Story at a glance

  • The global mean temperature has risen to more than one degree Celsius since the mid-1900s due to climate change.
  • Scientists predict this warming will continue unless something is done to address greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Excessive heat is a health hazard to humans and could have fatal consequences.

No, it’s not just you — summers are getting hotter. In fact, last year concluded the warmest decade on record, with temperatures more than 30 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than before the industrial revolution, according to the UK Met Office.

"We humans evolved to live in a particular range of temperatures, so it's clear that if we continue to cause temperatures to rise worldwide, sooner or later the hottest parts of the world could start to see conditions that are simply too hot for us,” Richard Betts, who works for the UK Met Office, told BBC.


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Another measure of the warming climate is Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT), which measures humidity and other factors along with heat. When WGBT reaches 29 degrees Celsius, anyone who isn’t acclimated to the heat shouldn’t be exercising, according to U.S. guidelines. And when it hits 32 C, no one should. 

But the UK Met Office is projecting that there will be more and more days with a WBGT above 32 C if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t cut. This means more and more days of extreme heat. 

Symptoms can escalate from fainting and disorientation to cramps and failure of the guts and kidneys, Rebecca Lucas, who researches physiology at the University of Birmingham, told BBC. And over longer periods of time, repeated stress due to heat becomes dangerous. 

"If this happens day-in, day-out, people become dehydrated, there are cardiovascular issues, kidney stones, heat exhaustion," Vidhya Venugopal, a professor at Sri Ramachandra University, told BBC. 


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Published on Jul 20, 2020