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Thailand’s Spicier Heat Wave by City Tech Blogger Patty Arunyavikul

Heat waves are not a joke. The word “heat wave” may not sound as dangerous as other natural hazards like cyclones, hurricanes, tsunami, earthquakes, flooding, and so on, but it can be as deadly. In fact, heat waves have killed more people in the United States than all the other weather phenomenon combined according to SciJinks. What exactly is a heat wave? Basically, heat wavs are a long period of abnormally hot weather. First, not all heat waves are the same because some have high humidity and others do not. Second, the duration of various heat waves can differ as some last a few days while others a week or more. Lastly, heat wave temperatures are different in each location due to their unique temperatures. There are many studies on anthropogenic influences that drive climate change including what causes the increase in frequency and severity of heat waves around our home planet. Therefore, I wonder how my country, Thailand will handle this extreme heat wave when it is already blazing hot daily.

I cannot imagine Thailand being any hotter than it is, but unfortunately, this is bond to happen or is already happening due to climate change. According to the journal, “Climate Change and Thailand: Impact and Response” by Danny Marks, the increase in heat waves during the summer will affect the health, labor productivity, and energy usage of the urban population. Marks also stated that climate change “could also threaten livestock production due to heat stress, reduction in food quality and increased disease outbreaks” and one study found that around the southern region which consists of a mainly hot and dry climate are at the highest risk of losing livestock. It can get worse as when the temperature rises there is an increase in heat stress which can lead to heat cramps, exhaustion, and sunstroke especially in the industrial and agricultural areas. Danny Marks mentioned a survey study in Thailand on five industrial and agricultural sites, which found that “80% have heat indices in the extreme caution zone and 20% in the danger zone which drops productivity”. Heat exposure may impact health such as worsening chronic diseases like cardiovascular and respiratory disease according to the article “Health impact of climate change on occupational health and productivity in Thailand.” These diseases are among the top five leading causes of death and disability in Thailand. Considering this, Thailand is one of the largest rice exporters. According to The World Bank, their data showed that 43.277% of the land area in Thailand is agricultural as of 2016. From this information, you can assume that a lot of Thai farmers will suffer from heat stress due to their working conditions and that crops will most likely be destroyed as well. The article, “Association Between Occupational Heat Stress and Kidney Disease Among 37816 Workers in the Thai Cohort Study (TCS)”, concluded that workers who are exposed to prolonged heat stress have a higher chance of developing kidney disease.

This is disheartening to hear as I have been to Thailand many times and the weather is already blazing hot. Now that climate change is affecting the heat waves in Thailand and other countries, there will be more death as a result of heat stress. The longevity and severity of the heat waves in Thailand are going to be a major issue in the future. Not only are humans affected, but animals and plants too.

 

Citations:

  • “Agricultural Land (% of Land Area).” Data, data.worldbank.org/indicator/ag.lnd.agri.zs?view=map.
  • “Heat Waves.” Heat Waves – Windows to the Universe, www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/heat_wave.html&edu=high.
  • “Heat Waves: The Details.” Climate Communication, www.climatecommunication.org/new/features/heat-waves-and-climate-change/heat-waves-the-details/.
  • Marks, Danny. “Climate Change and Thailand: Impact and Response.” Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol. 33, no. 2, 2011, p. 229., doi:10.1355/cs33-2d.
  • “Overview.” World Bank, www.worldbank.org/en/country/thailand/overview.
  • “What Is a Heat Wave?” What Is a Heat Wave? | NOAA SciJinks – All About Weather, scijinks.gov/heat/.
  • Yuming Guo, et al. “Effects of Temperature on Mortality in Chiang Mai City, Thailand: a Time Series Study.” Environmental Health, BioMed Central, 9 July 2012, ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-069X-11-36.

 

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