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Climate change will mean more heat deaths
May 21st, 2013
01:47 PM ET

Climate change will mean more heat deaths

As greenhouse gases cause average temperatures to climb worldwide, human health will suffer, scientists say.

A study in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that heat deaths in Manhattan will increase over the rest of this century in connection with higher temperatures associated with global warming. In the 2020s, heat-related deaths could rise about 20% compared with the 1980s, according to the research.

"This paper helps to remind people that climate change is real, that it’s happening and we need to prepare and make ourselves as resilient as we can to climate change," said Patrick Kinney, the study's senior author and director of the Columbia Climate and Health Program at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "It’s a real problem that we face. It’s not insurmountable."

In the 2050s, the study projects, climate change could be associated with a rise of up to 49% in heat-related deaths. And by the 2080s, the average heat-related deaths could go up as much as 91%. For reference, the average number of heat-related deaths in the 1980s was 369.

Although rising temperatures mean fewer cold-related deaths, the magnitude of the heat-related deaths still results in an overall net loss of life when it comes to temperature-related mortality. Projections in this study comparing the two found a net increase in deaths of up to 6.2% in the 2020s, up to 15.4% in the 2050s and up to 31% in the 2080s.

Scientists paired projections of future temperatures, which are expected to rise because of climate change, and plugged them into a function relating this information to risk of death. To come up with that function, they analyzed data on daily temperatures and deaths in Manhattan in the 1980s.

These numbers all relate to a scenario in which greenhouse gases are high by the end of the century, with greenhouse gas emissions continuing to grow. The projected death tolls are slightly more modest in a scenario where social and environmental consciousness work to mitigate emissions, the study says, but even then, heat deaths would be expected to rise about 50% in 2080, as compared with 100 years earlier.

In the 2080s, the months of May and September are projected to have the largest percentage increases in temperature-related deaths.

Kinney's study does have some shortcomings. For example, it did not take into account the expected rise in population of Manhattan in the future, or the effects of hurricanes and other extreme weather events when calculating death tolls.

The study is similar to an analysis done in 2011 about Chicago, led by Francesca Dominici of Harvard School of Public Health. She and colleagues wrote in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that between 2081 and 2100, Chicago could suffer up to 2,217 excess deaths per year that would be attributable to heat waves, although the lower estimate was 166 such deaths.

The consensus in the scientific community is that human activity - namely burning coal, oil and natural gas - has been the engine behind the rapidly rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Earlier this month, carbon dioxide levels reached a key milestone – 400 parts per million - at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

With warmer temperatures and melting icecaps, sea levels rise, making any individual storm more disastrous. The sea level near New York City was about 10 inches higher in 2012 than in 1900, which compounded the effects of Superstorm Sandy, said J. Marshall Shepherd, climate change expert and professor at the University of Georgia.

It's impossible to say that any given heat wave or severe storm is "caused by climate change," but changing climate patterns do raise the risk for these events.

Kinney likens this to drunk driving. A sober driver has a risk of getting into an accident to begin with, but after a couple of drinks, that risk goes up. Similarly, as humans pump more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, the changes of extreme weather events go up.

"Greenhouse gases are kind of like the alcohol in the system of the climate," Kinney said.

New York is already planning strategies to combat heat-related illness from climate change, Kinney said. Planting trees and making "green" roofs, or simply painting black roofs white, can all help cool the city. When high temperatures are on the way, there could be better ways to get the word out to vulnerable populations.

"With careful planning we can protect most people from the effects shown in this paper," Kinney said.

Heatstroke: A deadly hazard of summer


soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. mike

    riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. sure it will.

    May 21, 2013 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve Allard

      I just pray that you Fox News Republican's don't try to move to the Northeast when climate change makes your southern states uninhabitable. I like the idea of you paying the price for your ... choices. Enjoy the heat.

      May 22, 2013 at 01:30 | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      You're right. And it already has.

      May 22, 2013 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
    • farmergal

      There will be more deaths from the heat just because of the increase in population – does not necessarily equate to climate change

      June 6, 2013 at 15:19 | Report abuse |
  2. dave

    "Greenhouse gases are kind of like the alcohol in the system of the climate," Kinney said.

    "Believing this nonsense is kind of like the koolaid of liberal-land," sane people said.

    May 21, 2013 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Poisson Volant

      Please post your scientific credentials.

      No, the Santorum-Coburn School at Fox University doesn't count.

      May 21, 2013 at 19:31 | Report abuse |
  3. kevin

    Wow, 2 idiots right off the bat!

    May 21, 2013 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ug

      I just see one...you...

