Last updated October 25, 2018 at 1:34 pm
Australia to be hit hard as global warming increases.
The first global study to predict future heatwave-related deaths makes grim reading.
It suggests there will be dramatic increases in tropical and subtropical regions, followed closely by Australia, Europe and the US, if people and governments cannot adapt to global climate change.
In an extreme scenario, there will be a 471 per cent increase in heatwave-related deaths in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne compared with the period 1971-2010, the researchers say.
The study was led by Professor Yuming Guo from Monash University, who says it is clear future heatwaves will be more frequent and more intense and will last much longer.
“If the Australian government cannot put effort into reducing the impacts of heatwaves, more people will die because of heatwaves in the future,” he said.
The researchers developed a model to estimate the number of heatwave-related deaths in 412 communities across 20 countries for the period of 2031 to 2080.
Projections to support decision making
They then projected excess mortality under different scenarios characterised by levels of greenhouse gas emissions, preparedness and adaption strategies and population density across these regions.
Study co-author Associate Professor Antonio Gasparrini, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said he hoped the projections would support decision makes in planning crucial adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change.
“The good news is that if we mitigate greenhouse gas emissions under scenarios that comply with the Paris Agreement, then the projected impact will be much reduced,” he said
The study recommends the following six adaption interventions:
- Individual: information provision, advertising
- Interpersonal: information sharing; communication; persuasive arguments; counselling; peer education
- Community: strengthening community infrastructure; encouraging community engagement; developing vulnerable people group; livelihoods; neighbourhood watch
- Institutional: institutional policies; quality standards; formal procedures and regulations; partnerships
- Environmental: urban planning and management; built environment; planting trees; public available drink water; house quality
- Public policy: improvement of health services; poverty reduction; redistribution of resources; education; heatwave-warning system.
The paper is published in PLOS Medicine.