Immediate Action Needed to Avoid Thousands of Heat-Related Deaths in U.S., New Study Says
by Jordan Davidson
Taking action to stop the mercury from rising is a matter of life and death in the U.S., according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.
Extreme heat due to the climate crisis will cause thousands of deaths around the country unless immediate action is taken to stop global temperatures from rising over 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Already this month, San Francisco, typically cool in June, has seen triple digit temperatures, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported. And meanwhile, parts of India have seen scores of heat-related deaths from temperatures sizzling around 122 degrees Fahrenheit, according to CNN.
"The more warming you have, the more heat waves you have," said Michael Wehner, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who was not involved in this study, as reported by the New York Times. "The more heat waves you have, the more people die."
By examining the effects extreme heat will cause in 15 U.S. cities, the study shows the pressing need for immediate action for nations around the world to ratchet up their efforts to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"Our results demonstrate that strengthened mitigation ambition would result in substantial benefits to public health in the United States," the study's authors concluded.
In the absence of those efforts, the outlook is bleak. If the global average temperature rises 3 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels, a heat wave could claim 6,000 lives in New York City, 2,500 in Los Angeles and 2,300 in Miami, the study says, as NBC News reports. The greatest risks are in northern cities like New York, Boston and Philadelphia.
That also means a densely-populated and vulnerable city like New York has the most to gain from meeting the 2 degree Celsius rise laid out in the Paris agreement, and even more to gain if temperatures rise only 1.5 degrees.
"New York City ... could see 1,980 1-in-30-year heat-related deaths avoided in the 2C warmer world relative to the 3C warmer world under the assumption of constant population. If the 1.5C world is realized, 2,716 of 1-in-30-year heat-related deaths could be avoided, relative to 3C," according to the paper, as Carbon Brief reported.
In the gravest scenario where temperatures rise 3 degree Celsius, Seattle, known for its cool summer temperatures, could see over 700 heat-related deaths while daily temperatures hover around 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit, the Seattle Times reports. That's just heat-related and doesn't factor in the decline in air quality that Seattle has seen thanks to nearby wildfires. Not to mention, as stark as the numbers are, the study might have underestimated the toll taken by heat waves by failing to consider non-fatal heat-related injuries, which send patients to American emergency rooms about 65,000 times each summer, said Aaron Bernstein, co-director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to NBC News.
The study authors' hope that putting the numbers in context on a city-by-city basis will trigger leaders to reassess and ramp up their commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.
"You might think, what's the difference 1.5 degrees will make to human lives?" said Eunice Lo, a climate scientist at the University of Bristol and the paper's co-author, as reported by NBC News. "Actually, thousands of lives in one year can be saved in a city. Meeting the 1.5-degree target is essential and would be substantially beneficial to public health in the United States."
People dying as India hits 123 degrees temperature. Nothing to do with fossil fuel, of course. https://t.co/kRiVt45Pj6— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) June 13, 2019
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- Extreme Heat Is Killing Americans While Years of Government Neglect Increases the Danger - EcoWatch ›
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>