The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
China’s Breadbasket Could Suffer the Worst of Climate Change’s Deadly Heat Waves
Deadly heat waves are breaking records and making headlines around the world this summer, but they have nothing on the heat waves that the North China Plain is likely to see in the future if we don't act now to combat climate change.
A study published in Nature Communications Tuesday found that if we do nothing to curb emissions, China's most populous and agriculturally important region could see heat waves deadly even for healthy people by 2100.
"China is currently the largest contributor to the emissions of greenhouse gases, with potentially serious implications to its own population: Continuation of the current pattern of global emissions may limit habitability of the most populous region of the most populous country on Earth," study authors Elfatih A. B. Eltahir of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Suchul Kang of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology wrote.
The researchers looked at something called wet bulb temperature, which is measured by wrapping a wet cloth around the bulb of a thermometer, according to MIT.
As the water evaporates, the bulb is cooled, but at 100 percent humidity, no evaporation is possible and the cloth has no impact on the thermometer's read.
The measure is important for assessing the joint impact of heat and humidity on health, since humans can only cool themselves through sweat and cannot do so if it is both too hot and too humid.
At a wet bulb temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, research suggests that even healthy humans cannot survive outside for more than six hours. The researchers found that "wet bulb" days surpassing 35 degrees would become more common in the North China Plain from 2070 to 2100 if no action is taken to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
"This spot is just going to be the hottest spot for deadly heat waves in the future, especially under climate change," Eltahir said in an MIT release.
This is a problem because the North China Plain is the country's most important growing region, and many of its inhabitants are farmers with no choice but to work outdoors, The Guardian reported.
Eltahir and Kang have done research into the potential for climate change to lead to similarly deadly heat waves in the Persian Gulf and in Southeast Asia. Those studies also predicted an increase in these events in some places, but none of their previous research has turned up potential impacts this dire.
The most extreme temperatures in the Persian Gulf region were also expected to occur over the water, not over population centers. This is not the case for China.
"This is where people live," Eltahir said in the MIT release.
The research also showed that irrigation in the region made the problem worse, adding half a degree of Celsius of warming to the area because it increased humidity. Water vapor can also act as a greenhouse gas.
"Irrigation exacerbates the impact of climate change," Eltahir said in the release.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
For one year Rob Greenfield grew and foraged all of his own food. No grocery stores, no restaurants, no going to a bar for a drink, not even medicines from the pharmacy.
Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store, the company announced on Friday. The removal of the apps comes after thousands of people across the country have developed lung illnesses from vaping and 42 people have died.
By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.
A spill at the Keystone Pipeline that began last month has affected nearly 10 times the amount of land than previously thought, state officials said Monday.
By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
A major but largely glossed over report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental and public health nonprofit based in Washington, DC, shows that thousands of untested chemicals (an estimated 2,000, to be exact) are found in conventional packaged foods purchasable in U.S. supermarkets. And yes, all of them are legal.
California will stop buying vehicles from the more than a dozen automakers including General Motors (GM), Fiat Chrysler and Toyota who sided with the Trump administration on the question of whether the state has the authority to set its own emissions standards, CalMatters first reported Friday.