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Extreme heat has gripped the northern hemisphere in recent months, and the year 2018 is on track to be among the hottest ever recorded. Higher global temperatures are expected to have detrimental effects on our natural environments and our physical health, but what will they do to our mental health?

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The body of new research in response to the IPCC’s call for papers for its 1.5°C special report shows that even an additional half a degree of global warming would bring a wealth of negative impacts on most natural and human systems around the world. It would also constitute a severe hurdle to poverty reduction.

On a brighter note, the research strongly suggests that some of the dire consequences of future global warming can be avoided by restricting the global mean temperature rise to 1.5ºC (above pre-industrial levels).

Although it requires drastic societal transformations, the 1.5˚C objective is still geophysically feasible: whether it will be achieved depends on the concerted action of the global community to overcome political obstacles and curtail the future rates of emissions. However, the scientific evidence shows that, without a doubt, the benefits are worth this effort.

In this blog, we give an overview of the most important of the recent 1.5˚C studies on climate impacts and extreme events. Much of it will be synthesised in the IPCC special report, due out in October, which will be a key document for setting the course of climate policy at a global level.

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When the highest temperature exceeded 32°C, the number of emergency help calls increased significantly along with the temperature rise; almost half of the calls reported symptoms of dizziness, shortness of breath and general pain. Females were more sensitive to high temperature. A territory-wide, large-scale telephone survey conducted by CCOUC during the 2016 cold spell found that amongst the 1,017 participants, 683 (67.2%) reported that the cold spell brought physical discomfort. However, only 134 (13.2%) respondents had sought medical help, among whom 17 (12.7%) bought medicine without seeing doctors. Musculoskeletal pain (42.3%) was the most common symptoms; others were respiratory system symptoms (23.0%) and cardiovascular system symptoms (6.9%).

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