Recent findings have shown that a spike of just 1.5 degrees Celsius, due to climate change, in the overall temperature can increase the death toll in American by 1600 – i.e. nearly 2000 more deaths per year. The deaths might be related to assaults, suicides or injuries, as per a study.
Climate change is a defining problem of our time and needs to be tackled immediately. Given the changing weather patterns that will eventually have adverse effects on food production and the rapidly rising sea levels that will lead to massive floods, the impact of climate change is global and unparalleled. Without swinging action today, coping up with new conditions in the near future will not only be more exasperating but also costly.
Published in Nature Medicine, a recent study explored the effects of the rapidly changing climate. The authors concluded that an increase in the overall temperatures by 1.5 – 2 degrees Celsius (34.7 – 35.6 Fahrenheit) above the previous ‘pre-industrial levels’ will lead to a higher death rate in America. The deaths due to “suicides, assaults, transport accidents, drownings and falls” can increase by up to 1600.
Death rate and temperature data over 37 years from 1980 to 2017 was evaluated to analyze the relationship between the two factors and whether an increase of 1.5 to 2 degrees would have any effect on the former. The data encompassed 48 out of 50 U.S. states – Alaska and Hawaii weren’t included.
According to Kashmira Gander, a features writer at Newsweek, “they chose these figures as the International Paris Agreement on the climate, which the U.S. has started the process of withdrawing from aims to keep average post-industrial global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
The results showed that the increase of 1.5 degrees would increase the death toll by 1601, whereas an increase by 2 degrees will lead to 2135 more deaths annually.
Robbie Parks, a co-author of the study and currently working at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Imperial College, said that ‘’infectious and non-communicable’’ diseases can play a major role in the increased number of death due to the rising temperature. However, how it’ll impact injuries is still not known.
He told in a statement that he was “particularly surprised at how consistent the association between anomalously warm temperatures and suicide/assault deaths.” Parks further continued, “One might label increasing numbers of injury deaths from rising temperatures as a hidden public health burden of climate change.”
Talking about the findings, he said, “drownings are plausibly linked with anomalously warm temperatures because swimming is more likely in periods of warm weather. Transport accidents are also linked because driving performance deteriorates at higher temperatures, due to decreased visual acuity as well as increased alcohol consumption.”
“Increases in assaults may be due to increasing anger levels and more time spent outdoors interacting with other people during warmer weather. Reasons for increased suicide deaths are not well-established and warrant further investigation”.
Following is the increase in deaths per annum in a few U.S. states:
- California 230
- Florida 160
- Georgia 80
- Arizona and Alabama 55
- North Carolina 75
- New York 65
- Michigan 60
- Illinois 75
- Indiana 50
- Maryland 35