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
Local

Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 7,…

Drunk girls and ghost brownies: here’s your weekly ‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap by way of Q&A. Q: do they really not check for feet under…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.