Research from a team of British and American scientists shows that much of the US will become unbearably hot if temperatures across the globe continue to rise. The researchers cite man-made climate change as the cause, with greenhouse gasses steadily shifting upwards. While there are international agreements in place in place to curb temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement, nations are currently not on course to meet that target.
This means realistically global temperatures could one day reach three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – and a terrifying study of cities in the US show how devastating this would be.
In New York City, nearly 5,800 people are predicted to die each year from the unbearable heat if temperatures do rise by three degrees.
In Los Angeles, 2,500 are forecast to die per annum and 2,300 in Miami.
However, if temperatures are limited to a 1.5 degrees Celsius rise a total of 2,716 lives would be saved each year from heat mortality in New York City, according to the study published in Science Advances.
The researchers reached their conclusion by analysing previous records within a city of deaths related to heat.
Kristie Ebi, a study co-author and public health expert at the University of Washington, said: “Reducing emissions would lead to a smaller increase in heat-related deaths, assuming no additional actions to adapt to higher temperatures.
“Climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is affecting our health, our economy and our ecosystems. This study adds to the body of evidence of the harms that could come without rapid and significant reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Dann Mitchell, from the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute, and co-author of the study, said: “We are no longer counting the impact of climate in change in terms of degrees of global warming, but rather in terms of number of lives lost.”