After the deluge — cascading effects of extreme weather on human health

News coverage of this summer’s devastating flood in Pakistan has peaked, but the deluge left behind hasn’t subsided: Experts predict the floodwaters could take six months to fully recede.

The initial damage was devastating. More than 1,500 people died — about half of them children — when record rainfalls and melting glaciers caused catastrophic flooding during the 2022 monsoon season.

But the flooding’s human impacts will be far more long-lasting. Eight million people are still displaced, and Pakistan now faces ongoing threats to lives and livelihoods — the floods affected 15% of the country’s rice crop and 40% of its cotton crop.

Climate scientists agree a rapidly warming atmosphere will generate more intense and frequent weather disasters. These disasters cause immediate death, injury, or homelessness, but their effects on human health and well-being often persist long after the skies clear, floods recede, or fires are extinguished.

A new study from climate and health researchers Jan C. Semenza, Joacim Rocklov, and Kristi L. Ebi in the journal Infectious Diseases and Therapy explains how climate events often

— source | Emily Jack-Scott, Sarah Spengeman | 6 Dec 2022

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Climate Change Supercharges Storms

in Florida, where authorities say hundreds may be dead after Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday along the state’s southwestern coast as a powerful Category 4 storm, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the area. Ian was about 500 miles wide when it crashed into Florida with a 30-foot-wide eye wall and hurricane-force winds that extended 40 miles from the center. Satellite images show the storm engulfing the entire state. High winds and storm surges devastated coastal communities. Some storm surges were 12 feet high. Some cities saw more than a foot of rainfall. More than two-and-a-half million have lost power as we broadcast. Many are also without water. Rescue teams are working in the dangerous conditions to find people trapped in their homes.

But the most important story right now is what’s happening down in Southwest Florida, as you heard from the sheriff of Lee County, where hundreds of people are confirmed dead from this storm, with the unbelievable storm surge that came through, several feet of water in major cities in Southwest Florida, like Naples and Fort Myers. It’s just been devastating. And we don’t know the full extent of the damage yet, because it’s just now daylight, and it’s just now safe enough, perhaps, to go outside for people and for these emergency crews to go out and assess the damages.

— source | Sep 29, 2022

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The world’s poorest bear the burden of heat

As temperatures climb with climate change, the world’s poorest will increasingly take the brunt of the heat, according to a new study in the journal Earth’s Future. Lower-income countries are already 40 percent more likely to experience heat waves than those with higher incomes. The researchers expect this disparity to widen in coming decades.

By 2100, the study says, people in the lowest-income quarter will experience 23 more days of heat waves each year than those in the highest. The top quarter is expected to maintain about its current level of discomfort, power outages notwithstanding.

Discrepancies were expected, said Mojtaba Sadegh, a climatologist at Boise State University, in a statement. “But seeing one-quarter of the world facing as much exposure as the other three-quarters combined … that was surprising.”

Location shapes exposure: Many lower-income countries, like Madagascar and Bangladesh, are in the tropics. Access to air-conditioning, water, cooling shelters, and electricity matters, too. Without them, heat waves hit harder.

Climate change exacerbates the problem, magnifying heat waves and upping their severity and frequency. Last year brought plenty of examples. In June, a heat dome gripped the

— source | Lina Tran | Feb 11, 2022

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This Isn’t a Natural Disaster

At least 100 people are feared dead after 30 deadly tornadoes devastated towns in eight states, from Kentucky to Arkansas, in a supercell thunderstorm that raged more than 200 miles, leaving behind scenes some compared to a war zone. President Biden has declared a major federal disaster and called for an investigation into the role climate change played in the storms. “Make no mistake, we have been seeing an increase in these massive tornado outbreaks that can be attributed to the warming of the planet,” says climate scientist Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University.

it’s really unfortunate to be talking about this tragedy. And, you know, we tend to call these things natural disasters, but this isn’t a natural disaster. This is a disaster that was exacerbated by human-caused climate change.

So, let’s look at the basic ingredients for what happened here. You have a very warm Gulf of Mexico right now. Those ocean temperatures are extremely warm. And we know the oceans have been warming because of carbon pollution, because of human-caused climate change. And that warm air and all of the moisture that evaporates off the ocean has been making its way well up into the United States. The southern half of the U.S.

