Global warming may kill more than all infectious diseases combined

Extreme Weather

Global warming may kill more than all infectious diseases combined

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Global warming may cause more deaths than infectious diseases like tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria

Scientists fear the rapidly heating planet will lead to an alarming rise in premature deaths by the end of the century. 

A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research predicts that health effects linked to rising temperatures may boost the global mortality rate by 73 deaths per 100,000 people if current climate trends stay the same. That rise is comparable to the current mortality rate of all infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue, and yellow fever. 

The study comes after a series of studies linking rising temperatures with cancer, flu, and heart attacks

“A lot of older people die due to indirect heat affects,” Amir Jina, an environmental economist at the University of Chicago and a co-author of the study, told The Guardian. “It’s eerily similar to Covid – vulnerable people are those who have pre-existing or underlying conditions. If you have a heart problem and are hammered for days by the heat, you are going to be pushed towards collapse.”

“The richer countries, even if they have increases in mortality, can pay more to adapt to it. It’s really the people who have done the least to cause climate change who are suffering from it,” he added.         

While cooler countries like Canada and Norway are safe from the torrid heat, tropical and poorer countries such as Ghana, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sudan are expected to see a mortality rate of around 200 deaths per 100,000 people. 

Although the worst is yet to come, the deadly effects of global warming can already be seen—from a heatwave in France which caused 1,500 deaths in 2019, to the Australian bushfires of 2020.

However, experts believe that the damage is likely to be less extensive in regions which have been experiencing blazing temperatures for a few years now. 

“A really hot day in Seattle is more damaging than a really hot day in Houston because air conditioning and other measures are less widespread there,” Bob Kopp, a co-author and climate scientist at Rutgers University told The Guardian. 

Written by

Maheep Chawla

Maheep is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She is pursuing a major in Psychology. Previously, she has interned with a pre-school for children with special needs based in New Delhi. In the past, she has also written for her campus newspaper and the editorial department at UBC’s Psychology Student Association.