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NOAA calculates cost of 2012 extreme weather episodes

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Hurricane Sandy develops over the southwestern Atlantic. Satellite photo courtesy NOAA.

Heat wave and drought, tropical storms and tornadoes top the list

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Extreme weather events that may be linked with global warming caused at least 239 deaths in 2012, with the biggest loss of life resulting from Hurricane Sandy, which raked the Caribbean before spinning up the East Coast and then coming ashore over New Jersey.

A summer-long heat wave and associated drought that spanned a big portion of North America caused more than 120 direct deaths and possibly more due to heat stress, according to NOAA, which released preliminary data on the year’s billion-dollar extreme weather events. Continue reading

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Quantifying health-care costs of climate change

Six recent climate-related disasters cost at least $14 billion

Climate-change related flooding and other natural disasters are resulting in staggering public health costs, according to a new study from Columbia University.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Researchers with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health said they’ve been able to start tracking health impacts stemming from six climate change-related events in the United States during the last decade.

The costs are estimated at $14 billion dollars, including 21,000 emergency room visits, nearly 1,700 deaths, and 9,000 hospitalizations, according to a  study published in November 2011 edition of the journal Health Affairs.

“When extreme weather hits, we hear about the property damage and insurance costs. The healthcare costs never end up on the tab, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there,” said lead author Kim Knowlton, DrPH, assistant clinical professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Senior Scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Right now, there’s a gaping hole in our understanding of the health-related costs of climate change. This report begins the work to fill that void. Only by having a clear sense of health impacts and their costs, can we work to reduce them.” Continue reading

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