By Somini Sengupta
It was a record 125 degrees Fahrenheit in Baghdad in July, and 100 degrees above the Arctic Circle this June. Australia shattered its summer heat records as wildfires, fueled by prolonged drought, turned the sky fever red.
For 150 years of industrialization, the combustion of coal, oil and gas has steadily released heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, driving up average global temperatures and setting heat records. Nearly everywhere around the world, heat waves are more frequent and longer lasting than they were 70 years ago.
But a hotter planet does not hurt equally. If you’re poor and marginalized, you’re likely to be much more vulnerable to extreme heat. You might be unable to afford an air-conditioner, and you might not even have electricity when you need it. You may have no choice but to work outdoors under a sun so blistering that first your knees feel weak and then delirium sets in. Or the heat might bring a drought so punishing that, no matter how hard you work under the sun, your corn withers and your children turn to you in hunger.