      May 21, 2013 at 16:38 | Report abuse |
    • Steve Allard

      Make that 3 ... Ug just signed on.

      May 22, 2013 at 01:32 | Report abuse |
    • meg

      They still trying to push this debunked fudged numbers nonsense?

      May 22, 2013 at 20:27 | Report abuse |
  4. Fish

    As GHGs increase so will respiratory ailments and deaths, cardiac deaths, asthma related deaths, etc... global warming is affecting more than just the temps here in New Mexico our drought is worsening with less rain than in 120 years. Pollen counts are disturbing eyesight breathing and life in general. We have lost our quality of life long ago with this mess!!!

    May 21, 2013 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dennis

      If you're blaming "Global Warming" on a drought in New Mexico, then how do you explain a 9 year drought beginning in 1931 and covering all the Great Plains and causing the Dust Bowl. Shouldn't the entire U.S. be a nothing but one big dust bowl 80 years later?

      May 21, 2013 at 18:56 | Report abuse |
    • JSB

      Now Now Dennis lets not confuse them with facts and logic. They want to be emotion driven sheep. They want to bleet about the world ending.

      May 22, 2013 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son

      @ JSB
      You’re confused. We are talking about climate change not Christians.

      May 22, 2013 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
  5. ug

    All lies and c r a p by lib's who think that if you pay them more money that they will solve all your problems...I haven't seen or heard any scientific proof...not one shred of proof that there is a thing called man made global warming...we are just a bunch of little parasites on a planet in the huge universe and we think we are in control...LOL!

    May 21, 2013 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      You need to lay down and talk to somebody.

      May 21, 2013 at 19:33 | Report abuse |
    • NASA

      We have a network of satellites orbiting our planet that can give us close to pin point locations of digital devices on the surface. We are currently funding a project that will see us moving a massive asteroid closer to study. We found the strong force that holds particles together that resonate throughout the universe and figured out how to tip the scales, using that strong force against itself to create a terrifying weapon. Sure we can do all that but we can't terraform a planet. Riiiiiiiiiiight...

      May 21, 2013 at 21:18 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son

      Strange that the people so opposed to the idea of Climate change, even with all the factual evidence to support it are so dismissive of the concept but are the first ones to speak up about believing in an invisible man in the sky who controls the world.

      May 22, 2013 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
  6. nojusticed

    The scare tactics of "global warming" which was changed to "climate change" is a theory that plays on peoples fears of worldly destruction. Emissions produced are harmful to people within immediate areas of production and thats what we should be talking about. If you live in Manhattan and someone else living 20 miles outside of Manhattan both compare air quality this becomes obvious. The reason its a theory, lets say we stopped all production and use of automobiles today, will the climate cool down? According to all scientific evidence this will not happen unless we are moving into the next ice age. We talk about ocean levels rising because of human activity and "global warming", but we know that ocean level change naturally, for example; when Columbus first discovered America the ocean levels were so high that the outer banks of North Carolina were completely underwater. We like to think we are more important than we actually are, just like when we thought that we were the center of the universe, people just tend to believe these grandeous stories. Its much easier to blame the whole world that these people in Manhattan are dying rather than putting the blame strictly on the area in which they are living.

    May 21, 2013 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve Allard

      And Galileo was attacked for saying the world was round. I'm sure you believe you are correct because it would be crazy to stand in the way of meaniful discussion otherwise ... but unfortunately you are now part of the problem. However we will never get China on board to change thier contribution to the green house gas, so your and my opinion are pretty much useless anyway.

      May 22, 2013 at 01:38 | Report abuse |
    • smitvict

      The difference, Steve, is that the world actually IS round. It is not a conjecture by a bunch of scientists that may or not play out some FAR time off in the future. And by then, other climate factors will probably mask out any real affect.

      May 22, 2013 at 07:30 | Report abuse |
    • pineapple

      Galileo was attacked for saying the Earth orbited the Sun. For thousands of years, educated people have known the Earth is round. Even the fact that the Earth orbits the Sun was established science by the time Galileo said it. The Catholic Church happened to object to that detail of established science at that time, so people like Galileo were not permitted to say it in public. But educated people knew it was true.
      Today, both sides on global warming ascribe to the other side the behavior of the Church at the time of Galileo. But anyone with an open mind can see it is the liberals who are prohibiting all debate and demanding everyone accept their view based on faith, not evidence.

      May 22, 2013 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      It was changed because people of lower mental capacity thought it would get warmer everywhere and that's isn't the case.

