Rising humidity levels will greatly increase and worsen the effects of rising temperatures on people in many parts of the world — up to the point of precluding the possibility for survival in the regions in question — according to a new study from the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
To be more particular, heat + humidity remain underestimated by those looking to prepare for further climate warming — with the reality being that productivity in many regions will be greatly impacted over just the coming decades.
The areas mots likely to severely impacted, according to the new study, are: the southeastern US, the Amazon, northern India, eastern China, western and central Africa, and portions of the Middle East.
“The conditions we’re talking about basically never occur now — people in most places have never experienced them,” explained lead study author Ethan Coffel, of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
“Failure to adopt both mitigation and adaptation measures is likely to result in suffering, economic damage, and increased heat-related mortality.”
Reuters provides more: “Current and projected ‘wet bulb’ temperatures — which reflect the combined effects of heat and humidity — found that by the 2070s, high wet-bulb readings that now occur maybe once a year could prevail 100–250 days of the year in some parts.
“Rising temperatures may make low-latitude developing nations in the Asian subcontinent, the Middle East, Africa, and South America practically uninhabitable during the summer months, another report earlier this year noted. With muggy heat, the air is already heavy with moisture, so sweat stops evaporating, halting a process to cool the body. If there is no air conditioning, organs strain and can start to fail.
“This can lead to lethargy, sickness and, in the worst conditions, death, according to the new study.”
“It’s not just about the heat … it’s about how many people are poor, how many are old, who has to go outside to work, who has air conditioning,” stated Alex de Sherbinin at Columbia’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network.
Well, perhaps, but what it’s even more about is the ability of such conditions to effectively end agricultural activity in the regions in question — which is something that would (or will) have a profound effect on every single person in the now “globalized” world.
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