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Heat-Related Deaths Likely to Increase as Global Temperatures Rise


Scientists warn that many people could die because of extreme temperatures if the world does not meet the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Adopted in 2015, the Paris Agreement binds nations to hold warming well below 2 degrees Celsius in global mean temperature, relative to pre-industrial levels.

Researchers evaluated global temperature-related health impacts under scenarios consistent with the Paris Agreement. The reduction of cold-related deaths in a warming scenario were considered to estimate the net change of deaths. The results of the study show a dramatic increase of heat-related deaths under warming of 3°C and 4°C compared to the mildest warming of 1.5°C.

When comparing 2°C versus 1.5°C warming, the picture gets more complex. A net increase of deaths (less than 1 percent) was still projected for warmer regions of South America, South Europe, and South-East Asia. However, in colder regions, the excess mortality was predicted to stay stable or slightly decrease.

Assuming warming of regions is kept below 2°C, a large increase of temperature-related deaths could be limited in most regions. A global warming less than 1.5°C could provide additional benefits in tropical or arid regions.

Antonio Gasparrini, co-author of the study, says:

“We hope that the results will help convince nations to take decisive actions by implementing ambitious climate policies consistent with the Paris Agreement in an effort to save lives. Currently, we are on a trajectory to reach over 3°C of warming, and if this trend continues there would be serious consequences for health in many parts of the world.”

How to Prevent Heat Related Illnesses

Heat related deaths are preventable, making it very important to practice heat safety. Protect yourself and others from the impacts by following a few guidelines shown in the below graphic.

Not all heat-related illnesses should be treated the same. Heat exhaustion may be treated at-home by cooling off and drinking water. On the other hand, a heat stroke is much more serious and requires emergency response. Knowing the difference between the two may help save a life!

[via Science Direct]

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