Scientists warn that the record-breaking heat Earth endured in the summer of 2022 will be repeated without strong international efforts to tackle climate change.
The record-breaking heat Earth endured in the summer of 2022 could be repeated without a strong international effort to tackle climate change, a panel of scientists warned Monday.
As both ocean and atmospheric temperatures continue to rise, heat-related deaths, wildfires, extreme rainfall and persistent drought are expected to become increasingly severe, experts said today. Even if all greenhouse gas emissions stopped, the earth would continue to warm for decades.
The presentation “Earth Series Virtual: Blazing Temperatures, Broken Records” featured an interdisciplinary panel of scientific experts from Columbia University.
Radley Houghton, a research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Colombia, said human-induced climate change has increased the average global temperature by about 2 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees Celsius) over the past few decades.
“One of the key takeaways is that small changes in global temperature can have a big impact,” Horton said. Some of the main impacts include longer and more intense heat waves hitting increasingly large areas.
Moreover, Houghton said certain climate models underestimate how extreme certain events, such as the 2022 European heatwave and the 2021 Pacific Northwest heatwave, could be. says there is.
“We are facing more climate hazards and there is no way around it,” Horton said.
Diana Hernandez, associate professor of social medicine at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, explores how specific vulnerabilities, such as medical conditions and access to energy, may be impacted by climate change, both nationally and internationally. is researching Expected impacts include inequalities in shade, heather islands in cities, and unequal access to energy-powered medical equipment.
“The climate is changing and we are not adapted to handle it from a health perspective,” said Cecilia Sorensen, M.D., Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University Medical Center.
Sorensen noted that she and colleagues referred to summer as “the season of trauma” early in her career, even before she focused on the health effects of climate change. “We were inundated with patients…people who came in with heart attacks and asthma exacerbations,” she said.
Despite the ominous climate forecasts, panelists expressed hope that significant progress can be made to minimize future climate impacts related to extreme heat.
Hernandez said a community-focused approach, especially an approach focused on engagement that is inclusive, will be successful in implementing broader climate adaptation strategies.
One solution hospitals can implement, says Sorenson, is to develop emergency room protocols to treat the high volumes of patients suffering from heat stroke and related conditions during extreme weather. Better communication is also needed to raise awareness about the medical risks of extreme heat and how to prevent its effects, she said.
“There are solutions in problems,” said Sorensen.
The Associated Press’ climate and environmental coverage is supported by several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate initiatives here. AP is solely responsible for all content.