The United Nations and the Red Cross warned on Monday that within a few decades, heatwaves would become so extreme in some parts of the world that human life will become unsustainable.
In the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and south and southwest Asia, heatwaves are expected to “beyond human physiological and societal boundaries,” resulting in “large-scale misery and loss of life,” according to the organizations.
In a joint assessment, they cautioned that this year’s heatwave disasters in places like Pakistan and Somalia portend deadlier, more frequent, and more severe heat-related humanitarian problems in the future.
In preparation of the UN’s COP27 climate change meeting in Egypt next month, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) released the report.
They listed measures that could lessen the worst effects of high heat and stated that quick action was required to prevent potentially reoccurring heat disasters.
According to the paper, “there are established thresholds beyond which those exposed to excessive heat and humidity cannot survive.”
In addition, society may find it difficult to provide everyone with an appropriate adaptation at such extreme heat levels.
According to current course, heatwaves could reach and beyond these physiological and societal thresholds in the ensuing decades, even in places like the Sahel and south and southwest Asia.
This would result in “large-scale misery and loss of life, population movements, and further entrenched inequity,” it was told.
In the future decades, the number of at-risk individuals in developing countries would significantly increase as a result of the consequences of ageing, global warming, and urbanization coupled.
The research stated that the projected death rates from extreme heat were “staggeringly high” and “staggeringly unequal,” and that they would be “equivalent in scale by the end of the century to all malignancies or all infectious diseases.”
According to the paper, there is a higher risk of disease and death for agricultural workers, kids, the elderly, and pregnant and nursing women.
The most vulnerable people are being struck the hardest by extreme weather events like heatwaves and floods, according to UN humanitarian director Martin Griffiths.
The impact is felt most brutally in nations that are already struggling with poverty, conflict, and starvation.
At COP27, IFRC Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain urged nations to spend money on climate change adaptation and mitigation in the most vulnerable areas.
In order to lessen the effects of intense heatwaves, OCHA and the IFRC proposed five primary actions, including early information to assist people and authorities react in time and finding innovative ways to finance local-level action.
Additionally, they involved testing additional “thermally-appropriate” emergency shelters and “cooling centres” and influencing towns to adjust their development plans to account for potential effects of excessive heat.