PETALING JAYA: Major cities in Malaysia are seeing more days where temperatures can hit at least 32°C compared to 10 years ago.
Kuala Lumpur, a city where almost two million people call home, can expect 270 days in a year when the mercury hit that high.
A decade ago, Kuala Lumpur would experience such heat for about 260 days per year.
The contrast is even more striking when compared to data – published in a recent The New York Times (NYT) article “How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?” – from almost 20 years ago when there were only 243 such days.
The data was published by NYT with analysis provided by the Climate Impact Lab, a group of researchers from various institutes in the United States.
Projections by the researchers also showed that in Kuala Lumpur, the number of days expected to reach at least 32°C would shoot up to 333 days – almost an entire year – about 50 years from now.
This future projection is based on the assumption that countries, including Malaysia, would take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with the original Paris Agreement signed in 2016.
Genting Highlands, a vacation staple for Malaysians seeking to enjoy the cool weather, has also seen the number of days with warm temperatures nearly doubling compared to 10 years ago.
In 2009, the resort saw only about seven days where the mercury hit at least 32°C but now, there are 13 days expected to have such warm weather.
The data also showed that today, Ipoh has 222 days with temperatures above 32°C in a year, up from 212 days 10 years ago.
George Town, a Unesco heritage enclave popular with foreign tourists, now experiences such temperatures for at least 251 days a year compared to 247 days 10 years ago.
Across the South China Sea, Kuching can expect 144 days of such hot weather, an increase from only 131 days a decade ago, and Kota Kinabalu, an additional 17 days.
According to data in the NYT article, most places in the world could see more days of such weather as the world warms due to human-induced climate change.
Experts are warning that more “hotter” days in Malaysian cities are bound to affect the supply and consumption of water among residents.
Already, unplanned water cuts due to, among others, the lack of raw water in Peninsular Malaysia last year far outnumbered scheduled water cuts.
“Climate change is already affecting Malaysia and rainfall is beginning to drop in certain areas, putting pressure on our water supplies.
“We need to treat water as the precious resource it is, ” said National Water Services Commission chairman Charles Santiago.Malaysians, he said, needed to ramp up efforts to conserve water and an attitude change could probably be the best defence against decreasing water supply due to climate change and global warming.
Last month, the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry announced that it had commissioned a nationwide audit on the water industry in anticipation of longer droughts that the nation was expected to face due to climate change, pointing to the recent shortage affecting 180 million people in Chennai, India, as an example.