UM study: Michigan faces more death, illness from climate change

ANN ARBOR—As the world grows warmer and the region grows wetter, extreme heat and rain will cause more people to die or become ill—a costly burden in terms of lives lost and health care costs to the state of Michigan, a new report says.

A University of Michigan study projects deaths and emergency department visits caused by weather events during the time period 2041 to 2070 compared to a historical period of 1971 to 2000.

Deaths from extreme heat are likely to increase from 33 deaths annually to 240 in the projected time period, the researchers report. Emergency department visits are expected to increase from 1,200 to 7,800, and hospitalizations from 28 to 185. Illness caused by extreme precipitation may increase from 170 ER visits per year to 220 visits per year.

The study, led by Carina Gronlund, a researcher at the Survey Research Center, part of the UM Institute for Social Research, was published in the journal Environmental Health.

Carina Gronlund. University of Michigan photo.

“It’s important to point out that there’s a lot of uncertainty in these estimates—we cannot say there will be exactly 240 deaths,” said Gronlund, who completed the work as a researcher at the U-M School of Public Health. “But this is important as a thought experiment that shows if we don’t take steps to adapt to or mitigate climate change, we should expect to see increases in extreme heat and associated mortality that are in this order of magnitude.”

Read the full report at MITechNews.com.

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