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New climate report warns of “heat belt” in Midwest

by Erika DuBose
New climate report warns of "heat belt," extreme temperatures
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A new climate report has some frightening findings: a large swath of the United States will experience temperatures higher than Death Valley. An “extreme heat belt” will affect at least 100 million Americans over the next 30 years. 

According to Jeremy Porter, chief research officer for First Street, a Brooklyn, New York, research and technology group, “Extreme heat exposure is increasing across the country.” First Street recently released their peer-reviewed report on climate change – or climate crisis, as it is now known. 

The dire report found that a huge block of land going from Texas and Louisiana all the way to the Great Lakes will be impacted by the unprecedented heat. Residents in those areas are likely to experience more days of average heat index temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Due to the effect of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, temperatures across the globe have increased.

This summer, several European countries experienced heat waves that were previously unheard of for their areas. Some countries reported thousands of deaths due to the heat crisis. 

Porter, who is also a professor and the director of quantitative methods in social sciences at the City University of New York, said “Everybody is affected by increasing heat, whether it be absolute increases in dangerous days or it’s just a local hot day.” The report by First Street uses modeling based on location, access to water, and previous temperature trends. 

According to the report, in 2023 over 8.1 million people in 50 countries could experience at least one day with a temperature above 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Questions abound about how citizens will manage in temperatures so high.

Midwest to get higher amid Climate Crisis 

The effects have already started in the United States. July 2022 was the third-hottest on record, and the country’s average temperature was over 3 degrees higher than usual. 

In particular, Texas had its warmest July ever, and Oregon experienced its fourth-warmest summer. In Oklahoma, July saw at least 17 days with temperatures above 100. 

According to the report, Tulsa is one of the cities set to experience extreme heat over the next 30 years. Landlocked areas such as St. Louis and Kansas City are also slated to feel the heat. 

Such areas are particularly risky because of the lack of access to bodies of water that provide cooling breezes. Additionally, residents of areas like Chicago and the Appalachian Mountains are unlikely to be prepared for such extreme weather conditions, even going into overnight temperatures.

According to Ashley Ward, a climate health scientist at Duke University, such extreme heat can cause a myriad of health problems. “When overnight temperatures remain high, what we’re seeing is the body doesn’t have a chance to recover from any heat exposure during the day.”

To access the free, open-source climate crisis report from First Street, go to riskfactor.com 

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