Report: global warming may mean more deaths in Manhattan

Rising temperatures due to climate change could lead to an increase in heat-related deaths, according to a study out of Columbia University. Credit: Metro File Photo.
Rising temperatures due to climate change could lead to an increase in heat-related deaths, according to a study out of Columbia University. Credit: Metro File Photo.

Though New Yorkers wouldn’t know it from the largely damp and chilly Memorial Day weekend, summer heat in Manhattan could be turning deadly, according to a study out of Columbia University.

Worse yet: the study found the greatest increase in temperature-related deaths would occur during typically pleasant May and September.

Researchers at the university’s Earth Institute and the Mailman School of Public Health are apparently warning that deaths in Manhattan linked to warmer temperatures due to global warming may result in a 20 percent increase in temperature-related deaths by the 2020s.

In some worst-case scenarios, according to the Earth Institute, the rate of heat-related deaths could rise by 90 percent by the 2080s.

While global warming could also bring rising winter temperatures, scientists say, the rise in heat deaths would likely not be offset significantly by a decrease in cold-related deaths. Annual net temperature-related deaths may still increase by a third.

This Manhattan-focused study is reportedly one of the most comprehensive studies so far on adverse health effects associated with rising temperatures as it combines data from all seasons and looks at multiple scenarios in one localized area—an area that happens to be the most densely populated county in the United States. 

A coauthor of the study, Earth Institute climate scientist Radley Horton, pointed to the 55,000 deaths that occurred during the record 2010 heat wave in Russia, and the 70,000 deaths that occurred in 2003 in central and Western Europe.

“This serves as a reminder that heat events are one of the greatest hazards faced by urban populations around the globe,” Horton said.

Heat apparently becomes concentrated in cities, as the pavement and buildings absorb it during the day and give it off at night. 

2012 was apparently the warmest year on record in Manhattan. While projections for the future vary, the study anticipates steep average increases: 3.3 to 4.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the 2050s, and 4.3 to 7.1 degrees by the 2080s.

The study looked at two potential futures: one where global population growth happens alongside minimal efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions; the second assuming slower population growth and advances in technology that could decrease emissions by 2040. Their baseline for temperature-related deaths was the 1980s, when as estimated 370 Manhattanites died from excessively hot temperatures and 340 died from extreme cold.

In both scenarios, the study anticipated increased mortality. Varied results were credit to the unpredictability of the future of greenhouse gas emissions, but researchers said the best-case scenario would involve a 15 percent increase in temperature-related death; worst-case would be an increase of more than 30 percent.

Senior author Patrick Kinney, an environmental scientist at the Mailman school, said the situation could be affected, positively or negatively, by how New York adapts its infrastructure and policies to a warmer world.

“I think this points to the need for cities to look for ways to make themselves and their people more resilient to heat,” he said.

The Earth Institute noted that New York already takes steps to mitigate warming by planting trees, making roofs reflective, and opening cooling centers in the summer time where people can seek refuge in rising temperatures.

Hot tips from the Department of Health

The Department of Health advises New Yorkers without home air conditioning to call 311 to find their nearest cooling center during a heat wave, or go to a nearby library, museum or department store. Hydration is important, but drinks with alcohol, caffeine and lots of sugar should be avoided.

While the DOH advises people to use air conditioning during the summer, the department also warns that the city is vulnerable to power outages during a heatwave, so thermostats should not be set below 78 degrees, and water should be used conservatively during extreme weather. Cool showers are recommended, but sudden temperature changes could cause dizziness or sickness.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

PHOTOS: Who is Alix Tichelman?

Who is Alix Tichelman, the high end call girl who allegedly murdered a Google executive?

National

Washington state approves first producer of pot edibles

  A Seattle-based company that makes marijuana-infused drinks and candies has become the first business in Washington approved to make edible pot products for the…

National

Florida cat owners call 911 after Russian blue…

By Barbara ListonORLANDO Florida (Reuters) - Kush the cat was quarantined in central Florida after her owner called 911 over the weekend for help, saying…

Local

Times Square costumed characters under scrutiny

Costumed characters in Times Square are under scrutiny after a string of incidents involving Elmo, Woody, Mario and Spider-Man.

Going Out

What to do this week in NYC: July…

Le Fooding Beach Club Presents: San Pellegrino Fruitstock at the Rockaways Friday-Sunday, Noon; $40 Beach 97 97-01 Shorefront Pkwy., Rockaway Beach Picnic on the beach…

Going Out

Where to eat on Bastille Day in NYC

We had ours on the Fourth of July, now it’s time for France’s equivalent on July 14. Go out and show your solidarity with the…

Books

What to eat while you read

A smudge of chocolate on a page never hurt anyone.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, July 9: 'The Bridge,'…

See Diane Kruger solve some mysteries in the second season premiere of "The Bridge."

World Cup

Argentina prevails in penalties, advances to final

The drama never seems to subside as the World Cup finally has its final two.

MLB

A Joffrey Ballet dancer threw the most beautiful…

http://youtu.be/Hg61JOZJrYM?t=29s While asked to throw a first pitch at a baseball game can be a treacherous and/or embarrassing experience (see Cent, 50), sometimes everything can…

World Cup

World Cup semifinals preview: Holland vs. Argentina

The second semifinal pits another South American soccer power against a European one.

MLB

MLB power rankings: Athletics cement spot on top,…

The Athletics cement spot on top of our MLB power rankings with a huge trade, while L.A. teams follow.

Travel

Amsterdam is known for sex and drugs, but…

Amsterdam is arguably best known for its red light district and cannabis coffee shops, but the city on the banks of the Amstel River is…

Wellbeing

What eye symptoms need emergency attention?

Many people experience temporary eye-related problems such as pink eye (conjunctivitis) from a cold virus or a scratched cornea resulting from an object coming into…

Wellbeing

Sugar isn't making anyone's life more sweet

Not so sweet. Anne Alexander, author of “The Sugar Smart Diet,” tells us where sugar is hiding and how it’s making us sick. Bet that…

Wellbeing

This will take more years off your life…

  Obesity can cut life short by causing strokes and other illnesses, but a new study quantifies the toll: The most extreme cases cut a…