Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Sweltering heat creates new vulnerable group - UWI professor

Published:Wednesday | July 13, 2016 | 7:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Security guards are among the groups of people who are, as a result of current high temperatures, emerging as extremely vulnerable.

Security guards, construction workers, athletes, and the homeless are among the individuals Professor Michael Taylor, climate-change expert, describes as an emerging vulnerable group created by the sweltering temperatures with which the country continues to grapple.

"I think people are realising that this (heat) could become a part of our reality now. I always say among those vulnerable to climate change, who we are not thinking of, are, for example, people who have to work outdoors. Security guards, athletes, people who have to clean the streets - with these kinds of temperatures, these are the people who are emerging as extremely vulnerable; it's a new category of vulnerability," declared the professor, who is head of the Climate Studies Group, Mona.

"Think of a hotel worker who has to work with guests on the outside, or anybody who has to be outdoors for a long period of time; they are really emerging as a new set of vulnerable people if this pattern continues," he said.

In a report earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmos-pheric Administration (NOAA) stated that the Earth's current streak of record-high temperatures has hit 11 months, the longest time frame in history.

The first three months of the year were 2.078OF warmer than normal and half a degree warmer than the previous record start set last year.

 

SENSE OF URGENCY

 

Taylor indicated that it would take a renewed sense of urgency among citizens to aid in mitigation and adaptation efforts.

"Globally, if you follow the NOAA site, every month this year, I think has set a record. Globally, this year has been the hottest we have seen. We always feel that we can adjust to the warmth because we are already a tropical country, but I think for the first time, people are recognising that it is something we have to take seriously," he said.

"Heat stress is something that we will have to come to terms with, and I think this (current temperatures) is a precursor. It kind of breaks the notion that we will adjust anyway. We are seeing warm days, warm nights, and it's consecutive days of warming," he continued.

He added: "You are using more energy in every respect. It carries a whole element of energy usage. Water becomes critical because you are talking evaporation and dry conditions that are accompanying the heat."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com