains in Gauhati, India AP[/caption]

Rising sea levels

Sea levels rose about 19cm globally over the past century and are forecast to rise by about 2.3 meters for every degree Celsius of global warming as glaciers and ice caps melt, the report says, citing past climate observations.

Losses due to coastal flooding of the world's biggest cities are expected to rise to $52 billion a year. Indonesia will be the worst affected in Asia, with 5.9 million people flooded out each year by 2100. But across South Asia, 130 million people living in low-lying areas may be displaced under worst-case scenarios.

[caption id="attachment_74837" align="aligncenter" width="800"]In this March 30, 2015 file photo, a Kashmiri man stretches his hand to help a local evacuate from a flood affected area in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir. A report by the Asia Development Bank on Friday, July 14, 2017, says Asia will endure extreme heat, rising sea levels, growing losses from severe weather and increasing food insecurity in coming decades as climate change raises temperatures and alters weather patterns across the globe. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan, File) In this March 30, 2015 file photo, a Kashmiri man stretches his hand to help a local evacuate from a flood affected area in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir AP[/caption]

Extreme weather

Changes to the jet stream can bring on unprecedented rainfall and massive flooding. Floods in Pakistan in 2010, the worst ever, killed about 3,000 people and left millions homeless. While some areas are suffering extreme droughts, in Southeast Asia, the number of record-setting daily rainfall amounts doubled over the past three decades.

Up to a quarter of Bangladesh is inundated in a normal year, and century-level flooding could put 60% of the country under water, the report says. Storm surges from tropical cyclones, destructive winds and landslides are other risks from weather extremes.

[caption id="attachment_74839" align="aligncenter" width="800"]FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2014, file photo, a woman harvests paddy in a paddy field on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, one of the world's largest grain exporters. A report by the Asia Development Bank on Friday, July 14, 2017, says Asia will endure extreme heat, rising sea levels, growing losses from severe weather and increasing food insecurity in coming decades as climate change raises temperatures and alters weather patterns across the globe. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath, File) In this November 13, 2014, file photo, a woman harvests paddy in a paddy field on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, one of the world's largest grain exporters AP[/caption]

Food insecurity

A 3°C rise in regional temperature is likely to cause grain output to fall by up to 10%, the report says, causing tens of millions of people to go hungry. Weaker wheat yields in China and loss of rice paddy in Vietnam due to rising sea levels and extreme weather are among the changes expected in coming decades.

At the same time, desertification is spreading in Central Asia, a region where about 7-8% of the population lacks secure access to food. Growing ocean acidity due to changes in the atmosphere and warming temperatures are meanwhile straining marine ecosystems, hurting fisheries that are a crucial source of food across the region.

Here is the full report on "A Region at Risk: The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific"

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