— source | Dec 13, 2021

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Extreme heat is a growing concern for doctors around the world

Extreme heat is a huge worry for doctors and public health experts around the world, and it’s steadily become a bigger problem over time, according to a sweeping new climate report published today in the leading medical journal, The Lancet. Extreme heat is already a leading weather-related killer, and climate change is making heatwaves more frequent and intense. Children and older adults especially are more vulnerable to heat-related illness and death than people of other ages. The number of hours in a day in which it was too hot to safely work or exercise outside has also risen steadily over the past four decades, the report found. People in lower-income countries lost the most time, an average of 3.7 fewer hours in a day with safe temperatures. In 2020 alone, 295 billion hours of potential work were lost because of extreme heat.

— source | Oct 20, 2021

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Hurricane Ida Slams Native Communities in Louisiana

Hurricane Ida, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the United States, roared ashore Sunday in southern Louisiana in an area dominated by the oil industry that’s also home to many Native communities. The storm brought a seven-foot storm surge, 150-mile-per-hour winds and up to two feet of rain to parts of the Gulf Coast. It was so powerful, it completely knocked out power to a million people, including the entire city of New Orleans, and reversed the flow of the Mississippi River. The Category 4 storm hit on the same day Hurricane Katrina devastated the area 16 years ago. It’s been blamed for at least one death, and more are expected.

A system of dikes and levees that protects the New Orleans region from rising waters is reportedly holding, for now, much of it built since Katrina. But still, it is underfunded, and officials say they could be overwhelmed by a forecasted 20 inches of rain.

Louisiana’s Gulf Coast is a major oil and gas hub, with 17 oil refineries, two liquefied natural gas export terminals, a nuclear power plant and many Superfund sites. Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, the oilfield service hub for almost all of the Gulf of Mexico and not far from the city of Houma.

— source | Aug 30, 2021

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Hurricane Ida Hits Oil Industry in Black & Native Communities

Hurricane Ida slammed ashore Sunday as a Category 4 storm off the southeast coast of Louisiana, with two-thirds of the state’s industrial sites in its path, including oil refineries, storage tanks and other infrastructure, like oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, this is — this Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality says it has asked more than 1,500 oil refineries, chemical plants and other industrial facilities in the area to self-report leaks or spills, after about 95% of oil and gas production in the Gulf Coast region.

For more, I want to bring into this conversation the longtime oil and energy investigative journalist Antonia Juhasz, who tweeted Sunday, “Hurricane Ida cutting through Louisiana’s offshore oil & gas corridor, into Port Fourchon, and on into Cancer Alley, Baton Rouge & New Orleans: areas congested with fossil fuel & petrochemical infrastructure:

— source | Aug 30, 2021

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Death Valley, California, breaks the all-time world heat record for the second year in a row

For the second consecutive year, Death Valley, California, has set a world record for the hottest reliably measured temperature in Earth’s history. Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Creek Visitor Center hit an astonishing 130.0 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4°C) on Friday afternoon, July 9, 2021, beating the previous world record of 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4°C), set there on August 16, 2020. For perspective, according to What’s Cooking America, a medium-rare steak is cooked to an internal temperature of 130-135°F.

— source | 14 Jul 2021

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Extreme heat and cold kill five million every year

Extremes of hot and cold weather now claim around five million lives a year worldwide. Deaths related to heatwaves have been on the increase this century, and global heating driven by fossil fuel combustion will make things worse, according to new research. scientists in China, Australia, the UK and Moldova report in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health that they looked at death statistics and temperature readings from 570 locations in 43 nations on five continents between the years 2000 and 2019, a period when average global temperatures rose by 0.26°C a decade. They found that 9.43% of global deaths could be attributed to either very hot or very cold temperatures: that means 74 excess deaths for every 100,000 people. During that time, cold-related deaths fell by 0.51%; heat-related deaths increased by 0.21%. Worldwide, they estimate, the statistics translate to 5,083,173 deaths per year.

— source | Jul 9, 2021

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Long-term data show hurricanes are getting stronger

In almost every region of the world where hurricanes form, their maximum sustained winds are getting stronger. That is according to a new study by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Center for Environmental Information and University of Wisconsin-Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, who analyzed nearly 40 years of hurricane satellite imagery. hurricanes are moving more slowly across land due to changes in Earth’s climate. This has resulted in greater flood risks as storms hover over cities and other areas, often for extended periods of time. results show that these storms have become stronger on global and regional levels, which is consistent with expectations of how hurricanes respond to a warming world.

— source University of Wisconsin-Madison | May 18, 2020

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