Thursday, 24 May 2012 16:13

Killer Climate Change

Written by  Jessie
Tehachapi Mountains CA Wind Farm Tehachapi Mountains CA Wind Farm Stan Shebs/CC BY-SA 3.0

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 that estimates 150,000 additional American deaths in the country’s top 40 cities by 2100 due to the excessive heat caused by climate change.

The top three deadliest cities outlined in the analysis of peer-reviewed data include Louisville, Detroit, and Cleveland.  Some other cities projected to have thousands of heat related deaths by the end of the century are Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

Why cities?  Because that is where two-thirds of the U.S. population lives, and many municipal services there are not prepared to help people effectively beat the heat.  Urban areas have high concentrations of poor with little to no access to air conditioning.  Although everyone is at risk, children, the elderly, the obese, and those on medication are the most vulnerable. 

We’re already seeing how global warming can kill with hundreds of heat related deaths annually.  Extreme heat causes heat exhaustion and heat stroke and worsens illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.  In 2006, a two-week long heat wave in California caused 655 deaths, 1,620 excess hospitalizations, and more than 16,000 additional emergency room visits, resulting in nearly $5.4 billion in costs.  However, Chicago had an even deadlier record-setting heat wave in 1995 when more than 700 people died due to the excessive heat.

Some cities are learning from their experiences or heeding the warnings, and strengthening their municipal services.  Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle have already put measures in place to lessen the risk from excessive heat days.  Measures include improving the city’s heat warning system, emergency services, and establishing cooling centers.

There is hope; we can save lives by reducing emissions and improving emergency services.  Some examples of climate change mitigation are supporting reforestation projects and using more renewable energy such as wind energy.

Read the report and get more information at http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/killer-heat/.

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