Friday, 20 May 2022 — Media Lens
In the terrifying opening to his 2020 novel, ‘The Ministry for the Future’, Kim Stanley Robinson depicts an intense heatwave in India. In an ‘ordinary town’ in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, people are struggling to cope with unbearable heat and humidity. It is the combination of the two, measured by the so-called ‘wet-bulb temperature’, that is potentially fatal. When it approaches the core body temperature of 36C, sweat cannot evaporate and humans can no longer cool themselves down. Dehydration rises to dangerous levels. Vital organs become seriously stressed, especially the heart. Unless the body temperature is reduced, death follows in a matter of hours.