Heat this summer has already put millions of people around the world at risk. China is experiencing a scorching new heat wave less than two weeks after temperatures broke records in Beijing. Extreme temperatures in India last month have been linked to deaths in some of its poorest regions, while last week saw a dangerous heat dome cover Texas and northern Mexico.
The extreme weather may put more pressure on global leaders to curb greenhouse gas emissions generated from burning coal, oil and natural gas that trap heat in the atmosphere. The effects of climate change are being exacerbated by the arrival of the first El Niño in almost four years.
It’s likely the world will exceed 1.5C of warming “in the near term,” with efforts on climate action still insufficient, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in March in a report summarizing five years of its own research. Global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut to 60% below 2019 levels by 2035, according to the report, and climate-related risks are rising with every increment of warming.
The “dangerous” heat dome over Texas was a non-event for most people living in the region. Every home has an air conditioner. Singapore’s Lew Kwan Yew was well aware of the benefit gained from air conditioning given their hot humid climate. It was a major contributor to economic productivity. Additionally, air conditioning is a great moderator in the spread of malaria which is a growing concern as average temperatures rise in previously temperate zones. (Europe, USA).
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