In a warming world, deforestation turns the heat deadly, Borneo study finds

In a warming world, deforestation turns the heat deadly, Borneo study finds

A new study published in Lancet Planetary Health reports how localized deforestation and global warming are contributing to an increase in heat-related deaths in Berau, a district in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo. Researchers from the University of Washington and Mulawaran University in Samarinda, the East Kalimantan capital, used publicly accessible satellite data to calculate changes to forest cover and ground temperature between 2002 and 2018 in Berau. They concluded that a deforestation-induced rise in mean daily maximum temperatures of 0.95° Celsius (1.71° Fahrenheit) over the 16-year period resulted in the additional deaths of 101-118 people annually. “When you consider it has taken the wider world 150 years to warm by +0.95°C, compared with just 16 years in Berau … the dramatic impacts of deforestation on this region’s climate become clear,” said lead author Nicholas Wolff, a climate change scientist with global NGO The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which also worked on the study. Heat has long been considered an environmental and occupational hazard, with rising global temperatures posing numerous public health concerns in the form of a potential epidemic of chronic kidney disease, heat-exacerbated illness, and excess mortality. As the climate shifts, 1 billion people are threatened by a risk of heat stress, scientists say, with disproportionate health effects felt by those living in low-latitude tropical countries such as Indonesia. Central to the study is the widely underestimated role rainforests play in cooling surrounding landscapes, in addition to their role on a global scale in stimulating…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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