More Extreme Heat Waves: Global Warming's Wake-Up Call

Global warming is bringing more frequent and severe heat waves

09-18-2010 // Aileo Weinmann
2009 Heat Waves Report Cover 

More extremely hot summer days are projected for every part of the country, and 30 large cities are especially vulnerable, detailed in a new report from the National Wildlife Federation and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

"Global warming is bringing more frequent and severe heat waves and the result will be serious for vulnerable populations," said Dr. Amanda Staudt, climate scientist for the National Wildlife Federation.

"That means air pollution in urban areas could get worse, bringing increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks. Children, the elderly, poor, and people of color are especially vulnerable to these effects."

NWF's report, More Extreme Heat Waves: Global Warming's Wake-Up Call, details how:

  • Global warming will bring more extreme heat waves
  • Urban air pollution could be exacerbated by more extreme heat
  • Heat waves disproportionately impact people who are poor, elderly, children, or have asthma or heart disease, or live in big cities
  • Natural habitats and agriculture are also vulnerable to heat waves
  • We can reduce the severity of heat waves and their impacts on vulnerable people

"Global warming is one of the gravest health emergencies facing humanity. It's life-threatening and it's affecting us now," said Dr. Peter Wilk, MD, executive director, Physicians for Social Responsibility. "The science confirms that the frequency and duration of heat waves has increased significantly over the last 50 years. In the United States, heat waves already kill more people during a typical year than floods, tornadoes and earthquakes combined. Given these worsening trends, taking decisive action to stop global warming becomes a medical necessity."