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‘We’re in serious trouble’: Why a hotter world will be bad for our health

By Charlotte Lytton

11 Aug 2023 · 7 min read

informed Summary

  1. Rising global temperatures are causing a range of health issues, from dehydration and organ stress to increased spread of infectious diseases and mental health problems.

When the temperature hit 40C in Britain last summer, the empty streets appeared “dystopian” to Dr Laurence Wainwright, a sustainability and psychiatry academic at Oxford University. Yet what he had assumed would serve as “a real wake-up call” on the world’s increasingly dangerous temperatures – which resulted in a European heatwave that killed more than 60,000 people last year – failed to prompt action. During the past month or so – as wildfires have torched more than 500 sq km of Greece, Arizona notched up a record-breaking 31 consecutive days at 43C or more and July became the hottest month ever recorded in the modern era – the extreme heat crisis has only appeared to grow. There’s no doubt about it, Wainwright says: “We’re in serious trouble.”

When the human body is exposed to excessive heat, it attempts to maintain its internal temperature by sweating – which cools you down as beads of perspiration evaporate – and by diverting additional blood flow to the skin, which allows for extra heat loss by convection.

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