Environment

Heat stress may impact over a billion by end of century, study finds

Heat stress may impact over a ...
Scientists behind a new study warn that heat stress could affect billions by the end of this century
Scientists behind a new study warn that heat stress could affect billions by the end of this century
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Scientists behind a new study warn that heat stress could affect billions by the end of this century
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Scientists behind a new study warn that heat stress could affect billions by the end of this century

It's safe to say that a warming world is going to lead to greater discomfort for many of its inhabitants, but a new study out of Rutgers University is delving into the details of what this could look like come the end of the century. The team looked at how heat and humidity will combine to create heightened heat stress around the globe, concluding that it could affect more than four times as many people as it does today if current trends continue.

According to the Rutgers scientists, the majority of studies looking at future trends when it comes to heat stress place an emphasis on heat extremes, overlooking what they consider to be another major factor in humidity.

“When we look at the risks of a warmer planet, we need to pay particular attention to combined extremes of heat and humidity, which are especially dangerous to human health,” says senior author Robert E. Kopp, director of the Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

Heat stress strikes when the human body isn't able to keep its temperature at healthy levels through sweating, following exposure to extreme heat. It can cause things like cramping, exhaustion and, on the more severe side of things, heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition.

In casting its eye to the future, the Rutgers team looked at 40 climate simulations to assess how extreme combinations of heat and humidity will occur with greater frequency and in excess of safety guidelines, as the planet continues to warm. This analysis took into account factors such as temperature, humidity, wind speeds, solar and infrared radiation, and the angle of the sun.

Were the planet to warm by 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) by the end of the century (a very conservative projection), the team calculates that heat stress would affect areas currently home to 500 million people. At 2 °C (3.6 °F) of warming that figure jumps to nearly 800 million, and at 3 °C (5.4 °F) of warming, a future many experts expect us to reach, an estimated 1.2 billion people would be affected by heat stress.

The team notes that this is four times the number of people affected by heat stress today, and 12 times as many as it would be were it not for industrial-era global warming. As for what this means for heat stress in a place like the Big Apple, the team says that New Yorkers could expect as many as 24 days each year that are comparable to the single worst day of the year today.

The research was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Source: Rutgers University

12 comments
Anne Ominous
IPCC's last report says we are "unlikely" to have more than 0.5ºC more warming within the next CENTURY.

I just don't go for this alarmism stuff.
McDesign
More humidity? You mean like more clouds reflecting away infrared from the sun, and cooling us? Pshaw - what sort of self-regulating system is that?
Douglas Rogers
The salient effect of the industrial era is probably more desert irrigation than carbon dioxide. Just go to any irrigated dessert and see how desert like it is!
Catweazle
As an increasing proportion of the Earth's population live in cities, this couldn't have anything to do with Urban Heat Island Effect, could it?
holdenmidfield
Are we polluting the atmosphere? Do we have another atmosphere? Should we continue to polluting our only atmosphere?
For the trolls among us, think about it.
ljaques
OHMYGODWEREALLGONNADIEAGAINAGAIN! =IF= the climate heats up, humans will have to adapt, just as we always have. It's called "evolving", and it happens when necessary. (Note that last word.) But even the IPCC doesn't buy all that alarmism, and the IPCC is formed mostly of alarmists. Interesting, isn't it?
bwana4swahili
I'm waiting for this global warming. It should benefit everyone in the northern hemisphere; longer growing seasons, warming temperatures in the Arctic for resource development, an open Arctic for shipping, probably more moisture in the form of rain / snow, etc. Nothing but goodness envisioned from this warming trend!
tsvieps
"Are we polluting the atmosphere? Do we have another atmosphere? Should we continue to polluting our only atmosphere? For the trolls among us, think about it."

This troll thinks CO2 is a warming gas, but not a pollutant. Agriculture production is growing more efficient worldwide due to more CO2 and more water vapor. Deserts are shrinking, not expanding. Cold kills more people than heat, though neither death for cold nor heat is much fun. And certainly, some people will suffer while in some areas people's lives will improve. Biden and Sanders will call me a liar, but their research is weak or they just like to ignore some facts.
RangerJones
OR not
RangerJones
@holdenmidfield "All of the facts on CO2 and climate run contrary to the global-warming alarmism narrative promoted by the United Nations, the Obama administration, the media, and the $360-billion-per-year “climate” industry. But they are facts nonetheless, and it is time for the press to start reporting on them honestly, the climate realist explained.

Speaking at a climate realist summit in Paris as the UN's massive COP21 conference was taking place nearby, Dr. Carter emphasized that there is no climate crisis and that many experts have even been predicting global cooling over the long term.

In an interview with The New American after his presentation, Carter explained that the CO2 added to the atmosphere in recent decades has been responsible for a tremendous greening of the planet. “That's a huge environmental benefit,” he said, adding that much of the greening had occurred along arid areas such as the Sahara Desert.

For agriculture and those who depend on it — essentially everybody who eats food — the increase in CO2 is good news, too. It has also provided huge benefits for oceans, Dr. Carter and other scientists at the Heartland Institute's “Day of Examining the Data” explained.

And contrary to the bizarre demonization of the gas of life as “carbon pollution” by the UN, Obama, and others, it is nothing of the sort.

“If you talk to most scientists, they will acknowledge that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant,” explained Dr. Carter. “Indeed, it's grotesque to call it a pollutant. It's an abuse of logic, it's an abuse of language, and it's an abuse of science.... Carbon dioxide is literally the stuff of life.”