Mexico, Africa, Southeast Asia is burning hot as never before. New state of the world? From Ahmedabad India, Dr. Minal Pathak reports from one of the hottest. Is the new heat beyond science? From Aix Marseille Université France, senior research scientist Wolfgang Cramer on “Earth Risk”.

Listen to or download this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (57 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)



A massive heat wave stretches across Asia, from the Middle East to Indochina. India’s heat waves are no ordinary phenomenon. This spring, Indian temperatures soared to nearly 50°C across the entire country – over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. March was the hottest in 122 years, and the heat wave hit much earlier than usual. How will Indian cities prepare to survive climate change? What is the climate future for 1.5 billion people there?

We contacted an internationally-connected climate scientist in India. Dr. Minal Pathak is Associate Professor at Ahmedabad University in a city of more than 8 million people. In addition to her contributions to IPCC reports, Minal Pathak specializes in urban adaptation.


Listen to or download my 29 minute interview with Minal Pathak in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Ahmedabad is the seventh largest urban complex in India with a population of about 7.4 million. The city has one of the highest Thermal Index numbers (how hot it feels) in South East Asia, being above the comfort level for 331 or 365 days! [Source: Time of India, July 13, 2023]. Ahmedabad does have it’s own heat action plan, developed with the U.S. environment group National Resources Defense Council.

Similar heat action plans have been adopted in 23 states in India. Some consist mainly of warning residents to avoid being out in the heat and protecting themselves, especially the elderly. That has reduced heat deaths. But many have no budget for things like cooling centers, installing and maintaining more trees and plants in the city, or compensating the poorest people who must work outside, every day, just to survive.


According to India’s ministry of coal, “Coal is the most important and abundant fossil fuel in India. It accounts for 55% of the country’s energy need. The country’s industrial heritage was built upon indigenous coal. Commercial primary energy consumption in India has grown by about 700% in the last four decades.

This year Dr. Pathak co-authored a helpful paper on a “Just Transition Away from Coal”. As coal declines, some places will suffer more than others.  Particular areas are almost totally dependent on the coal trade, and the railroads also depend on revenues from coal transport.  Pathak’s work reflects a better way to transition from coal to clean fuels, applied at local levels.

But no transition away from coal is happening in India. In August 2023, at a lecture the Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Coal, Santosh Agarwal said “As far as India is concerned, transition away from coal is not happening in the near future.”

The government intends to increase coal burning in the near-term. Of course, power demand has hit new records during the latest wave of intense heat. And India is getting hotter all year, quickly. The electric generation sector poured record carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere in the first quarter of 2024 – over 1000 million tons of CO2 a month mostly from the coal plants. But wouldn’t you need air-conditioning in such high heat and humdity?

Minal also co-authored the 2022 paper “Mitigation co-benefits of climate change adaptation: A case-study analysis of eight cities.” One of the cities studied was Surat, India with over 5 million people. Minal tells us about Surat and climate planning – they were fortunate to get an overseas grant to help them plan and implement.

In our interview, Pathak explains most “small” Indian cities (like a million people or so) have very little staff, infrastructure, or finances. The few city workers struggle to keep up with sanitation and basic services. There are zero rupees available for climate planning, much less adaptation to the heat. This is another reason why the people who benefited by burning fossil fuels much share wealth with poorer people most affected by fast rising heat events, floods, crop-killing droughts and all that. Perhaps every city in North America, Europe, and Japan should adopt a poor city in the South and help save lives and cool down the urban heat island.

Frankly, I’m not sure long-term adaptation is possible if the world warms 3 degrees C or more. Cities of concrete and asphalt are heat sinks. During heat waves, people cannot survive for long without electricity. What if the world warms faster than we can act – especially in Democracies with slow bureaucracies?


Men still outnumber women in climate science, even though polls find women are more likely than men to believe in climate science.  Minal co-authored a 2022 “Survey of gender bias in the IPCC”.

