Health effects of extreme high temperatures

The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly clear, and the impact of high temperatures is felt universally. AirClim has co-published a report about the health effects of extreme high temperatures. The objective is to give a concise summary of heat-related health effects, the most vulnerable populations, the regions that are most exposed to extreme heat, and different future scenarios of global warming.

It stresses that without action, a very different future awaits many of us. In some regions around the world the rising temperatures will result in summers with even more frequent and severe heatwaves and limitations on what today are seen as normal outdoor activities. In other regions, populations risk facing year-round deadly heat if no mitigation efforts are put in place, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The effects of anthropogenic climate change are already noticeable, as global warming of around 1°C has generated an increase in heat-related morbidity and mortality around the world. The most affected populations are those that are already marginalised, with limited access to adaptive capacities to cope with temperature rises.

To protect planetary and human health as much as possible it is vital to act – urgently. Keeping global warming at 1.5°C would reduce climate hazards and health risks, but cannot eliminate them all. Hence it is, even in the best future scenario, necessary to prepare for increased exposure to extreme heat. At the current pace of global decarbonisation we are, however, unlikely to meet the Paris Agreement ambitions to keep global warming well below 2°C. Instead, we are heading towards a future that endangers the health of us all. Nevertheless, there is still time to change direction – there is still time to act.

Hanna Slogén

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