Climate change not only kills our planet, it also threatens human health.
A new study found that in 2012 alone, about 900 deaths, 21,000 hospital admissions, and $ 10 billion in additional healthcare costs were attributed to climate-sensitive events.
The new findings suggest that climate change is not only an environmental problem, but & # 39; a major public health emergency & # 39; in the United States.
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A new study has shown that in 2012 alone, about 900 deaths, 21,000 hospital admissions and $ 10 billion in additional healthcare costs were attributed to 10 climate-sensitive events (photo)
The research was compiled by a team of experts from Columbia University, the University of California at Los Angeles and the non-profit environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Ten climate-sensitive events that affected 11 US states in 2012 were analyzed for the study published in the journal GeoHealth.
- Forest fires: Colorado and Washington
- Ozone air pollution: Nevada
- Extreme heat: Wisconsin
- Infectious disease outbreaks of tick-borne Lyme disease: Michigan
- West Nile virus transmitted by mosquitoes: Texas
- Extreme weather: Ohio
- Consequences of Hurricane Sandy: New Jersey and New York
- Allergen oak pollen: North Carolina
- Harmful algal blooms: Florida
The team investigated forest fires in Colorado and Washington, ozone air pollution in Nevada, extreme heat in Wisconsin, outbreaks of infectious diseases from tick-borne Lyme disease in Michigan and mosquito-borne West Nile virus in Texas, extreme weather in Ohio, effects of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York, allergen oak pollen in North Carolina, and harmful algal blooms on the Florida coast.
& # 39; By applying a consistent economic valuation approach to published state studies and estimates, we estimate the total health-related costs of 917 deaths, 20,568 hospital admissions, and 17,357 emergency room visits of $ 10.0 billion in $ 2018, with a sensitivity range of $ 2.7–24.6 billion, & # 39; reads the study.
The team found Hurricane Sandy, which & # 39; the deadliest and most destructive & # 39; hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, had the most devastating impact.
The storm hit the coastline of the northeastern US states on October 29, 2012, delivered up to two feet of rain within two days and caused power outages for more than 20 million residents over a period of days to weeks.
The team found Hurricane Sandy (pictured is Seaside Heights, NJ after the storm), which & # 39; the deadliest and most destructive & # 39; hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, with the most devastating consequences
Sandy & # 39; s width pushed much more water into New Jersey and New York, dropped 3 feet of snow in West Virginia, caused 20 feet of waves on the distant Great Lakes and registered other records that reflected no less than energy.
The 100-year storm resulted in nearly 300 deaths and $ 3.1 billion in additional medical bills.
Forest fires that spread through Colorado have also left a trail of destruction.
The state forest fire season forced the evacuation of 32,000 residents in the northwestern quadrant of Colorado Springs, where 347 homes were destroyed in the Waldo Canyon Fire, the largest number in the state's history.
& # 39; Colorado fire brigade reported 4,167 forest fires through the National Fire Reporting System & # 39 ;, said a preliminary report from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control on the season.
& # 39; These fires have destroyed more than 648 buildings, killed six civilians, burned more than 384,803 hectares and lost at least $ 538 million in property. & # 39;
Forest fires that spread through Colorado have also left a trail of destruction. The state forest fire season forced the evacuation of 32,000 residents in the northwestern quadrant of Colorado Springs, where 347 homes were destroyed
& # 39; Climate change is a major public health emergency. But the destructive and costly toll on Americans' health has been largely absent from the climate policy debate, "said lead researcher Dr. Vijay Limaye, a scientist in the Science Center of NRDC. & # 39; Our research shows that health-related costs have added at least another 26 percent to the national price tag for severe weather-related damage in 2012.
& # 39; This continuous untold human suffering and dizzying costs is another reason that we must now act assertively to curb climate change. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expanding clean energy, while also investing in preparedness and climate adaptation, is the recipe for a safer, healthier future.
Since 2012, annual temperatures have continued to rise, and the five hottest years worldwide have all been in the last five years.
While the US experienced $ 11 billion in weather disasters in 2012, that total was exceeded in 2016, 2017 and 2018, according to data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The annual NOAA estimates for extreme weather costs do not include health costs.
The study estimated a total health-related cost of 917 deaths, 20,568 hospital admissions and 17,857 emergency visits of $ 10.0 billion in $ 2018, with a sensitivity range of $ 2.7 – 24.6 billion
"Our research indicates that everything has been told that there may already be tens to hundreds of billions of dollars in health costs due to recent nationwide climate-related exposures," said co-author Dr. Kim Knowlton, senior scientist at NRDC. & # 39; Clearly, if we do not tackle climate change quickly and effectively, it will cost us a fortune, including irreversible damage to our health. & # 39;
The report showed that more than two-thirds of health insurance costs were paid by Medicare and Medicaid.
This is in line with research that shows that the elderly and the economically disadvantaged are among the most vulnerable to climate change.
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