GENEVA / HEATWAVES AND HEALTH

18-Jul-2023 00:03:02
As global temperatures reach unprecedented levels, the UN World Meteorological Organization warned of an increased risk of death as intense heatwaves continue to grip parts of Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the United States. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / HEATWAVES AND HEALTH
TRT: 03:02
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 18 JULY 2023, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Med shot, exterior, UN Palais, flags
2. Wide shot, speakers and mediator behind panel, press conference
3. SOUNDBITE (English) John Nairn, Senior Extreme Heat Advisor, World Meteorological Organization (WMO):
“Heat waves are amongst the deadliest natural hazards, with hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths each year. It's a rather poorly understood hazard. Heat is a rapidly growing health risk due to increased or rapid urbanization, the increasing extreme temperatures, and an aging population.”
4. Med shot, attendee taking a picture, speaker in background
5. SOUNDBITE (English) John Nairn, Senior Extreme Heat Advisor, World Meteorological Organization (WMO):
“The impacts on people, economies, the natural built environment are very serious. A recent study has calculated that in Europe last summer, 60’000 additional people died due to extreme heat, and that number is considered to be quite conservative by the experts who did the work as well as government.”
6. Med shot, speakers behind panel
7. SOUNDBITE (English) John Nairn, Senior Extreme Heat Advisor, World Meteorological Organization (WMO):
“We are seeing continuing growth in the frequency, duration, and intensity of heatwaves. And this is entirely consistent with the science of global warming and IPCC reports. These events will continue to grow in intensity, and the world needs to prepare for more intense heatwaves. The recently declared El Niño is only expected to amplify the occurrence and intensity of extreme heat events. So, we're in for a bit of a ride, I'm afraid. And they will have quite serious impacts on human health and livelihoods.”
8. Med shot, attendees, screen with speakers
9. SOUNDBITE (English) John Nairn, Senior Extreme Heat Advisor, World Meteorological Organization (WMO):
“It's very wobbly, and it ends up with parked weather systems that accumulate a lot of sunshine and heat in one location that moves extremely slowly. These are not your normal weather systems of the past. They have arrived as a consequence of climate change. You are losing the North Pole ice, and that is reinforcing that mechanism. It will continue, and it will continue for some time. You have to reverse it. You have to do climate repair to change it. So, it is global warming and is going to continue for some time.”
10. Med shot, attendee, screen with speakers
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Panu Saaristo, Emergency Health Unit Team leader, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC):
“During these times, it’s crucial to pay attention to the people that face the biggest risk. They are not only people that are vulnerable because of the health conditions, socio-economic conditions and living arrangement can also induce risks. So low-income people in the continent’s cities really bear the brunt of this invisible emergency. And these heatwaves also impact other areas of society through reduced economic output, strained health systems, and even power outages.”
12. Med shot, attendee, screen with speakers
13. Various shots, attendees typing, camerawoman, screen with speakers
STORYLINE
As global temperatures reach unprecedented levels, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Tuesday (18 Jul) warned of an increased risk of death as intense heatwaves continued to grip parts of Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the United States.

“Heatwaves are amongst the deadliest natural hazards, with hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths each year. It's a rather poorly understood hazard,” said John Nairn, WMO’s Senior Extreme Heat Advisor.

“Heat is a rapidly growing health risk due to increased or rapid urbanization, the increasing extreme temperatures and an aging population.”

According to WMO, this year’s extensive and intense heatwaves are alarming - but not unexpected - as they are in line with forecasts.

Scorching conditions “are not your normal weather systems of the past” and are with us “as a consequence of climate change,” Nairn insisted.

“You are losing the North Pole ice, and that is reinforcing that mechanism. It will continue, and it will continue for some time.”

Temperatures in North America, Asia, and across North Africa and the Mediterranean will be above 40° C for a prolonged number of days.

Phoenix in Arizona has suffered temperatures of 46,7 °C during the day and overnight temperatures of 32.2° C.

The Italian island of Sardinia is expected to see a high of 46 °C this afternoon, and Spain has faced consecutive heat waves, with temperatures yesterday reaching 44°C.

Highlighting how serious the impacts of heatwaves are on people, economies, and the naturally built environment, WMO’s Nairn noted that last summer’s European heatwaves claimed an additional 60,000 lives.

“That number is considered to be quite conservative,” he said, adding that the European toll happened data comes even though the continent has some of the strongest early warning systems and heat-health action plans in the world.

“We are seeing continuing growth in the frequency, duration, and intensity of heatwaves. And this is entirely consistent with the science of global warming and (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) IPCC reports. These events will continue to grow in intensity, and the world needs to prepare for more intense heatwaves,” Nairn said.

The WMO expert added, “The recently declared El Niño is only expected to amplify the occurrence and intensity of extreme heat events. So, we're in for a bit of a ride, I'm afraid. And they will have quite serious impacts on human health and livelihoods.”

Replying to a journalist’s question on how the current heatwave had developed, Nairn pointed to “parked weather systems that accumulate a lot of sunshine and heat in one location that moves extremely slowly…You have to reverse it. You have to do climate repair to change it. So, it is global warming and is going to continue for some time.”

According to WMO, overnight temperatures are expected to reach new highs in the future, which is particularly concerning because repeated high night-time temperatures provide no respite to vulnerable people who face an increased risk of heart attacks and death.

Describing the heatwave as an “invisible emergency,” Panu Saaristo, Emergency Health Unit Team leader from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said that it was crucial to look out for people who were vulnerable because of poor health, but also their socio-economic conditions and living arrangements, “which can also induce risks.”

The ICRC official added that low-income neighborhoods in European cities currently bear the brunt of this invisible emergency, noting that heatwaves “also impact other areas of society through reduced economic output, strained health systems and even power outages.”

WMO stressed that more intense and extreme heat is unavoidable worldwide and that it is imperative to prepare and adapt as cities, homes, and workplaces are not built to withstand prolonged high temperatures.

Vulnerable people are not sufficiently aware of heat’s serious health risks to their health and well-being
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