Another month, another wild heat record. Vietnam set its all-time national high temperature over the weekend with the mercury cracking 110 degrees Fahrenheit. So yeah, global warming. It’s still happening.
Etienne Kapikian, a forecaster with France’s meteorological service who tracks global heat records, shined a light on the new record. The Vietnam national weather service reported that Ha Tinh, a town about 200 miles south of Hanoi, was the unlucky epicenter of a heat wave gripping the country. Temperatures there topped out on Saturday at 43.4 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit), breaking the all-time temperature record for the country that was set just four years ago in May.
The rest of Vietnam also dealt with extremely uncomfortable conditions. Further south, Ho Chi Minh City hit 95 degrees Fahrenheit, Danang cracked 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and Hue topped out at 105 degrees Fahrenheit according to Capital Weather Gang.
Vietnam is hot year-round owing to its proximity to the equator, but June and July are still the hottest months on average. That makes the new national record in April pretty remarkable, but also right in line with the wealth of heat records we’ve seen falling at all times of the year due in large part to rising background temperatures. In past year, the world has seen the hottest April temperature ever recorded anywhere and Africa’s all-time heat record fall, in addition to never ending heat in Alaska and other parts of the Arctic. Basically, this is our world now.
In a place like Vietnam, that’s particularly disconcerting. The lack of air conditioning in the hot, humid tropics already poses a huge health risk to people. A World Health Organization report from last year shows that an extra 38,000 elderly people could die each year between 2030 and 2050 due to heat exposure, with people in developing countries among the most vulnerable. Lack of air conditioning access also affects the storage of medicine and food, according to a recent report. This is just one of myriad ways the poor to shoulder more of the burden of climate change, despite doing the least to cause it.
At the same time, improving access to air conditioning will also spur climate change along thanks to the electricity it consumes and the powerful greenhouse gases used in refrigerants. It’s the epitome of a wicked problem and one entrepreneurs are racing to solve before we cook ourselves to death.