      May 22, 2013 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
  7. Reason

    To be clear, the percentage of people in the scientific community who doubt global warming has been measured at 2-3%. The percentage of Americans who doubt the moon landing was real has been measured at 6%.

    There. Is. No. Lack. Of. Scientific. Consensus. That. Man-made. Climate. Change. Is. Really. Happenning.

    May 21, 2013 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Really???

      The “survey” that said 97% of scientists agree with global warming was authored by a guy claiming to be a student of Stanford. He surveyed 1372 “scientists” that were actively publishing global climate change papers. Stacking the deck a bit don't you think. You’d get the same kind of results walking into an AA meeting and taking a survey on who hates alcohol. See??? The survey would probably say around 97% of people who drink, hate alcohol. That would be just as valid a survey.

      May 22, 2013 at 05:54 | Report abuse |
    • JSB

      Correction

      There is no doubt that the climate is changing. There is significant doubt as to WHAT is causing the change and HOW MUCH weight to attribute to each cause.

      The study cited asked scientists if the climate was changing. OF COURSE its changing. We have had ice ages and completely tropical planet as is evident just from the fossil records. Now if 'people' are causing the change (kinda arrogant to assume that) then there 'may' be an issue. If the sun is causing the issue (much more likely) then there isn't much of anything to do other than ride it out.

      May 22, 2013 at 10:19 | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      @Really – what kind of Paper would you like to see a scientist publish for info on global Warming? Rush Limbaugh's diary doesn't count.

      May 22, 2013 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
  8. Dee

    Natural climate change (due to proximity to the sun) happens all the time which is why we have evidence of multiple ice ages/thaws and archaeological evidence of cities now under water that once were on dry land.

    Anthropomorphic (man-caused) climate change remains a theory. It is not a fact. If it were a fact, the scientists in charge of doing the studies wouldn't have been busted not once, but TWICE, falsifying date to back up their theory. If it were the slam-dunk they have been trying to make it out to be, why falsify data? If you have to lie to make your case, don't get grouchy when people are skeptical.

    May 21, 2013 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kdren

      Climate change is real.

      May 21, 2013 at 18:57 | Report abuse |
    • Kdren

      Climate change is man made, and it is getting worse.

      May 21, 2013 at 18:58 | Report abuse |
    • Poisson Volant

      Your contention that climate change is caused by proximity to the sun, along with misunderstanding of what the word "theory" means in a scientific context, voids any arguments you might make. Can you cite any reputable, peer-reviewed sources that can corroborate a change in the diameter of the earth's orbit? Have you taken enough classes in any science to be aware that a scientific theory is not just a hunch or guess, but an assertion that is demonstrably valid? The "it's only a theory" canard has been put up by religious fundamentalists so often and then debunked so thoroughly that its vacuity is now self-evident.

      May 21, 2013 at 19:28 | Report abuse |
  9. Dennis

    Sorry, but this article is very dated. Average global temperatures have fallen since March of 1998 so now the sheep have to call it "Climate Change".

    May 21, 2013 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jamesdmacdonald

      Sorry, Dennis, but what you say just flat isn't true.

      "All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880. Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years. Even though the 2000s witnessed a solar output decline resulting in an unusually deep solar minimum in 2007-2009, surface temperatures continue to increase."

      Source: http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence

      May 21, 2013 at 21:25 | Report abuse |
  10. JamesS

    This article, like all climate alarmism articles, is full of "could," "might," "models," "projected," and totally lacking in hard science. The plain fact of the matter is that every major global temperature data set - NOAA's, the Hadley Climate Research Center at the University of East Anglia, the RSS dataset - all of them show no significant global warming over the past 16 years; some of them out to twenty years.

    What this means in real terms, is that CO2 has very little to do with the observed warming over the past decades, and that what we are seeing is the Earth's continued warming after the last Ice Age ended. The fear from human-created CO2 from fossil fuels is that there would be positive feedback in the climate, so that the modest 1C of warming from doubling CO2 would become 3-7C from these feedback systems. However, none of them have been observed in the real world, only in the models that are naturally enough built with these feedback systems in the model, regardless of their being missing in the real world.

    "Consensus" is not a real world in the scientific community. Nor is "fact." As geologist/evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould said, "In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.'"

    Climate science and warming alarmism are far from this level of confirmation.

