Science

Heat-Wave Deaths In New York May Double By Turn Of Century

By Randell Suba , May 20, 2013 11:29 AM EDT

According to a new study published, Sunday, the number of deaths in New York that can be linked to extremely hot weather conditions due to global warming, will increase by as much as 22 percent by the 2020s and by 90 percent by the 2080s on 1980s levels. 

The research titled "Projections of Seasonal Patterns in Temperature-Related Deaths for Manhattan, New York" appeared on the pages of "Nature Climate Change" and is considered as the most thorough evaluation to date of mortalities major cities due to the effects of global warming. The study was led by Patrick Kinney and Radley Horton of the Columbia University in collaboration with Tiantian Li of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The research predicted that the extreme conditions during the summer would have a heavy toll on populations in Manhattan and possibly other metropolitan areas. The number of deaths is expected to dramatically increase in the latter part of this century. If no bold actions are taken to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the death toll in NYC due to the heat wave can be as high as 31 percent on 1980s level, according to the study. 

Death due to extreme heat is already on top of the list of weather-related mortality causes in the United States. Between 2003 and 2012, authorities have recorded 117 deaths per year. Extreme heat may cause heat stroke, aggravate problems with the respiratory system, and add risks to cardiovascular disease.

"What our study suggests is that the heat effects of climate change dominate the winter warming benefits that might also come: climate change will cause more deaths through heat than it will prevent during winter," Patrick Kinney explained in an interview with The Guardian.

The study used computer projections of climate conditions and their possible impact on the human population in NYC. The proponents utilized 16 computer models to make formulate their findings.

The study dismissed the idea of climate skeptics that warmer weather will benefit the health of the population. The study also took note of the fact that deaths due to extreme hot weather are higher than those caused by extreme cold conditions in NYC annually.

The city government of New York is pushing to revise its building codes and encouraging its people support tree-planting initiatives. Other metropolitan areas are also setting up cooling centers for their people especially the disabled and the elderly.

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