A stark warning, even by the standards of climate research: If emissions continue at their current level, parts of the Persian Gulf region will simply become too hot and humid for people to survive in. Researchers say that by the end of this century, the combined heat and humidity "wet bulb" index in the region could hit 165 to 170 degrees during the worst heat waves, creating sauna-like conditions that even the healthiest person couldn't survive in outdoors for more than six hours, the Smithsonian reports. The researchers, writing in the journal Nature, say conditions will exceed the "threshold for human adaptability" in cities including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and, on the other side of the Gulf, Bandar Abbas in Iran.
The researchers say that while air conditioning may keep wealthier areas inhabitable, that's not an option for people in countries like Yemen. And in the years ahead, the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia could become exceptionally deadly in summer months. "Some of the scariest prospects from a changing clime involve conditions completely outside the range of human experience," a Carnegie Institution for Science climate researcher tells the AP. "If we don't limit climate change to avoid extreme heat or mugginess, the people in these regions will likely need to find other places to live." The researchers say the deadly level of heat can be avoided with relatively modest emissions cuts, the Smithsonian notes. (This company is turning CO2 from the atmosphere into fuel.)