Approximately one-in-four people on Earth are exposed to extreme heat, a threefold increase from 1983 to 2016, an AP analysis of data from Columbia University’s Climate School reveals. Extreme heat exposure has increased most in south Asia, where increasing temperatures are compounded by population growth. Extreme heat is also causing disproportionate harm in regions near tropical forests and is especially dangerous for people with disabilities or chronic health problems.
“There is a limit to what human beings can tolerate in terms of heat and humidity (and) a lot of tropical forest nations are close to that threshold,” Nicholas Wolff, a climate change scientist at the Nature Conservancy, told Thomson Reuters of his group’s research, published in The Lancet Planetary Health.
Heat exacerbates numerous medical conditions, and mobility-related disabilities can prevent people from accessing cooling shelters, Environmental Health news reports. People of color, people living in poverty, and people experiencing homelessness are all disproportionately harmed by extreme heat, and all of these “are bellwether populations for some of the impacts on the disability community,” Alex Ghenis, founder of Accessible Climate Strategies, told EHN. “It’s more appropriate almost to call [these] manufactured vulnerabilities.” (Heat exposure: AP, The Hill; Tropical forests: Thomson Reuters Foundation; Disability intersection: Environmental Health News; Climate signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)