Wednesday, June 07, 2017

India’s Punishing Heat Waves More Deadly with Warming

Women in India try to keep cool during a stifling heat wave in May 2015.  (Credit: Zuma Press) Click to Enlarge.
Heat waves in India have become more extreme and significantly more deadly even with the relatively moderate amount of human-driven warming that has occurred over the past few decades, new research shows.

Coming on the heels of President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris agreement, which seeks to limit that warming to 2°C above preindustrial levels, the study lays bare how even meeting that goal could translate to major health impacts in developing countries like India with large, vulnerable populations.

“It’s very clear, we have very, very strong scientific evidence not only that global warming is already happening and that humans are the primary cause of that global warming, but that we are experiencing the impacts of that warming here and now,” Noah Diffenbaugh, a Stanford climate scientist who wasn’t involved in the work, said.

The results also suggest that heat-related deaths could potentially rise exponentially if the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming continue unabated, the authors of the study, detailed Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, said.

That rising global temperature will lead to more, and more intense, extreme heat events is one of the clearest findings of climate science.  Several studies have already found the fingerprints of the nearly 2°F (1°C) of warming over the past century in today’s heat waves.

Further warming will only intensify the trend:  A 2016 study found that heat waves that would typically only happen about once every 20 years now could become an annual threat for more than half the world’s land area if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t curtailed.

Read more at India’s Punishing Heat Waves More Deadly with Warming

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