Unbearable humid heat is already hitting areas with the least ability to survive it

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Humid heat that passes the theoretical limit of human survival is already being recorded in some areas of the world, and it is set to become frequent in the areas that are least prepared to handle it, according to Australian and international researchers. In a perspective piece, the researchers discuss how over a billion people globally are currently estimated to live in urban informal settlements – areas that fall outside formal planning and regulations and often lack reliable access to services including electricity, water and sanitation. The researchers say the number of people in these areas could as much as triple over the next 30 years, and many of these settlements are located in the areas most likely to experience unbearable humid heat under climate change. With houses unlikely to have air conditioning or good insulation and the risk of limited water access, the researchers say it is important to better understand the experiences of people in these areas when it gets hot to begin addressing a major growing threat to human life.

Journal/conference: One Earth

Link to research (DOI): 10.1016/j.oneear.2023.12.005

Organisation/s: Monash University, University of Otago

Funder: The RISE program is funded by the Wellcome Trust
[OPOH grant 205222/Z/16/Z], the New Zealand
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Asian
Development Bank, the Government of Fiji, the City
of Makassar and Monash University, and involves partnerships and in-kind contributions from the
Cooperative Research Center for Water Sensitive
Cities, Fiji National University, Hasanuddin University,
Southeast Water, Melbourne Water, Live and
Learn Environmental Education, UN-Habitat,
UNU-IIGH, WaterAid International and Oxfam.
E.E.R. is supported by an Australian Government
Research Training Program Scholarship and a
Monash University Postgraduate Publications
Award. G.A.D. is the recipient of an Australian
Research Council Discovery Early Career
Researcher Award (DE190100003) funded by the
Australian Government.


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