"Climate Change Is Killing Us Right Now"

"The most obvious effect of global warming is not a doomsday scenario. Extreme heat is happening today, and wreaking havoc on vulnerable bodies."

"A young, fit U.S. soldier is marching in a Middle Eastern desert, under a blazing summer sun. He’s wearing insulated clothing and lugging more than 100 pounds of gear, and thus sweating profusely as his body attempts to regulate the heat. But it’s 108 degrees out and humid, too much for him bear. The brain is one of the first organs affected by heat, so his judgment becomes impaired; he does not recognize the severity of his situation. Just as his organs begin to fail, he passes out. His internal temperature is in excess of 106 degrees when he dies.

An elderly woman with cardiovascular disease is sitting alone in her Chicago apartment on the second day of a massive heatwave. She has an air conditioner, but she’s on a fixed income and can’t afford to turn it on again—or maybe it broke and she can’t afford to fix it. Either way, she attempts to sleep through the heat again, and her core temperature rises.  To cool off, her body’s response is to work the heart harder, pumping more blood to her skin. But the strain on her heart is too much; it triggers cardiac arrest, and she dies.

Such scenarios could surely happen today, if they haven’t already. But as the world warms due to climate change, they’ll become all too common in just a few decades—and that’s according to modest projections."

Emily Atkin reports for the New Republic July 20, 2017.

Source: New Republic, 07/21/2017