UN Report Warns Heatwaves Could Make Entire Regions Uninhabitable

Pointing out that extreme weather could push poorer nations to the brink of disaster, the United Nations warned in a new report that climate change-fueled scorching heatwaves could leave some areas of the world virtually uninhabitable over the coming decades.

The new report published jointly on Monday by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Red Cross notes that rising temperatures are driving humanitarian catastrophes around the globe, saying that heatwaves are already fueling catastrophes in some countries and are growing at an alarming rate.

Underscoring that some areas risk becoming practically uninhabitable, the report mentions regions such as the Sahel, and South and South-West Asia where heatwaves could meet and exceed physiological and social limits in the coming decades.

On current trajectories, the impact of these changes would include population movements, large-scale suffering and loss of life, and further entrenched inequality, among other things.

According to the UN’s projections, the number of urban poor people living in extreme heat conditions by the 2050s would increase by 700%, putting highly populated cities among the most vulnerable areas.

Explaining that the world’s poorest will bear the worst effects of the changing climate, the report pointed to staggeringly high projected future death rates from extreme heat, comparing its magnitude by the end of the century to all cancers or all infectious diseases.

The report also found that heat stress-related economic losses will exceed $2.4 trillion worldwide by 2030 prompted by undermined agriculture and livestock systems, degraded natural resources, damaged infrastructure, and increased migration resulting from rising temperatures and more frequent heatwaves.

According to statistics cited by the UN, past heatwaves have also had deadly consequences with more than 70,000 excess deaths in Europe in 2003 and another 55,000 in Russia in 2010.

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