Extreme weather ‘could kill up to 152,000 a year’ in Europe by 2100
Extreme weather could kill up to 152,000 people yearly in Europe by 2100 if nothing is done to curb the effects of climate change, scientists say. The number is 50 times more deaths than reported now, the study in the Lancet Planetary Health journal said. Heat waves would cause 99% of all weather-related deaths, it added, with southern Europe being worst affected
According to a study published in Nature Climate Change earlier this summer, nearly a quarter of the world’s population will be exposed to deadly heat by the end of the century for at least 20 days a year, if drastic actions are not taken to cut carbon emissions.
Even under a best-case scenario, making deep cuts to carbon emissions, nearly half of the world’s population will still experience 20 days of deadly heat by the end of the century.
Dangerous heat is likely to be even worse in urban areas, which suffer from something called the “heat island effect” — a phenomenon where urban temperatures are, on average, almost 2–5.5°F warmer than surrounding areas. As ThinkProgress’ Sam Fullwood noted in July, the fact that urban areas are likely to be hardest hit by climate-fueled heat waves means that the nation’s most vulnerable communities — the poor, homeless, elderly, and communities of color, that are most densely concentrated in U.S. cities — are likely to face some of the most deadly impacts of climate change. https://thinkprogress.org/pacific-northwest-heat-wave-2017-2612e614e60c/
Without cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, millions of people living in South Asia face a dangerously high combination of heat and humidity driven by global warming, report the BBC and others, covering new research. “Most of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will experience temperatures close to the limits of [human] survivability by 2100,” the BBC says. The new research, published in the journal Science Advances, looks at when a lethal “wet bulb” temperature might start occurring, says the Washington Post. The paper explains that this is a temperature “likely to be lethal after just a few hours…unless people are able to get away from the heat, such as by going indoors into an air-conditioned space”. At a wet bulb temperature of 35C, even healthy people would be unable to survive for more than six hours, reports the Guardian. River valleys in South Asia will face the highest risk of such deadly humid heat, reports InsideClimate News. Up to a third of the 1.5bn population already living across the Indo-Gangetic Plain could be affected, says the Associated Press. The monsoon brings warm and humid air masses into these valleys, notes the Hindu, and surface air is warmer here because of the relatively low elevation. The AFP and Time Magazine also cover the new research. Matt McGrath, BBC News
Extreme Heatwaves With “Apparent Temperatures” As High As 55° Celsius To Regularly Affect Much Of World (With 4° Celsius Of Warming Over Pre-Industrial Levels) August 11th, 2017 by James Ayre
“Apparent temperatures” refers in this case to the Heat Index, which quantifies the combined effect of heat and humidity to provide people with a means of avoiding dangerous conditions.
The new findings are the result of the researchers involved exploring the relationship between humidity levels and heatwave occurrence — with the “novelty” of the new study being that it “looks not only at temperature but also relative humidity to estimate the magnitude and impact of heat waves.”
At temperatures of 55° Celsius or so, it should be realized, much of the activity that takes place in the modern industrial world would simply have to stop. Such heatwaves would be profoundly debilitating.
Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (some rights reserved)
The press release provides more: “The study analyses changes in yearly probability for a high humidity heatwaves since 1979 under different global warming scenarios. If global temperatures increase up to 2° C above pre-industrial levels the combined effect of heat and humidity (known as apparent temperature or Heat Index) will likely exceed 40° C every year in many parts of Asia, Australia, Northern Africa, South and North America. Europe will be least affected with up to 30% chance of having such strong heat wave annually.
“However, if temperatures rise to 4° C a severe scenario is on the horizon. Scientists predict that a new super-heatwave will appear with apparent temperature peaking at above 55° C — a level critical for human survival. It will affect densely populated areas such as USA’s East coast, coastal China, large parts of India and South America. Under this global warming scenario Europe is likely to suffer annual heatwaves with apparent temperature of above 40° C regularly while some regions of Eastern Europe may be hit by heatwaves of above 55° C.
“… According to the study, the effect of relative humidity on heatwaves’ magnitude and peak might be underestimated in current research. The results of the study support the need for urgent mitigation and adaptation action to address the impacts of heatwaves, and indicate regions where new adaptation measures might be necessary to cope with heat stress.”
All of which costs money. With all of the problems that will be greatly impacting the nations of the world by that time, it seems pretty likely that not too much will be done to limit the impact of such heatwaves on the poorest and most vulnerable portions of populations (which will likely have swelled quite a lot by then).
The new work is detailed in a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Activists Aim to Turn Sun Belt Into Front Line on Climate
New York Times | Yamiche Alcindor
GALVESTON, Tex. – Adolfo Guerra, a landscaper in this port city on the Gulf of Mexico, remembers panicking as his co-worker vomited and convulsed after hours of mowing lawns in stifling heat. Other workers rushed to cover him with ice, and the man recovered. But, for Mr. Guerra, 24, who spends nine hours a day, six days a week doing yard work the episode was a reminder of the dangers that exist for outdoor workers as the planet warms. (Kidney disease has already become rampant among 20 and 30 year olds working in the heat and humidity on sugar cane plantations in Central America, due to rising temperatures and the body’s over-taxed cooling systems)
“I think about the climate every day,” Mr. Guerra said, “because every day we work, and every day it feels like it’s getting hotter.”
For many working class people, President Trump’s promise to make America great again conjured images of revived factories and resurgent industries, fueled by coal and other cheap fossil fuels. … But to Robert D. Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University who some call the “father of environmental justice,” the industrial revival that Mr. Trump has promised could come with some serious downsides for an already warming planet. Professor Bullard is trying to bring that message to working class Americans like Mr. Guerra, and to environmental organizations that have, in his mind, been more focused on struggling animals than poor humans, who have been disproportionately harmed by increasing temperatures, worsening storms and rising sea levels.