Distributional Impacts of Climate Change and Disasters

Distributional Impacts of Climate Change and Disasters

Concepts and Cases

New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

Edited by Matthias Ruth and María E. Ibarrarán

Climate change tends to increase the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters, which puts many people at risk. Economic, social and environmental impacts further increase vulnerability to disasters and tend to set back development, destroy livelihoods, and increase disparity nationally and worldwide. This book addresses the differential vulnerability of people and places, introducing concepts and methods for analysis and illustrating the impact on local, regional, national, and global scales.

Chapter 4: Health Impact of Heat: Present Realities and Potential Impacts of a Climate Change

Laurence Kalkstein, Christina Koppe, Simone Orlandini, Karen Smoyer-Tomic and Scott Seridan

Subjects: development studies, development studies, economics and finance, environmental economics, regional economics, valuation, environment, disasters, environmental economics, valuation, urban and regional studies, regional economics


4. Health impacts of heat: present realities and potential impacts of a climate change Laurence Kalkstein, Christina Koppe, Simone Orlandini, Scott Sheridan and Karen Smoyer-Tomic INTRODUCTION In many mid-latitude locations it is recognized that heat is the most important weather-related killer – outpacing hurricanes, tornadoes, snow and ice, and lightning. In the US, about 1500 people are killed by heat during an average summer (Harvard Medical School 2005). During extreme heat events, such as the one that occurred in Europe in 2003, excess deaths were in the tens of thousands (Valleron and Mendil 2004). The scope of the problem is immense and large population centers around the world, from Shanghai to New Delhi to London to Toronto, are not immune (Tan et al. 2003). The impact of a climate change could make matters worse. Several studies show that, if the climate changes as forecast by a number of climate models, the frequency of extreme heat events may double, or even triple, in many cities over the remainder of this century (Hayhoe et al. 2004b). This could lead to a dramatic increase in deaths from heat-related causes. It should be noted, however, that heat intensity is not the only major factor contributing to increased negative health responses. Probably more important is the variability of the weather. Clearly more people die from heat-related causes in cities like Philadelphia, Toronto and Chicago, than they do in Phoenix and Miami, where summer conditions are considerably warmer. This is due to the unexpected nature of extreme...

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