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Heat deaths expected to multiply this century

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) made the estimate using data from 40 cities, calculating that temperatures in North America would rise between four and eleven degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century.

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A new report says that heat-related deaths will reach 150,000 by 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A new report says that heat-related deaths will reach 150,000 Americans by the end of the century.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) made the estimate using data from 40 cities, calculating that temperatures in North America would rise between four and eleven degrees Fahrenheit in this century.

More hot days and heatwaves means more heat-related fatalities.

“Our findings indicate that rising temperatures driven by unabated climate change will increase the number of life-threatening excessive heat events, resulting in thousands of additional heat-related deaths each year," wrote the authors, according to Red Orbit.

Currently there are about 1,332 heat-related deaths in the United States per year, reported Mother Jones, but that number is expected to reach nearly 5000 by the end of the century at today's warming rates.

The main causes of heat-related death include cardiovascular disease, heat stroke and exhaustion and kidney stones.

Reuters reported that the three cities with the highest projected heat death tolls are Louisville, Ky., with 19,000  deaths by the century end; Detroit with 17,900 deaths; and Cleveland with 16,600.

It is believed that higher concentrations of poor people without easy access to medical services increases the chances of a higher mortality rate due to heat.

“This is a wake-up call,” said Dan Lashof of the NRDC in a conference call with reporters, according to the Boston Globe.

“Climate change has a number of real life-and-death consequences. One of which is that as carbon pollution continues to grow, climate change is only going to increase the number of dangerously hot days each summer, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of lives lost.”

The findings were published in the journal Weather, Climate and Society.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/120525/heat-deaths-expected-multiply-decade