2021-07-03:需更严肃对待热浪所带来的危险

Mercury rising 温度上升

The danger posed by heatwaves deserves to be taken more seriously 需更严肃对待热浪所带来的危险

They will become more frequent and deadly in the years to come. What can be done? 未来它们会更为频繁、更加致命。应如何应对?

Jul 3rd 2021

WHAT IS MOST shocking about the heatwave affecting the Pacific Northwest is not merely that it has hit a usually temperate area, nor that so many long-standing temperature records are being broken. It is that those records are being broken by such large margins. In Portland, Oregon, thermometers reached an unprecedented 46.6°C (116°F)—making it one of several cities in the region where previous records have been beaten by a full 5°C (9°F). Meanwhile, heatwaves are also raging in central Europe and even in Siberia.

热浪袭击太平洋西北地区,最令人震惊的,不仅仅是受到影响的地区通常处于温带,也不是很多长期存在的温度记录被打破。而是,这些记录被打破的幅度之大。俄勒冈州的波特兰地区,气温达到空前的46.6°C(华氏116℉)——包括波特兰在内,本州有好几个城市,最新记录与此前最高记录之间相差了5°C之多(华氏9℉)。同时,热浪也在中欧甚至是西伯利亚地区肆虐。

Heatwaves may generate headlines, but less attention is paid to them than they deserve. In 2018 roughly 300,000 people over the age of 65 died as a result of extreme heat, mainly in India and China, a 54% increase since 2000, according to a report in the Lancet, a medical journal. Unlike storms and floods, heat does not lead to dramatic before-and-after pictures or widespread damage to property. It is a silent killer, its victims often apparent only in retrospect, as statisticians tot up excess deaths and hospital admissions. (The fact that as many as 70,000 people died as a result of a heatwave in Europe in 2003, for example, became apparent only in 2008.) Heat also kills by exacerbating conditions such as heart problems, so not all the deaths it causes may be directly attributed to it.

虽然热浪也许能成为新闻头条,但其所应受的关注还远远不够。据医学期刊《柳叶刀》报告,2018年,主要在印度和中国,有约30万65岁以上的老人死于极度高温,自2000年以来增长了54%。与风暴和洪水不同,人们看不到因高温导致的令人触目惊心的前后对比照片,以及大范围的财产损失。它是个无声杀手,通常只有统计学家合计出超额死亡人数和入院人数之后,受害者才于事后浮出水面。(比如,2003年在欧洲有多达7万人死于热浪,这一事实直到2008年才为人所知。)热浪还会加重心脏问题等症状而致人死亡,因此并非所有高热致死病例都会被直接归咎于它。

Climate change will make heatwaves more common and more extreme. Even if greenhouse-gas emissions are cut to net-zero by the middle of this century, temperatures will go on rising for decades. So other measures are needed to protect people against extreme heat.

气候变化会使热浪变得更为普遍和极端。即使温室气体排放量于本世纪中期降至净零,气温仍会在数十年中保持上升。因此,需采取其他措施保护人们不受极端高热折磨。

Governments can set up early-warning systems to alert health workers, shut down schools and suspend outdoor activities. They can provide the public with forecasts of imminent heatwaves, explanations of the dangers and detailed advice on what to do. Digital channels, including social media, can help distribute such information widely, and not just in tech hotspots like the Pacific Northwest. In 2017 nearly half the population of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, were warned of an imminent heatwave via Facebook.

各国政府可设置早期预警系统,提醒医护工作者,关闭学校,并暂停户外活动。还可向公众提供热浪来袭预报,对其危险进行说明,并就如何应对给出详细建议。包括社交媒体在内的数字渠道,可协助广泛传播以上信息,范围不应局限于大西洋西北部这样的高科技热点地区。2017年,在孟加拉国首都达卡,约半数人口通过脸书接收到了热浪来袭预警。

Improved infrastructure can also help. This includes providing shaded areas, water parks and “misting stations” to help people cool down, and access to air-conditioned “cooling centres” where they can find shelter and sleep if necessary. Such amenities depend, in turn, on a more fundamental form of infrastructure: reliable access to water and electricity, supplies of which may need to be carefully managed.

改善基础设施也会有所帮助。这包括提供遮阳区,水上公园和“喷雾站”帮助人们降温,以及,如有必要他们可以前往装有空调的“避暑中心”栖身和睡觉。以上设施进而又取决于更基础的基础设施:可靠的水电供应(或需要对其进行精心管理)。

Last comes planning. Building codes should ensure that new homes and offices can cope with extreme heat. Existing buildings can be adapted by painting walls and roofs white, or adding sheets of white material, to reduce heat build-up in urban areas. Planting trees provides shade and cools the air, and also improves it—leading to a vogue for miniature “Miyawaki forests” planted in urban areas.

最后一项是进行规划。建筑条例应确保新的住宅和办公室能应对极端高温天气。可对现有建筑进行改造,比如把墙和屋顶刷成白色,或加盖白色材料板,以减少城市地区的热量积聚。植树可提供阴凉,给空气降温,还能改善空气质量——因此在城市地区掀起了种植微型“宫胁森林”的风潮。

The world is, understandably, focused on a different health crisis right now. But heatwaves, along with obesity, dementia and antibiotic resistance, pose an entirely foreseeable threat in the decades to come—as we explain in “What If?”, our annual collection of future scenarios. The timing and severity of the coronavirus pandemic could not have been foreseen. These other far more predictable and preventable crises are different. There is no excuse for failing to take them more seriously.

可想而知,目前整个世界都在关注另一场健康危机。但是热浪,连同肥胖、失智症、抗生素耐药性一起所构成的威胁,在未来数十年是完全可以预见的。正如我们在未来构想年度合集“假如”中所阐释的那样。我们无法预见新冠疫情来袭的时间和严重程度。但其他更可预见也更可预防的威胁则另当别论。因此必须采取更严肃的态度来应对。

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