Acting on Climate (Literally) Will Save Lives, It’s Science!


A NOAA map depicting the Memorial Day heatwave from a couple of weeks ago. This jarring imagine will become the new normal unless we act to curb global warming. 

According to a new study in the journal Science Advances, meeting the Paris Climate Agreement’s goals of keeping the rise of global average temperatures to 1.5° C could substantially mitigate heat-related mortality in U.S. cities. This new study is one of the first to investigate how future climate scenarios might impact heat-related fatalities in humans. Its findings show that by limiting global warming, around 2,720 annual heat-related deaths could be avoided during extreme heat events in the United States. 

In Practical Terms: The study conducted by the University of Bristol examined 15 U.S. cities (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, DC) to cover a range of regions and climates in the United States. Then the researchers examined how much temperatures in those cities would rise if we keep the rise in global average temperatures to 3°C, 2°C, and the 1.5°C as outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement thresholds. They then projected heat-related deaths avoided by achieving these thresholds. What they found was complying with the Paris Agreement temperature thresholds, 1 in 30 heat-related mortalities can be avoided.

Why This Matters: The United States is the world’s second biggest emitter of carbon yet is doing less on a federal level than most any other nation to address its emissions and join the global effort to fight climate change. At the same time, extreme heat is on the rise in the United States and dangerous, unexpected heat waves are beginning to occur earlier in the year leaving people unprepared and vulnerable. This study shows the loss of American life to extreme heat can be avoided if we get our act together and work to rapidly decarbonize our economy. Climate action is truly a life or death matter.


Up Next

La Niña Brings Rain, Avalanches, Floods, Tornadoes to the U.S.

La Niña Brings Rain, Avalanches, Floods, Tornadoes to the U.S.

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer This March will continue to bring more severe weather to the United States. An atmospheric river event — the “Pineapple Express” — is forecast to induce a rainy season in Washington and Oregon, as well as an increased risk of avalanches in the Pacific Northwest.  As the Pineapple Express […]

Continue Reading 471 words
PFAS in Protective Gear Put Firefighters at Risk of Cancer 

PFAS in Protective Gear Put Firefighters at Risk of Cancer 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has required PFAS, cancer-causing chemicals used in manufacturing, in firefighting gear for years despite cancer being the leading killer of firefighters. An extensive investigative two-part story by E&E News’ Ariel Wittenberg reveals not only the dangers of current equipment standards but the lengths the NFPA has gone to hide them.

Why This Matters: A study of 30,000 firefighters from 2010 to 2015 found that firefighters have an increased risk of many different cancers including: leukemia, malignant mesothelioma, bladder and prostate cancers, lung cancer, brain cancer, and digestive and oral cancers.

Continue Reading 451 words
One “Cool” Thing: Minnesota Is Colder Than Siberia

One “Cool” Thing: Minnesota Is Colder Than Siberia

We feel so badly for everyone in Texas suffering through days of bitter cold, many without heat.  But the people at the northern U.S. end of the polar vortex are reeling from the cold as well.  Low-temperature records are being broken in the northern plains — it’s so cold there that even Siberia was warmer.  […]

Continue Reading 153 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.