An extensive new study reveals that over one-third of all warm season heat-related deaths from 1991-2018 have as a principal cause increased planetary temperatures as a result of the climate crisis. This is all about to get a great deal worse, fast.
The study, authored by Dr. Avicedo-Cabrera of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, and 69 other researchers and scholars from around the world, presents an exhaustive analysis of something often thought to be true but never proven.
That something is that the body count from heat-related deaths directly caused by global heating tied to fossil fuel emissions has been substantial for three decades.
The researchers gathered the data to back up this conclusion by gathering data spanning the period 1991-2018 from 732 locations in 43 countries. It made use of information from the largest weather and health data consortium in existence, the Multi-Country, Multi-City (MCC) Collaborative Research Network, and used complex data regression analysis to separate non-climate heat deaths from those which could be tied to ongoing global temperature increases during the period under investigation.
The rate of deaths varied by country from a handful per year to many hundreds, depending on geography.
The information revealed that the largest climate-change death contributions from heat, with more than 50% of all heat-related deaths attributable to this cause, were in southern and western Asia (in Kuwait and Iran), in Southeast Asia (particularly in Thailand and the Philippines) and in Central and South America (where Peru and Brazil had the highest numbers).
Besides these regions, North America’s entire eastern seaboard, Florida, and the U.S. northwestern coast had some of the highest percentages of heat-related deaths on the planet. England, Spain, and other parts of Europe also had large contributions to heat-related deaths from those understood tied to the climate crisis.
The authors pointed out that the lack of empirical data from many South Asian and African countries likely grossly underestimated the seriousness of the problems in those areas.
Death of course is not the only health consequence of climate crisis related heat exposure around the planet. As global temperatures rise, cardiovascular and respiratory systems alike are pushed to extremes to help keep the body cool despite the external surroundings. These alone are increasing healthcare costs throughout the globe and often causing long-term physical damage, even if those suffering from these health problems do not die directly as a result.
Further, as reported by Dr. Lauren Dowling during an online presentation sponsored by London’s Imperial College and the Grantham Institute on May 27, 2021, people’s mental health also suffers disproportionately as global heating increases.
“During the 1995 heatwave in the United Kingdom,” Dowling noted, “there was a 49.6% increase in suicide” directly tied to the sudden heat changes.
Dowling noted further during that presentation that, the “psychological impacts [of the climate crisis] exceed that of physical injury by a rate of 40:1.”
Those psychological impacts ripple through all other aspects of health as well, contributing to reduced immune response and a lack of overall physical well-being.
As current study lead author Dr. Ana Vicedo-Cabrera said in a statement about her team’s results, “Mortality…is just the tip of the iceberg.”
What this latest study provides is one more proof that the long-term damage associated with the climate crisis is not a new thing but has instead been with us all on this planet for many decades.
It should also be remembered that this study only counted the heat-related deaths of the human species. Every other living thing also suffered high death rates as well, with many such species having been pushed to the point of extinction just from heat causes alone.
It is time to do something more than just report on all this. It is time for action by all.
The study, “The burden of heat-related mortality attributable to recent human-induced climate change,” by A.M. Vicedo-Cabrera, et. al., was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change on May 31, 2021.