Climate change may cause big spike in NYC heat deaths

We've seen record-breaking warmth across the globe for many months straight, and some places, unfortunately, have had to deal with extremely high temperatures. With those high temperatures come heat strokes and, in some cases, heat-related deaths, something expected to increase in coming years if steps aren't taken to mitigate the issue. New research, for example, says New York City could see more than 3,000 heat-related deaths a year by 2080 if preventative measures aren't pursued.

A new study coming from Columbia University found that by the year 2080, New York City could see as many as 3,331 people dying throughout the year due to increased heat wave numbers and severity. That's not the entire state, mind you, only New York City.

High temperatures can cause heat strokes and heart attacks, among other things, with kids, the elderly, and health-compromised individuals being most at risk, as well as those who have to work outdoors and individuals who don't have adequate access to air conditioned spaces.

The study looked at five demographic models for NYC, each of them based on past trends observed in the city. This was important due to the changes a demographic profile will have on the resulting numbers — cities with a lot of elderly individuals, for example, will see more heat-related deaths than cities with relatively few elderly individuals. Etcetera.

Using these demographic models, the team of researchers estimated future death numbers based on scenarios where there are high levels of greenhouse gases, and scenarios where there are low greenhouse gas levels. The study also took into consider things like the human ability to adapt to higher temperatures over time, which will help younger, healthier individuals withstand higher summer temperatures

As expected, scenarios of higher greenhouse gas emissions resulted in higher projected deaths and vice versa. The 3331 fatalities number is related to a high emissions model.

SOURCE: Scientific American