Establishing intensifying chronic exposure to extreme heat as a slow onset event with implications for health, wellbeing, productivity, society and economy

Elsevier, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 50, June 2021
Oppermann E., Kjellstrom T., Lemke B., Otto M., Lee J.K.W.
The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage has identified increasing temperatures as a key slow onset event. However, it is the resulting increases in short-term heat events — heatwaves — that have so far been the primary focus of risk assessment and policy, while gradual and sustained increases in temperature have received less attention. This is a global issue but particularly important in tropical and subtropical regions already chronically exposed to extreme heat. This paper reviews recent analyses of intensifying seasonal and year-round extreme heat exposures and how this affects daily life, including worker productivity, health and wellbeing, reduced GDP and economic viability. It frames this as a slow onset event and closes with a brief indication of tools available to assess and address these risks.