Unbearably hot temperatures are already testing the limits of human survival; they will continue to rise, challenging our body’s ability to resist, making parts of the world more uninhabitable.
Scientists say urgent steps are needed to help people adapt to the extreme heat, including rethinking our lifestyle, working out and blowing up AC.
“Extreme heat will become more problematic in the future,” said Professor Blair Feltmate, director of the Center for Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, Ontario.
India and Pakistan have seen it recently The temperature rises to 50 ° C, killing at least 90 people and destroying agricultural crops. South Asia, Africa, Australia, Gulf states now stand Potentially lethal combinations of heat and humidity – conditions that scientists did not expect until the end of this century.
Canada is also experiencing extreme heat. 595 people died of heatstroke in British Columbia last summer. Ք.ա. The village of Leighton set a new Canadian temperature record of 49.6 C on June 29, before being destroyed by a forest fire the next day. The same “thermal dome” left the soil dry, contributing to BC. months after the catastrophic flood.
Feltmate is one of the authors the latest report, which warns of a “potentially deadly future.” In terms of heat for Canadians, especially those living in BC. in the interior, along the US border, in Prairie, in southern Ontario, in Quebec.
“We are going to see extreme heat events that will make what we saw in British Columbia last year during the heat dome look relatively mild,” Feltmat said.
How does heat affect our body?
When you are exposed to prolonged heat, you may feel sluggish as your organs work harder to keep you cool and alive.
Your heart beats faster to pump blood to the skin, where it can freeze. Sweat can also help cool the body, but it gets harder as the humidity rises.
In the extreme case of heat stroke, your body usually begins to cook, destroying cells and causing organ damage.
“It’s a lot like cooking an egg,” says Professor Steven Chung, a stress physiology expert at Brook University in St. Catherine, Ont.
“The reason for the transition from a liquid to a solid white mass is that the proteins have changed. If your body just keeps warming up, it can’t control its temperature, eventually your proteins will do the same thing in your cells. »:
Sitting in the shade խմ Drinking water is not enough when you already have a heat stroke. “It may freeze [an overheating person] “As fast as possible, ideally by immersing them in as cold water as possible,” said Chung.
Being too hot at bedtime can make it difficult for us to fall asleep, which can lead to bad decisions, injuries, and a detrimental effect on people’s mental health, says Michael Brower, a professor at the School of Population at Columbia University in the United Kingdom. առողջ Public health.
“The night temperature is very strong. It really tries to cool your bedroom enough, to cool your body so much that you can sleep. ”
Beating in the heat
For all those who think they can train to withstand the scorching heat, Chung, who helped Canadian athletes prepare for the heat and humidity at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, says it is possible to some extent. Our core body temperature can adjust to higher temperatures over a period of about two weeks with gradual, continuous exposure.
But “in terms of global warming, it’s a Band-Aid solution.”
“The biggest advantage, in a sense, that people have over other animals, is our behavior. “That we can develop things like housing, air conditioning, better clothes, etc.,” Chung said. “But it does have its costs, whether it keeps us going or whether it increases the power consumption of the air conditioner.”
Many people are unable to stay indoors և to stay cool, including those whose work is associated with physical activity outside, such as farmers or people doing physical work.
In the future, Feltmey says, the workday should be changed so that those workers can avoid the hottest part of the day, such as starting work at 5:30 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m.
Cities themselves need to be frozen, including building design, re-equipping for heat, planting more trees, and painting roofs white to reflect light instead of absorbing light, Feltmate said.
He says that it is very important that residential buildings have a backup power supply to ensure air conditioning, and that the air conditioners continue to operate if there is a power outage.
Lack of urgency
As clear as the measures may sound, Feltmate says Canadian cities and governments are moving almost fast enough, despite warnings of the devastating loss of life from extreme heat.
“What is missing in the equation, more than anything else, is a lack of appreciation for the urgent need to adapt.”
Adapting also means making a plan for when the places actually become too hot for human livingas expected in parts of the Persian Gulf, South Asia, Central America, and West Africa by the end of the century.
“There are real thresholds that our bodies can accept even when you’re adjusted. Տարածաշրջ The Gulf region is beginning to cross those thresholds more regularly,” said Cascade Tukholski, a researcher at Columbia University’s International Earth Science Information Network. The study focuses on the effects of deadly urban heat.
Poorer countries, where people rely on subsistence farming, may see mass migration to cities that have not been able to cope with the rising heat.
That’s why global climate change solutions are so important, Tukholski said.
“I’m really questioning the viability of the most populated areas of the planet without the extreme heat of adaptation. “The future really depends on the present, how much we are reducing the heat now.”
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