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If climate change is not remedied by drastically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, lethal heat waves -which are likely to cause deaths in humans- will become a growing problem. more frequent globally, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change . To the point that in the year 2100 heat waves will affect no less than 74% of the population , when today this percentage is 30%.
Extreme heat waves, such as that caused by the forest fire that has claimed the lives of more than 60 people in central Portugal or the one that affects the southwestern United States – in the Valley of Death, in California, will reach 53 degrees Celsius – are motivated by climate change that has accelerated the human being on the planet.
According to recent research, led by Camilo Mora, associate professor of Geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (USA), if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the current rate, by 2100, almost three out of four people could be subjected to at least 20 days of lethal heat per year , when in our days that figure is 30% (approximately one in three people).
The study, carried out by an international team of researchers, conducted a global analysis of 783 heat waves in 164 countries and 36 countries that took place between 1980 and 2014, with documented deaths, to identify the climatic conditions associated with the greatest risk of death in the human being . And they identified a global threshold of average air temperature and relative humidity that, when exceeded, can be deadly.
Our options: between the bad and the terrible
“Our attitude towards the environment has been so reckless that we are running out of good options for the future, ” explains Camilo Mora. “As for the heat waves, our options are now between the bad and the terrible,” he adds.
Why does this say the expert? Because, according to the forecasts they have made, even in a hypothetical scenario in which drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are carried out, the percentage of the world’s population that is currently exposed to climatic conditions that exceed the deadly threshold during at least 20 days will increase in 2010 to 48% ; but it is that if the emissions continue growing at the rate of nowadays, that percentage of affected world population will be of 74%.
Many people around the world are already paying a high price for heat waves , even with their lives – remember that in 2010 a heat wave that hit Russia caused the direct or indirect death of at least 56,000 Russians – and although Mora remember that the forecast models suggest that the situation will probably continue in the future, “could be much worse if emissions are not reduced significantly.”
But it does not seem that all the governments of the world are rowing in the same direction: President Donald Trump recently announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement against climate change, signed by 195 nations, considering it “debilitating, disadvantageous and unjust” for your country, which is the second largest global emitter of greenhouse gases.