From that survey of IPCC and gender:

Why women matter: “Research suggests that, overall, women are more likely than men to be affected by climate change. Events such as drought and storms undermine people’s ability to provide food, water and child care, and those roles tend to be taken on by women in many societies. Women are more likely to lack access to land, insurance and disaster relief. And as caregivers, farmers and leaders of communities and organizations, they also have crucial roles in responding to climate change.

Here on Radio Ecoshock, I make a special effort to reach out to female scientists, authors and experts. But it is not easy. The fewer women making into the top ranks of climate science are busier than some men, having to represent more unrepresented people, and often additional roles just to fulfill expectations. We still have more male than female guests. I’m hoping that will change as a new crop of scientists arrive.



Why Climate Science Needs More Women Scientists


Here are selected quotes from a Columbia Climate School article “Why Climate Science Needs More Women Scientists” by Renée Cho, published February 11, 2022.

In 1856, amateur scientist Eunice Newton Foote’s paper “Circumstances Affecting the Heat of the Sun’s Rays,” was published in the American Journal of Science and Arts. It described her experiment comparing two glass cylinders, one filled with CO2 and the other with moist air, as they sat in the sun. Her discovery—that the CO2-filled cylinder became much hotter than the other—was the basis for understanding the greenhouse gas effect, and its potential to produce climate change.

Photo: Eunice Newton Foote

Foote wrote, “An atmosphere of that gas would give to our earth a high temperature; and if as some suppose, at one period of its history the air had mixed with it a larger proportion than at present, an increased temperature from its own action as well as from increased weight must have necessarily resulted.”

However, it is Irish physicist John Tyndall, who made the discovery about the greenhouse gas effect three years later, who is considered the founding father of climate change science. As a recognized scientist, Tyndall had access to more resources and stronger connections to the largely male network of scientists than Foote, and was thus better able to deepen and expand his research.

…These inequities and specific obstacles women face help explain why there are only 122 women on Reuters Hot List of the world’s 1000 top climate scientists. Among the top 100 scientific papers in the last five years, less than half were authored by women, with only 12 papers having female lead authors.



What was once predicted only by models is now playing out in news across the world. Extreme rains flood desert cities and heat records are smashed daily on multiple continents. Professor Wolfgang Cramer has documented it all since the early 1990’s. This IPCC author with over 150 peer-reviewed papers joined over 1400 other scientists and academics calling on the public to become climate advocates and activists.

Wolfgang was a long-time leader at the Potsdam Institute. He is now Director of Research and Professor of Global Ecology at the Mediterranean Institute for Marine And Terrestrial Biodiversity And Ecology at Aix Marseille Université.

Listen to or download this 31 minute interview with Wolfgang Cramer in CD Quality or Lo-Fi



Several of our recent guests worry loss of habitability will lead to mass migration toward safer places like Europe, North America or Australia. But in a recent presentation at Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Cramer said there are no climate migrants. We discuss.

One key point: about a decade ago a study suggested the “Arab Spring” of 2011 and the Syrian Revolution were driven by climate change. They pointed to a years-long drought in Syria which caused an internal mass migration by farm-folk into cities. The cities could not handle the influx and Syrian society was fixed against them. Those internal “climate migrants” helped fuel the revolution, the theory went.

Wolfgang Cramer says he also agreed with this analysis at first, but with later research and facts he now says the situation in Syria was so complex it is hard to see a climate influence. Other factors were dominant.  See for example this paper “Societal drought vulnerability and the Syrian climate-conflict nexus are better explained by agriculture than meteorology.” among several.

Without this, we have no documented case of climate migration. Cramer points to interviews with migrants into developed countries. When asked why they came, migrants point to economic troubles and hopes or other concerns, but seldom mention things like extreme heat or floods. At least that is my understanding from this interview.

Perhaps millions of people will be made homeless or hungry by climate. They may try to stay anyway. People are very attached to their land. Others may move within their country, becoming part of a global movement out of rural areas into cities seeking jobs. The argument is: very few will have the will and especially the resources (e.g. money, connections, know-how, passport) to actually leave the country. Of course, if even one percent of three billion people most at risk from climate change do migrate to a developed country, that would still appear very large, being 30 million refugees.

