Jul 1, 2015

First-ever heatwave warning guidelines issued by UN as global temperatures soar

United States
India
Pakistan
by
UN News Centre
Degraded dryland ecosystems put at risk the social and economic well-being of millions of people. Photo: Binh Thuan, Thien Anh Huynh, Vietnam, UNEP
Degraded dryland ecosystems put at risk the social and economic well-being of millions of people. Photo: Binh Thuan, Thien Anh Huynh, Vietnam, UNEP

Two United Nations agencies have unveiled a series of new guidelines aimed at addressing the health risks posed by the increasing number and intensity of climate change-related heatwaves affecting the planet, as warm weather alerts spread across Europe following soaring temperatures that killed hundreds of people in India and Pakistan last month.

The set of guidelines, jointly produced by the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and entitled Heatwaves and Health: Guidance on Warning-System Development, will seek to alert decision-makers, health services and the general public through the systematic development of so-called heatwave early warning systems which, in turn, will hope to trigger timely action in reducing the effects of hot-weather extremes on health.

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According to the two agencies, heatwaves are becoming more frequent and intense on a global scale, largely due to the acceleration of climate change. In recent weeks, they have already caused hundreds of deaths across India and Pakistan. Meanwhile, the heatwaves in the northern hemisphere's summer of 2003 were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people across the European continent.

The publication's launch also follows the WMO's recent revelation that 14 of the 15 hottest years recorded have all been in the 21st century, confirming a dangerous trend in global warming amid devastating weather patterns and increasing temperatures.