The heat wave over Germany endangers people. But it is also a clear indication of the climate crisis. Physician and author Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen warns: “Nobody, no matter how rich he is, can buy his own outside temperature.” And indoor air conditioning is not a good solution either.

The heat has Germany firmly in its grip. At almost 40 degrees, it is so warm here that even Deutsche Bahn has decided to offer a special goodwill arrangement. With this, customers can use their current ticket until July 27th. The doctor, author and cabaret artist Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen is a guest in the 321st episode of “Today Important” and spoke to Michel Abdollahi a while ago about the importance of the recurring heat waves. It is clear to him: “The heat is not good for our soul”. Nobody, no matter how rich he is, can buy his own outside temperature, says Hirschhausen: “Of course you can bunker up and cool down with air conditioning, but that’s not a good life.”

Record temperatures are killing people who would not have died without the heat

The Europe-wide heat wave harbors some dangers. According to a survey by the Robert Koch Institute, the German Weather Service and the Federal Environment Agency, more than 19,000 people died from the heat in Germany alone from 2018 to 2020. The problem is that far too little is said about it, Eckart von Hirschhausen criticizes: “Heart deaths are not in the media because they don’t die on the day when it’s hot.” These people are much more likely to die from the after-effects of extreme heat; children and people who are already ill are particularly affected. That’s a big problem, especially because many people underestimate the heatwaves: “There needs to be an awareness that heat is the biggest health threat we need to prepare for this century.” That is why he calls for a national heat protection plan, such as France already has.

Eckart von Hirschhausen: “We are going into a total catastrophe with our eyes wide open”

The supposedly easiest rescue against the heat, at least for indoor spaces, seems to be air conditioning. When it’s warm, the demand for the cooling devices grows immensely. Hirschhausen finds this problematic, because what cools the rooms also heats up the planet. This is due to the way air conditioning works. Cold air comes out at the front, while heat is emitted at the back, which in turn pollutes the air and consumes additional energy: “As long as we continue to generate electricity from coal, we will continue to heat up the climate.” So air conditioning, which should ease the heat wave for us, is another reason why humanity is struggling with the extreme temperatures. According to Hirschhause, anyone who is thinking about purchasing such a device should be aware of the consequences: “We still have ten years to initiate massive changes and prevent us from breaking the planetary boundaries. That’s why it’s worth every Tenths of a degree to fight.”

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