Searing and unrelenting heat scorches large swathes of the Earth, killing millions who have no means to escape. Shade is useless, and shallow bodies of water are warmer than the blood coursing through people’s veins. This is a scene from a new sci-fi novel, but the suffocating horror it describes may be closer to science than fiction.
Exceeding human tolerance
A new draft UN report warns of dire consequences for billions if global warming continues unchecked. Earlier climate models suggested it would take nearly another century of unabated carbon pollution to spawn heatwaves exceeding the absolute limit of human tolerance.
Exposed to heatwaves
If the world warms by 1.5 degrees Celsius – 0.4 degrees above today’s level – 14 percent of the population will be exposed to severe heat waves at least once every five years, “a significant increase in heat wave magnitude”, the report says. Going up half a degree would add another 1.7 billion people.
From Manila to Mumbai
Worst hit will be burgeoning megacities in the developing world that generate additional heat of their own, from Karachi to Kinshasa, Manila to Mumbai, Lagos to Manaus. It’s not just thermometer readings that make a difference – heat becomes more deadly when combined with high humidity. We’ve already seen the impact of deadly, humid heat at far lower thresholds, especially among the elderly and infirm. Two heatwaves in India and Pakistan that hit 30 degrees Celsius TW in 2015 left more than 4,000 people dead.
Extreme heat ahead
Experts say the worst impacts could be avoided if global warming is capped as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible, in line with the Paris Agreement. But even then, with temperatures rising twice the global average in many regions, some severe impacts are baked in. “Today’s children will witness more days with extreme heat when manual labour outside is physiologically impossible,” the IPCC report warns.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.