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Global Heat Action and Its Failures



In response to the growing threat of global heat, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched Global Heat Action Day on June 2, 2022. This initiative, driven by necessity, highlights the severity of extreme heat as a global crisis.


Traditionally, the Red Cross has provided international aid for emergencies, refugee support, and chronic hunger. Now, they have added global heat to their repertoire, underscoring the urgent need for action against this escalating threat.

 

The collaboration between the Red Cross and C40 Cities, a network of mayors from leading cities worldwide, aims to raise awareness and educate the public on surviving extreme heat. Over 50 cities plan events to support heat action plans, spread vital messages, check on the vulnerable, distribute water, support medical services, set up cooling centers, and help retrofit homes for better shade. However, these measures, though essential, highlight the enormity of the task at hand.

 

Despite the critical need for action, global efforts to combat climate change face significant obstacles. In the United States, for instance, there is a notable portion of the population that denies the reality of climate change. A study by the University of Michigan found that nearly 15% of Americans do not believe climate change is real. This denial hampers efforts to address the issue, as public understanding and support are crucial for implementing effective policies.

 

Moreover, political decisions have often undermined climate action. For example, during Donald Trump's presidency, the US withdrew from the Paris Agreement, weakened clean energy regulations, supported multiple pipeline projects, expanded drilling, and appointed officials who undermined environmental protection efforts. These actions have set back progress in addressing climate change and highlight the challenges of achieving meaningful action at the policy level.

 

The only viable solution to mitigate the impending global heat crisis is to reduce fossil fuel consumption. However, this requires a concerted effort from governments, industries, and individuals worldwide. The reluctance to take decisive action against fossil fuels suggests a bleak outlook, but the efforts of organizations like the Red Cross and initiatives like Global Heat Action Day offer a glimmer of hope.

 

Raising awareness, educating the public, and implementing practical measures to cope with extreme heat are critical steps. Yet, without significant policy changes and a shift towards sustainable energy sources, these efforts may not be enough to prevent the catastrophic consequences of global warming. The global community must recognize the urgency of the situation and act collectively to avert a future where extreme heat becomes the norm rather than the exception.

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