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More crashes, assaults, and drownings in a warmer world

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Warmer temperatures will lead to more drownings, car accidents, assaults, and suicides, warn the authors of a new study. The researchers developed a mathematical model to predict how above-average temperatures will affect deaths through injury in the US. They report that an increase of 1.5°C could be responsible for as many as 1,600 additional injury-related US deaths per year, attributable to both unintentional (drowning, transport, and falls) and intentional (assault and suicide) injuries. In a linked comment article, New Zealand researchers call for more research into exactly how warmer temperatures lead to such deaths and what we can do to prevent them.

Journal/conference: Nature Medicine

DOI: 10.1038/s41591-019-0721-y

Organisation/s: University of Auckland, Imperial College London, UK

Funder: Wellcome Trust; US Environmental Protection Agency

Media Release

From: Springer Nature

Climate science: Impacts of global heating on US deaths from injuries assessed

A 1.5°C anomalously warm year, as envisioned under the Paris Climate Agreement, could be responsible for as many as 1,601 additional deaths by injury per year across the contiguous United States, according to a paper published in Nature Medicine.

To date, health consequences related to global temperature variations have been studied largely in the context of the spread of infectious diseases, heart and lung disorders and other chronic diseases. There is limited data on how such variations might affect death from injuries.

Majid Ezzati and colleagues analysed mortality and temperature data collected over 38 years (1980–2017) across mainland United States. Using the Paris Agreement scenarios of 1.5 and 2.0°C increase in temperature, the authors developed a computational model to determine how deviations of monthly temperatures from the average affect deaths attributable to both unintentional (drowning, transport and falls) and intentional (assault and suicide) injuries. The analysis was also stratified by age group and sex. The authors found that in an especially warm year, there could be an estimated 1,601 additional deaths. Of these anticipated additional deaths, 84% would occur in men, mostly between the ages of 15 and 64.

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