Climate change could increase heat wave deaths 2,000 percent by 2080: study

Climate change could increase heat wave deaths 2,000 percent by 2080: study
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Deaths from heat waves could increase by up to 2,000 percent in certain parts of the world by 2080 as a result of climate change, according to a new study released on Tuesday by PLOS Medicine.

"Future heatwaves in particular will be more frequent, more intense and will last much longer,"  Yuming Guo, the study's lead, said in a statement to Reuters. “If we cannot find a way to mitigate the climate change (reduce the heatwave days) and help people adapt to heatwaves, there will be a big increase of heatwave-related deaths in the future.”

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Guo's study looked into 20 countries on four continents, finding that the increase in mortality was likely to be highest near the equator.

The team said the country hardest hit by rising temperatures would be Colombia, which reportedly could suffer 2,000 percent more premature deaths due to extreme heat from 2031 to 2080 compared with 1971 to 2010. 

The study's authors say even under best-case circumstances, deaths would increase, which is why it's necessary to take steps to combat climate change. 

Those measures could include opening cooling centers and painting rooftops white to reflect light and keep homes cool. 

The study comes as some areas around the globe have been experiencing record-breaking heat. The Washington Post reported in June that temperatures in Quriyat, Oman, never dropped below 108.7 degrees over a 24-hour period.

It was also reported this week that California's Death Valley broke its own record for hottest month on Earth since record-keeping began. The desert region averaged 108.1 degrees last month, a half-degree increase from its record average in July 2017.