Deadly heatwaves that can kill people in SIX HOURS could leave a large area of China uninhabitable by 2070
You wonder if some scientists ever set foot outside their own front door. The "MIT scientists" below are forecasting disaster if temperatures reach 31°C in humid areas of China.
Do they know nothing of the tropics? I was born there, and lived in the coastal city of Cairns until I was 19. And it sure was humid there. And it was not unusual to have summer daytime temperatures of 100°F (38°C).
And strange to say, we flourished. We were actually rather advantaged. We had zero problems in winter time. No snowplows, no shovelling snow, no chains on our tires, no burst pipes, no need for any heating. So we had year-round convenience for work or anything else we wanted to do. I wish it on China
Vast swathes of China could be left uninhabitable to humans towards the end of the century due to blistering climate change-driven heatwaves, scientists warn.
China's north plain is the most densely populated region of the country, and serves as a key agricultural region to provide food for the country's 1.4 billion residents.
According to new research, the 1,500 square mile region (4,000 square kilometres) will become a wasteland if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate.
Climate change will result in a fatal combination of both heat and humidity, which can cause healthy individuals to drop dead in a matter of hours.
The scientists behind the study warned that unless China – the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the world – curbs its pollution levels, it could trigger serious consequences for its population.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists predicted the devastating effect climate change will have on the densely-populated region of China, which stretches the length of the Yellow River.
For the study, which was published in Nature Communications, the researchers looked into the 'business-as-usual' situation and modelled the effects of current greenhouse gas emission levels over the next several decades.
According to the models, fatally humid heatwaves — known as 'wet bulb temperatures' (WBT) — are set to become more common in the north plain region.
Humidity dramatically exacerbates the effects of heatwaves for humans, as it stops them being able to shed excess heat from their bodies by sweating.
Without the use of this natural cooling mechanism, even fit and healthy humans sat in the shade can be overwhelmed and die in less than six hours.
A WBT above 31°C (87.8°F) is classed by the US National Weather Service as an 'extreme danger', warning people that 'if you don’t take precautions immediately, you may become seriously ill or even die.'
Low rainfall across the region in China makes irrigation networks necessary to effectively plant in the highly fertile soil.
However, as temperatures increase these systems will cause high levels of water evaporation, making the air in the north plain incredibly humid.
The researchers found fatal WBTs of 35°C (95°F) would strike the north China plain repeatedly between 2070 and 2100, unless carbon emissions are cut.
MIT scientists found that Shanghai, for example, would exceed the fatal threshold five times and the 'extreme danger' WBTs would occur hundreds of times.
Even if China makes significant carbon cuts, the models still showed the 'extreme danger' WBT would be exceeded many times between 2070 and 2100.
'This spot is going to be the hottest spot for deadly heatwaves in the future,' said Professor Elfatih Eltahir, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientist who led the study.
'The projections are particularly worrying because many of the region's 400 million people are farmers and have little alternative to working outside.
'China is currently the largest contributor to the emissions of greenhouse gases, with potentially serious implications to its own population.
'Continuation of current global emissions may limit the habitability of the most populous region of the most populous country on Earth.'