In a disturbing prediction, researchers at Texas A&M University and the University of Illinois at Chicago estimated that the United States may face up to 200,000 temperature-related deaths every year by 2100.
A recent study published in GeoHealth analyzed data from over 100 American cities to project the human toll of our dangerously overheating planet.
The researchers’ projections assumed that by the year 2100, Earth’s average temperature will increase by at least 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels — which the Gizmodo article described as “a not-quite-worst-case scenario that we might be on track to meet without aggressive actions” to cap our releases of heat-trapping pollution or find other “drastic solutions.”
The Economist also ran coverage of what this level of temperature increase would look like, with a 2021 article that said it was “quite plausible and truly disastrous.” An accompanying video brought home the “catastrophic” results the world could see — heat waves, droughts, extreme precipitation, and fire — sobering forecasts in line with the recent research.
Why is this concerning?
To put it simply, increasing rates of climate-related deaths are concerning because more of us and our loved ones will be in danger due to the continual overheating of our planet.
“We find that in the future, temperature-related deaths are going to increase in the northern U.S., mostly due to an increase in heat-related deaths,” the study’s lead author, Jangho Lee, said in a statement. “That’s because southern cities, like Phoenix or Houston, are already very well adapted to heat, whereas northern cities are not.”
What’s being done to prevent temperature-related deaths?
The researchers believe that approximately 28% of these heat-related deaths might be avoided if cities in the country’s northern region can increase their capacity to adapt to harsh heat by 2100.
“Ultimately, no one knows how effectively we will adapt to the warmer temperatures of the coming century. However, the investments society has made to make cities like Houston or Phoenix livable in a hot climate are massive and it is far from assured that we will make similar investments in other cities as the climate warms,” the authors of the study said, as Gizmodo reported.
However, civilians must advocate and vote for policies allowing governments and organizations to take extensive precautions to prepare communities for changing temperatures.
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