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Environment

Over 1 Billion People Are at Risk of Overheating as the Earth Warms


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Man-made climate change is causing the earth to warm up and, in turn, puts those who live in tropical climates without access to proper cooling at an increased health risk. The United Nations’ Global Goals call on countries to protect the environment and uphold the Paris climate agreement. You can join us in taking action on these issues here.

A new study reveals that more than a billion people are at risk from a lack of air conditioning and refrigeration, reports Reuters.

According to data released by the nonprofit group Sustainable Energy for All, 1.1 billion people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, primarily living in rural areas or slums, are threatened by a lack of air conditioning to keep bodies cool and refrigeration to preserve food and medicine.

But the twist is that an increase in electricity required for fridges, fans, and other appliances will only further contribute to man-made climate change in the coming years, the report said.

Take Action: Ensure All Communities Can Withstand Climate Disaster

"Cooling becomes more and more important" with climate change, Rachel Kyte, head of the group and special representative for the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, told Reuters. "We have to provide cooling in a super-efficient way."

Kyte stated in her interview that companies must focus on converting power generators from fossil fuels to cleaner energy, and developing low-cost, high-efficiency air conditioners to sell to growing middle classes in tropical countries.

Those living in remote regions of tropical countries often lack electricity, and health clinics there are challenged in storing vaccines or medicines that require refrigeration, the study noted. Likewise, in city slums, residents experience an irregular electricity supply.

Read More: More Americans Believe in Climate Change Than Ever Before

The lack of consistent energy, cooling, and refrigeration all contribute to elevated health risks.

Approximately 38,000 extra deaths are projected to occur each year worldwide between 2030 and 2050, due to heat stress linked to climate change, according to the World Health Organization.

To wit, during a severe heat wave in May, more than 60 people died in Karachi, Pakistan, according to the report.

The report determined that of 52 countries surveyed, those most at risk include India, China, Mozambique, Sudan, Nigeria, Brazil, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh.