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Heat Waves: A Global Crisis Unfolding

As summer sets in, heatwaves are wreaking havoc across the globe, with devastating consequences. The intensifying impacts of climate change are becoming starkly evident, from North America to the Middle East,

In the United States, more than 70 million people—about one in five —are under heat alerts. This past week’s heatwave has gripped the Northeast, where temperatures could exceed 100°F (38°C). Cities like Chicago are setting new daily records, with temperatures surpassing the all-time high of 96°F recorded in 1957. Major cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., are also sweltering.

Canada is not spared, with heat warnings issued in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec. Authorities are cautioning residents about “dangerously hot and humid conditions,” urging them to limit outdoor activities and stay hydrated. This extreme heat is attributed to a "heat dome" phenomenon, where a high-pressure system traps warm air, causing temperatures to soar. The National Weather Service (NWS) has labeled this event as the season's first significant heatwave.

In Mecca, Saudi Arabia, over 550 Hajj pilgrims have died due to extreme heat, with temperatures soaring above 50°C (122°F). Among the dead, 323 were Egyptians, most succumbing to heat-related illnesses. Saudi officials have treated more than 2,000 people for heat stress, but these figures have not been updated recently. The Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, has become increasingly grueling due to rising temperatures. A Saudi study indicates that temperatures in the region where rituals are performed are increasing by 0.4°C each decade. Despite measures such as advising pilgrims to use umbrellas and drink plenty of water, the extreme heat continues to take a toll.

It no surprise that in the mi of all this, Europe has also become the fastest-warming continent, temperatures are rising at twice the global average. The Copernicus Climate Change Service  has reported a significant increase in heat-related deaths over the past 20 years.

As the world continues to warm, hot extremes will become more common and severe. The IPCC warns that without immediate action, the impacts of climate change will only worsen, posing a significant threat to human health and the environment.

For more information on coping with extreme heat and the latest trends in climate research, stay tuned to our updates and news release.


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