Entire regions of the globe will become uninhabitable in the coming decades due to more frequent and more intense heat waves.
The warning was made in a report published on Monday by the UN and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The UN and IFRC called in the joint report for measures to prepare for future heatwaves to avoid a large number of deaths.
The announcement came less than a month before the UN conference dedicated to combating climate change, COP27, which will take place in November in Egypt.
There are limits beyond which people exposed to extreme heat cannot survive and societies cannot adapt
“According to the current evolution of the climate, heat waves could reach and exceed these physiological and social limits in the coming decades, especially in regions such as the Sahel, South Asia and Southwest Asia,” the two organizations said.
Such a situation will result in “suffering and loss of human life on a large scale, population movements and a worsening of inequalities”, they also warned.
Heat waves, the deadliest weather hazard
According to the report, almost everywhere where reliable statistics are available, heat waves are the deadliest weather hazard.
They are already killing thousands of people annually and will cause more and more deaths as climate change intensifies, Martin Griffiths, head of the UN humanitarian agency, and Jagan Chapagain, IFRC secretary general, said in the report.
Heat waves are responsible for some of the worst disasters ever recorded in terms of deaths. The report mentions the 2003 heat wave in Europe, which caused more than 70,000 deaths, and a 2010 heat wave in Russia, which killed more than 55,000 people.
Deaths from heat will be ‘comparable in magnitude to all cancers’
According to the report, experts predict very high death rates from extreme heat, “comparable in magnitude, by the end of the century, to all types of cancer.”
In 2022, regions or countries in North Africa, Australia, Europe, South Asia and the Middle East suffocated under record temperatures, but so did China and the western United States.
The report warns that extreme hot weather is a “silent killer” whose effects will amplify, raising enormous challenges to sustainable development while creating new humanitarian needs.
“The humanitarian system does not have the means to solve a crisis of this magnitude alone”
“The humanitarian system does not have the means to solve a crisis of this magnitude on its own. We are already short of funds and resources to respond to some of the worst ongoing humanitarian crises this year,” Griffiths told a news conference.
The organizations call for urgent, important and sustainable investments to mitigate the impact of climate change and to support the long-term adaptation of the most vulnerable populations.
According to a study cited in the report, the number of poor people living in extreme heat in urban areas will increase by 700% by 2050. The largest increases are expected to occur in West Africa and Southeast Asia.
“The climate crisis intensifies humanitarian emergencies worldwide. To avoid its most devastating effects, we must invest equally in adaptation and mitigation, especially in the countries most at risk,” said Jagan Chapagain.
Publication date: 10-10-2022 20:02
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