Nature & Environment

Millions Of People Could Be Exposed To More Deadly Heat Waves In Coming Years, A New Study Says

Elaine Hannah
First Posted: Mar 29, 2017 03:10 AM EDT

A new study indicates that millions of people, particularly those who are living in megacities, could be exposed to more deadly heat wave these coming years, according to a new study. This is despite the effort of curbing the global warming by some nations and the Paris Agreement. 

The findings of the study were printed online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers have discovered that even if 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is the target limit of global warming of the Paris Agreement, is achieved, there would still be an increase in the deadly heat, particularly in the megacities, according to

Tom Matthews, the lead author of the study and an applied climatologist at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom said that as the climate heats up, the number and intensity of heat waves heightens. He further said that they expect huge increases as the climate continues to warm.

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In the study, the researchers examined 44 out of the 101 most populous "megacities." They found that most of these cities are suffering from heat waves doubled with 4.5 degrees Celsius of warming. This continuous warming could expose over 350 million more people to heat waves by 2050.

Heat stress in human occurs when the body absorbs more heat, particularly if the body reaches 37 degrees Celsius or above. This could lead to heat stroke. According to The Conversation, a heat index, which is the measure that merges humidity and air temperature, that is over 40.6 degrees Celsius could be dangerous to human health.

Jennifer Li, the senior director of environmental health and disability with the National Association of County and City Health Officials, advises preparation for severe extreme waves. These involve building design and repairing existing buildings to heighten the energy efficiency and lessen the internal temperatures.

Meanwhile, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, said that big cities should build cooling centers, in which people could flee during the hottest days. This is just like heating centers that are provided in times of freezing conditions. He also said that health officials could provide fans to people, who do not have air conditioning, and urge people to have their cooling systems service. 

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