First on CNN: The rise in extreme heat has already zapped our well-being. It’s about to get worse


A new analysis by Gallup in collaboration with Citi, first shared with CNN, found that people who experienced extreme heat — days significantly warmer than usual — also reported a decrease in their sense of well-being around the same time. On average, the world’s population experienced three times as many extreme heat days in 2020 as in 2008, Gallup reported, and well-being also declined by 6.5% globally during that time.
Researchers also found that as the climate crisis makes temperatures even hotter, global well-being could decline by another 17% by the end of this decade.

“This study is a new way of looking at how climate change is impacting people around the world,” said Nicole Willcoxon, Gallup’s research director for the project. “And while there are many factors that influence people’s well-being, this study shows that there is a clear link between rising temperatures and declines in life evaluation.”

Gallup’s global research shows how much of an impact heat has on our lives, whether we realize it or not.

Over 15 years, Gallup surveyed 1.75 million people in 160 countries and asked them about their sense of well-being. Using temperature data from NASA, researchers looked at extreme heat in the 30 days before the respondents were interviewed and then compared it to their life evaluation responses.

A single extreme heat day was associated with an average decrease in well-being of 0.56%.

“It’s an important set of findings for leaders to consider when evaluating the impact of climate change,” Willcoxon said. “I think there’s a lot of focus on the economic effects, the focus on what kind of extreme weather can happen — but then what’s the outcome and how will people be affected?”

uneven impact

The impact on well-being is greater among older generations than young people, Gallup researchers found, and among those living in countries with emerging economies — where people are less equipped to handle the economic toll of the climate crisis — such as China and Brazil. . Over the past decade, these countries have been plagued by environmental justice issues and extreme weather events caused by climate change.

The report also noted that people living in the southernmost regions of many countries are at increased risk for blistering temperatures and the associated decline in well-being, including residents along the U.S. Gulf Coast and China, both of which have at least 10 high temperatures. experienced. heat days in the month prior to the study.

Researchers also linked warming temperatures and related disasters such as drought to major conflict and food insecurity — both of which may push people from poorer and warmer countries to migrate to richer countries in cooler climates.

For example, when Gallup surveyed Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta region, they found that life expectancy fell by 11% between April 2015 and June 2016 — a time when the region was experiencing its worst drought in decades. As the region dried up, saltwater intrusion from rising sea levels devastated their croplands, increasing food insecurity and taking a toll on the region’s economic health.

“The [available] climate research shows there is a clear risk for mass migration, increasing social divides and inequality, potential food crises and things like that,” Willcoxon said. “While this study didn’t directly measure those things, we think it’s a clear implication of the [available] research showing that if well-being continues to fall to the level we project it could exacerbate these problems even more deeply, or that it’s a piece of the puzzle we’re missing at this point of what the human toll is.”

Mental health in a warmer future

While the report showed well-being could fall by another 17% over the next eight years, researchers said the forecast doesn’t take into account the world’s ability to adapt to the climate crisis and recover from extreme heat.

These cities are more resistant to extreme heat.  This is what they do differently

Robbie Parks, environmental epidemiologist and incoming assistant professor at Columbia University’s Climate School, said the poll is an effective way to urge decision-makers to “put the right levers” on climate action.

“While people understand that climate change is terrible in so many ways, I find that when people start to understand how it affects their daily lives – and especially their health and well-being – that’s a really good boost to political motivation for action and change.” Parks, who is not involved in the investigation, told CNN.

The World Meteorological Organization recently reported that an extreme weather event had occurred somewhere in the world on average every day for the past 50 years, a fivefold increase in frequency during that period. And polls have helped clarify how extreme weather and environmental degradation affect moods. A Gallup poll earlier this year found that only 39% of Americans were satisfied with the quality of the environment in the US.

“We have a lot to build on here,” Willcoxon said. “As we predict that we will see many more days of high temperatures and extreme weather events, it will be very important and key to look at that and track that over time to provide the data that policy makers and leaders needed to provide solutions to this problem.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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