Japan urges millions to conserve electricity as record heat strains power supply

The government urged residents of the capital to turn off lights and power switches at three o’clock in the afternoon and “properly” use air conditioning as the country grapples with a growing electricity shortage.

The request came despite warnings from experts that record temperatures could persist for several weeks.

“Please save as much energy as possible, such as turning off lights that are not in use,” the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Monday. It talks about the proper use of an air conditioner to “prevent heat stroke”.

Japan’s power supply has been hampered since March, when an earthquake in the northeast forced some nuclear power plants to shut down. At the same time, demand is at its highest level since 2011, when Japan was hit by the worst earthquake in its recorded history. The ministry warned that the mismatch between supply and demand was becoming “serious”.
But with recent temperatures soaring to dangerous levels, power rationing will not be easy.

On Tuesday, Tokyo endured a scorching heatwave for the fourth straight day after setting records for June over the weekend.

Temperatures hit 35.4 degrees Celsius (about 96 Fahrenheit) in the capital on Saturday, and 40.2 degrees Celsius (about 104 Fahrenheit) in the city of Isesaki northwest of Tokyo. Temperatures reached 35.1 degrees Celsius (about 95 Fahrenheit) in the city of Nagano in central Japan, and 36.7 degrees Celsius (about 98 Fahrenheit) were recorded in the Takada area of ​​Niigata Prefecture on the west coast.

The sweltering temperatures are forecast to continue through the end of the week and possibly worsen, meaning electricity demand is likely to pick up as residents stay at home and turn on air conditioners.

Japan’s heat wave is just one of many happening around the world as scientists warn that extreme weather is becoming more frequent as the climate crisis deepens.
Soaring temperatures in India and Pakistan in recent weeks have forced school closures, damaged crops, put pressure on power supplies and forced residents to stay at home. Some experts question whether such heat is suitable for human survival.
    More than 125 million people in the US are at risk of heat
And a massive heat dome has engulfed parts of the United States, sending temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 37 Celsius) in major metropolitan areas including Minneapolis, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, Dallas, New Orleans and Atlanta.

In addition to the heat, floods flooded Yellowstone National Park, wildfires broke out in Arizona and New Mexico, and severe storms caused widespread power outages in the northern Midwest and the Ohio River Valley.

“With further global warming, more frequent and intense urban heatwaves should be expected,” said climate scientist Winston Chow from the Singapore University of Management College of Integrative Studies.

“I’m afraid that for such places it [now] the new climate is normal… if nothing is done to adapt and mitigate the causes of climate change.”

Of particular concern, according to Chow, is the impact of extreme heat on the elderly, who make up 28% of Japan’s population.

“Older people are biologically, physiologically predisposed to being more vulnerable to heat-related injury, and more than a quarter of Japan’s population is over 65 years old. The risk of heat stress and stroke without any attempt at adaptation would be very high in Tokyo, Chou said.

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