As the climate crisis raises average temperatures around the world, new data has revealed that extreme heat is an increasingly pressing problem, outpacing other weather events in its deadline.
Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and even freezing conditions are all dwarfed by the total death toll that occurs each year due to extreme heat, according to findings from the U.S. National Weather Service.
The government agency found that 190 people died from the heat in 2021, far above the decade-long average of 135. The next deadliest weather event was floods, which claimed 146 lives in the same year and 98 on average. in the last decade.
Other dangerous weather conditions included rip currents, cold and tornadoes, all of which are far more deadly in 2021 than the 10-year average.
Extreme heat events, evident in this summer’s record highs around the world, are likely to be both more frequent and more severe due to the climate crisis.
And other extreme weather events, such as floods, hurricanes, and forest fires, are fueled by rising global temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions largely from burning fossil fuels.
In July, nearly all regions of the United States were hit by relentless heatwaves, which put more than 150 million people under heat warnings and warnings. More than 350 new daily high temperature records have been tracked, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Over the past week, abnormally high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest led to at least 20 potential heat-related deaths.
But that pales in comparison to last year’s “heat dome” event in the Pacific Northwest, which killed over 800 people in the United States and Canada. The heatwave, in which the normally temperate region saw mercury reach well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), was considered 150 times more likely due to the climate crisis.
Extreme heat can cause serious health problems when the body becomes severely dehydrated or loses the ability to cool itself. In minor cases, the heat can lead to fainting or cramps, but in more severe cases, the extreme heat can cause heat stroke as the body quickly reaches temperatures above 100F (38C).
Heatstroke can be fatal without emergency medical care. Some of the people most vulnerable to heat sickness are the elderly, young children, pregnant people, and people with underlying health conditions such as heart disease.
Additionally, heat can affect some communities more than others. Outdoor workers, the poorest people, and the homeless are all at greater risk of heat-related health problems, notes the World Health Organization (WHO).
A 2021 study found that in the United States, poorer neighborhoods and neighborhoods with more blacks, Hispanics, and Asians were generally warmer than wealthier, whiter neighborhoods, which can increase the heat load on those communities.
In addition to blistering heat, climate experts also warn of dangerous increases in air humidity, or humidity.
“There are two drivers of climate change: temperature and humidity,” V “Ram” Ramanathan, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Cornell University at the University of California at San Diego, told The Associated Press.
The humidity, combined with the temperature on the thermometer, creates the “apparent temperature”, which is how it feels outside. Additionally, high heat and humidity can raise the “wet bulb” temperature, a measure of how cool the body is.
Scientists have warned that wet bulb temperatures above 95F (35C) are “unbearable” for humans who experience it for at least six hours. While cases of such high wet bulb temperatures are still rare, they are becoming more common around the world, according to NASA.
Much of the United States is facing a warmer-than-average August, according to monthly forecasts from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.
Scalding temperatures returned to the central United States this week, with temperatures hovering around 100F (38C) or higher from Texas to South Dakota.
Much of the central and northeastern United States is subject to a heat warning as high temperatures combined with humidity will cause it to be felt above 90 ° F (32 ° C) or 100 ° F across the northern plains – eastern, southeastern and central. Conditions in southwestern Iowa could hit 45 ° C (113F) on Saturday as heat and humidity take hold.
On Thursday, both Boston, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut broke their daily temperature records when mercury reached 98F (37C) and 96F (36C), respectively.