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As April heat wave sets new temperature records in Asia, it's clear that a 2º world is already here, especially for cities

This week, weather stations recorded the hottest temperature ever in Asia and the Middle East, with 54ºC (129ºF) in Mitribah, Kuwait, and 53.9º C in Basra (Iraq). Six cities in India recorded sustained temperatures above 44º C (111ºF)—now a new normal for that country in summer, but not in April—while Thailand, Laos and most of Southeast Asia experienced the highest temperatures ever recorded. Most record temperatures in Asia have been set in the last 8 years.

We often hear politicians and scientists discuss how we need to avoid a 1.5º or 2º world. What does that mean exactly? The 2º represents the increase in average temperature, due to manmade global warming, for the entire world since the Industrial Revolution. Pay attention to the word averageThat means that a 2º average is calculated with global temperatures from everywhere, from cities, to deserts, to oceans, to the North and South poles. But that's not where most people liveBy 2050, 68% of the world's population will live in cities.


Our research shows that cities have already warmed well beyond the 2º threshold. In fact, most cities in the world are already living with a staggering 4-5º degree increase. The damage this is doing to health, infrastructure and the economy is staggering.

Heat increases in 65 US cities, over the last 70 years (data: Daniels Family Sustainable Energy Foundation report).

Current, long-term devastating droughts and famines in East Africa could not have happened without manmade climate change. Tens of thousands of people have died, and many have been displaced. Climate-driven migration is happening throughout the Americas, putting undue stress on border states and economies. Leading global insurance companies estimate that as many as 1.2 billion people will be climate migrants by 2050.


@ OxFam International (Creative Commons)

While the areas in India experiencing lower temperature because of the smog may receive a small benefit, the air pollution that is blocking the sunlight will cause much worse health threats to the population. These uneven effects of climate change and environmental degradation may seem confusing at first, but they are, in fact, different sides of the same coin. The solution remains the same: reduce energy demand, reduce pollution and mitigate climate change.


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