Global warming will lead to more frequent, longer and more intense studies in the future which will inevitably cause more deaths, a shock study has revealed.
Most of those deaths will come in tropical and subtropical regions, followed closely by Australia, Europe and the United States, the research published in PLOS Medicine found.
In a world first, scientists developed a model to estimate the amount of people that will die related to heatwaves in 412 communities across 20 countries for the period of 2031 to 2080.
The model analysed heatwaves heatwaves in the future under different scenarios characterised by levels of greenhouse gas emissions, preparedness and adaption strategies and population density across these regions.
Study lead and Monash University, Australia, Associate Professor Yuming Guo said: “Future heatwaves in particular will be more frequent, more intense and will last much longer.
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.”
The worst case scenario could see a 471 percent spike in heatwave deaths by 2080 – which is the equivalent of 52,000 people.
Associate Professor Antonio Gasparrini, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and study co-author, said: “Worryingly, research shows that is it highly likely that there will be an increase in their frequency and severity under a changing climate, however, evidence about the impacts on mortality at a global scale is limited.
“This research, the largest epidemiological study on the projected impacts of heatwaves under global warming, suggests it could dramatically increase heatwave-related mortality, especially in highly-populated tropical and sub-tropical countries.
“The good news is that if we mitigate greenhouse gas emissions under scenarios that comply with the Paris Agreement, then the projected impact will be much reduced.”