By Tirthankar Mitra
India in general and West Bengal in particular are no strangers to bandhs or shutdowns. But inarguably conditions which triggered shutdowns or public holidays which were declared in Iran on Wednesday and Thursday last week are novel to the sub continent; it was unprecedented heat.
Schools and courts are known to be held in some parts of India during cooler morning hours to escape the sweltering heat when the sun is up during the summer months. But it is an exception and not the rule.
But things are yet to come to such a pass as in Iran. People still venture out of doors in summer afternoons without the authorities saying nay as in Iran.
Iran is prone to heat waves. Small wonder, with the temperature soaring to 51 degree Celcius in some cities, those with health conditions and the elderly were asked to stay indoors.
Owing to its location, intense heat visits Iran during certain times of the year. It is a combination of its latitude and nearness to large deserts such as Dasht-e Kavir and Dasht-e Lut together with climate patterns, urbanisation forces these “hot holidays”.
While preventing this natural weather phenomenon is ruled out, an action plan to combat it can very well be drawn up. An urban planning which incorporates tree planting, cool roofs to minimise urban heat together with early warning system, communication strategies and plans to protect the vulnerable section of the populace can go a long way to better prepare Iran to tackle heat waves.
A different path to promote industrialisation and generate jobs also needs to be taken by this oil rich country. Fresh investments in areas other than oil including such as renewable energy, technology and manufacturing is called for. Say experts. .
The ultimate target is to cut down reliance on fossil fuels. A thrust on the use of solar, wind and hydro power can considerably reduce greenhouse gas emission.
Energy consumption and emissions needs to be lowered. The government needs to promote energy efficient practices in industries, transportation and buildings to achieve this end.
Addressing climate change is the crux of the matter. Heat waves are natural in Iran located in an arid zone.
Stepping up reforestation drives and protecting existing natural habitats to absorb carbon dioxide is a good idea. Investing in cleaner technology and introducing carbon pricing mechanism to give incentives to firms to reduce emissions are sustainable way outs to tackle the boiler-like situation leading to national shutdowns.
Much of the above can be applied to countries in the region .. They would do well to learn.
These steps can help Iran attain a sustainable and resilient economy. The country has gone through harrowing times which were triggered by ideological issues.
Let the government of the day in Tehran give the people a chance to live a cooler daily life. The Iranians deserve no less.(IPA Service)