If greenhouse gas emissions are not controlled now, 50 years from now, areas of the planet with one-third of humans will become as hot as the hottest parts of the Sahara within 50 years.
Extreme ‘Unlivable Heat’ Will Be The New Normal by 2070 Photo: NASA, Earth observatory / CC BY-SA
Around 30% of the world's projected population will have to live with high average temperature by 2070 warns Scientists from China, the USA and Europe.
The research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that around 3.5 billion people would live outside the climate niche if rapid heating takes place.
"Rising mortality impacts of heat waves on dense populations in already-hot places such as India invite further scrutiny", says the report.
The study further says, "Under a scenario in which emissions continue to increase unabated, temperature experienced by the average person will rise 7.5°C by 2070. That is more than the expected global average temperature rise of slightly over 3°C because land will warm much faster than the ocean and also because population growth is biased towards already hot places."
Currently, such climate conditions are experienced by just 0.8% of the global land surface, mostly in the hottest parts of the Sahara desert.
Professor Marten Scheffer of Wageningen University, who coordinated the research with Xu Chi, of Nanjing University says, “The coronavirus has changed the world in ways that were hard to imagine a few months ago and our results show how climate change could do something similar. Change would unfold less rapidly, but unlike with the pandemic, there would be no relief to look forward to: large areas of the planet would heat to barely survivable levels and they wouldn’t cool down again.”
He also warns saying, "Not only would this have devastating direct effects, it leaves societies less able to cope with future crises like new pandemics. The only thing that can stop this happening is a rapid cut in carbon emissions."
Co-author Tim Lenton, climate specialist and Director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter points out that this impact can be reduced if we succeed in curbing global warming.
“Our computations show that each degree warming above present levels corresponds to roughly one billion people falling outside of the climate niche. It is important that we can now express the benefits of curbing greenhouse gas emissions in something more human than just monetary terms.”, he adds.
Further, the authors of the study also noted that if people are exposed to such heat, they will have no option but to migrate in large numbers.
“Foreseeing the actual magnitude of climate driven migration remains challenging”, says the study.
One of the scientists also adds that we need a global approach to "safeguard our children against the potentially enormous social tensions the projected change could invoke."