As temperatures rise with climate change, researchers say poorer people around the world will face increasing consequences due to hotter days each year. Photo by jplenio/Pixabay
In a further sign that climate change is hitting the poorest hardest, a new study shows that low-income people are 40% more exposed to heat than those with higher incomes.
By the end of the century, exposure to heat waves for the poorest 25% of people in the world will be equal to that of the rest of the world’s population combined.
That’s after taking into account access to air conditioning, fresh air shelters, thermal safety rules for outdoor workers and thermal safety awareness campaigns, according to the study published recently in the journal Earth’s Future.
“We expected to see a gap, but to see a quarter of the world facing as much exposure as the other three quarters combined…it was surprising,” the study’s lead author Mojtaba Sadegh said in a statement. Press release. He is a climatologist at Boise State University in Idaho.
The researchers also said that by the year 2100, the world’s poorest people will face 23 more days of heat waves than the wealthiest people.
They noted that many heavily populated, low-income regions are located in tropical areas and are expected to grow in population, which will increase economic disparities in exposure to heat waves.
Sadegh said the findings add to growing evidence that low-income countries will be hit hardest by climate change, even though it is high-income countries that emit the majority of greenhouse gases.
Gathering more data on the frequency and responses of heat waves in low-income countries is crucial, according to Kristie Ebi, a professor at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington. She did not participate in the study.
“We know from far too much experience that publishing a heat wave forecast is insufficient to ensure that people know what appropriate actions they need to take during a heat wave and to do so,” Ebi said in the communicated.
To learn more about climate change and health, check out the World Health Organization.
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