Study blames climate change for 37% of global heat deaths

A new study has calculated that more than a third of global heat deaths can be directly attributed to human-caused climate change.

According to the latest study to calculate the human cost of climate change, more than a third of the world’s heat deaths each year are directly attributable to global warming.

But scientists say this is only part of the total toll of the climate – even more people die from other extreme climates that are amplified by global warming such as hurricanes, floods and droughts – and by heat with rising temperatures The number of deaths will increase rapidly.

According to a study on Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, dozens of researchers looked at heat deaths in 732 cities around the world from 1991 to 2018, calculating that 37% were due to higher temperatures from human-caused warming. .

The study’s lead author said that number is only about 9,700 people from those cities, but it is far higher worldwide.

“These are heat-related deaths that are really preventable. This is something that we do directly,” said Ana Vicedo-Cabrera, an epidemiologist at the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern in Switzerland.

Cities in South America had the highest percentage of summer deaths due to climate change. Vicedo-Cabrera pointed to southern Europe and southern Asia as other hot spots for climate change-related heat deaths.

The researchers found that So Paulo, Brazil, has the most climate-related heat-related deaths, an average of 239 per year.

The study found that about 35% of heat deaths in the United States can be attributed to climate change. This is a total of more than 1,100 deaths a year in nearly 200 US cities, up from 141 in New York. Honolulu had the highest share of heat deaths at 82% due to climate change.

The scientists used mortality data from decades of 732 cities to plot curves to show how each city’s mortality rate varies with temperature and how heat-death curves differed from city to city. Some cities adapt to heat better than others because of air conditioning, cultural factors and environmental conditions, Vicedo-Cabrera said.

The researchers then observed the temperatures and compared them to 10 computer models that simulate a world without climate change. The difference is heating up due to humans. By applying that scientifically accepted technique to individual heat-death curves for 732 cities, the scientists calculated additional heat-death deaths from climate change.

“People keep asking for evidence that climate change is already affecting our health. This attribution study directly answers that question using the epidemiological methods of science,” said Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin. answers, and the amount of data the authors gathered for analysis is impressive.” .

Patz, who was not part of the study, said this was the earliest description of climate change-related heat deaths now rather than in the future.


Read stories on climate issues by The Associated Press at


Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Sciences receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.


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