Elderly people dying of dehydration, children born underweight, hundreds beset by heatstroke.
That’s part of the toll documented in “The Human Limit,” an ambitious new series from The Washington Post.
In the first set of stories, our reporters traveled from Pakistan to Phoenix to gauge the deadly effects of our hotter planet.
Using a cutting-edge model combining heat, humidity, sunlight and wind, The Post worked with CarbonPlan, a non-profit organisation that develops publicly available climate data and analytics to show where and how often people will likely face intense and sometimes lethal heat.
The threat is concentrated in poor countries that have contributed least to the climate crisis and are ill-prepared to manage the rapidly multiplying challenges.
Annie Gowen, Niko Kommenda and Saiyna Bashir reported on the gut-wrenching devastation there last year after historic floods, which were followed by a heat wave.
“I had no idea what miseries this flood would bring for us,” Muhammad Yaqoob, a village chief, told them.
Dark clouds of mosquitoes spread malaria. People developed itchy dermatitis from walking through the water.
Farmers who could not plant in drenched fields began cutting back meals of vegetables and rice from three a day to two. And then, for some, just one.
“We can say now that people are dying from climate change, and that’s a different kind of statement than we would have made before,” said Kristie L. Ebi, a professor in the Centre for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington.
“Climate change is not a distant threat to health. It’s a current threat to health.”
The epidemic of extreme heat won’t affect the world uniformly, as The Post explores in another story.
Niko, Shannon Osaka, Simon Ducroquet and Veronica Penney track how heat is spreading and the people it is affecting:
By 2030, half a billion people will face a month of dangerous, “inescapable” heat — heat that persists even when indoors. Air conditioning or other artificial cooling will be a life-or-death issue.
While certain places in wealthy nations — such as Phoenix and Houston in the United States — will see more hot days, poor countries in hot regions such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will suffer the most.
The third story, reported by Shannon from the hottest US city, offers a revelation about who extreme heat kills in this country. Look for it Wednesday. —The Washington Post