Study Claims Climate Change Causes 35% Of Heat-Related Deaths In The US

(David McNew/Getty Images)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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More than one third of the world’s heat-related deaths and 35% of those in the U.S. can be attributed to climate change, a recent study concluded.

A group of 70 researchers used epidemiological and climate modeling data in 732 cities around the world between 1991 and 2018. Their research, published Monday in the journal Natural Climate Change, concluded that climate change could be attributed on average to 37% of heat-related deaths globally.

Researchers used mortality data across 43 countries to compare each city’s change in death rate with average temperatures.

The observed temperatures were then compared with 10 computer models projecting global temperatures without climate change, and researchers used the difference to calculate heat-related deaths caused by climate change.

The data corresponds to roughly 9,700 people a year from those cities. Cities with the highest number of heat-related deaths caused by climate change were largely in South America. São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, averaged 239 annual climate change-related heath deaths, researchers found.

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, CA JULY 14: Heat waves rise near a heat danger warning sign on the eve of the AdventurCORPS Badwater 135 ultra-marathon race on July 14, 2013 in Death Valley National Park, California. Billed as the toughest footrace in the world, the 36th annual Badwater 135 starts at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, 280 feet below sea level, where athletes begin a 135-mile non-stop run over three mountain ranges in extreme mid-summer desert heat to finish at 8,350-foot near Mount Whitney for a total cumulative vertical ascent of 13,000 feet. July 10 marked the 100-year anniversary of the all-time hottest world record temperature of 134 degrees, set in Death Valley where the average high in July is 116. A total of 96 competitors from 22 nations are attempting the run which equals about five back-to-back marathons. Previous winners have completed all 135 miles in slightly less than 24 hours. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Heat waves rise near a heat danger warning sign in Death Valley National Park, California (David McNew/Getty Images)

Researchers tracked more than 1,100 deaths each year in American cities, topped by 141 deaths in New York City. The study attributed 82% of annual heat-related deaths in Honolulu to climate change, the highest percentage recorded in the U.S. (RELATED: Half Of Voters Unwilling To Spend More Than $10 To Fight Climate Change)

“These are deaths related to heat that actually can be prevented. It is something we directly cause,” Ana Vicedo-Cabrera, a lead author of the study, told  The Associated Press (AP).

Vicedo-Cabrera also said some cities adapted to heat better than others because of technological, cultural and environmental factors, AP reported.

The study was described as one of the first attempts by scientists to calculate “heat-related human health impacts” of climate change. But some climate policy experts told the Daily Caller that climate change may not be a factor for global heat-related deaths.

“CDC data and peer-reviewed studies show far more people die from cold than heat in the United States and throughout the world,” said Heartland Institute president James Taylor. “Whatever number of heat deaths may be caused by our recent modest warming, that same modest warming has saved a much greater number of lives overall.”

“In the U.S., the frequency and intensity of heat waves have dramatically declined since the 1930s, so attributing 35% of U.S. heat deaths to climate is just silly,” said former Trump-Pence EPA transition team adviser Steve Milloy. “The claim that heat deaths are increasing could be caused by several artificial reasons, such as changes in cause-of-death classification or manipulation of death records and reports.”