Year 3, Month 6, Day 3: Can’t You Speak Nicely?

The Boston Globe reports on some disturbing statistics — but not disturbing enough:

An additional 150,000 or more Americans could die by the end of this century due to excessive heat caused by climate change, according to a report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The New York-based advocacy group, which based its findings on other studies, projects that Midwestern cities will bear the brunt of hotter summers, with 19,000 additional deaths by the end of the century in Louisville, 17,900 in Detroit, and 16,600 in Cleveland. The Midwestern cities are more vulnerable because of their greater temperature swings, lack of air conditioning and green space, and the types of buildings.

The report estimates an additional 5,715 people will die in Boston by the end of the century because of the increased heat.

I’m running all over the place; this letter’s nothing I’m going to point to with pride later on. Sent May 24:

The statement forecasting an extra 150,000 American deaths over the next ninety years due to climate change will undoubtedly be used to mislead the public: those with vested interests in minimizing the threat of global climate change can simply do some arithmetic to back up a claim that fewer than 2000 extra deaths a year is nothing to get excited about.

But the scary numbers aren’t those referring to the people who succumb to months of uninterrupted hundred-plus degree days, which is what the NRDC report quantifies. What happens to our food supply when agricultural yields plummet in the extreme heat? When electrical supplies begin to fail due to unplanned-for demand? When our water supply proves inadequate?

And, of course, those numbers only refer to the USA. How many deaths can we expect worldwide? How many millions of climate refugees, some in the most geopolitically unstable parts of the world?

Warren Senders

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