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Midwest USA’ s sizzling heat carries health dangers

global-warming1Flag-USASizzling Midwest Previews a Hotter Future Climate, Skeptical Science, 29 July 16 Extreme heat waves like the current string of scorching days in the Midwest have become more frequent worldwide in the last 60 years, and climate scientists expect that human-caused global warming will exacerbate the dangerous trend in coming decades. It comes with potentially life-threatening consequences for millions of people.

Research has shown that overall mortality increases by 4 percent during heat waves compared to normal days in the U.S. A study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in 2011 suggested that rising summer temperatures could kill up to 2,200 more people per year in Chicago alone during the last two decades of the 21st century.

“The climate is changing faster than we’ve ever seen during the history of human civilization on this planet, and climate change is putting heat waves on steroids,” Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, said during a news conference on Thursday. “Heat waves are getting more frequent and stronger.”

Temperatures this week soared into the 90s from Minnesota to Iowa, combining with high humidity to send heat indices well above the 100-degree Fahrenheit mark, considered a threshold for conditions dangerous to human health.

Current temperatures in large parts of the Midwest have been rising steadily for more than 100 years, with accelerated warming in the past few decades. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, the average temperature in the region increased by more than 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit between 1900 and 2010. Between 1950 and 2010, the rate of increase doubled, and since 1980, the pace of warming is three times faster than between 1900 and 2010…….

“And when nighttime temperatures don’t cool off enough to give us a respite, that’s when we start to see an impact on health. Especially the elderly and people with respiratory problems start flooding emergency rooms.”

“The bottom line is we face a new normal and we’re adapting to it on the city and regional level,” said Christopher B. Coleman, mayor of St. Paul, Minn., and co-chair of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative. Also speaking during the press conference, he called the Mississippi River Valley an “acute climate impact zone,” and said some of the less obvious impacts of extreme heat  includes urban stormwater runoff that creates thermal pollution when it hits hot pavement……

“The health consequences of climate change run an entire gamut, from worsening chronic disease, to an increase in vector and waterborne illnesses and disruption to food safety,” said Rev. Miriam Burnett, president of Resource and Promotion of Health Alliance, Inc, a faith-based nonprofit focusing on public health in African-American communities. Extremeheat events even have social consequences, including putting strain on human interactions and generating anger and hostility, she said.

Scientists say there’s little doubt that the buildup of heat trapping greenhouse gases is already causing more deadly heat waves worldwide. The increase has been widely documented and summarized in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changeassessment

August 1, 2016 - Posted by | climate change, USA

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