Jun 30, 2023, 7:59am EDT

What to know: Extreme heat kills hundreds of Hajj pilgrims, dozens in southern US

People walk during a period of high temperatures in Mexico City, Mexico June 13, 2023. REUTERS/Henry Romero
REUTERS/Henry Romero

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The News

At least 230 Hajj pilgrims died of heat-related injuries as temperatures in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, peaked to 48 degrees Celsius (118 F). Most of the dead were Indonesians.

In the southern U.S., dozens of people have died in Texas and Louisiana as a heat dome — a high pressure region which locks hot air into an area — has stretched on for weeks.

We’ve curated insightful analysis on what these heat-related deaths tell us about the climate crisis.

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  • Texans have a long history of dealing with the heat, and an often pervasive attitude is that hot weather is simply a fact of life. But as temperatures soar, it has become clear that the state has entered a new era of extreme heat, journalist Peter Holley wrote. Century-old temperature records are being shattered multiple times in the same week, and the dew point is so high that the air feels similar to that of the jungle, a meteorologist said. — Texas Monthly
  • As climate change progresses, it’s likely that tropical and subtropical regions will experience dangerous Heat Index levels for a majority of the year by the end of this century, according to a recent study. And even at mid-latitudes — regions like North America and much of Europe — the health consequences of extreme heat are likely to be “profound” without intervention to curb emissions. — Nature
  • Historically, extreme cold temperatures have been more likely than extreme heat to kill people each year. But with climate change, that dynamic is shifting: Cold-related deaths are falling, and heat-related deaths are rising. Globally, temperature-related mortality rates are going to stay about the same as climate change continues, but colder, wealthy northern countries will survive the changes while southern countries with inadequate relief from the heat will suffer. — The Washington Post
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Know More

According to Saudi Arabian outlet the Saudi Gazette, 215,000 pilgrims sought medical assistance this year, with 4,000 people hospitalized. In total, about 8,400 people experienced heat-related health issues, a health official told the paper.

The heat dome in Texas has rocketed temperatures to among the hottest on the planet. The state’s power grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said that demand for electricity hit a record high this week due to the surge in demand for air conditioning.