Recent research from the University of Hawaii predicted that lethal heat waves will affect most of the globe within the next century, putting human and animal life at extreme risks in the concerned areas. The study also showed that, even if we reduce carbon emissions extensively, the heat and its effects could still be devastating.
Lethal Heat Waves and “Running Out of Choices”
As more carbon is pumped into the atmosphere and more heat becomes trapped in the air and our oceans, these heat events will exacerbate, especially in the tropical and desert regions of the planet.
“Many people around the world are already paying the ultimate price of heat waves,” said Professor Camilo Mora, lead author of the study, “and while models suggest that this is likely to continue, it could be much worse if emissions are not considerably reduced.”
The researchers examined over 1,900 cases where high temperatures killed humans in locales since 1980. Areas where such dangerous heat occurs on more than 20 days out of the year, are most at risk and likely to be affected. Right now, around 30 percent of the world’s population lives in such zones.
That number threatens to rise dramatically over the next few decades, even with action taken on carbon emissions. The model designed by Mora and his team says that perhaps as much as 72 percent of Earth’s population will be exposed to these lethal heat waves by 2100 or most of the globe.
Some of the cities affected are less tropical than you might think. New York, Toronto, Tokyo, London, and Beijing are all on the potential danger list. They could see anywhere from 30 to 50 days of heat waves per year. Houston and Orlando will be in the danger zone all summer long.
Study findings are available in a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change.
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