Extreme Heat Waves to Quadruple by 2040, According to New Study

Heat said to make growing crops and surviving actually impossible.

Hello everyone, hope you're doing well. Just wanted to quickly check in and remind you that we are literally destroying this planet and making it into hell on earth.

According to a new studydesigned to both inform and ruin your day a little bit, severe heat waves—the kind that make it impossible to grow crops or have, like, forests—are expected to become increasingly and horrifically frequent over the course of the next 30 years (and here's the worst part, so sit down if you haven't already died of heat stroke): this will happen regardless of whether humans curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Much of the effects that we'll be seeing come from steady momentum started by the constant carbon dioxide emissions of the 21st century, but decreasing emissions for the second half is, according to the study, imperative—even though we may not see the impact of such reductions for another several decades. 

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Additionally, the frequency with which we've begun seen heat waves has strongly increased since about the 1950s, and "right now they cover about 5% of the global land area," said Dim Coumou, a climate scientist for the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany (or PICID, for those tallying up some of the world's most heinous sounding acronyms). As of now, if levels of carbon dioxide continue to increase in the atmosphere as they are today, researchers believe that heat extremes might cover 85% of the Earth's land by 2100. And worse (worse!) five-stigma event, an even hotter and currently nonexistent heat wave—would affect 60% of the globe's land area.

In the meantime, scientists have began explaining the kind of changes we will be seeing to the culture at large, including the need to breed crops that are more resilient to heat and drought, or preparing the healthcare system for the wave of heat-stressed patients that will surely be cropping up (also, phrases like "cropping up" will surely become obselete once it is revealed that we are no lonsger able to grow crops).

"We know that such events can have strong impacts on society as well as ecosystems, " Coumou said. "Our study shows that in the near-term such events will become more regular, but it doesn't mean that we cannot adapt." And while Coumou's insistence that we can adapt to substantial climate changes pretty much entirely undoes the sense of urgency that flows through the study's insistence that we need to change our ways at the risk of destroying this floating rock for good, it's good to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel should human beings continue their love of not changing anything other than cell phone carriers.  

Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.