By the end of the 21st century, heatwaves caused by global warming could kill 150,000 people who would otherwise live. The US Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates how many extreme heat events will hit the US this century, assuming greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current path. Climate models suggest that by 2099 the 40 most populous cities will have approximately eight times as many days of extreme heat per year as today.
The figure may actually be an underestimate, because the US population is ageing and older people are more vulnerable to heat.
Cities can use forecasting systems to warn people of imminent heatwaves and protect at-risk residents, says the NRDC's climate and clean air campaign director Peter Altman. "But no preventive measures can keep up with the added risk due to rising temperatures, so the other solution is to reduce the pollution driving climate change."
Image credit: With thanks to Tyrone Turner/National Geographic
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