Extreme heat is a health crisis, scientists warn

tThe record heat experienced by the Earth during the summer of 2022 will be repeated without a strong international effort to tackle climate change, a group of scientists warned on Monday.

heat-related deathWildfires, extreme rainfall and persistent drought are expected to become increasingly severe as both ocean and atmospheric temperatures continue to rise, experts say. Even if all greenhouse gas emissions ceased today, the Earth would continue to warm for several decades.

The presentation, “Virtual Earth Chain: Extreme Heat, Record Broken,” featured a multidisciplinary team of science experts from Columbia University.

Radley Horton, a research professor at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, claims that human-caused climate change has warmed the average global atmospheric temperature by about 2 degrees (1.1 degrees). degrees Celsius) over the past few decades.

Read more: Why extreme heat is harmful to the human body

“One of the key takeaways is that a little change in global temperature has a huge impact,” Horton said. Some of the main consequences include longer and more intense heat waves are attacking larger and larger areas.

In addition, Horton said, certain climate models underestimate the severity of certain events, such as the 2022 European heat wave and the Pacific Northwest heat wave. year 2021.

“We’re stuck in so many climate hazards, there’s no other way to overcome it,” Horton said.

Diana Hernandez, Associate Professor of Social Medical Sciences at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, is studying how certain vulnerabilities, such as medical conditions or access to energy, can be affected by climate change nationally and internationally. Expected impacts include unequal shade, urban heat islands, and unequal access to energy-powered medical devices.

“The climate is changing and we’re not adapted to be able to deal with it from a health perspective,” said Cecilia Sorensen, MD and associate professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University Medical Center. .

Sorensen notes that she and her colleagues have called summer “trauma season” early in her career, even before she focuses on the health effects of climate change. “We were inundated with patients… who came in with heart attacks and asthma attacks.”

Read more: Climate experts are experimenting with new ways to reach those most affected by extreme heat

Despite the foregoing climate projections, panelists expressed hope that significant strides could be made to reduce future climate impacts related to climate change. extreme heat.

Hernandez said a community-focused approach, particularly with an emphasis on inclusive participation, would be successful in implementing a range of climate adaptation strategies.

One solution hospitals could take, Sorenson said, is to develop emergency room procedures to treat large numbers of patients with heatstroke or related conditions during extreme weather. She says improved communications are also needed to raise awareness about the medical risks of extreme heat and how to prevent the effects.

Sorensen said: “In the problem there is a solution.


The Associated Press’s climate and environment coverage receives support from a number of private foundations. See more about AP .’s climate initiative This. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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