This factor will do more health damage than all infectious diseases combined

Extinction of species, accelerated melting of glaciers, extreme heat… These numerous climatic catastrophes and meteorological disasters affect the planet but also our health on a daily basis. And for good reason, if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight against global warming, the resulting rise in temperatures will cause more deaths than all the main infectious diseases. This is the observation made by researchers in a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, relayed on August 4 by the British daily The Guardian.

Rising temperatures: 73 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants by the end of the century

According to the study, if no action is taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming, global heat-related death rates will increase by 73 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants by the end of the year. century. A figure that almost matches the current number of deaths from all infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, dengue and yellow fever.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers drew on data from 40 countries on deaths and rising temperatures to determine the link between the two. Scientists have also focused on the direct causes of death, such as heatstroke or a less obvious factor such as heart attacks that occur during a heatwave.

The rise in temperatures would be particularly deadly in poor countries

According to the study, the rise in temperatures would wreak havoc especially in poor regions and countries, located in the hottest areas of the world. These territories will find it difficult to adapt to these conditions, which will cause more and more victims. These countries include Ghana, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sudan, which will face an additional 200 or more deaths per 100,000 population. Richer countries in colder parts of the world, such as Norway and Canada, will see a drop in the number of deaths. The simple reason is that fewer and fewer people will freeze to death.

“Even if they experience an increase in the death rate, rich countries will be able to pay to adapt to the change. In reality, it is the people who have contributed the least to global warming who will suffer.”, explained to the British daily Amir Jina, environmental economist at the University of Chicago and co-author of the study.

Fragile people would be more affected by rising temperatures

“Many elderly people are dying from the indirect effects of heat”, stressed the economist. According to him, vulnerable people, suffering from heart disease for example, would also be more affected by high heat. “A situation strangely similar to the Covid”, he continued.

In the worst-case scenario, greenhouse gas emissions would continue to increase, resulting in an average increase in global temperature of more than 3 degrees by 2100. In the opposite case, where emissions would be rapidly reduced , deaths linked to rising temperatures would decrease by a third compared to the most severe scenario, the researchers found.

“It is plausible that we could have the worst-case scenario and that it involves drastic measures like the emigration of many people (…). Just like when Covid overwhelms a healthcare system, it is difficult to say what is happening. will pass when climate change puts states up to the wall. So we absolutely need to understand climate risk and invest to mitigate it, before we start to see the consequences. “, said Amir Jina.

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