More than a third of the world’s heat deaths each year are directly due to global warming, according to the latest study to calculate the human cost of climate change.
But scientists say this is just a bit of the global climate toll; there are even more people dying due to another extreme climate amplified by global warming such as storms, floods and droughts, and the heat deaths will grow exponentially with rising temperatures.
Dozens of researchers who analyzed heat deaths in 732 cities around the world between 1991 and 2018 estimated that 37 percent were caused by higher temperatures due to human-caused warming, according to a study Monday in the journal Climate change in nature.
That’s about 9,700 people a year from cities alone, but it’s a lot more worldwide, said the study’s lead author.
“They are heat-related deaths that can really be prevented. It’s something we cause directly,” said Ana Vicedo-Cabrera, an epidemiologist at the Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
The highest percentages of heat deaths caused by climate change were in South American cities. Vicedo-Cabrera pointed to southern Europe and southern Asia as other hotspots for climate-related heat deaths.
The researchers found that Sao Paulo (Brazil) is the one that records the most climate-related heat deaths, with an average of 239 per year.
According to the study, about 35% of heat deaths in the United States can be blamed on climate change. That means a total of more than 1,100 deaths a year in about 200 U.S. cities, surpassed by 141 in New York. Honolulu had the highest share of heat deaths attributable to climate change, 82%.
Scientists used data from decades of mortality in the 732 cities to draw curves detailing how each city’s mortality rate varies with temperature and how heat-death curves vary from city to city. Some cities adapt better to heat than others due to air conditioning. cultural factors i environmental conditions, Said Vicedo-Cabrera.
The researchers then took the observed temperatures and compared them to 10 computer models that simulate a world without climate change. The difference is the warming caused by humans. Applying this scientifically accepted technique to individualized heatdeath curves of the 732 cities, scientists calculated the deaths from additional heat from climate change.
“People continue to ask for evidence that climate change is already affecting our health. This attribution study directly answers this question using epidemiological methods from the state of science and the amount of data the authors have accumulated to analyze is impressive. “, he said. Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin.
Patz, who was not part of the study, said he was one of the first to detail climate changeheat-related deaths now, rather than in the future.
The burden of heat mortality attributable to recent human-induced climate change, Climate change in nature, DOI: 10.1038 / s41558-021-01058-x , www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-01058-x
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