Nature Climate Change recently published a study that said 75% of all people could face deadly heatwaves by 2100. If carbon emissions are not lowered, it is a fate mankind cannot avoid.
The study found without these reductions 3 out of 4 people will be faced with deadly heat. Even with reductions, it is also possible that one in two, by the end of the century, will have to survive 20 days of extreme heat, which can also be fatal.
If you are thinking, that is many years from now, and I won’t be around. Think again. The study also reported that 30% of the world’s current population is exposed to potentially deadly heat for 20 days per year or more.
The lead author of the study Camilo Mora, of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said “Lethal heatwaves are very common. I don’t know why we as a society are not more concerned about the dangers.” He could not be more right. It is something that is not highly publicized by the media, however, it should be a big concern. There have been multiple devastating deadly heatwaves throughout history. In 2010, in Moscow, a heatwave killed 10,000 people and in 1995, 700 people died from heat-related causes in Chicago. Mora added “The 2003 European heatwave killed approximately 70,000 people—that’s more than 20 times the number of people who died in the September 11 attacks.”
Those most at risk are ones that live in the wet tropics, as only minimal temperature increases can result in death. However, people living in the U.S. must also be cautious. Richard Keller, a medical history professor said “Heat kills ten times more people in the U.S. than tornados or other extreme weather events.”
Heat waves are already a big problem in areas like India and Pakistan. Thousands of people have died in those areas from heatwaves over the recent years. However, heat was not always a problem in these regions. However, due to human neglect of the surrounding environment, temperatures have slowly risen.
Mora concludes “For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible. Many people around the world are already paying the ultimate price of heatwaves.”