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If Climate Goals Aren’t Met, Extreme Heat Will Kill Thousands in U.S. Cities

A new report estimates as many as 2,700 heat-related deaths can be prevented in just one city if global temperature rise can be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
A boy cools off in a water fountain in New York's Central Park.
A boy cools off in a water fountain in New York's Central Park.Lily Bowers/Reuters

This week, the city of Churu in Northern India saw mid-day temperatures rise above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, triggering government warnings to avoid drinking coffee, tea, or alcohol; in New Delhi, more than 21 million people are experiencing dangerously high temperatures that are expected to persist into next week.

The first seriously scary heat wave of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer is a good time to remember that extreme heat in the U.S. already causes more deaths than any other severe weather event, killing an estimated 1,500 people each year. And the future looks dangerously hotter: The United Nations warned last November that global temperatures are on track to rise by at least 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, soaring past the two-degree goal that nearly 200 cities signed onto in 2015 as part of the Paris Agreement.