The world is faced with brutal heat waves this summer. Recently, more than 2,000 people have died in Portugal and Spain due to the extreme heat and blazing wildfires.
Scientists have been working hard to understand the limits of resilience that humans can show to heat extremes as the temperature continues to rise due to climate change.
Amidst this, research has suggested that heat stress tolerance in humans may be lower than what was earlier thought. If the results of this research prove to be true, it would lead to millions of people being at the risk of succumbing to dangerous levels of temperature, much sooner than expected.
According to Vivek Shandas, an Environmental Planning and Climate Adaptation Researcher at Portland State University in Oregon, the human bodies have the capability to acclimate to temperature changes over a period of time and have weathered many climate shifts over geologic time.
“But we are in a time when these shifts are happening much more quickly,” he adds.
Only halfway through 2022, the heat waves have ravaged many countries. Beginning in June and then continuing through July, heat alerts blared across Europe causing droughts and sparking wildfires.
The hottest-ever day was recorded in the United Kingdom on July 19 when temperatures reached 40.3° Celsius in an English village. The extreme heat also fueled fires in France which forced people to vacate their homes.
Temperatures headed toward 42° Celsius in Seville, Spain, on July 24, making it the first city in the world to officially give a name to heat wave- Heat Wave Zoe.
Apart from Europe, parts of Asia and America have also come under the radar of these scorching heat waves. In June, Japan recorded its worst heat wave since 1875 resulting in the country’s highest-ever recorded temperature to be 40.2° Celsius. In some Chinese cities, the temperature rose above 40° Celsius. The US was also gripped by a series of heat waves in June and July.
It is a major concern for the whole world since heat waves have very harmful impacts on health. It can lead to heat cramps, exhaustion and stroke which could be fatal. Dehydration causes diseases relating to the kidney and the heart. Extreme heat also has an impact on our behaviour. It can increase our aggression, lessen or focus and cause irritation.
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