What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Giving Compass' Take:
• The authors at Grist argue that climate change and global warming are the cause of more deaths in America and that our health departments do not have enough funding to properly help.
• How can funders improve public health and mitigate climate change at the same time?
• Learn more about the connections between climate change and public health.
PHOENIX — Charlie Rhodes lived alone on a tree-sparse street with sunburned lawns just outside this Arizona city. At 61, the Army veteran’s main connection to the world was Facebook; often, he posted several times a day. But as a heat wave blanketed the region in June 2016 — raising temperatures among the highest ever recorded — his posts stopped. Three weeks later, a pile of unopened mail outside his door prompted a call to police.
When officers arrived, they were overcome by the odor of rotting garbage, worsened by the still-searing heat. Inside the home, they found the air conditioner broken and its thermometer reading 99 degrees. Rhodes lay dead in the bedroom, his body decomposing. The cause, his autopsy shows: “complications of environmental heat exposure.”
Yearly heat-related deaths have more than doubled in Arizona in the last decade to 283. Across the country, heat caused at least 10,000 deaths between 1999 and 2016 — more than hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods in most years.
Scientists link the warming planet to a rise in dangerous heat in the United States, as well as the spread of infectious diseases and other health conditions. Federal research predicts heat stroke and similar illnesses will claim tens of thousands of American lives each year by the end of the century. Already, higher temperatures pose lethal risks: The top five warmest years nationwide have all occurred since 2006. In the last six decades, the number of annual heat waves in 50 U.S. cities has, on average, tripled. In contrast to a viral pandemic, like the one caused by the novel coronavirus, this is a quiet, insidious threat with no end point.
Read the full article about climate change and health departments by Dean Russell, Ali Raj, Elisabeth Gawthrop, Bridget Hickey, and Veronica Penney at Grist.