The Strategist

Study: Up to 3.5B people will live in unbearable heat by 2070

05/11/2020 - 03:18

With the current rate of global warming and population growth, up to a third of humanity will live in conditions similar to the Sahara climate in 50 years. These are very fast climatic changes in a very short period of time. The consequences can be disastrous.

joint base elmendorf
joint base elmendorf
For millennia, people have been choosing regions that are comfortable or at least relatively suitable for them in terms of climate. But global warming is proceeding at such a pace that, according to scientists, in just 50 years, humanity will not have much choice for places to live. Up to 3.5 billion people will live in areas where the average annual air temperature stay at or above + 29 ° C. Poor countries and low-income groups will have the worst of it. Unlike the rich and citizens of developed countries, they will not have the opportunity to use air conditioners.

Such a terrible picture is described in detail in a study "Future of the human climate niche", conducted by experts in the field of climatology, ecology and archeology of Nanjing (China), Exeter (Great Britain), Wageningen (Netherlands) universities, universities of Aarhus (Denmark) and the state of Washington (USA). 

After analyzing the data on the human settlement on the planet over the past 6 thousand years, scientists have found that all this time people preferred areas with an average annual temperature of 11-15°C. They also settled in other climatic zones, including those where the average annual temperature is 20–25 ° C. However, the densest resettlement was in a comfortable temperature niche. The most extensive economic activity has been and still is in the temperate zone.

Due to global warming, the comfortable temperature niche will change over the next 50 years - it will shift and shrink - more significantly than in all 6 thousand previous years.

Now, the average annual temperature above 29 ° C is observed only on 0.8% of land, where about 20 million people live. By 2070, such conditions will engulf 19% of land.

Given the growth of the Earth's population and depending on the rate of global warming, according to the authors of the study, from 1 billion to 3.5 billion people will live in areas with very high temperatures. Based on WHO projections of population growth by 2070, 3.5 billion people will make up a third of the world's population.

According to the authors of the study, in 50 years the temperature conditions that are unbearable for humans will be observed in a significant part of Africa, in India, South Asia, northern Australia, South America and the Middle East.