经济学人官方译文 | 气候变化已经在夺取生命,各国必须学习应对极端高温

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Hot as hell
Climate change is already killing people. Countries must learn to adapt to extreme heat

In recent days heatwaves have turned swathes of America and Europe into furnaces. Despite the accompanying blast of headlines, the implications of such extreme heat are often overlooked or underplayed. Spectacular images of hurricanes or floods grab attention more readily, yet heatwaves can cause more deaths. Heat is one of climate change’s deadliest manifestations. Sometimes its impact is unmistakable—a heatwave in Europe in 2003 is estimated to have claimed 70,000 lives. More often, though, heatwaves are treated like the two in the Netherlands in 2018. In just over three weeks, around 300 more people died than would normally be expected at that time of year. This was dismissed as a “minor rise” by officials. But had those people died in a flood, it would have been front-page news.
近日,热浪将美国和欧洲的大片地区都变成了火炉。尽管这种极端高温频频登上新闻头条,但其影响往往被忽视或低估。飓风或洪水的震撼影像更容易吸引眼球,但其实热浪可能更致命。酷热是气候变化最致命的表征之一。它的影响有时确凿无疑——据估计,2003 年欧洲的一场热浪夺走了七万条性命。然而更多时候,人们对热浪的态度和对2018 年荷兰遭遇的那两场高温一样。在短短三周多的时间里,死亡人数比起同期正常情况约多出300 人。对此官员们不以为意,称这只是“小幅上升”。但若这是一场洪水造成的死亡人数,肯定就上头版了。

The havoc caused by extreme heat does not get the attention it merits for several reasons. The deaths tend to be more widely dispersed and do not involve the devastation of property as do the ravages of wind and water. Moreover, deaths are not usually directly attributable to heatstroke. Soaring temperatures just turn pre-existing conditions such as heart problems or lung disease lethal.

Heatwaves will inevitably attract more attention as they become more frequent. As greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, not only will temperatures rise overall but extremes of heat will occur more frequently. Britain’s Met Office calculates that by the 2040s European summers as hot as that of 2003 could be commonplace, regardless of how fast emissions are reduced. Urbanisation intensifies the risk to health: cities are hotter places than the surrounding countryside, and more people are moving into them.
随着热浪侵袭愈加频繁,它肯定会引起更广泛关注。温室气体在大气中不断积聚,不仅令总体气温上升,也导致极端酷热天气更频繁地出现。据英国气象局统计,到本世纪40 年代,无论减排速度有多快,欧洲的夏天像2003 年时那样酷热可能成为常态。城市化加剧了健康风险:城市比周边乡郊热,而搬入城市的人越来越多。

The good news is that most fatalities are avoidable, if three sets of measures are put in place. First, people must be made aware that extreme heat can kill and warning systems established. Heatwaves can be predicted with reasonable accuracy, which means warnings can be given in advance advising people to stay indoors, seek cool areas and drink plenty of water. Smart use of social media can help. In 2017 a campaign on Facebook warning of the dangers of a heatwave in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, reached 3.9m people, nearly half the city’s population.
好消息是,如果采取三套措施,大多数因酷暑致命的情况都可避免。首先,必须让人们意识到极端高温可能致命,并建立预警系统。对热浪来袭的预测已经比较准确,这使官方能够发出预警,建议人们留在室内,寻找阴凉处休息,并多喝水。巧妙利用社交媒体也有帮助。2017 年,人们在Facebook 上发起行动,警告孟加拉国首都达卡可能遭受热浪袭击,390 万人收到了信息,几乎是该市人口的一半。

Second, cool shaded areas and fresh water should be made available. In poor places, air-conditioned community centres and schools can be kept open permanently (steamy nights that provide no relief from scorching days can also kill). In Cape Town, spray parks have been installed to help people cool down. Third, new buildings must be designed to be resilient to the threat of extreme heat and existing ones adapted. White walls, roofs or tarpaulins, and extra vegetation in cities, all of which help prevent heat from building up, can be provided fairly cheaply. A programme to install “cool roofs” and insulation in Philadelphia reduced maximum indoor temperatures by 1.3˚C.
其次,应提供阴凉的避暑区,并备好饮用水。在贫困地区,有空调的社区中心和学校可以持续开放(酷暑天气里,夜间闷热不退同样可能致命)。南非开普敦已建造喷水公园帮助人们降温。第三,新建筑的设计必须能抵御极端高温,现有建筑则需加以改建。在城市里,白色的墙壁、屋顶或防水油布、增加植被等方式都有助于防止热量积聚,成本也相当低廉。美国费城一项安装“冷屋顶”和隔热材料的计划成功将室内最高温度降低了1.3˚ C。

It is a cruel irony that, as with other effects of climate change, the places that are hardest hit by heatwaves can least afford to adapt. In poor countries, where climates are often hotter and more humid, public-health systems are weaker and preoccupied with other threats. Often, adaptation to extreme heat is done by charities if it is done at all. Particular attention should be paid to reaching both remote areas and densely populated urban ones, including slums where small dwellings with tin roofs packed together worsen the danger that uncomfortably high temperatures will become lethal.

Adaptation is not an alternative to cutting emissions; both are necessary. But even if net emissions are reduced to zero this century, the persistence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means that heatwaves will continue to get worse for decades to come. As the mercury rises, governments in rich and poor countries alike must do more to protect their populations from this very real and quietly deadly aspect of climate change.