Heat waves are the new deadly normal on the planet

Heat waves are the new deadly normal on the planet

A few days after the end of the month, it can already be concluded that July has been a very hot month. Heat waves are an expression of a real global emergency, in the face of which governments have to take actions that mitigate the suffering of millions of people, according to a report by the International Red Cross.

In recent weeks, climatology experts have monitored an abnormal heat wave in the Canadian Arctic, droughts around Harare and Chennai, and forest fires in southern France or Spain, which have sent tourists fleeing towns. on fire.

Therefore, the International Red Cross has warned that heat waves are more and more frequent on the planet, so that they are "the new normal".

Therefore, we must improve how the world "plays" its responses to the potentially fatal consequences of these expressions of climate change.

"Heat waves are one of the deadliest natural hazards facing humanity and the threat they pose will only become more serious and more widespread as the climate change crisis continues."said Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC in French).

“However, the good news is that heat waves are also predictable and avoidable. The actions that authorities can take to save lives and significantly reduce suffering are simple and affordable ”, he added during the presentation of the "Heat Waves Guide for Cities at the United Nations".

The 96-page Guide, launched on Tuesday 16 of this month, is designed to help mayors of cities and other localities prepare for frequent heat waves in the northern and southern summers, including staying alert and prepared for episodes of very high temperatures and working very hard to save lives when they arise.

According to the report, some 5 billion people live in regions where extreme heat can be predicted days or weeks in advance. This gives conscientious officers and CEOs enough time to reduce imminent harm.

Suggestions for heat waves

Researchers must inform people how severe a heat wave will be, prepare medical personnel to respond, set up "cooling centers" for people without air conditioning, and distribute clean water.

They also offered many architectural ideas, asking for more trees and gardens to protect buildings from sunlight, gardens on roofs, and layers of reflective paint that bounce off the sun's rays.

According to the report, restricting the use of cars and having people use more public transport, walk and cycle are also measures that would "significantly reduce" the heat emissions, pollution and greenhouse gases that are behind of climate change.

In particular, officials should focus on people who are most likely to experience dehydration, heat stroke and other health problems, such as the elderly, pregnant women, infants and people who live alone.

"Heat waves are silent killers because they take the lives of people who are already vulnerable"said Rocca, an Italian national. "It is vital that everyone knows how to prepare for them and limit their impact", he claimed.


According to the report, 17 of the 18 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.

So far this century, several major heat waves have killed tens of thousands of people around the world, including one that struck India in 2015 and killed 2,500 people, and another that occurred in several countries. in Europe where 70,000 people died.

The extreme temperatures seen in Western Europe last month were partly the result of climate change, according to the report, citing evidence that global warming made the heat spell at least five times more likely.

The IFRC launched its report in the framework of a high-level political forum at the United Nations headquarters in New York, dedicated to climate action and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Earlier this month, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, warned that small-scale climate-related disasters were occurring "at the rate of one per week", although most attract little attention.

Mizutori told the British daily The Guardian that the "minor impact events" that caused death and displacement were happening more frequently than anticipated, and urged politicians to "talk more about adaptation and resilience."

By James Reinl

Video: Record temperature heatwave in Europe: The new normal? DW News (January 2021).