The death counts associated with increasing heat may see a massive sudden surge in the next couple of years if global warming exceeds 2 degrees Celsius, according to a new landmark report. Researchers from the University College London and the University of Reading have warned that global warming will leave a direct impact on the mortality rate of the human population. "At current global warming levels of around 1.21 degrees C, we see a slight decrease in temperature-related mortality in winter and a minimal net effect in summer, meaning that overall, at this level of warming we see a slight decrease in temperature-related mortality rate," researchers quoted as saying.
Published in Environmental Research Letters, the researchers issued a warning to the global population, they said that temperature-related mortality in summer will increase at a much faster, non-linear rate as the global mean temperature increases. "The rate of increase particularly speeds up at 2 degrees C of warming, with a much higher risk appearing beyond 2.5 degrees C," the researchers quoted as saying. They further warned that 3 degrees C warming could lead to a 75 per cent increase in mortality risk during heatwaves.
Heatwave and Deaths - Understanding The Connection
According to the researchers, when plotted on a graph, the relationship between temperature and mortality is roughly u-shaped, meaning that at extremely high temperatures, which the population is not used to, the mortality risk increases sharply for each degree rise of daily mean temperature. "The increase in mortality risk under current warming levels is mainly notable during heatwaves, but with further warming, we would see risk rise on average summer days in addition to escalating risks during heatwaves," said lead author Dr. Katty Huang from UCL.
The published paper says that in England and Wales, the temperature is associated with around 9 per cent of total population mortality, meaning that 9 per cent of all deaths during 2021 could be associated with the temperature. Most of those deaths are related to the side effects of cold weather.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change impacts report showed that it is increasingly common to examine how different levels of mean global warming raise the risk of significant harm to people and society. "Our study shows that because death rates will go up significantly if countries experience very high temperatures, limiting the average global rise in temperatures is likely to have substantial benefits for the overall health of the population," said the Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez frim University of Reading.