Despite a record heat wave that has seen temperatures in certain parts of the nation reach 40 degrees Celsius, Japan is encouraging 37 million people in and around Tokyo to use less power and limit air conditioning (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
As the country battles with worsening power shortages, the administration asked individuals in the capital to turn off lights and power switches for three hours in the afternoon and to use air conditioning “appropriately.”
Despite experts’ warnings that record-breaking temperatures might last for weeks, the request has been made.
“Please conserve as much energy as possible, such as by turning off lights that are not in use,” stated the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry on Monday. According to the document, authorized applications of air conditioning include “preventing heatstroke.”
Japan’s electricity supply has been constrained since March, when an earthquake in the northeast forced the shutdown of certain nuclear power units. At the same time, demand has reached its peak since 2011, when Japan was devastated by the greatest earthquake in recorded history. The government has warned that the supply-demand gap is growing “serious.”
However, with recent temperatures reaching dangerously high levels, limiting electricity will be difficult.
After smashing records for the month of June over the weekend, Tokyo suffered sweltering heat for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday.
Temperatures in the capital reached 35.4 degrees Celsius (about 96 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday, while Isesaki, northwest of Tokyo, reached 40.2 degrees Celsius (about 104 degrees Fahrenheit) – the country’s highest in June since records began in 1875. Meanwhile, Nagano city in central Japan recorded 35.1 degrees Celsius (approximately 95 degrees Fahrenheit), while Takada district in Niigata prefecture on the west coast recorded 36.7 degrees Celsius (about 98 Fahrenheit).
The hot weather is expected to remain the rest of the week and maybe deteriorate, increasing demand for electricity as folks stay at home and put on the air conditioning.
Japan’s heat wave is just one of several occurring throughout the world, as experts warn that severe weather is becoming more common as the climate problem worsens.
Soaring temperatures in India and Pakistan in recent weeks have forced schools to close, destroyed crops, placed a strain on electricity supplies, and kept citizens indoors – prompting some experts to ask whether such heat is suitable for human life.
A gigantic heat dome has overtaken sections of the United States, bringing temperatures of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 37 degrees Celsius) to major cities such as Minneapolis, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, Dallas, New Orleans, and Atlanta.
Aside from the heat, floods overwhelmed Yellowstone National Park, wildfires raged in Arizona and New Mexico, and strong storms knocked out power in the upper Midwest and Ohio River Valley.
“More frequent and powerful heat waves in cities are to be expected with increasing global warming,” said climate scientist Winston Chow of Singapore Management University’s College of Integrative Studies.
“I fear that this is [now] the new climate normal for such regions… if nothing is done to adapt to and reduce the causes of climate change.”
Chow expressed particular concern about the impact of excessive heat on the elderly, who make up 28 percent of Japan’s population.
“The elderly are anatomically and physiologically inclined to be more prone to heat-related ailments, and more than a quarter of the Japanese population is over the age of 65. Without any measures to adapt, the risk of heat stress and stroke in Tokyo would be quite high “Chow said.