- A newly published study projects more than 3,300 heat-linked fatalities occurring annually in New York City by the 2080s as a result of climate change.
- These potential deaths can be largely avoided by reducing fossil-fuel emissions, implementing heat warning systems and public cooling centers.
- Historical temperature and death data along with future climate predictions were used in designing this study.
- Other measures to combat the lethal effects of extreme heat include the installation of reflective rooftops, tree-planting, and measures to protect vulnerable residents from high temperatures.
- Average temperatures in New York City by the 2080s could resemble current temperatures in Norfolk, Virginia, and the frequency of exceedingly hot days could increase threefold by then.
A substantial rise in fatalities due to heat exposure is likely to be seen in New York City in the decades to come, potentially due to the ongoing impact of climate change if protective measures are not instigated, indicates a newly published study.
The researchers envisage more than 3,300 such deaths occurring annually within the city by the 2080s. However, these deaths could be largely dismissed through the reduction of fossil-fuel emissions, originating from sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Additionally, death tolls may be reduced through heat warning systems and the implementation of public cooling centres, according to the study’s author Elisaveta Petkova and her team at Columbia University.
“Climate change is resulting in an increase of extreme heat days, placing more individuals at the risk of death in the coming future,” stated Petkova, who is also a project director at the Earth Institute, Columbia University.
She further stated, “Our study demonstrates that numerous deaths could be avoided by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and taking necessary measures to aid individuals in adapting to high temperature conditions.”
The predictors for the study by the research team were based on over a hundred years of data on temperature, population, and deaths specific to New York City. This serves in conjunction with future climate predictions for the 2020s, 2050s, and 2080s.
Despite already extensive use of air conditioning, other steps might be used to combat the lethal effects of heatwaves. Programs which involve installation of reflective rooftops, tree-planting, and safeguarding of potentially vulnerable residents from high temperatures could enhance the city’s resilience to heat, the researchers suggest.
The New York City Panel on Climate Change has reported a potential prediction that, average temperatures in the city by the 2080s may resemble the current temperatures of Norfolk, Virginia. It also predicts the frequency of days with maximum temperatures reaching or exceeding 90 or 100 degrees Fahrenheit to increase threefold by the 2080s. Petkova is a part of this panel.
The results of the study were made public on June 23 in the magazine, Environmental Health Perspectives.
Additional data on climate change and health is provided by the World Health Organization.