Extreme heat is a health crisis, Columbia experts say

Extreme heat is a health crisis, Columbia experts say
Extreme heat is a health crisis, Columbia experts say

The record-breaking heat Earth endured in the course of the summer season of 2022 will probably be repeated with out a strong worldwide effort to handle local weather change, a panel of scientists warned Monday.

Heat-related deaths, wildfires, excessive rainfall, and chronic drought are anticipated to develop into more and more extreme as each ocean and atmospheric temperatures proceed to rise, the experts mentioned. Even when all greenhouse gasoline emissions ceased at this time, Earth will proceed to heat for a number of a long time.

The presentation, “Earth Collection Digital: Blazing Temperatures, Damaged Data,” featured a multidisciplinary panel of scientific experts from Columbia College.

Radley Horton, a analysis professor at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said that human-induced local weather change has brought about the worldwide common atmospheric temperature to heat by about 2 levels (1.1 levels Celsius) within the final a number of a long time.

“One of many key takeaways is that a little little bit of change in world temperature has an infinite affect,” mentioned Horton. A few of the predominant penalties embrace longer and extra intense heat waves which are hitting more and more bigger areas.

Moreover, Horton mentioned, sure local weather fashions have underestimated simply how excessive sure occasions may be, such because the European heat wave of 2022 and the Pacific Northwest heat wave of 2021.

“We’re locked into a lot of extra local weather hazards, there is no approach round it,” mentioned Horton.

Diana Hernandez, Affiliate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences on the Columbia Mailman Faculty of Public Health, is researching how sure vulnerabilities, resembling medical circumstances or entry to vitality, might be affected by altering local weather domestically and internationally. The anticipated impacts embrace shade inequalities, city heat islands, and inequitable entry to energy-powered medical units.

“The local weather is altering, and we aren’t tailored to have the ability to cope with it from a health perspective,” mentioned Cecilia Sorensen, a doctor and affiliate professor of Environmental Health Sciences on the Columbia College Medical Heart.

Sorensen famous that she and colleagues referred to summer season as “trauma season” early in her profession, even earlier than she targeted on the health impacts of local weather change. “We used to get inundated with sufferers … folks coming in with coronary heart assaults and bronchial asthma exacerbations.”

Regardless of the foreboding local weather projections, the panelists expressed hope that appreciable strides may be made to attenuate future local weather impacts associated to excessive heat.

Hernandez mentioned a community-focused strategy, particularly with an emphasis on engagement that is inclusive, will probably be profitable in implementing a wide selection of local weather adaptation methods.

Sorenson mentioned one answer that may be applied by hospitals is creating emergency room protocols to deal with a massive inflow of sufferers affected by heat stroke or associated circumstances throughout excessive climate. Improved communications are additionally wanted to extend consciousness in regards to the medical dangers of maximum heat and the way impacts may be prevented, she mentioned.

“Inside the issue lies the answer,” mentioned Sorensen.


Related Press local weather and environmental protection receives assist from a number of non-public foundations. See extra about AP’s local weather initiative here. The AP is solely accountable for all content material.

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