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A warmer – and dryer – world

Aug 12. 2019
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Major cities in Malaysia are seeing more days where the temperature hits at least 32 degrees Celsius compared to 10 years ago.

Kuala Lumpur, a city that’s home to almost two million people call home, can expect 270 days in a year when the mercury reaches that level. 

A decade ago, Kuala Lumpur would experience such heat about 260 days a year.

The contrast is even more striking when compared to data – published in a recent New York Times (NYT) article “How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?” – that goes back almost 20 years when there were only 243 such days.

The data was published by the NYT with analysis provided by the Climate Impact Lab, a group of researchers from various institutes in the United States.

Projections by the researchers also show that in Kuala Lumpur, the number of days on which the temperature could be expected to reach at least 32 degrees C would shoot up to 333 days – almost an entire year – about 50 years from now.

This future projection is based on the assumption that countries, including Malaysia, would take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the original Paris Agreement signed in 2016.

Genting Highlands, a vacation staple for Malaysians seeking to enjoy the cool weather, has also seen the number of days with warm temperatures nearly doubling in 10 years. In 2009, the resort saw only about seven days where the mercury hit at least 32 degrees C but now, 13 days are expected to have such warm weather.

The data also showed that today, Ipoh has 222 days with temperatures above 32 degrees C in a year, up from 212 days 10 years ago.

George Town, a Unesco heritage enclave popular with foreign tourists, now experiences such temperatures for at least 251 days a year compared to 247 days a decade ago.

Across the South China Sea, Kuching can expect 144 days of such hot weather, an increase from only 131 days, and Kota Kinabalu, an additional 17 days.

According to data in the NYT article, most places in the world could see many more warmer days as the world heats up due to human-induced climate change.

Experts are warning that more “hotter” days in Malaysian cities will affect the supply and consumption of water among residents.

Already, unplanned water cuts due to, among other causes, the lack of raw water in Peninsular Malaysia last year far outnumbered scheduled water cuts.

“Climate change is already affecting Malaysia and rainfall is beginning to drop in certain areas, putting pressure on our water supplies.

“We need to treat water as the precious resource it is,” said National Water Services Commission chairman Charles Santiago. Malaysians, he added, needed to ramp up efforts to conserve water and an attitude change would probably be the best defence against decreasing water supply due to climate change and global warming.

Last month, the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry announced that it had commissioned a nationwide audit on the water industry in anticipation of the longer droughts the nation was expected to face due to climate change, pointing to the recent shortage that is affecting 180 million people in Chennai, India, as an example.

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