The United Nations warns that the world should prepare for more extreme heat waves

On Tuesday, the United Nations called on the world to prepare for more extreme heat waves, urging everyone to develop their own “fight plans” to face extreme temperatures day and night.

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“These phenomena will continue to increase and the world must prepare for more intense heat waves,” said John Nairn, an expert at the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), during a press conference in Geneva.

“The recently announced El Niño phenomenon will only amplify the occurrence and intensity of extreme heat waves,” he said.

In North America, Asia, North Africa and the Mediterranean basin, temperatures will exceed 40 degrees Celsius for several days this week.

“One remarkable phenomenon that we’ve observed is that the number of simultaneous heat waves in the northern hemisphere has increased six-fold since the 1980s. This trend shows no signs of abating,” Nairn noted.

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He added, “Therefore, I am afraid that we have not reached the end of our problems,” stressing that “it is everyone’s responsibility to have plans to fight the intense heat.”

Experts say greenhouse gases that trap heat are the cause of climate change.

Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide play an important role in preventing some of the solar radiation from reflecting back into space.

When this cycle is in balance, it keeps the planet at a bearable temperature.

But an unsustainable increase in the amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means that more heat is trapped there, leading to not only global warming, but other climate anomalies as well.

night temperatures

As for heat waves, climate change is increasing their duration and intensity as well as their geographic reach, scientists say.

Asked what individuals can do on a personal basis to try to address climate change, Nairn advocated fighting fossil fuels.

“I think the easiest thing is to electrify everything. It’s a simple message. It’s about stopping carbon fuel use.”

With thermometers passing or approaching records, WMO is calling on the international community not to focus its attention solely on temperature extremes.

“It is the temperature during the night that poses the greatest health risks, particularly to vulnerable populations,” Nairn explained.

He explained that in many places where the maximum reaches or exceeds 40 degrees Celsius, the temperature remains close to these levels at midnight.

The expert stressed that “repeatedly high temperatures at night pose a danger to human health in particular, because the body fails to recover,” which “leads to an increase in cases of heart attacks and deaths.”

There is no universal definition of heat waves, which are set in relation to the average temperatures of each region of the world, whose parameters vary widely.

But the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is working to develop “standardized terminology and definitions” for extreme heat, and said Tuesday: “The classification of the intensity of heat waves will help standardize forecasts for impacts and alerts around the world.”

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