This podcast prompts an exploration of heat experiences in the urban landscape of Karachi, and its conceptualizations under notions of disaster, health, and planning. With host Aqdas Fatima and guests from various academic backgrounds, we question what it means to understand city futures under warming impacts of climate change. What do we mean by rising heat and its historical, socio-political, economic, and developmental implications? Where do conversations among academics, environmentalists, architects, health experts, and planners concur? How can broader, global conversations on heat be contextualized in South Asian environments? And what is needed to secure a heat-safe future for Karachi? Based on ongoing work at Karachi Urban Lab as part of the Cool Infrastructures project, this podcast brings the conversation of heat in the city to the wider public.
As we head into the summer months with heatwave alerts and global outcry regarding alarming temperature rises in South Asia in full force, the KUL team has embarked upon an extensive environmental monitoring project. As part of this exercise, the team has deployed 15 weather stations to install across all 7 districts of the city to gauge Karachi’s microclimates and subsequently evaluate the effectiveness of heatwave alerts and heat mitigation practices. However, the process of acquiring this equipment, setting it up, and then using it to analyze the city’s climate is far more complicated than one would assume. In this episode, the KUL team discusses the challenges they faced while setting up their equipment, their learnings, and what they hope these weather stations can contribute to the landscape of environmental data generation in Pakistan.
Guest bio: Muhammad Toheed is an Urban Planner and GIS Analyst, with an M.Phil. in Urban & Regional Planning from NED University, and an MSc in Geography from Karachi University. Presently, he is visiting faculty at NED University and Bahria University. He is also a senior research associate at Karachi Urban Lab, where he focuses on analyzing transformations in green spaces across the city and the processes involved in the large-scale production and sale of ice.
Soha Macktoom holds a master’s in urban planning and a bachelor’s in architecture, both from NED University. She has previously worked as an architect and is currently a senior research associate at Karachi Urban Lab, looking at the interplay of climate, architectural practices, and materiality. She is also visiting faculty at NED University, Nazir Hussain University, and IBA Karachi.
Atoofa Samo holds a master’s in anthropology from Quaid-e-Azam university and a bachelor’s in anthropology from Sindh University, she is also working at Karachi Urban Lab as a senior research associate, particularly focused on developing ethnographic case studies on second-hand air conditioning markets and looking at the notion of profiteering from heat.
In this episode, Dr. Andreas Flouris delves into the field of environmental physiology, and unfolds its significance in climate-change research through the study of heat on a cellular level. We discuss how people interact with their environments and the detrimental impacts rising heat can have on both human physiology and societal interaction. With heat waves spreading across continents every summer, we talk about how his work at the FAMELab, and ecophysiology in general, can contribute to understanding heat impacts and how they can be managed.
Guest bio: Dr. Andreas Flouris is an Associate Professor at the University of Thessaly, in Greece, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is the Founder and Director of FAME Lab [(F)unctional (A)rchitecture of (M)ammals in their (E)nvironment], a research group investigating the health and performance effects of environmental factors, with a particular focus on the impacts of heat. Dr. Flouris is a Partner in a series of large international projects in Europe and North America and he has published widely on the effects of different environmental factors on human health, productivity, and performance. He is currently participating in several Working Groups tasked to develop prevention measures to reduce the impacts of environmental factors for workers, athletes, and the general population, including the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization, and the Greek Ministry of Labour.
In this episode, Dr.Oppermann offers her expertise in breaking down conceptualizations of heat to unfold its complexities and emphasize the increasing urgency in discussing heat impacts in relevance to cities. We discuss the various kinds of extreme heat impacts– from heatwaves to prolonged health impacts– differential vulnerabilities, capacity building, and what the future of heating cities looks like.
Guest bio: Elspeth is a critical geographer specializing in adaptation to environmental challenges. Her past research examined discourses of climate change adaptation in the United Kingdom and the social practices through which outdoor workers manage extreme heat in Australia. She is a member of the International Commission on Occupational Health’s Scientific Committee on Thermal Factors, and continues to engage in heat-health research, particularly for those most exposed. Recently, she has particularly explored how the social is co-produced through material-energetic relations, developing an inter-disciplinary, more-than-human social practices approach to the analysis of occupational heat management. As a senior research fellow at the Rachel Carson Centre, Elspeth is CI on Cool Infrastructures, a UK-ESRC funded 3-year project. Cool Infrastructures seeks to identify what knowledges and strategies people in ‘off-grid’ communities, such as informal settlements, use to keep cool in hot conditions, and how local innovations and approaches might be supported, scaled up and shared.