As climate change proceeds, there will be more extreme weather events, and these events pose a threat to people’s health. Extreme weather will affect people and animals, as well as whole ecosystems. Heatwaves and high temperatures can have a dramatic impact on people’s physical health. We only have to look at the increases in emergency department admissions during recent heatwaves to know that. According to a research group led by Camilo Mora, a researcher affiliated with the University of Hawaii, the risk of deadly heatwaves are expected to cover 48 percent of the world’s population by 2100, even if carbon gas emissions are drastically reduced. If emissions continue to rise at business-as-usual rates, “74 percent of the global population is expected to experience more than 20 days of deadly heat”. It seems that choices we may have had decades or even years ago are now forced. “For heat waves, our options [in addressing this issue] are now between bad or terrible,” Mora says.
However, in cases of high humidity, human sweat doesn’t evaporate, making it difficult for people to regulate and release heat. In the past 3-4 decades, there has been an increasing trend in high-humidity heat waves, which bring extremely high night-time temperatures. High humidity and temperature pair up to pose increased risk to populations like the elderly. Extreme heat events are attributed to more deaths per year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. Furthermore, summers around the world are already warmer than they used to be, and they’re going to get dramatically hotter by century’s end if carbon pollution continues to rise.
As cities grow in population, more people can be expected to be negatively impacted by heat waves. That will, in turn, threaten public health and the economy. Populations globally are already suffering lethal heat waves, let’s not make it more!