Climate Scientists’ Heat Wave Warning 20 Years Ago Was Tragically Prescient

People find shelter from the heat in a cooling center at the Oregon Convention Center.

The mass casualty heat wave that broiled the Pacific Northwest and western Canada last month is precisely the kind of catastrophe predicted by climate scientists two decades ago, Yale Climate Connections reports.

In 2001, the IPCC’s Third Assessment warned the greatest increases in heat stress were expected in “mid- to high-latitude (temperate) cities, especially in populations with non-adapted architecture and limited air conditioning.” The scientists wrote at the time, “A number of U.S. cities would experience, on average, several hundred extra deaths each summer.”

This year’s June heat wave killed nearly 800 people in the usually-temperate region where few live in homes with air conditioning. That heat wave would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change.

For a deeper dive:

Yale Climate Connections; The Guardian; Climate Signals background: June 2021 PNW heatwave

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