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A new Defense Department report on the security impacts of climate change provides startling evidence of the impacts of climate change on military readiness and the welfare of servicemembers — health impacts from heat have already cost the military as much as nearly $1 billion from 2008 to 2018 in lost work, retraining and medical care, according to a new report by NBC News and Inside Climate News. Similarly, Ecowatch reported that based on the data contained in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ recent report entitled “Killer Heat,” African Americans have been disproportionately affected by extreme heat — approximately 40 percent of the total U.S. African American population vs. 3.0. percent of the U.S. general population will be affected as a result of global warming.
Why This Matters: You might not think of poor and minority communities as having that much in common with members of the military, but in fact, both groups lack the power to alter their circumstances when it comes to exposure to extreme heat. Low income and minority victims are trapped by their lack of means, but soldiers and sailors are also powerless and trapped in the heat during training, at the mercy of their commanders. With this knowledge of the disproportionate impacts, policymakers and military commanders should do more to ensure that both populations are better protected from heat stress. The military, in particular, should raise awareness among commanders of the dangers of heat illness because there was evidence in the NBC/Inside Climate News report that a disregard for heat safety rules led to the deaths of service members.
“The investigation found that despite acknowledging the risks of climate change, the military continues to wrestle with finding a sustainable, comprehensive strategy for how to train in sweltering conditions.”
African Americans In the South Suffer From the Heat
The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Adrienne Hollis and Dr. Kristy Dahl, a co-author of the Killer Heat report, examined the average number of days with a heat index above 105°F in counties with an African Americans population of 25 percent or more as compared to those counties with fewer than 25 percent African American. They found that “counties with large African American populations are exposed to extreme temperatures 2-3 more days per year than those counties with smaller African American populations. And by midcentury, the expectation is that those same counties would experience about 20 more extreme heat days per year.”
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer This week, the medical journal Lancet published their annual report on health in relation to climate change, subtitling it: “code red for a healthy future.” The report delves beyond the obvious effects of wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme weather events — looking at food security; livelihoods; human physical and mental […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The EPA announced Monday that it will move toward regulating perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — manmade “forever chemicals” — that don’t naturally break down and can contaminate both air and water. These chemicals, found in various household products, from dental floss to nonstick pans, can also be harmful […]
The editors of over 230 medical journals said in a statement on Monday that climate change is a health issue and that its effects could become “catastrophic” if world leaders don’t do more to address it. The health impacts of climate change include wildfire smoke–which has been linked to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases–and pollutants […]
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