Climate change linked to deadly heat wave in West Africa, warn scientists

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West Africa's deadly heat wave driven by climate change, scientists say



“In the scorching heat of late March and early April, as Ramadan drew to a close, West Africa was hit by a devastating heat wave. A recent report suggests that this extreme weather event was directly linked to human-caused climate change, a chilling reminder of the consequences of our actions.

### Unraveling the Link Between Climate Change and Extreme Heat

According to the report by World Weather Attribution, the temperatures recorded during this heat wave would not have been possible without the influence of human activities on the environment. The soaring temperatures, exceeding 40 degrees Celsius in many countries, were unprecedented and alarming. The severity of the heat wave in Mali and Burkina Faso was likened to a once-in-200-year event, raising concerns about the future.

Clair Barnes, a statistician at the World Weather Attribution and a research associate at Imperial College London, highlighted the significant role of climate change in intensifying the heat wave. She emphasized that unless concrete actions are taken to curb global warming, such extreme events will only become more frequent and severe.

### Understanding the Impact of Human Activity on West Africa

While West Africa typically experiences hot weather in April, the report revealed that human-induced climate change exacerbated the situation:

– The extreme temperatures observed in Mali and Burkina Faso were 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer due to climate change.
– Nighttime temperatures were 2 degrees Celsius higher than they would have been without human influence.
– Contrary to popular belief, the natural phenomenon El Niño only played a minor role in the heat wave, contributing to a negligible temperature increase.

The implications of this heat wave are profound, with communities across the Sahel region, including Senegal, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad, experiencing extreme conditions. The report, while not yet peer-reviewed, underscores the urgent need to address climate change and its impact on vulnerable regions.

### The Urgent Call to Action and Global Solidarity

Kiswendsida Guigma, a climate scientist at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre involved in the report, emphasized the urgent need for collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He highlighted the disproportionate impact of climate change on regions like West Africa, which contribute minimally to global emissions but bear the brunt of its consequences. This disparity underscores the importance of global solidarity in addressing climate change.

The Sahel region faces a bleak future if current trends continue, with projections suggesting that countries like Burkina Faso and Mali could become uninhabitable by 2080. As temperatures rise and extreme heat events become more common, the need for a comprehensive strategy to protect vulnerable populations is paramount.

Dr. Wassila Thiaw, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, emphasized the pressing need for proactive measures to mitigate the health impacts of extreme heat. As we witness the devastating effects of climate change in real-time, the time for action is now.

In conclusion, the heat wave in West Africa serves as a stark reminder of the interconnectedness of our actions and the environment. By addressing the root causes of climate change and prioritizing sustainability, we can create a more resilient and equitable future for all. Let this be a wake-up call to mobilize global efforts towards a more sustainable and climate-resilient world.”



Reference

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