Nina: It’s 10:00 in the morning and you’re yawning. Very uncool, Nana. You should come with me to exercise. Then you’ll be peppy too, like me.
Nana: No one needs to be peppy like you. Go away. You’re giving me a headache.
Nina: What’s wrong, Nana? You sound grumpier than usual. Did you dream of jalebis and have to eat oatmeal instead?
Nana: Yuck don’t even talk to me about jalebis. I’m feeling nauseous. I barely slept last night.
Nina: Why? What happened? Did you have nightmares?
Nana: No. I just couldn’t sleep. It’s so hot.
Nina: Why didn’t you switch on the AC?
Nana: I don’t like the AC. It makes the air dry and clogs my sinuses.
Nina: Oof you do have an endless litany of complaints. But if you can’t use the AC, things are only going to get worse for you.
Nana: What do you mean? Summer is almost over. It’ll get cooler once it rains.
Nina: No, I mean over the years to come. Climate change is causing a greater increase in night time temperatures as compared to day time temperatures. I read an article that rising temperatures are causing global insomnia.
Nana: It’s your stupid articles that are probably worrying people and causing insomnia.
Nina: I’m serious, Nana. One large scale global study showed that people are finding it harder to sleep at night because of higher temperatures. Estimates show the situation is twice as bad for those who are above 65 as compared to younger adults.
Nana: That’s crazy. What about people who don’t have access to air conditioning?
Nina: The study found that the sleep of people in developing countries are more severely affected by the increased temperatures, perhaps because of limited access to air conditioning.
Nana: But why does climate change affect sleep more than other body functions?
Nina: During the day our bodies maintain a stable core temperature but part of the falling asleep process involves shedding heat from our core. For this to take place effectively the surrounding needs to be at a lower temperature than our body.
Nana: Oh that’s why ambient temperatures, even slightly above body temperature, feel so unpleasant. But then it’s scary, because in many parts of India the temperatures have already crossed 40 C.
Nina: It’s worse than you’re thinking. Some parts are nearing the 50 C mark.
Nana: What’s the significance of 50 C?
Nina: Temperatures above 50 C do irreversible cell damage, because at these temperatures proteins begin to coagulate.
Nana: Yikes, you mean like in a boiled egg? That’s really freaky.
Nina: Exactly, Nana. The body’s struggle with regulating internal temperature also worsens chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Nana: Horrible. I think I’ll switch on the AC for an hour before bedtime to cool the room down. But honestly, it must awful for people who can’t afford such luxuries. It’s just not fair.
Nina: It makes me so angry Nana, that the nations that contribute most to climate change will suffer the least, either because they occupy cooler parts of the earth, or because they are rich and have the resources to make their population comfortable in spite of it. Most of the already warm tropical countries on the other hand are relatively poor, and will have limited resources to cope with unforgiving heat. These countries are also the ones who have generated the least green house gases. It’s just not fair
Nana: That’s what I just said.
Nina: For once we agree. I guess the world really must be heading for a major catastrophe!
Nana: I guess I’ll go get some sleep.
Nina: I’d better see what I can learn about saving the world.
Narrator: Haha! They may agree about the problem, but obviously not the appropriate response, so there is still some hope for us all. May be ...
This post is a part of the #NinaAndNana series I co-host with Lavanya Srinivasan. Her posts can be found here.