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30,000 More Deaths per Year in China If Global Warming Rises by Half-a-Degree

This figure is an optimistic estimate. Without taking future infrastructure improvements into account, the annual death toll could rise by another 50 percent.

by Meera Navlakha
07 August 2019, 6:21am

Photo by Kevin via Unsplash.

If global warming increases from 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, 30,000 more people in China are expected to die annually, new research from the journal Nature Communications has revealed.

This “minuscule” bump in temperature could be fatal for those residing in the country with the world’s largest population. According to the study, China’s temperature is increasing faster than the global average. The country is one of four nations responsible for the greatest greenhouse gas emissions. It is also susceptible to a plethora of environmental issues such as water shortages, air pollution, and deforestation.

A dozen researchers, led by Yanjun Wasng from the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, looked at heat-related mortality statistics from 27 Chinese cities between the years 1985 and 2005. They found that 32 people per million died from heat-related causes during that period, according to the AFP.

If temperatures rose by 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees, it would cause up to 67.1 deaths per million and 81.3 deaths per million respectively.

The 30,000 additional annual deaths for that half-a-degree difference were calculated with infrastructure improvements such as clean water access and health services taken into account. Without these, deaths are reported to rise by an additional 50 percent.

From the study, it was discovered that the mortality rate for women, in particular, is forecasted to be double that of men.

The skyrocketing figures reflect history: in 2013 Shanghai's Pudong New Districtsaw 160 additional deaths as a result of record-breaking temperatures. A 2018 report by the Guardian revealed that China’s northern plain, a region with 400 million people, would soon become the “hottest spot for deadly heatwaves in the future”

The Paris Agreement, led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015, had cooperating countries aim to stop global warming at “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. Landing at 1.5 degrees specifically could prevent tens of thousands of deaths. As it is, however, the globe has already passed the 1 degree mark. The question of further global warming may not be a question of 'if' but 'when.'

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