A study of high-resolution climate models published in the journal Nature Climate Change projected that much of the Gulf region will be uninhabitable before the end of the century. The Persian Gulf is the fastest warming sea on the planet due to its shallowness, a process that is increasing humidity, making the mugginess worse.
Ironically, the part of the world that is exporting most fossil-fuel energy will now feel the brunt of the greenhouse warming caused by carbon emissions.
Climate simulations show that by 2090 average ‘wet bulb temperature’ – a combination of temperature and humidity – in cities like Dubai and Doha will exceed the threshold of human adaptability of 35°C, the temperature beyond which the human body is unable to survive more six hours at 70% humidity.
A recent investigative report by Inside Climate News and NBC News showed that at least 17 US soldiers have died of heat exposure during exercises at US military bases since 2008.
Many Nepali migrant workers in the Gulf are exposed to similar conditions since they work in construction, which requires them to be outdoors all day. Many of them are not properly briefed about the dangers of dehydration, and at the end of the work day return to chilly air-conditioned rooms.
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Bishnu KC from Okharkot village in Piuthan went to work in the Gulf 10 months ago. He often told his sister back home how difficult it was to work on the high scaffolding in the heat. KC came home in a coffin recently, just another of the 7,000 Nepalis who have died working overseas in the past 10 years. Others return with kidney problems, and need dialysis or transplants.
Says Dahal: “This problem is going to get worse. Pre-departure orientation for workers should emphasise how to cope with heat stress, and the importance of keeping hydrated.”