From wildfires in Australia and California to hurricanes and flooding in Florida, a variety of extreme events will become more severe and more common as climate change accelerates. And according to a study by Nature Medicine released on Monday, increased heat will have deadly results.
Yessenia Funes, discussing the study in Gizmodo, notes that the effects of more hot days will go “beyond heat stroke and dehydration, which are commonly thought of as the drivers of heat-related death and illness.” Funes explains, “People tend to drink more when it’s warmer — a.k.a., summertime — and that may contribute to the higher rates of deadly car accidents during this time of year. Higher temperatures have also been linked with higher mortality from assault and suicide, though researchers don’t quite understand why that might be yet.”
Funes points out that according to Robbie Parks (a research associate at Imperial College London’s Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics), “There is a dearth of evidence about how warm temperatures impact injuries. Such injury deaths include suicide, assault, transport accidents, drownings and falls.”
The Nature Medicine study, Funes observes, finds that most deaths from rising temperatures would be from “transport injuries, which include accidents from any roadway vehicle, as well as flights, boats and trains. Suicide, unfortunately, comes in a close second for the highest number of deaths.”
Funes points out that as temperatures rise, even “leisure activities to beat the heat could end up killing people.” According to Funes, “The study reveals a whole host of new problems that come with a warming world that policymakers will need to consider.” And those “policymakers,” Funes notes, must “decide how they want to prevent more unnecessary deaths from happening. They can build out protections to keep Americans safer when things get real.”