Tag Archives: mortality

And the Heat Goes on – Another Deadly Heat Wave Hits Japan

Barely a year after extreme heat killed 17 and sent more than 9,800 people to the hospital, Japan has been hit with another heat wave.  This most recent extreme heat event killed 11 and sent 1,900 to hospitals, and broke heat records in 14 Japanese cities.

Other cities around the world have also been hit with recent heat waves…

On Thursday, Phoenix, Arizona set a record of 116°F.  In other parts of the state, temperatures were even higher — Yuma reached 117 °F, tying a record high for the date, and Tacna reached 120°.

“We have not dropped below the 90 degree mark since Tuesday morning, if you can believe that,” Matt Pace of Phoenix’s NBC 12 News said Thursday.

Last month, temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit led to increased demand for energy, power and water outages, andriots in India.

Heat waves are hitting communities earlier, longer and with higher temperatures every year.  We expect to see 100 degree days in July or August, but California, Texas and Kansas were already suffering with temperatures topping 100 degrees by late April and early May of this year.

Extreme heat is becoming more deadly.  It causes more deaths in the U.S. each year than all other natural disasters combined.  And it will only get worse.  Forecasters in London warn that heat waves capable of killing hundreds and melting roads are likely to become the new normal by 2040.

This extreme heat can be especially deadly for the very young, the elderly, and for people living in buildings without air conditioning.  As these heatwaves move into regions unaccustomed to extreme heat events, more people will be exposed to this kind of deadly heat without any way of escaping.

These recent heat waves are a reminder of the need to use every tool available to us in bringing down urban heat.  To learn more about simple and inexpensive climate mitigation strategies, read GCCA’s primer – A Practical Guide to Cool Roofs and Cool Pavements.

Assessing the Health Impacts of Urban Heat Island Strategies in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia is susceptible to extreme heat events whose health impacts are exacerbated by the fact that the city is often significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas during the summer. The study found that a 10-percentage point increase in urban surface reflectivity could reduce the number of deaths during heat events by an average of 6%. Adding a 10% increase vegetative cover to the increases in reflectivity yielded an average 7% reduction in mortality during heat events. During the decades between 1948 and 2011, an average of 285 people died of heat-related causes. A 6-7% decrease in mortality would save approximately 20 lives per decade. In addition, an even larger reduction would be expected in hospital admissions from heat-related illness, although this was not a specific finding of this analysis. Changes in temperature and humidity (as measured by dew point temperature) in both scenarios were relatively minor, yet were significant enough to contribute to the reduction of deaths.

The District, given its current policy landscape and development, could achieve the increases in reflectivity and vegetation used in this study. Increasing District-wide roof reflectivity by 10 percentage points is achievable by converting dark grey roofs to white roofs on approximately 25 percent of the District’s buildings. Assuming the average roof lasts 20 years, the District could achieve this with end-of-life roof replacements in slightly more than 5 years. Achieving the same increase in reflectivity for pavements would require the conversion of 50 percent of District pavements from dark asphalt to a slightly lighter option like grey concrete. A significantly smaller percentage of pavements would need to be converted if cool coatings were applied where feasible.

Get the full study on our Cool Roofs and Cool Pavements ToolKit here.

Extreme Heat Triggers Power and Water Cuts in Northern India

A record-breaking heat wave hit northern India in June as temperatures reached 120 degrees.  The power authority couldn’t meet the increased energy demand which has led to power and water cuts throughout the region.

Protesters took to the streets over the lack of basic services and attacked power sub stations, taking several workers hostage, and many companies are keeping workers indoors during the mid-day peak heat.  The extreme heat has also resulted in many deaths among the homeless, elderly and other vulnerable populations.