Editorials

Saving lives during extreme weather in summer

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7262.650 (Published 16 September 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:650

Interventions from local health agencies and doctors can reduce mortality

  1. Laurence S Kalkstein, Professor and associate director (larryk@udel.edu)
  1. Center for Climatic Research, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA

    Papers p 670

    Interest in the impact of weather on human health has grown enormously, largely due to predictions that over the next century temperatures will rise. A report in this week's journal (p 670) indicates that among Europeans any increases in mortality related to heat will be only temporary.1 Other studies, however, in the United States and China have found that there will be a sharp increase in mortality related to heat if the globe warms as expected. 2 3

    In some ways the argument is moot because it is clear that heat is already an important killer in many parts of the world. Weather variability, rather than heat intensity, is the most important factor defining human sensitivity to heat.4 People living in areas where summer climates are highly variable are ill adapted to extreme heat, mainly because it occurs irregularly. Thus, there are large increases in mortality when an intense heatwave occurs in temperate cities, such as Chicago, New York, Rome, Shanghai, and Athens. One of the …

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