Heat-related deaths under-estimated as temperatures and extreme heat events increase

May 26, 2020 at 11:43 pm Leave a comment

Moreland’s social heat vulnerability

Researchers at the Australian National University say that heat related deaths have been greatly underestimated. In the 11 years between January 2006 and October 2017 an estimated 36,765 deaths in Australia can be attributed to heat-related causes.

As we know climate change is increasing average temperatures and the frequency and intensity of extreme heat events in Australia.

Moreland is particularly vulnerable to extreme heat being a heavily built up urban environment where the urban heat island effect is strong. The urban tree canopy in Moreland is still declining due to urban consolidation and development overwhelming the Council program for planting 5000 new trees a year. We also have large cohorts of vulnerable populations, such as elderly people and non-english speaking migrants.

Researchers have already warned that Sydney and Melbourne may soon experience extreme heat days over 50 degrees Celsius during summer heat events.

According to the researchers, the amount of deaths attributed to excessive natural heat is at least 50 times more than recorded on death certificates.

Correspondence published in the medical journal, Lancet Planetary Health, argues that over the past 11 years 340 deaths in Australia were recorded as being due to excessive heat but statistical analysis found 36,765 deaths could have been attributed to heat.

“Climate change is a killer, but we don’t acknowledge it on death certificates,” co-author Dr Arnagretta Hunter, from the ANU Medical School, said.

“There is second component on a death certificate which allows for pre-existing conditions and other factors.

“If you have an asthma attack and die during heavy smoke exposure from bushfires, the death certificate should include that information.

“We can make a diagnosis of disease like coronavirus, but we are less literate in environmental determinants like hot weather or bushfire smoke.”

The new analysis suggests Australia’s national heat-related mortality rate is around two per cent.

“Climate change is the single greatest health threat that we face globally even after we recover from coronavirus,” Dr Hunter said.

“We are successfully tracking deaths from coronavirus, but we also need healthcare workers and systems to acknowledge the relationship between our health and our environment.

“In Australia heat is the most dominant risk posed from climate change.”

The researchers say death certification needs to be modernised to reflect the impact of large-scale environmental events.

“We know the summer bushfires were a consequence of extraordinary heat and drought and people who died during the bushfires were not just those fighting fires – many Australians had early deaths due to smoke exposure,” Dr Hunter said.

The correspondence to the Lancet Planetary Health argues that:

Climate change is a concern to many people. But if the effect of extreme temperatures is not recorded, its full impact can never be understood. Death certification needs to be modernised, indirect causes should be reported, with all death certification prompting for external factors contributing to death, and these death data must be coupled with large-scale environmental datasets so that impact assessments can be done.

Study: Heat related deaths under reported

Sources:

Entry filed under: climate change info, health, heatwave, news. Tags: , , .

Pandemic disruption should cause us to reassess aviation policies and airport expansion Study finds 417 smoke related deaths from Australia’s climate fuelled Bushfire season

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Share

Petition Dan Andrews on Climate Emergency

Sign the petition to Premier Dan Andrews to declare an Ecological and climate emergency declaration

What Lies Beneath

Read David Spratt’s What Lies beneath:
Spratt-What Lies beneath-cover

Elephant in the Sky

New report on Aviation emissions and Australia, The Elephant in the Sky:
Carter-The-Elephant-in-the-Sky-cover

Climate Reality Check

Read David Spratt's Climate Reality Check:
20160316-Spratt-After-Paris-counting-the-cost-cover

Glasgow, Scotland COP26

UNFCCC climate conferenceNovember 1, 2021
11 months to go.

Follow Climate Action Moreland on Twitter

This is the current C02 in our atmosphere. We need to get it below 350 for a safe climate.

Current CO2 concentration in the atmosphere

Archives

Visitors to this site


%d bloggers like this: