Heat-related deaths will dramatically rise by the middle of the century
Winter might be around the corner, but the new Lancet report is sounding the alarm that heat-related deaths in the elderly age group are set to increase by 370% in 2050. This drastic spike is set to happen if the projected 2% rise in global temperatures happen by then.
''Based on the Fifth Climate National Assessment, the number of 95 degree days is set to increase by five days by the middle of this century,'' said Michael Murphy - a National Weather Service meteorologist at Binghamton.
To put things into better perspective, our highest temperature this year at the Elmira Corning Regional Airport was 92 degrees. Last year, only one day hit at least 95 degrees. 95+ degree days are extremely rare in our area, but they are predicting five more of these scorching days by the year 2050.
Even though the number of 95+ degree days are expected to climb, there has not been a noticeable increase in the past two decades. However, there has been an increase in the warmer nights with temperatures stubbornly remaining at least 70 degrees.
'' If it stays more humid at night time, our overnight lows are likely to be up and it is also the urban heat island effect. As cities expand, land use changes and that keeps more heat overnight,'' said Michael Murphy.
As we have seen this summer, the humidity was present through the summer. More humidity and moisture in the atmosphere at nights usually results in more clouds at night. Clouds act as a blanket, preventing temperatures from falling too low during the nights.
With global temperature increase, more water is being added to the atmosphere, causing higher humidity levels. This puts more water into our summer storms, resulting in more extreme rainfall rates and flooding.
The number of heat related deaths is already spiking across the country. In 2022, excessive heat was responsible for over 1600 deaths across the United States and that is the highest in two decades. Additionally, the study found that heat related deaths in the United States increased by 88% in 2018 to 2022, compared to 2000 to 2004.
The report not only links the heat deaths to heat strokes and heat exhaustion, but also lack of food and water. A hotter world will make conditions harsher for farming due to heat stress, diseases, droughts and wildfires.
Increase in heat related deaths are also linked to diseases. Diseases like malaria, ticks and mosquito-born ones thrive better in a warmer world.