Extreme heat fueled by climate change killed more than 10,000 deaths in the US between 1999 and 2016, more than hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods in most years, an investigation by multiple outlets revealed. The analysis, jointly published by Columbia Journalism Investigations, the Center for Public Integrity and Covering Climate Now, also found actions taken by the CDC climate program created more than 10 years ago to address threats like extreme heat have been insufficient and further weakened by low federal support and outright opposition in some states.
Extreme heat also exacerbates coronavirus threats in multiple ways. Physical distancing complicates public cooling centers for those who don’t have, or can’t afford to run, air conditioning or are experiencing homelessness — a population likely to increase as temporary eviction suspensions end. Additionally, high heat and humidity can exacerbate respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, and climate change has amplified the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme heat and heat waves.
“What we need is federal action to say no families will be left behind in this crisis,” Jean Su, energy justice program director and staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity told Bloomberg. (Extreme heat deaths: The Guardian; COVID-19 connections; Bloomberg Law; Climate Signals background: Extreme Heat)