Climate change: Summers could become ‚too hot for humans‘-BBC

Climate change: Summers could become ‚too hot for humans‘-BBC

By Paul Homewood

h/t Robin Guenier

An utterly ridiculous article, even by BBC standards!


Millions of people around the world could be exposed to dangerous levels of heat stress – a dangerous condition which can cause organs to shut down.

Many live in developing countries, and do jobs that expose them to potentially life threatening conditions.

These include being out in the open on farms and building sites or indoors in factories and hospitals.

Global warming will increase the chances of summer conditions that may be “too hot for humans” to work in.

When we caught up with Dr Jimmy Lee, his goggles were steamed up and there was sweat trickling off his neck.

An emergency medic, he’s labouring in the stifling heat of tropical Singapore to care for patients with Covid-19.

There’s no air conditioning – a deliberate choice, to prevent the virus being blown around – and he notices that he and his colleagues become “more irritable, more short with each other”.

And his personal protective equipment, essential for avoiding infection, makes things worse by creating a sweltering ‚micro-climate‘ under the multiple layers of plastic.

“It really hits you when you first go in there,” Dr Lee says, “and it’s really uncomfortable over a whole shift of eight hours – it affects morale.”……

A system known as the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) measures not only heat but also humidity and other factors to give a more realistic description of the conditions.

Back in the 1950s, the US military used it to work out guidelines for keeping soldiers safe.

When the WBGT reaches 29C, for example, the recommendation is to suspend exercise for anyone not acclimatised.

Yet that’s the level Dr Lee and his colleagues are regularly experiencing at Singapore’s Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

And at the top of the scale – when the WBGT registers 32C – the US says strenuous training should stop because the risk becomes “extreme”.

But levels that high have recently been recorded inside hospitals in Chennai in India by Prof Vidhya Venugopal of the Sri Ramachandra University.

She’s also found workers in a salt pan enduring a WBGT that climbs during the day to 33C – at which point they have to seek shelter.

And in a steel plant, a ferocious level of 41.7C was recorded, the workers being among the most vulnerable to what she calls “the huge heat”.

“If this happens day-in, day-out, people become dehydrated, there are cardiovascular issues, kidney stones, heat exhaustion,” Prof Venugopal says.

As global temperatures rise, more intense humidity is likely as well which means more people will be exposed to more days with that hazardous combination of heat and moisture.

Prof Richard Betts of the UK Met Office has run computer models which suggest that the number of days with a WBGT above 32C are set to increase, depending on whether greenhouse gas emissions are cut.

And he spells out the risks for millions of people already having to work in the challenging combination of extreme heat and high humidity.

“We humans evolved to live in a particular range of temperatures, so it’s clear that if we continue to cause temperatures to rise worldwide, sooner or later the hottest parts of the world could start to see conditions that are simply too hot for us.”

The problem in the Singapore hospital has nothing to do with global warming – it is down to the switching off of air conditioning and the use of PPE, both as a result of COVID-19.

Indeed, air conditioning is the solution for the billions who already live all their lives in hot and humid conditions. And a widespread roll out of air conditioning in poorer countries requires economic growth and a cheap, reliable source of energy.

As for those who work outside, the solution is pretty obvious, as the article notes:

According to Dr Jimmy Lee, “it’s not rocket science”. People need to drink plenty of fluid before they start work, take regular breaks and then drink again when they rest.

Indeed, as southern European countries learnt centuries ago, you simply go and lie down in the shade during the heat of midday.

Perhaps Richard Betts has never heard of a siesta?


JULY 18, 2020

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