A report released on July 31 predicts that the toll from heatwave deaths could rise by up to 2,000 per cent in some parts of the world by 2080. It was published in the online journal PLOS Medicine, and is one of the most extensive studies that has been done in the area.
The study developed a model to estimate heatwave–mortality associations in 412 communities within 20 countries/regions from January 1, 1984 to December 31, 2015. The associations were used to project heatwave-related excess mortality, with projected daily mean temperature series from four scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions during 1971–2099.
The study comes as many countries around the world have been affected by severe heatwaves, leaving thousands dead and tens of thousands more suffering from heatstroke-related illnesses. The collective death toll across India, Greece, Japan and Canada continues to rise as the regions swelter through record temperatures, humidity, and wildfires.
The researchers behind the report believe future heatwaves will be more frequent, more intense and will last much longer.
“If we can’t find a way to offset the climate change to reduce the number of heatwave days, or help people adapt to heatwaves, there will be a big increase of heatwave-related deaths in the future, particularly in the poorer countries located around the equator,” Monash University’s associate professor Yuming Guo said in a statement.
In order to prevent mass population death due to increasingly severe heatwaves, the study recommends the following six adaption interventions, particularly significant for developing countries and tropical and subtropical regions:
- Individual: information provision, adverting
- Interpersonal: Information sharing; communication; persuasive arguments; counselling; peer education
- Community: Strengthening community infrastructure; encouraging community engagement; developing vulnerable people group; livelihoods; neighbourhood watch
- Institutional: Institutional policies; quality standards; formal procedures and regulations; partnership working
- Environmental: Urban planning and management; built environment; planting trees; public available drink water; house quality
- Public policy: Improvement of health services; poverty reduction; redistribution of resources; education; heatwave-warning system.