The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change is a comprehensive yearly analysis tracking the impact of climate change on human health across 41 indicators. The report also projects the health benefits that would come from meeting the Paris Agreement targets, and the health harms of business as usual. The project is a collaboration of more than 100 experts from 35 global institutions including the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank, University College London, and Tsinghua University.
The report offers an assessment of global impacts. Here are some key findings from the U.S. Policy Brief:
- In 2016, there were 64,200 premature deaths in the U.S. due to ambient PM2.5 air pollution. Roughly 8,600 of those deaths were due to coal combustion.
- Outdoor workers are increasingly exposed to life-threatening heat in the U.S. and urgent action is needed to protect them from further harm.
- U.S. workers, especially in agriculture and industry, lost nearly 1.1 billion potential labor hours between 2000-2018 and 64.7 million potential hours in 2018 alone from extreme heat.
- Southern U.S. states (defined as those below 34°N latitude) lost 15-20% of possible daylight work hours for heavy labor (e.g., agriculture and construction) in direct sun due to heat exposure during the hottest month in 2018 (July). Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida were particularly impacted.
- Older adults age 65 and above are especially vulnerable to extreme heat. In 2011, 22.3 million additional heatwave exposure events for older adults occurred (with one exposure event being one heatwave experienced by one person 65 years and older) above the 1986-2005 average baseline. In 2016, 11.6 million more exposure events occurred compared to the baseline, followed by 3.7 million more than the baseline in 2017 and 3.1 million more than the baseline in 2018.