Heatwaves could kill 150,000 Americans by 2099

Meanwhile, climate change will be causing blackouts and brownouts, so millions more won’t have air conditioning, perhaps leading to higher death tolls than this article suggests.

30 May 2012 by Michael Marshall. Extra heatwaves could kill 150,000 Americans by 2099. NewScientist.

By the end of the century, heatwaves caused by global warming could kill 150,000 people who would otherwise live.

A report by the US Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates how many extreme heat events will hit the US this century, assuming greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current path according to the report – Killer Summer Heat: Projected death toll from rising temperatures in America due to climate change.

Climate models suggest that by 2099 the 40 most populous cities will have approximately eight times as many days of extreme heat per year as today.

The figure may actually be an underestimate, because the US population is ageing and older people are more vulnerable to heat. Louisville, Kentucky will be the worst affected city, with an extra 19,000 deaths by 2099.

The European heatwave of 2003 killed 35,000 people, so the report’s estimate is “not unrealistic”, says Andreas Sterl of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute in De Bilt.

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