‘Sharp increase’ in global heat-wave deaths expected by 2080: Study

August 1, 2018

Deaths related to severe heat waves across the world are likely to increase by over 470 percent by the year 2080, according to Australian researchers raising the alarm that governments should prepare for the fallout from intense temperatures.

Excess mortality will increase sharply in tropical and subtropical countries and regions while European countries and the United States will have a smaller percent increase in deaths related to heat waves, according to the study by researchers from Monash University in Melbourne.

“Future heatwaves in particular will be more frequent, more intense and will last much longer,” Fuming Guo, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

“If we cannot find a way to mitigate the climate change (reduce the heatwave days) and help people adapt to heatwaves, there will be a big increase of heatwave-related deaths in the future, particularly in the poor countries located around the equator.”

Already this year, at least 65 people in Japan and 70 in Canada have died from heat-related illness, with tens of thousands hospitalized because of soaring temperatures.

The World Health Organization estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause an estimated 250,000 excess deaths globally, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.

The latest report, published in the journal Plos Medicine on Tuesday, projected the future death toll based on different scenarios contributing to rising degrees, including greenhouse gas emission levels, emergency response plans and population density across regions.

Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne looked at 412 communities in 20 countries looking at past data on heat-wave deaths and projecting for the future.

Of their results, they estimate that there will be a 2,000 percent increase in deaths in Colombia, compared to a 150 percent increase in heat-wave deaths in Moldova.

In three cities in Australia, deaths during heat waves are expected to increase by 471 percent.

“If the Australia government cannot put effort into reducing the impacts of heatwaves, more people will die because of heatwaves in the future,” Mr. Guo, who is also an associate professor at the university, said.