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[Living Green] Safety Column #4 How to respond to climate change

by Eco Generation | 19-06-2020 08:27 Comments 2 Comments recommendations 1 recommendations

How to respond to climate change



By Science Columnist Ho-Gwan Ko



Climate change is increasingly affecting people's lives. In 2018, heat waves occurred around the world. In Korea, the highest temperature exceeded 40 degrees Celsius, and the number of heat wave days recorded was more than 30 days, setting a record. Power consumption rose with the increasing use of air conditioners, which led to power outages due to overload. On farms, livestock such as pigs and chickens died because of the heat.

Heat waves have negative effects on our health as well. Although healthy people may just feel uncomfortable, the elderly and the infirm could even lose their lives. If you toss and turn due to heat at night, you will have difficulties performing routine activities. Lack of sleep in those who are responsible for the lives of many people, such as drivers, can lead to major accidents.

The heat adversely affects our health, because it makes it difficult for our bodies to release heat. The human body generates heat itself by creating energy and releases heat through the skin to maintain a constant body temperature. However, if the outside temperature is so high that the heat does not escape properly, the body temperature rises, causing heat stroke.

In some places where the temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius, it can be endurable, while other places with a temperature of just over 30 degrees Celsius, it can be felt too hot to stay outside. This difference is caused by humidity. As a bit of common sense, for the same high temperature, higher humidity makes it feel hotter. With lower humidity, you will feel comfortable in the shade.

It is a good idea to refer to the wet bulb temperature to learn about the effect of heat on the human body. Temperature can be divided into dry and wet bulb temperatures. Dry bulb temperature is the temperature measured by a thermometer in the air. This indicates the temperature of the surrounding air. On the other hand, wet bulb temperature is the temperature measured using a thermometer whose glass bulb is covered by a wet cloth.

Our body cools down by evaporating sweat. The reason why it feels cool when the wind blows is because the sweat on your skin evaporates faster and takes away the heat. Instead of sweating, you can pour water over your body to achieve the same effect.

Likewise, the wet bulb temperature is always lower than the dry bulb temperature, because water evaporates from the wet cloth, taking heat away. The higher the humidity, the higher the wet bulb temperature, since the wet cloth evaporates less water. Meanwhile, the lower the humidity, the lower the wet bulb temperature. In other words, the wet bulb temperature refers to the temperature that can be lowered by the natural evaporation of water.

What if the temperature is 36.5 degrees Celsius just like our body temperature? Because sweat does not evaporate, heat cannot get out of our body. This means that natural evaporation cannot lower your body temperature. Even if you take off your clothes or blow a fan over you, it is ineffective as evaporation does not occur. Even a very healthy person could not endure such an environment.

Therefore, you need to look at the wet bulb temperature as well as the ordinary temperature when looking into the effects of heat waves on health. Normally, if the wet bulb temperature exceeds 35 degrees Celsius, even a healthy person could die in five or six hours. The human discomfort index provided by the Korean Meteorological Agency also reflects factors such as wet bulb temperature.

When a heat wave occurs, you need to take several actions to keep your body from getting hot in order to stay healthy. Cover yourself against the sun with a hat or sunshade and avoid dark clothes that absorb a lot of light. You should also drink plenty of water or sports drinks to replenish fluids lost from sweat. If you still feel dizziness or tiredness or experience heat-related symptoms such as muscle spasms, call an ambulance to get proper treatment.

Scientists predict that there will be less and less land on Earth for humans to live on. Until countermeasures against climate change are developed, we have no choice but to adapt to extreme weather events wisely.


How to respond to climate change

▲ If a heat wave occurs, keep out of the heat as much as possible and drink plenty of water.


Houra Yousefi

  • Houra Yousefi says :
    we surly can already see the effects of climate change, thank you for posting such a useful paper.
    Posted 26-07-2020 08:16

Kushal Naharki

  • Kushal Naharki says :
    climate change is a great issue of concern in this century. In the country like Nepal, where agriculture is the main occupation, the impacts of the climate change is likely to impact more.
    Posted 17-07-2020 16:02

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