Climate change-induced heat stress may claim 330 Israeli lives per summer by 2100


About 330 people could be dying from heat stress every summer by the end of the century unless meaningful action is taken to reduce global warming gas emissions, Israeli researchers say in a new study.

Described as a “conservative” estimate, this represents an 11-fold increase on the current annual figure of 30 heat-related deaths, according to the research, published in the latest issue of Science of The Total Environment.

The people who are 65 years old and older would be hit hard by the more intense heat and occur more often, according to the research.

In Europe last year, heat waves caused more than 16,000 excess deaths after five heat waves hit at least parts of the continent, with summer temperatures at 47° Celsius (116.6° Fahrenheit), according to the Research Center which is based in Brussels. on the Epidemiology of Disasters.

The Mediterranean region as a whole is a hotbed of climate, having warmed by about 1.5°Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, which is 20 percent faster than the global average.

This is particularly noticeable during the Israeli summer and is associated with complex changes in air circulation systems.

Number of days in the year in Tel Aviv when the temperature exceeded 30 degrees Celsius (85°F). (Courtesy, Gil David)

Existing research has found that the duration of heat waves in the region, which includes Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and southern Turkey, increased sixfold from 1960 to 2010.

The researchers – Assaf Hochman from the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and two academics from the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, where Hochman also works – predicted that heat waves are likely to occur in the East Mediterranean seven times more often and will last three times longer by 2100.

In fact, they say, one heat wave could last the whole summer.

The paper cites research that suggests the number of very hot days in the coastal Levant (when daytime temperatures peak at or above 35° Celsius/95° Fahrenheit) could increase by more than two months until the end of the 21st century ) until the end of the 21st century. changes will occur in an area with a rapidly growing population, unstable socio-economic levels, and urbanization can make things worse because infrastructure, such as buildings and roads, absorb and release more of the sun’s heat than environments natural.

It concludes that “real interdisciplinary regional collaboration is needed to achieve adequate public health adaptation to extreme weather events in a changing climate.”

An Israeli man enjoys a mountain spring outside of Jerusalem, on May 27, 2015, extremely high heat hit Israel with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit in most of the country. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)

In September 2021, a conference on climate change and public health at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in southern Israel heard how extreme heat can cause not only deaths but premature births and eclampsia, a serious pregnancy complication, as well with an increased chance of stroke. and strong allergic reactions.

In addition, with global warming, disease-carrying parasites are spreading to areas where there are no natural predators. Flooding caused by heavy rain can pick up pollutants and sweep them into the water system. Among these is animal urine, which can transmit the potentially fatal disease leptospirosis, which is feared to have already temporarily closed streams in northern Israel.

Dr. Tamar Berman, an environmental toxicologist from the Hebrew University, who advises the Israeli Ministry of Health, spoke about increased pressure on emergency departments, an increase in pathogenic disease, as well as physiological and mental illness, more pollution in the air (for example from sandstorms), and food contamination (bacteria thrive in warmer temperatures and farmers may be forced to use more pesticides).

Tamar Berman addresses the Ben Gurion University conference on public health and climate change, September 12, 2021. (Screenshot)

Berman said a data analysis showed that between 2010 and 2019, emergency room visits in Israel increased sixfold due to heat waves.

More people with heart and blood diseases were being hospitalized during the summer, Berman continued.

As the land gets bigger, an increase in sandstorms is also a concern, as they can lead to lung damage, she said.

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