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article imageStudy: Rising heat will cause more deaths than infectious disease

By Karen Graham     Aug 4, 2020 in Health
Rising temperatures driven by climate change could cause tens of millions of deaths per year worldwide by the end of the century, potentially matching the global death rate for all infectious diseases combined, according to a new study.
According to EcoWatch, a new study from the Climate Impact Lab, a group of climate economists and researchers at several U.S. universities, found that by the end of this century, extreme heat could kill roughly as many people as all infectious diseases combined, including HIV, malaria and yellow fever.
“A lot of older people die due to indirect heat affects,” said Amir Jina, an environmental economist at the University of Chicago and a co-author of the study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
“It’s eerily similar to Covid – vulnerable people are those who have pre-existing or underlying conditions. If you have a heart problem and are hammered for days by the heat, you are going to be pushed towards collapse.”
And like the COVID-19 pandemic, poorer countries, and populations at the lower end of the economic scale, including those in richer countries, will feel the impact at a higher rate. The economic costs of all the deaths will easily cost the world 3.2 percent of its total economic output if emissions are not brought under control.
Extreme weather events are common in Niger  one of the world's poorest countries
Extreme weather events are common in Niger, one of the world's poorest countries
BOUREIMA HAMA, AFP/File
The researchers calculated that each ton of planet-warming carbon dioxide emitted will cost $36.60 in damage in this high-emissions world if we keep things as they are today, reports The Guardian.
Specifically, the research focused on the rise in mortality rates, projecting that global mortality rates would rise by 73 deaths per 100,000 people in 2100. By comparison, the mortality rate today for all infectious diseases is about 74 deaths per 100,000 people globally. according to a UC Berkeley press release.
"The global cost to human health from warming is likely to be profound," said Solomon Hsiang, a climate policy researcher at UC Berkeley and an author of the study.
Tunisian residents seek relief from the heat in a lake that mysteriously appeared in the middle of t...
Tunisian residents seek relief from the heat in a lake that mysteriously appeared in the middle of the desert.
Screen Capture
"We are studying the risk of death faced by our own children. Today's 10-year-old fifth-grader will turn 65 in 2075, facing mortality risks from climate change every year of their retirement. Failing to address climate change is not that different from driving your kids around without a seat belt: you are putting their lives at risk."
To come to their conclusions, the researchers delved into a huge global dataset of 399 million death records across 41 countries, accounting for 55 percent of the global population. They also made use of temperature records for the same countries, and analysed any links that were found between mortality rates and high temperature events.
Using this methodology allowed them to pinpoint both direct causes such as heat stroke and less obvious links such as a spike in heart attacks during a heat wave. The team also took into account heat mitigation efforts, such as the use of air-conditioning and cooling centers in more developed countries.
A girl runs through water at Praterstern Square in Vienna on July 25 amid a blistering heat wave
A girl runs through water at Praterstern Square in Vienna on July 25 amid a blistering heat wave
ALEX HALADA, AFP/File
Their conclusion was fairly obvious - poorer countries will bear the brunt of the suffering from extreme heat. Countries like Ghana, Bangladesh and Pakistan could see an additional 200 deaths per 100,000 people by the end of the century, while countries like Canada and Norway will see fewer weather-related deaths.
"You see the really bad impacts at the tropics," added Jina. "There's not one single worldwide condition, there's a lot of different changes with poorer people much more affected with limited ability to adapt.
The richer countries, even if they have increases in mortality, can pay more to adapt to it. It's really the people who have done the least to cause climate change who are suffering from it."
More about Climate crisis, Rising temperatures, Infectious diseases, poorer nations, vulneravle popolations
 
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