Heat-related deaths projected to soar by 370% by 2050

Written by Jeppe W

Nov.15 - 2023 9:22 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com

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A new analysis involving over 100 experts from 52 research institutions and United Nations agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), has issued a dire warning.

The annual number of heat-related deaths across the globe could rise by a staggering 370% by the middle of this century.

This alarming projection, published in the medical journal The Lancet, is contingent on global temperatures increasing by two degrees compared to pre-industrial revolution levels.

Currently, global temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees. If the two-degree increase scenario materializes, the world could witness a drastic escalation in heat-related fatalities, particularly affecting the elderly.

Over the past decade, deaths among people over 65 due to higher temperatures have already increased by 47% compared to 1991-2000.

In 2022 alone, humanity experienced an average of 86 days of temperatures high enough to pose a health risk. This exposure led to approximately 61,000 deaths in Europe due to heatwaves.

Marina Romanello, responsible for overseeing the report, emphasizes the cost of inaction on climate change, stating, "We are paying with lives."

The report also highlights the economic impact of heat exposure, with a loss of 490 billion work hours in 2022, a 42% increase from the 1991-2000 period.

Despite another year of temperature records and extreme weather events, the world's collective efforts fall significantly short of meeting the goals set by the Paris Agreement to avert the worst consequences of climate change.

This shortfall was recently confirmed in a report by the UN's Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) ahead of the major climate summit, COP28, in the United Arab Emirates.

This study serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for decisive action against climate change, not just to preserve the environment but to save human lives and safeguard economic stability.

The rising temperatures and their devastating impact on health and labor highlight a critical juncture in global climate policy, requiring immediate and concerted effort to prevent a catastrophic future.

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