Hot weather warning: New ‘extreme heat’ alert – plea for ‘immediate and urgent’ action

BBC Weather: UK set for 'sunnier skies' and dry conditions

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Papers published in independent medical journal ‘The Lancet’, explores the effect of events such as wildfires. They have linked extreme heat to increased illness and death. There is a “pressing need” to understand and create effective prevention and response measures, according to the paper released on August 19.

The academics recommend “immediate and urgent globally coordinated efforts to mitigate climate change and increase resilience to extreme heat to limit additional warming, avoid permanent and substantial extreme heat worldwide, and save lives by protecting the most vulnerable people”.

The authors also claim that, even with strategies in place to slow climate change, global temperatures will continue to rise.

The release of the new series – comprised of two papers – follows a staggering number of wildfires in the US, Greece, Algeria, Turkey, Siberia and France.

The blazes have been labelled some of the largest and most deadly in history.

Over 600 deaths have been attributed to fires which ravaged the Pacific Northwest this summer.

The authors of the paper also estimate around 1.7 million deaths were linked to extreme climate events in 2019 – 356,000 of which were attributed to heat.

According to the paper, hot ambient conditions and associated heat stress can lead to a host of negative health conditions.

Heat stress can exacerbate several different heart and lung problems and can be dangerous for those with pre-existing health conditions.

It can also “increase adverse pregnancy outcomes and negatively affect mental health.”

The research adds: “High heat stress can also reduce physical work capacity and motor-cognitive performances, with consequences for productivity, and increase the risk of occupational health problems.”

According to the European Space Agency, “fire affects an estimated four million square kilometres (1.5 million sq miles) of Earth’s land each year” – an area larger than India.

A UN report earlier this month blamed the ‘unprecedented’ changes on human activity.

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In addition, the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters has estimated at least 470 wildfire disasters – classed as incidents which have killed more than 10 people or affected more than 100 – have caused at least $120bn in damages.

The Lancet paper posits: “Without investment in research and risk management actions, heat-related morbidity and mortality are likely to increase.”

On August 24, Sydney university will hold a webinar allowing the paper’s authors to present their findings.

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