Climate-driven extreme heat threatens $500 bln in new U.S. costs by 2050

(Reuters, 1 Sep 2021) Threats to agriculture, construction and service workers could cause hefty annual setbacks to the U.S. economy - and more deaths - by mid-century, researchers warn.

Worsening extreme heat is likely to significantly boost economic and public health costs in the United States without a major course correction on climate change, researchers said in a report published on Tuesday.

The annual economic costs, which could spike as high as $500 billion by 2050, would disproportionately affect minority groups, according to the report from the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.

The United States could also suffer 59,000 heat deaths a year by 2050 under business-as-usual action on climate change, the study found, particularly in already hot areas such as Arizona, southern California and southwest Texas.

The report "helps people begin to see the magnitude of this crisis, both financially and to our health," said Kathy Baughman McLeod, senior vice president of the group's Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center.

The study looked at the potential economic impacts of continuing business-as-usual emissions compared to the impacts likely with continuing "normal" years - not particularly warm ones - like those between 1986 and 2005.

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Reuters, 1 Sep 2021: Climate-driven extreme heat threatens $500 bln in new U.S. costs by 2050