15/11/2023 – 7:40
The number of people at risk of dying from the effects of extreme heat could increase fivefold in the coming decades, scientists warn in a report published this Wednesday (15).
“The health of humanity is in grave danger,” say the authors of the 2023 edition of the landmark document published annually by the medical journal The Lancet.
The work states that in a scenario of an average temperature increase of 2ºC compared to the pre-industrial period until the end of the century, heat-related deaths could increase by 4.7 times by 2050.
The report is published just a few days before the start, on November 30, of the UN climate meeting, COP28 in Dubai, which for the first time will have sessions dedicated to health.
The analysis highlights that, on average, the planet’s inhabitants were exposed to 86 days of potentially fatal temperatures in 2022.
It also indicates that the number of people over 65 who died from heat increased by 85% between the periods 1991-2000 and 2013-2022.
According to estimates, 2023 will be the hottest year recorded in human history.
“The effects currently observed may be just an early symptom of a very dangerous future,” said Marina Romanello, executive director of the study.
In the document, scientists highlight that heat is just one of the climatic factors that can contribute to increased mortality.
Nearly 520 million more people will face moderate or severe food insecurity by mid-century, according to projections.
And infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes are expected to continue to spread. Dengue transmission, for example, could increase by 36%.
Given the many impacts, more than 25% of the cities analyzed by scientists could see their health systems collapse.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commented on the report and stated that “humanity faces an intolerable future”.
“We are already seeing catastrophe unfolding for the health and livelihoods of billions of people around the world, threatened by record heat waves, crop-devastating droughts, rising levels of hunger, growing outbreaks of infectious diseases, deadly storms and floods. ,” he said in a statement.