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News about Climate Change and our Planet


Let’s Talk Sex | Is Global Warming Impacting Your Sex Life? Here’s The Surprising Answer

“Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most individuals dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find information about sex often resort to…


Why 40°C is bearable in a desert but lethal in the tropics

Heatwaves of similar magnitudes can have very different impacts depending on factors like humidity or how prepared an area is for extreme heat

This year, even before the northern hemisphere hot season began, temperature records were being shattered.

Spain for instance saw temperatures in April (38.8 degrees Celsius) that would be out of the ordinary even at the peak of summer. South and south-east Asia in particular were hammered by a very persistent heatwave and all-time record temperatures were experienced in countries such as Vietnam and Thailand (44°C and 45°C respectively).

In Singapore, the more modest record was also broken, as temperatures hit 37°C. And in China, Shanghai just recorded its highest May temperature for over a century at 36.7°C.

We know that climate change makes these temperatures more likely, but also that heatwaves of similar magnitudes can have very different impacts depending on factors like humidity or how prepared an area is for extreme heat.

So, how does a humid country like Vietnam cope with a 44°C heatwave and how does it compare with dry heat, or a less hot heatwave in even-more-humid Singapore?

Weather and physiology

The recent heatwave in south-east Asia may well be remembered for its level of heat-induced stress on the body. Heat stress is mostly caused by temperature, but other weather-related factors such as humidity, radiation and wind are also important.

Our bodies gain heat from the air around us, from the sun, or from our own internal processes such as digestion and exercise. In response to this, our bodies must lose some heat.

Some of this we lose directly to the air around us and some through breathing. But most heat is lost through sweating, as when the sweat on the surface of our skin evaporates it takes in energy from our skin and the air around us in the form of latent heat.

annotated diagram of person
How humans heat up and cool down. Photo: Take from Buzan and Huber (2020) Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Author provided

Meteorological factors affect all this. For example, being deprived of shade exposes the body to heat from direct sunlight, while higher humidity means that the rate of evaporation from our skin will decrease.

It’s this humidity that meant the recent heatwave in south-east Asia was so dangerous, as it’s already an extremely humid part of the world.

The limit of heat stress

Underlying health conditions and other personal circumstances can lead to some people being more vulnerable to heat stress. Yet heat stress can reach a limit above which all humans, even those who are not obviously vulnerable to heat risk — that is, people who are fit, healthy and well acclimatised — simply cannot survive even at a moderate level of exertion.

One way to assess heat stress is the so-called Wet Bulb Globe Temperature. In full sun conditions, that is approximately equivalent to 39°C in temperature combined with 50 per cent relative humidity. This limit will likely have been exceeded in some places in the recent heatwave across south-east Asia.

In less humid places far from the tropics, the humidity and thus the wet bulb temperature and danger will be much lower.

Spain’s heatwave in April with maximum temperatures of 38.8°C had WBGT values of “only” around 30°C, the 2022 heatwave in the UK, when temperatures exceeded 40°C, had a humidity of less than 20 per cent and WBGT values of around 32°C.

Two of us (Eunice and Dann) were part of a team who recently used climate data to map heat stress around the world.

The research highlighted regions most at risk of exceeding these thresholds, with literal hotspots including India and Pakistan, south-east Asia, the Arabian peninsula, equatorial Africa, equatorial South America and Australia. In these regions, heat stress thresholds are exceeded with increased frequency with greater global warming.

In reality, most people are already vulnerable well below the survivability thresholds, which is why we can see large death tolls in significantly cooler heat waves. Furthermore, these global analyses often do not capture some very localised extremes caused by microclimate processes.

For example a certain neighbourhood in a city might trap heat more efficiently than its surroundings, or might be ventilated by a cool sea breeze, or be in the “rain shadow” of a local hill, making it less humid.

Variability and acclimatisation

The tropics typically have less variable temperatures. For example, Singapore sits almost on the equator and its daily maximum is about 32°C year round, while a typical maximum in London in mid summer is just 24°C. Yet London has a higher record temperature (40°C vs 37°C in Singapore).

Given that regions such as south-east Asia consistently have high heat stress already, perhaps that suggests that people will be well acclimatised to deal with heat. Initial reporting suggests the intense heat stress of the recent heatwave lead to surprisingly few direct deaths — but accurate reporting of deaths from indirect causes is not yet available.

