Climate change may be responsible for up to 3000 deaths a year in NYC by 2080

New York City summers bring to mind images of children running through open fire hydrants, free concerts in the park,  and a feeling of carefreeness not associated with any other season. If the results of new research are correct, New York City summers could conjure darker images as the result of worsening climate change..

It’s well-known that high temperatures can overheat the body and lead to heat exhaust or even heat stroke. Researchers from Columbia University wanted to see what effect rising temperatures would have on the mortality of New York City’s residents.   Using data from 33 global climate models and two scenarios showing greenhouse gas concentrations, they predict as many as 3,331 people could die every year from heat exposure during New York City summers. The research accounts for future population size, greenhouse gas emission trajectories, and things like air conditioning and public cooling centers designed to help people adapt to the heat. Columbia University researchers predict that as many as 3,331 people could die every year from heat exposure during summers in New York City.

Now, with the looming threat of climate change, scientists at Columbia University have estimated future heat-related deaths in New York City using data from 33 global climate models and two scenarios showing  greenhouse gas concentration rather than emissions.. e“We were surprised by the wide range of potential public health impacts depending on the specific combination of climate, adaptation and demographic scenarios,” first author Elisaveta Petkova told Medical Daily.  She added that the projected number of annual heat-related deaths  across the models used, adaptation and population change ranged from 167 to 3,331 in the 2080s compared to 638 heat-related deaths annually between 2000 and 2006.

However, there are two ways to limit the number of heat-related deaths from climate change: One is to reduce  fossil fuel emissions; another is to  offer more ways for people to adapt to the heat through interventions such as public cooling centers. Researchers project that a reduction in fossil fuel emissions —  if the climate adheres to the more moderate of two greenhouse gas trajectories – can result in nearly 2,000 fewer annual heat-related deaths. High levels of adaptation could also save an additional 1,198 lives.

“These findings highlighted the role of the various assumptions we made in our models and illustrated the importance of taking of proactive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implementing various city-level measures to reduce heat vulnerability (such as education about heat-related health impacts, as well as  cooling centers and emergency “heatlines” [such as 311 during heatwaves],”  Petkova said.

Climate change has been linked to many health risks, including disease outbreaks. For example, two years ago the U.S, along with the Caribbean Islands and Latin America  experienced a chikungunya outbreak — a mosquito-born virus that is usually found thousands of miles away in Africa and Asia. The World Health Organization attributed  more than 1.3 million suspected cases and 191 deaths to Chikungunya, “a virus that had no business even being in the Western part of the world,” Medical Daily previously reported. Although it isn’t clear whether or not global warming was the direct cause of the outbreak, scientists believe rising temperatures helped it spread faster.

It’s important to note that air conditioning, is already pervasive in New York City and that adaptation efforts in general are at or close to being maxed out. However, they suggests other ways New York City could become more resilient to heat, such as through the installation of reflective roofs and green infrastructure including tree planting.

1 Comment

  1. Soundmind

    Sixty-four years from now nine more people a day will die in New York City, a city of 8 million people than would have died had we reverted to living in the stone age now in 2016. The lowest death rate in NYC was about 55,000 in 2007. This from Columbia University, hotbed of communism, anti-semitism, pro Islamism, and the black heart of American colleges. Who can believe anything that comes out of that wretched place? If I’m around in 64 years I’ll let you know if their prediction comes true. Until then it’s in my file of “who gives a damn, this is about as stupid as predictions get.”

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