By Eric Roston, Paul Murray and Rachael Dottle

It’s one of the scariest questions facing billions of humans on a hotter planet: How many of us will die from extreme heat in the decades ahead?

Your future risk of dying from heat will be determined more than anything else by where you live and the local consequences of today’s economic inequality. That’s the conclusion of major paper released today by the Climate Impact Lab, a research consortium that spent years mapping the relationship between temperature, income, and mortality. People in poor regions who benefit less from investment in air conditioning, protective infrastructure, and elder care will die from extreme heat at much higher rates, even compared to wealthier peers who experience similar hot temperatures.

The researchers from the Climate Impact Lab determined that the toll from future heat will be far worse than expected, with the global annual mortality rate at the end of this century rising by 73 deaths per 100,000 people solely from excess heat. That’s a death rate comparable to the 79 per 100,000 that New York State has seen from Covid-19 since January. “The mortality risks from climate change are about an order of magnitude larger than previously understood,” says Michael Greenstone, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and a co-director of the Climate Impact Lab. “I really think that shouldn’t be missed.”

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Areas of Focus: Climate Change
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Climate Change
Climate change is an urgent global challenge. EPIC research is helping to assess its impacts, quantify its costs, and identify an efficient set of policies to reduce emissions and adapt...
Climate Economics
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Climate Economics
Climate change will affect every sector of the economy, both locally and globally. EPIC research is quantifying these effects to help guide policymakers, businesses, and individuals working to mitigate and...
Climate Law & Policy
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Climate Law & Policy
As countries around the world implement policies to confront climate change, EPIC research is calculating which policies will have the most impact for the least cost.
Climate Science
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Climate Science
EPIC’s interdisciplinary team of researchers is contributing to a cross-cutting body of knowledge on the scientific causes of climate change and its social consequences.
Climate Impact Lab
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Climate Impact Lab
Climate change is already altering lives every day. The Climate Impact Lab is building the world’s most comprehensive body of research quantifying the impacts of climate change sector-by-sector, community-by-community, around...