On the other hand, due to the relative stability in year-round warmth, perhaps there is less preparedness for the large swings in temperature associated with the recent heatwave.

Given that it is not unreasonable, even in the absence of climate change, that natural weather variability can produce significant heatwaves that break local records by several degrees Celsius, even nearing a physiological limit might be a very risky line to tread.

Imagine weekly climate newsletter

Don’t have time to read about climate change as much as you’d like?
Get a weekly roundup in your inbox instead. Every Wednesday, The Conversation’s environment editor writes Imagine, a short email that goes a little deeper into just one climate issue. Join the 10,000+ readers who’ve subscribed so far.The Conversation

Alan Thomas Kennedy-Asser, Research Associate in Climate Science, University of Bristol; Dann Mitchell, Professor of Climate Science, University of Bristol and Eunice Lo, Research Fellow in Climate Change and Health, University of Bristol

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Why I stopped arguing about the climate emergency and tried the silent treatment instead | Helena Echlin

My clown-white facepaint makes my skin feel tight and I’m scared my elaborate headdress is going to slip. It’s my first outing with the Red Rebel Brigade, the silent climate activist performance group. About a dozen of us are clad…

Philosopher Peter Singer: ‘There’s no reason to say humans have more worth or moral status than animals’

Australian philosopher Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation, published in 1975, exposed the realities of life for animals in factory farms and testing laboratories and provided a powerful moral basis for rethinking our relationship to them. Now, nearly 50 years on,…

‘Silent killer’: How can we protect outdoor workers from deadly heat?

An expert explains what just 1℃ of warming could mean for people who work outdoors around the world. “People always ask me… what does one degree of warming matter?” says US climate scientist Luke Parsons. Based at Duke University in…

The Upper Atmosphere Is Cooling, Prompting New Climate Concerns

There is a paradox at the heart of our changing climate. While the blanket of air close to the Earth’s surface is warming, most of the atmosphere above is becoming dramatically colder. The same gases that are warming the bottom…

8-Year-Old Norwegian Girl Discovers Neolithic Flint Knife Among Stones on School Playground

Elise and her dagger – Vestland County’s University Museum

A child’s imagination can turn a molehill into a mountain, or a stick into a sword.

That wasn’t necessarily required when Elise’s teacher saw the 8-year-old holding a “rock” she found in the schoolyard at Our Children’s School in Osøyro, Norway.

That’s because Elise had stumbled upon a remarkable find—a 3,700-year-old flint knife from the Neolithic Era in a country that doesn’t contain flint.

Teacher Karen Drange notified the Vestland County Council of the discovery and the archaeologists examining it have now told Norwegian news outlets they believe it originated in Denmark.

Flint was among the first tool technologies that humans mastered—a hard substance sharp enough to skin an animal and even perform surgery, but that didn’t require any knowledge of metallurgy.

In a statement, Louise Bjerre Petersen, an archaeologist who assessed the tool, calls it a beautiful, incredibly rare find. The knife is now in the possession of experts at the University Museum of Bergen, who will study it for clues on life in Neolithic Norway.

Excavations at the schoolyard turned up no additional artifacts—an unusual thing for flint discoveries, which are almost always found in places like Neolithic burial grounds, flint manufacturing areas where people were breaking large blocks of flint into small blades, or game animal kill sites.

MORE NEWS LIKE THIS: Genetic Code from 5,700-Year-old ‘Chewing Gum’ Reveals Extraordinary Details of Young Danish Woman

The Neolithic Age in Europe lasted longer than elsewhere. When whoever last owned the flint knife was using it to scrape animal hides, the Great Pyramids were under construction, and the oldest had already been built.

MORE KIDS TURNING UP HISTORY: English Teenager Discovers Hoard of 3,300-Year-Old Axes and Becomes Metal-Detecting Celebrity

Elise isn’t the only schoolgirl in Scandinavia to happen upon an ancient weapon. GNN reported about the 8-year-old “Queen of Sweden,” who found an Iron Age sword in a lake in 2018.

Not to be outdone, 10-year-old Fiontann Hughes in Northern Ireland found a centuries-old sword with a basket hilt using a metal detector.

SHARE This Lucky Young-Lady And Her Discovery With Your Friends…

Climate change raising heat risks for workers, experts warn

Rising global temperatures are increasing the risk of workers dying or becoming disabled from laboring in extreme heat, an international conference has been told. The conference, held in Qatar as spring temperatures raced towards 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), heard…

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