Fifth of the world’s people face life-threatening heat by end of 2100

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. unbearable / ʌnˈbɛər ə bəl / (adj.) – too unpleasant, harsh, or extreme for a person to continue experiencing

    The family often goes on vacation to a warmer area during winter because the cold is unbearable.

  2. conservative / kənˈsɜr və tɪv / (adj.) – cautiously moderate or purposely low

    The consultant gave a conservative number of expected sales next year.

  3. projection / prəˈdʒɛk ʃən / (n.) – a calculation of a future amount based on current data

    The company’s sales projection next year is $1.2 million.

  4. exposure / ɪkˈspoʊ ʒər / (n.) – the state of experiencing something or being affected by something external, such as temperature

    Don’t leave your device under the sun. It will be damaged from heat exposure.

  5. hold down / həʊld daʊn / (phrasal v.) – to keep something at a low level

    The government is trying to hold down the prices of basic goods.


Read the text below.

At the end of the century, more than two billion people will be living in countries where extreme heat becomes life-threatening according to researchers in Europe and China.

That is expected to be a fifth of the population according to their research just published.

The warning about life-threatening global warming says that extreme heat will make life unbearable for many in the Global South.

The authors of the report on global warming say evidence shows humans have historically flourished in regions where the temperature is around 13 degrees Celsius.

Monsoon areas in South Asia have also fared well peaking at around 27 degrees Celsius.

But the report says people living in areas outside of these favored climates are less likely to thrive.

Using previously published research, the report says human health declines for many reasons, such as poor agriculture, therefore poor diet and nutrition.

Extreme heat also leads to lost days of employment and poorer economic outcomes as well as having a direct effect on human health according to the report.

Countries in Europe will become drier too according to lead author Professor Tim Lenton from the University of Exeter.

He describes the areas that will survive well as a ‘niche’ zone.

The study calculates that by conservative projections the temperature will have reached 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in the year 2100.

It says that means two billion people would be living in life-threatening climatic conditions.

According to Lenton, less than 1% of humanity currently lives in places of dangerous heat exposure, but the study shows climate change has already put 9% of the population – more than 600 million people – outside this favored ‘niche’ area.

Lenton believes it’s important not just to focus on the deaths that will occur because of extreme heat.

He believes it’s also important to focus on how efforts to hold down global temperatures now will save billions of lives in the future.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Researchers and environmental activists have been sharing the risks of global warming for years. Despite the studies and pieces of evidence being presented, why do you think global warming continues to worsen? Discuss.
  • According to research, human health declines for many reasons, such as poor agriculture, therefore poor diet and nutrition. What do you think can be done to reverse this? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What do you think living on Earth would be like by 2100? Discuss.
  • Based on conservative projections, 2 billion people would be living in life-threatening conditions by 2100. Does this projection make you feel concerned? Why or why not? Discuss.