    May 21, 2013 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RANGER

    There is a differnce between scienists and the average citizen. you cant just stick your finger in the air and say, its not any warmer than last year and draw that conclusion. scientists study chemical compositions, botany aka plant species, animal behavior, ice melt, water levels , ext ext. there is a reason this has been studied. I challenge commentors to go out and really dig into scientific data, research, and find what they are talking about. We have a pollution issue in America and accross the globe. Also the rapid deforestation of vital rainforests in south america, it is an issue. i know i will get some un-thought reply and someone changing one of my sentences to make a unformulated zinger of some kind but it needs to be said.

    May 21, 2013 at 18:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. CT24

    Actually, the concluding paragraphs of this article suggest that – whether one accepts the high-end or low-end estimates of the models – U.S. cities will not experience a significant number of unavoidable heat-related deaths from climate fluctuations during the next few decades. This assumes, of course, that increasing U.S. federal debt does not undermine the economy to an extent that air-conditioning is unaffordable ... if this were to happen, "heat deaths" would increase even within today's usual temperature ranges.

    May 21, 2013 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Enjoyer

    First, flat temperatures for ~20 years in the midst of rising CO2 invalidates the theory that rising CO2 causes rising temperatures.

    Second, cold kills MANY more than heat. Check the statistics winter vs. summer. Then consider that the Sun is going into a cool phase for the next couple of decades. Better prepare people for cold. Heat is more survivable.

    May 21, 2013 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. j.burgess

    may 25th march against monsanto. check your local area for details

    May 21, 2013 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Bianca

    Oceans, due to their immense size and heat storing capability (called 'thermal mass'), give a much more 'steady' indication of the warming that is happening. Here records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there's no signs of it slowing any time soon.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/docs/Comment_on_DK12.pdf

    May 21, 2013 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. jerpell

    Complete childless nonsense from the left rag media!...

    May 22, 2013 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Underthebridge

    Personally, I grew up in Minnesota. The crazy cold weather about killed me. I got stationed in Louisiana for 8 years. That is a powerful humid, hot place there. Now I live in Georgia. Less humid and about 150% less bugs and other creepy crawly things that will survive a nuclear holocaust. So far, we have the freedom to move to a climate that suits us. Quite frankly, I remember growing up in the 70's before Emissions rules ever came out. You can't even SEE exhaust anymore...For Decades all you could see was black and blue exhaust smoke, and then it got better with lots of white smoke. It's actually much better now...Can't see how the Climate change is affected worse now then back then. In fact, The 1980's were the days of the BIG HAIR and Hair Spray back THEN was blamed for the Ozone being depleted....Just for all you YOUNG scientists out there born in the 80s... ;)

    May 22, 2013 at 08:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Berry Punch

    Another bogus Global Warming....err Climate Change, err whatever new bs name they have for it, story. CNN will publish anything, to try and avoid the scandals that a plaguing this administration.

    May 22, 2013 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. cptwayne

    There is now a new bio-diesel process on the drawing boards that takes CO2 from the air and produces diesel fuel. So, after burning it the net CO2 is zero. This is what the world really needs to be working on. Let's get it going.

    May 22, 2013 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Gavin Cooke

    Are you guys AWARE that about 97% of CO2 relaeased into the atmosphere is NATURAL from volcanoes etc? You will never understand the truth until you stop looking at CNN and start reading and interpreting the data. While this page is not very scientific MAYBE it is simplified enough to see the point. Maybe not... http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

    May 22, 2013 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Chris Gallagher

    The World Bank:
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/04/world-bank-president-climate-change-is-urgent-today-problem.html
    the EPA:
    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/ , NASA: http://climate.nasa.gov/causes
    and Insurers:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/business/insurers-stray-from-the-conservative-line-on-climate-change.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    All agree that climate change is becoming a real problem and that man is contributing significantly to the problem.

    May 22, 2013 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. jonaty

    There has been no increase in the average global temp for 20 years

    May 22, 2013 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. EdL

    After we have taken control of climate change here in the U.S. Those living in southern Canada and northern Mexico will most likely benefit as well and will be profuse in their thanks.

    May 22, 2013 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. meg

    Climate change spring, summer, fall and winter..

    May 22, 2013 at 20:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. more2bits

    If it gets too hot move further North. Simple.

    May 23, 2013 at 00:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. But

    But republicans WANT old people to just die. So this is all good right?

    May 29, 2013 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. chris

    Well that's bad for NY. However, a global study suggests that this is true internationally: by 2050, there will be almost 400,000 more heat-related deaths a year, and almost 1.8 million fewer cold-related deaths. Warmer temperatures will save 1.4 million lives each year globally..

    July 19, 2013 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Tony Mineah

    My dream retirement just includes that I'm able bodied enough to enjoy it. I suppose I'd just like to live by water.

    August 29, 2013 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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