Nearly 5 billion people lived under extreme temperatures in June, study finds

More than 60 percent of the world’s population endured extreme heat caused by the climate crisis during nine days in mid-June, according to a new study.

Approximately 5 billion people were living in extreme temperatures that were at least three times more likely due to the climate crisis.

The study, published by Climate Central, covered the period from June 16 to 24.

Andrew Pershing, vice president for science at Climate Central, said the heatwave was an “unnatural disaster.”

“More than a century of burning coal, oil and natural gas has given us an increasingly dangerous world,” he said.

“The heat waves occurring around the world this summer are unnatural disasters that will become more common until carbon pollution stops.”

In India, which recorded its longest ever heatwave this summer, at least 619 million people, over half the population, experienced intense heat, with maximum temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celsius and lows at night of 37 degrees Celsius.

The intense heat wave led to over 40,000 cases of heatstroke and over 100 deaths, according to official figures which are likely to be undercounts.

Even China saw temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius, the highest ever recorded in June. Wuhan warned of possible electricity rationing due to increased demand for air conditioning.

Countries with the highest impact of climate change from June 16 to 24
Countries with the highest impact of climate change from June 16 to 24 (Central climate)

In Saudi Arabia, at least 1,300 people died of heat-related illnesses during the Haj pilgrimage, with temperatures in some cities exceeding 50 degrees Celsius.

“The ClimaMeter report highlights that the deadly heat during this year’s Hajj is directly linked to the burning of fossil fuels and has affected the most vulnerable pilgrims,” ​​said Davide Faranda, a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research.

The United States faced back-to-back heat waves with southern states experiencing temperatures of 52 degrees Celsius.

New York saw a 500-600 percent increase in heat-related emergency visits, with temperatures as high as 2 degrees Celsius due to the climate crisis.

The Mediterranean also suffered, with Greece’s Acropolis closing after temperatures soared above 43 degrees Celsius. Six tourists, including British TV doctor Michael Mosley, died.

In Egypt, temperatures around 50 degrees Celsius led to daily power outages to manage increased energy consumption.

A man carries air coolers during a severe heat wave in the Indian city of Varanasi
A man carries air coolers during a severe heat wave in the Indian city of Varanasi (AFP via Getty)

Extreme heat spread across the Southern Hemisphere, breaking records in Paraguay and Peru.

“Oil-rich countries around the world must heed the calls of the UN secretary-general and scientists by resolutely and phasing out fossil fuels,” said Imam Saffet Catovic, director of UN Operations. in Justice for All. “These fuels cause the climate crisis.”

Extreme heat is a well-documented effect of the climate crisis, which is caused by the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Extreme heat waves that used to occur once every 50 years now occur nearly five times more often and are 1.5C warmer, according to the IPCC, the UN’s top panel of climate scientists.

Scientists have warned that extreme heat waves could become much more frequent and harm more people if fossil fuel use continues at its current rate.

“The climate crisis is the biggest threat to human rights globally,” said Johnny White, a lawyer at ClientEarth, an environmental law charity.

“The loss of life and damage to human well-being will only increase if systemic emitters do not rapidly curb fossil fuels, causing dangerous heatstrokes and other extreme weather events.”

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