As toxic wildfire smoke returns to the Midwest, and the brutal heatwave smothering Texas and the southern U.S. broils on, two new reports highlight the human costs of climate change and ableism. In addition to the inherent dangers of hyperthermia and dehydration itself, extreme heat can exacerbate or set off a host of medical conditions including cardiovascular, kidney, and respiratory diseases.
A new report from the Center for American Progress finds extreme heat, made worse and more frequent by climate change, will be responsible for nearly 235,000 emergency room visits and 56,000 hospital admissions, all adding up to about $1 billion in health care costs each summer. The dangers of extreme heat are disproportionately borne by people with disabilities, a Human Rights Watch report on extreme heat in Europe warned.
The extreme heat is also pushing electrical grids to their breaking point, which can leave vulnerable people without cooling during hot days. (Heatwave: New York Times $, Reuters, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal $; Wildfire smoke: AP, The Hill, Axios, AP, New York Times $; Health care costs: Grist; Disabilities: Reuters; Grid impacts: AP, Houston Chronicle; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves, Wildfires)