China May be Uninhabitable by 2100 Due to Deadly Heat Waves

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By Amanda Froelich

If you have plans to visit the Great Wall of China or tour Shanghai, you better plan on going soon. According to a new study published by MIT’s Center for Global Change Science, the most densely populated region on planet Earth may be uninhabitable by 2100. Why? Deadly heatwaves.

“China is currently the largest contributor to the emissions of greenhouse gases, with potentially serious implications to its own population,” said Professor Elfatih Eltahir. Along with his colleagues, he ran extensive computerized climate models to research the imminent event.  Eltahir added: “Continuation of current global emissions may limit the habitability of the most populous region of the most populous country on Earth.”

China being uninhabitable by the turn of the century is a frightening prospect for several reasons. To begin with, the region is home to approximately 400 million farmers who are dependent on suitable outdoor conditions for their livelihoods. Furthermore, Chinese diets are becoming increasingly like Western ones, according to Bloomberg. This means it will require more resources to satiate the growing population’s appetite.

Approximately 1 acre is required to feed the average US citizen. If the dietary trend continues in the Communist country, trouble will arise. This is because China has only 0.2 acres of arable land per citizen. This, combined with environmental degradation and dangerous heatwaves, is enough to create a convincing argument that China will be uninhabitable by 2100.

In previously published global models, Eltahir and his team noted that climate change is the key driver of heat waves. Irrigation for farmland also threatens the environment, as water evaporation leads to harmful humidity levels. To measure heat and humidity, a unit called a “wet bulb” temperature (WBT) is used. The U.S. National Weather Service classifies 87.8 degrees to be extremely dangerous. Says the agency, “If you don’t take precautions immediately, you may become seriously ill or even die.”

WBTs that reach 95 degrees will kill the healthiest of beings in six hours — even if they are sitting in the shade. China, which is the most polluted country on the planet, has some work ahead of it if the government hopes to keep the region habitable in years to come.

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