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  • Deadly heat is killing Americans: A decade of inaction on climate puts lives at risk

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Deadly heat is killing Americans: A decade of inaction on climate puts lives at risk

Source(s):  Guardian, the (UK)

By Dean Russell, Elisabeth Gawthrop, Veronica Penney, Ali Raj & Bridget Hicke


Scientists link the warming planet to a rise in dangerous heat in the US, as well as the spread of infectious diseases and other health conditions. Federal research predicts heatstroke and similar illnesses will claim tens of thousands of American lives each year by the end of the century. Already, higher temperatures pose lethal risks: the five warmest years nationwide have all occurred since 2006. In the last six decades, the number of annual heatwaves in 50 US cities has, on average, tripled. In contrast to a viral pandemic, this is a quiet, insidious threat with no end point.


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is charged with helping cities and states adapt to threats like extreme heat. Its climate program, created more than 10 years ago, is the federal government’s only sustained effort to bolster state and local health departments’ fight against global warming. But the program has been hampered by a decade of underfunding, limited expertise and political resistance, Columbia Journalism Investigations and the Center for Public Integrity found.


Federal officials have known for decades that climate change poses a public health crisis. In 1989, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a 100-page report on how global warming could affect human health. It urged public health agencies to fund research on extreme heat and provide health departments with “trained professionals”. By 2000, the US released its first recurring assessment of the changing climate’s impacts. Again, it called for “investments in advancing the public health infrastructure”.


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  • Publication date 16 Jun 2020

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