‘LIFE ON A HOT PLATE’; The Impact of Heat Waves on Today’s World

Extreme temperature conditions triggered by intense heat waves are the main cause of weather-related deaths worldwide. Among all the other influences compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lists since 1980, heatwaves stand out as the exception of being the most critical. Heat stress in the human body occurs when it is unable to cool down itself. Sweating usually cools the body itself, but when the humidity is high the sweat does not evaporate quickly and potentially exposes the body to a heat stroke. Excessive heat can cause discomfort and health problems and heat-related illnesses such as heart problems, respiratory problems, and kidney disease. Outdoor workers, children, the elderly, and low-income families become more vulnerable to this because of limited access to cooling facilities. In addition to that, high temperature affects ambient air quality. Also causes evapotranspiration leading to droughts which in turn will increase the risk of wildfires and cause severe damage to the agriculture sector. The prevailing heat conditions will increase the energy consumption of humans for indoor cooling, thereby increasing other types of pollutants in the environment and atmosphere.

Deadly Heat, Extreme Temperature Condition, Heat Waves

Meanwhile, in late June, the US National Weather Service issued a heatwave warning due to the rising dome of high temperature over the north-western United States and Canada. Dozens of people died from the unbearable heat stress. The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) featured a record-breaking temperature of almost Centigrade 50 in Lytton, British Colombia. Absorbing more heat in urban spaces has melted infrastructure cables and tarred roads, and ferocious wildfire has wiped out an entire village.

Wild Fires due to Heat Waves in British Columbia

The Ferocious Wildfire in Lytton

Experts’ emphasize that climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events such as heatwaves. A phenomenon called ‘heat dome’ occurs when the hot surface air during the summer period moves upwards while the high pressure in the atmosphere tries to push the hot air back down to the surface. This compression makes the air on the surface denser and hotter creating a dome with heatwaves. This dome dissipates when the dome size gets larger releasing the trapped air. Heatwaves have become much hotter due to climate change, and it is evident that today we are experiencing extreme levels of that. Further, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Switzerland emphasizes that much higher temperature records can be expected in the future unless we manage to stop greenhouse gas emissions and halt global warming.

Cooling Stations for affected people by Heat Strokes

A cooling station for residents affected by heat strokes

People can stay safe in cooler comfortable indoors or in public places with shelters with proper air conditioning. Drinking water, limiting travel, and exercising helps prevent organ failures due to heat stress. Staying cool in urban areas might get complicated due to the excessive heat absorption of concrete buildings and asphalt roads. Planning and designing cities with more greenery, waterways, green parks, and green alleyways will certainly be helpful to city dwellers in reducing the impact of heat stress.
Global heating and Declining productivity
Outdoor Laborers suffer from Extreme Heat
Photo By: dailyrecord.co.uk
However, low-income workers around the world who are unable to withstand the heat, continue to suffer from this kind of climate change crisis and their poverty increases as their productivity hours remain low, due to the increased heat stress. They are earning less than the ones who work indoors and even they are suffering from economic inequality. And this will raise the growing problem of loss of labor productivity with rising temperatures and will create an economic recession in the world.
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