[MCN] Southeast US among densely populated regions "most" at risk of mortality from humid heat

Lance Olsen lance at wildrockies.org
Sun Jun 23 05:37:04 EDT 2019

Environmental Research Letters <https://iopscience.iop.org/journal/1748-9326> Published 22 December 2017 

Temperature and humidity based projections of a rapid rise in global heat stress exposure during the 21st century

Ethan D Coffel, Radley M Horton and Alex de Sherbinin

Open access
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa00e <https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa00e>

Excerpt from the Abstract
In the coming decades heat stress may prove to be one of the most widely experienced and directly dangerous aspects of climate change, posing a severe threat to human health, energy infrastructure, and outdoor activities ranging from agricultural production to military training.

Excerpt from the Introduction
Wet bulb temperatures approaching 35 C almost never occur in the current climate [32 <https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa00e#erlaaa00ebib32>], and thus there is little real-world data on human health outcomes at the societal level during such extreme conditions. However, recent heat waves with lower wet bulb temperatures between 29 C and 31 C have caused tens of thousands of deaths [5 <https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa00e#erlaaa00ebib5>, 33 <https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa00e#erlaaa00ebib33>], and empirical evidence suggests that most physical labor becomes unsafe at wet bulb temperatures above 32 °C [34 <https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa00e#erlaaa00ebib34>, 35 <https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa00e#erlaaa00ebib35>]. Morbidity and mortality can also increase in populations exposed to warm, but not extreme, temperature conditions, as will be commonplace in many areas by [ i.e., before ] the second half of the 21st century [36 <https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa00e#erlaaa00ebib36>]. The impact of heat stress on human society depends both on the severity of heatwaves and the number and vulnerability of people exposed to them. Currently, some regions most at risk for extreme wet bulb temperatures—Northeast India, East China, West Africa, and the Southeast US—are some of the world's most densely populated.


During WWII, … we transformed our economy incredibly quickly in order to protect ourselves. …. The government laid down strong regulations, such as a ban on the production of new consumer cars. More than 37 percent of our gross domestic product was spent on the war effort.  

If the United States rises to the challenge of confronting the climate emergency, we can still “cancel the apocalypse” and begin restoring a safe climate and healthy society. The first step is telling the truth. We need a national acknowledgement that we face a climate emergency.


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