New research is predicting that climate change may lead to extreme hot temperatures in the future. Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne are seeing trends that will lead to summer days of 122 degrees F by 2040. If high greenhouse emissions are allowed to continue, places such as Perth and Adelaide may reach 120-degree days even sooner.
Australia is currently setting hot weather records at twelve times the pace of cold weather records. These massive temperature differences are cause for alarm and must prompt immediate response. Temperatures of 122 degrees F could create extreme challenges to our health and affect our daily life in distressing ways.
Unless we can make drones that perform every necessary outdoor activity we need to accomplish, staying indoors in the air conditioning at all times is simply not an option. Commuting to work, shopping, and general social interaction demands venturing outside at times. But temperatures as high as 122 degrees F will make such activities extremely difficult for the human body.
Hot and humid conditions make it difficult for human perspiration and various other biological cooling mechanisms to be effective. Even a fit person who is well-hydrated and used to hot temperatures cannot last for more than half an hour of body temperatures over 104 to 108 degrees F. Beyond that level, heat stroke and death are likely. In high enough temperatures, even stepping outside for a short walk can be deadly.
Going back to Australia, Melbourne experienced a heatwave in 2014 that was so dangerous, there were not enough ambulances to meet the demand of people in crisis due to the heat. The death toll was estimated at 203.
Parts of New South Wales and Victoria suffered temperatures over 16 degrees warmer than the September average in 2017.
2017 overall became the world’s second-warmest year on record.
Australia is attempting to prepare for possible extreme temperatures in the future. The health sector is looking at creating a national strategy for climate, health, and well-being, which will include climate and health research, plus high-level health workforce training.