A combination of global warming and the booming population could force up to 3.5 billion people to live in unbearable heat. An international team of researchers has found the global temperature could rise by an average of 1.8C degrees by 2070, forcing between two to 3.5 billion people to live in a climate which historically has been too hot for humans to handle.
In some mainland areas, the temperature could rise by 7.5C, with an average annual temperature of almost 30C – hotter than the Sahara Desert.
The ideal temperature for the average healthy human to exist in is 18C.
This will lead to chaos within global food systems, healthcare systems will be pushed to the brink and will trigger mass migrations.
The researchers behind the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said they were “blown away” by their findings.
Tim Lenton, of Exeter University, said: “The numbers are flabbergasting. I literally did a double take when I first saw them.
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Climate change warning: Up to 3.5 BILLION people to live in unbearable heat by 2070
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“I’ve previously studied climate tipping points, which are usually considered apocalyptic. But this hit home harder. This puts the threat in very human terms.”
Jens-Christian Svenning, co-author of the research, from Aarhus University in Denmark, said: “Large areas of the planet would heat to barely survivable levels and wouldn’t cool down again.
“This would bring 3.5 billion people into near-unliveable conditions.”
Prof Marten Scheffer of Wageningen University in the Netherlands said: “I think it is fair to say that average temperatures over 29C are unliveable.
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“You’d have to move or adapt. But there are limits to adaptation. If you have enough money and energy, you can use air conditioning and fly in food and then you might be OK. But that is not the case for most people.
“We know that most creatures’ habitats are limited by temperature. For example, penguins are only found in cold water and corals only in warm water. But we did not expect humans to be so sensitive.
“We think of ourselves as very adaptable because we use clothes, heating and air conditioning. But, in fact, the vast majority of people live – and have always lived – inside a climate niche that is now moving as never before.”
The researchers hope their findings will encourage policymakers to introduce new measures to combat climate change.
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Xu Chi of Nanjing University said: “Clearly we will need a global approach to safeguard our children against the potentially enormous social tensions the projected change could invoke.”
Scientists worldwide overwhelmingly agree global warming is the result of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2018, Professor Pavel Kabat of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said: “Over last two decades, climate science has made unprecedented progress in better understanding of the functioning of the climate system and in assessing consequences of human interference.
“Now, more than ever before, we need science to support adaptation to climate extremes and climate change, and to help to guide transformations needed for sustainable development of the planet.”
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), just 2C of warming above pre-industrial levels threatens to destabilise entire ecosystems and risk human well-being.