Deadly heatwaves could affect 74% of the world’s population by 2100

Seventy-four percent of the world’s population will be exposed to deadly heatwaves by 2100 if carbon gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change. Even if emissions are aggressively reduced, the percent of the world’s human population affected is expected to reach 48 percent.

“We are running out of choices for the future,” said Camilo Mora, associate professor of geography in the College of Social Sciences and lead author of the study. “For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible. Many people around the world are already paying the ultimate price of heatwaves, and while models suggest that this is likely to continue, it could be much worse if emissions are not considerably reduced. The human body can only function within a narrow range of core body temperatures around 37°C. Heatwaves pose a considerable risk to human life because hot weather, aggravated with high humidity, can raise body temperature, leading to life threatening conditions.”

Co-authors include Bénédicte Dousset at the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP), and Iain R. Caldwell and Chelsie W. W. Counsell at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB).

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