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Heat waves “beyond human limitations” would make entire regions uninhabitable within decades, causing “large-scale suffering and loss of life,” the UN believes.

In a few decades, heat waves will become so extreme in certain places of the earth that human life will no longer be possible.

In the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and south and southwest Asia, extreme temperatures are projected to “beyond human physiological and societal boundaries.”

The United Nations and Red Cross produced a study stating that these events will cause “vast misery and loss of life” in these regions.

The authors asserted that proactive measures must be adopted immediately to prevent probable recurrences of heat disasters and their worst outcomes.

The research stated, “There are established limitations beyond which humans exposed to high heat and humidity cannot survive.”

Heat waves "beyond human limitations" would make entire regions uninhabitable within decades, causing "large-scale suffering and loss of life," the UN believes.

There are likely to be extreme heat thresholds beyond which it will be nearly hard for communities to provide appropriate adaptation for everyone.

The authors stated, ‘Projected future death rates from intense heat are staggeringly large – similar in scale to all malignancies or infectious diseases by the end of the century – and staggeringly unequal.

In the future decades, heatwaves could exceed these physiological and social boundaries, notably in regions such as the Sahel and south and southwest Asia, if current trends continue.

Extreme Heat: Preparing for Future Heatwaves is the title of a paper produced in advance of the COP27 climate change summit in Egypt next month.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies compiled it (IFRC).

uninhabitable within decades

According to their projections, between 2010 and 2019, 38 heat waves caused the deaths of more than 70,000 people globally.

This number accounts for more than one-sixth of the roughly 410,000 deaths attributed to extreme weather and climate during the same period.

However, this is likely still an underestimation of the whole cost, which includes the impact on lives and livelihoods.

The authors underlined that this year’s heat waves in nations such as Somalia, Pakistan, and even the United States portend a future with more deadly, frequent, and extreme heat-related humanitarian situations.

Numerous scientists concur that heatwaves have grown increasingly often as a result of human-caused climate change.

According to the assessment, the combined effects of aging, warming, and urbanization are anticipated to generate a large increase in the number of vulnerable people in developing nations.

In Bangladesh, for instance, there was a 20% increase in mortality during heat wave days compared to a typical day.

According to the report, agricultural laborers, children, the elderly, and pregnant and breastfeeding women are more susceptible to disease and death.

Extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and floods, are hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest as the climate catastrophe continues unabated, according to UN humanitarian director Martin Griffiths.

The impact is felt most severely in countries already struggling with hunger, war, and poverty.

In the report’s conclusion, the authors suggest five key measures to fight the effects of intense heat waves.

These include giving early information to assist people and authorities react promptly and identifying innovative methods to finance action at the local level.

This requires improved coordination between humanitarian organizations, development organizations, and meteorologists.

Humanitarian organizations could also test more thermally-appropriate emergency shelters, cooling centers, and “green roofs” to assist cool the air.

At COP27, the Secretary-General of the IFRC, Jagan Chapagain, will urge world leaders to invest in climate adaptation and mitigation in vulnerable regions.

If communities are prepared to anticipate climate risks and can take action, we can avoid extreme weather occurrences from becoming humanitarian catastrophes, he said.


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