At the end of April 2024, extreme heat forced school closures for 33 million children in Bangladesh. Within decades rising seas, extreme high storm surges and salt water intrusion will make large parts of that country with over 170 million people uninhabitable. If they cannot migrate, what happens to them?

It’s not just the heat. In September 2023, eight months worth of rain in the desert caused an aging dam to fail, killing about 5,000 people. A dam in Kenya just failed this April after extreme rain. We all saw amazing footage of Dubai floating in floodwater after they got a year and a half of rain in 24 hours.


Mediterranean countries have been cooking with extreme heat. The treasured olive crop is in danger. Weird flash floods run through ancient city streets. The major Spanish city Barcelona is out of water.

Extreme heat is not just a concern for North Africa or Southeast Asia. Dr. Cramer specializes in the environment in the Mediterranean. He tells us about climate-driven impacts and extreme weather over the past year in that region – and it has been an amazing year there! Not in a good way.

For example there was a record-shattering heat wave in the Western Mediterranean in April 2023. In a twist, scientists found that heat was made 4 times more likely, and at least 2 degrees C hotter, due to very dry soil conditions at the time. Precipitation can be a factor pushing or limited extreme heat.

In our interview, Cramer shows us a new wrinkle in sea level rise. Apparently, other than the Northern Adriatic, there is no tidal movement in the Mediterranean Sea. So key infrastructure and heritage buildings are closer to mean sea level than in other world coastlines. Sea level rise will hit visibly, sooner, and harder in the Med.


We began by talking about habitability. That is defined as “the physical and social conditions required for decent human and non-human life on Earth…

What parts of the world are moving out side the human ecological niche? See also “The Future of the Human Climate Niche” (Xu et al 2020). Some places will only be habitable with machine support, almost what we expect for living on the moon or another planet.

This is most frightening. With tens of thousands of studies on climate impact, and a wealth of reporting from space, sea and ground – we know the places where millions of people will lose crops, or water supplies; where they will burn out in wildfires or experience months of heat to high to work outside. Experts know that but the public does not. Where is the failure to communicate?


The annual COP [Conference of the Parties) climate meetings failed to stop increasing greenhouse gas emissions. We are far away from government promises for climate action. COP28 was led by Middle East oil producers. Recently in a Berlin speech President Ilham Aliyev of COP29 host Azerbaijan said the conference would not stop them from investing in more “god-given” gas. Many of us see the COP process as a failure bought off by fossil fuel interests.

For decades, Wolfgang contributed to scientific reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. What is the relationship between the IPCC and the annual climate meetings known as the Conference of the Parties? Is good science by the IPCC being confused with COP failures?

The IPCC has attempted to develop more on adaptation, and how to advise governments. But as we see from failed implementation of many COP promises and goals, governments may not listen. They may for their own economic or political reasons, be actively hostile to IPCC recommendations.

Here in North America, 24 hour news channels cover Donald Trump and repeated mass shootings. European media covers climate more, but not enough to really reach the population. Australian press is mute. Why don’t they tell us about real threats becoming obvious now?


“Can we reverse the decline of Earth’s habitability?”



Mar 14, 2024 by Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne (in English) an “Intervention”.

Wolfgang says “transformation” is not just a term by IPCC scientists. Transformation has been discussed and approved by almost all nations on Earth. It is not a “green agenda” not widely accepted – the language has been approved. We must ask our leaders how they will achieve the goals. A special report is being written on “transformation”.



Tune in next week when we talk with famous film-maker, author, and military historian Gwynne Dyer. Gwynne has a habit of delivering well-researched facts few people want to hear. You and I do.

As always, donations to keep this program going are steady but low. I certainly could use your financial help (but only if you can really afford it). Please send what you can here.

Thank you so much for listening – and caring about our world.

Alex Smith