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Model shows health impact of heat waves from climate change could devastate

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Climate change health impact

A new analysis shows higher mortality rates will accompany climate change and heat waves, unless steps are taken.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins say it is difficult to predict scenarios related to global warming and the impact on human health, but a predictive model shows the effect of heat waves could have a "profound" effect on public health.

In a new investigation, it appears plausible that without mitigation, or human adaptation to warmer temperatures from climate change, lives will be lost.

Scenarios show heat from climate change could be devastating

Roger Peng, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Bloomberg School of Public Health says, “Our study looks to quantify the impact of increased heat waves on human mortality. For major a U.S. city like Chicago, the impact will likely be profound and potentially devastating.”

The method used to quantify the impact of global warming was based on a model of estimates from seven climate change scenarios and from mortality and air pollution data for the city of Chicago from 1987 to 2005 during the warmest months of May to October.

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Using the existing information, the researchers calculated the future number of deaths from global warming and heat waves that they concluded would range from 166 to 2,217 per year. The findings are published in the journal” Environmental Health Perspectives”.

From 1987 to 2005, there were 53 excess yearly deaths attributable to 14 heat waves that lasted an average of 9.2 days. The increase in deaths from climate change included three scenarios for the years 2081 to 2100.

Peng says, “It’s very difficult to make predictions, but given what we know now—absent any form of adaptation or mitigation—our study shows that climate change will exacerbate the health impact of heat waves across a range of plausible future scenarios.”

The predictive study model shows climate change and extreme weather patterns will claim lives. The result of heat waves from global warming could be less devastating if steps are taken to reduce CO2 emissions, according to Peng.

“Environmental Health Perspectives”
“Toward a Quantitative Estimate of Future Heat Wave Mortality under Global Climate Change”
Roger D. Peng, Jennifer F. Bobb, Claudia Tebaldi , Larry McDaniel, Michelle L. Bell, Francesca Dominici

Image credit: Morguefile



what is triggering the major health impacts related to climate change or what are the intervening variables that show climate change impacts human health