WASHINGTON, D.C – More than 150,000 additional Americans could die by the end of this century due to excessive heat caused by climate change, according to a detailed analysis of peer-reviewed scientific data by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The “Killer Summer Heat” report, projects heat-related death toll through the end of the 21st century in the most populated U.S. cities.
The projected deaths are based on the widely-used assumption that carbon pollution will steadily increase in the absence of effective new policies, more than doubling the levels seen today by the end of the century.
“This is a wake-up call. Climate change has a number of real life-and-death consequences. One of which is that as carbon pollution continues to grow, climate change is only going to increase the number of dangerously hot days each summer, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of lives lost,” said Dan Lashof, director of NRDC’s climate and clean air program.
Temperatures in San Joaquin County rose above 100 degrees last week. County public health officials urge residents to take precautions for hot weather.
“Groups especially at risk for heat stress are the elderly, adults with disabilities, chronically ill, children under 4 years old and anyone who works or exercises vigorously outdoors,” said San Joaquin County Health Officer, Dr. Karen Furst.
The kinds of consequences of climate change highlighted in NRDC’s report are already evident:
- At least 40 states saw record temperatures in the summer of 2011, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
- Health impacts spike during excessive heat events. For example, California was hit by deadly heat waves in 2006, causing during a two-week period 655 deaths, 1,620 excess hospitalizations, and more than 16,000 additional emergency room visits occurred, resulting in nearly $5.4 billion in costs.