Deadly Heat Waves: Sign of Global Temperature Shifts
“Our attitude towards the environment has been so reckless that we are running out of good choices for the future,” – Camilo Mora, Associate Professor at the University of Hawaii
Most people love the sun. However, our world is heating up and not in a good way.
With climates around the world shifting rapidly, deadly heat waves are becoming more frequent, and a large number of people around the world, are dying.
Extreme heat waves can be attributed to global warming – a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. However, even the impact of moderate heat waves can be attributed to climate change.
Heat Waves Are Deadly
The human body can only sustain body temperatures up to 98.6 °F (37 °C). With temperatures soaring to 129.2 °F (54 °C), heat waves have proven fatal for the young, the elderly, and people suffering from illnesses.
Montreal has endured record high temperatures this year, resulting in the deaths of 34 people. According to Health officials, the majority of the people who died did not have air conditioning, lived alone, and/or they had health issues that made them particularly susceptible to overheating.
Smog, pollution, and high concentrations of ozone are harshest during hot temperatures, resulting in poor air quality. This is especially hard on asthmatic children and people with respiratory ailments and/or heart disease.
Super High Temperatures Around The World
The whole world is suffering from extreme heat waves. Britain is so hot and dry that they have fires raging across their moorlands. Along the coast of the Arctic Ocean, studies show temperatures soaring over 90°F (32°C).
“Warming at the poles has been one of the most iconic climatic changes,” says a researcher at the University of Hawaii.
Extreme heat waves that are hitting the eastern part of America are referred to as one of the most direct effects of human-made climate change.
By the year 2100, researches are saying that New York is likely to experience 50 days a year with temperatures and humidity exceeding the threshold at which people have previously died.
Record of Heat Waves (2010–present)
- Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Washington, Raleigh, and even Boston eclipsed 38 °C (100 °F)
- Wilmington, Delaware hit temperatures of 39 °C (103 °F)
- Temperatures in British Columbia hit 40 °C (104 °F)
- Europe was hit with temperatures above 40 °C (104 °F)
- The Tri-Cities in Washington hit temperatures around 43 °C (110 °F)
- Burbank, California reached 44 °C (111 °F)
- Phoenix, Arizona reached 48 °C (118 °F)
- Yuma, Arizona reached 49 °C (120 °F)
- Iraq exceeded 49 °C (120 °F)
- Australia has faced its most severe heat wave reading above 50 °C (122 °F)
- Mohenjo-Daro, Sindh, province in Pakistan hit high temperatures of 53.5 °C (128.3 °F)
- Death Valley, California hit 54.0 °C (129.2 °F)
We Have Reached a Point of No Return
In June 2017 President Donald Trump announced that he would be pulling America out of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement, it is an agreement with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, starting in the year 2020.
It aims to:
1. Significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
2. Foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.
3. Make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
Scientist warns that even if the half the world moves to cut climate-changing emissions, rising temperatures and humidity levels will continue to increase the intensity and frequency of deadly heat waves.
“If we do the best that we can, which is the Paris Agreement, you are still going to have nearly 50% of the human population impacted, which is pretty bad,” Camilo says.
“For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible” – Camilo Mora
According to a study published in Nature Climate Change, deadly heat waves are going to be an even bigger problem in the upcoming years. Because of the acceleration in climate change, heat waves will become more frequent and start occurring over more areas, cities, and counties. Nearly 1 in 3 people around the world are currently exposed to deadly heatwaves, and that number will rise to almost half of the population by the year 2100.
15 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave Attack
So wherever you are in the world (and whether you have AC or not), here are 15 tips that could save your life, and the life of a loved one, during a heat wave:
- Try to stay indoors and avoid exercise (or excessive movements) during the hottest part of the day.
- Use fans to promote air circulation throughout your home.
- Close all doors, windows, curtains, and blinds to keep the indoors cool when the sun is out.
- Fill buckets and soak your feet. Wet towels can also have a nice cooling effect when worn on the shoulders or head.
- Take cold showers or baths, and fill a spray bottle with cold water for a refreshing spritz throughout the day.
- Go downstairs into the basement if you have one. Hot air rises, so the upper parts of a home are warmer than the ground floor.
- Eliminate extra sources of heat. Light bulbs, digital devices, or appliances left running all generate heat.
- Eat foods that don’t require an oven or stove to prepare.
- Big protein-rich meals can increase metabolic heat and warm your body so avoid these too.
- Drink a lot of water, even if you aren’t feeling thirsty.
- Alcohol and caffeine promote dehydration so avoid them at all cost.
- If you don’t have AC, try to go somewhere that does. Shopping malls, movie theaters, and libraries can all be great places to cool down.
- Check on neighbors, family, and friends who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
- Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and heat emergencies and call 911 immediately.
- Pets also suffer when the temperatures rise. Giving them a cooling bath will help keep their body temperature down. Even a cool washcloth lying over their skin will help, and make sure they have plenty of cold water to drink.
- Death toll jumps to 34 as heat wave continues to bake southern Quebec | CBC News. (2018, July 05). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/death-toll-heat-wave-quebec-1.4734630
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- Jena, M. (2017, June 19). Killer heatwaves set for dramatic rise, researchers warn. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-heatwave-health/killer-heatwaves-set-for-dramatic-rise-researchers-warn-idUSKBN19A22G
- Lewis, S. (2018, July 06). This heatwave is just the start. Britain has to adapt to climate change, fast | Simon Lewis. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/06/britain-heatwave-worse-to-come-water-climate-change
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- Paris Agreement. (2018, July 10). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Agreement
- Prepare for Extreme Heat. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.wunderground.com/prepare/extreme-heat
- Samenow, J., & Washington Post. (n.d.). Guys, Our Planet Is on Fire. Here Are The All-Time Heat Records Set Worldwide This Week. Retrieved from https://www.sciencealert.com/all-time-heat-records-have-been-set-all-over-the-world-this-week-ireland-scotland-canada-middle-east-climate-change
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