23 October 2013, 17:49

Inhuman climate: weather on Earth is increasingly insuitable for human life

Inhuman climate: weather on Earth is increasingly insuitable for human life

Over the last 30 years the number of people in Europe who die from abnormal heat or cold has grown by several times. A similar situation is being found in other parts of the world. Any further climate change would lead to an even higher death rate. Nature Climate Change magazine has published that information based on research by Swedish scientists. A number of experts connect this tendency to global warming. Others counter that point of view stating that modern human beings are worse adapted to the environment and are becoming less adjusted to life.

The report was prepared based on European data. Since 1980 twice as many people died from abnormal temperatures than in the previous 80 years. The situation is similar in other regions. People in Asia, Africa and America are dying more often from extreme heat or cold. According to Eugeny Tishkovets, a leading researcher at the Fobos Weather Center, the trend is connected to global climate change.

"According to the data of climatologists, the last half a century has witnessed the most intensive rate of temperature growth in the last 1,300 years. The temperature on the planet has gone up practically by one degree and the temperature of the global ocean increased by .7 degrees, while the level of water has risen by 22 cm, the permafrost zone has moved to the north at the rate of 1.5 km per year and the area of sea ice has been reduced by three times over the last 50 years. The number of days with abnormal hot temperatures has significantly gone up over the past half a century and the number of extremely cold spells has significantly gone up as well. Such a climatic pendulum adversely affects the people's health."

It seems that one degree Celsius is no big deal. But that is an average for the entire planet per year. It real life it translates into a couple of weeks of abnormal heat in the summer and extreme cold in winter – and tens of thousands of deaths from the rise of heart problems and other health problems in that period of time. The statistics are scary. As a result of the terrible heat and drought in the summer of 2010, 55 thousand people died in Russia. In 2003 similar weather was observed in Europe. Back then the heat took over 70 thousand European lives. This past summer 60 thousand Japanese were hospitalized with heat stroke; many of them did not survive.

One should not assume that in the past people did not react to weather anomalies. Even in ancient scripts there are entries about the deathly effects of the sun. But in the past natural selection worked better, thinks Alexey Kokorin, the director of the "Climate and Energy" program of the World Wild Life Fund.

"In the past generations infant mortality was very high, as well as the mortality of older people. Now these figures have decreased sharply. Based on that, we have a lot more elderly people and unhealthy children, who are more sensitive to climate change. Roughly speaking, when the plague was rampant in Europe, people did not care if they had a migraine during the sharp changes in the weather."

Civilization brought people the benefits of progress in medicine, but it spoils their health at the same time. Even the air conditioning that saves lives also brings danger: by cooling down the room temperature it takes out the hot air from the building into the street. There one can already find heated concrete buildings, heated pavement, a huge number of cars and industrial enterprises. As a result, in the summer, in closely built cities, night temperatures are not much lower than the day temperatures. In addition, heat increases the effect of the poisonous emissions into the atmosphere. People have an oxygen deficit, while global warming increases, points out Alexey Kokorin.

"The main factor of human influence on the climate is the increase in the greenhouse effect. It comes primarily from burning extracted energy sources, such as coal, gas, oil and petroleum products. Obviously, at some point humankind will switch over to the "green energy". Despite the fact that we have plenty of coal, we find new deposits of gas all the time; it will be over in any case. But so far all is predetermined for the next 20-30 years. By decreasing the emissions and switching over to a "green economy" today we are creating a head start for the 2040-2050s."

And until then, the sad trend will continue. Specialists believe that the death rate from weather anomalies will increase in all regions of the world. But it will be most noticeable in the Southeast Asia, Western and Central Europe, the eastern part of South America and the South of Australia. In Russia the European part of the country, the Urals and Western Siberia are the most sensitive regions.

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