A new study, spearheaded by the Natural Resources Defense Council and published in the current issue of Health Affairs, puts a price tag on climate-related health effects — and it is steep. All told, the study says, climate change-related events have burdened the U.S. health-care system with $14 billion in costs, and accounted for 1,689 premature deaths, 8,992 hospitalizations, and 21,113 emergency room visits.
The study considered costs associated with smog pollution, heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires, mosquito-borne diseases, and flooding. Some of these cases of death, injury, and disease aren't necessarily related to climate change; there have been flooding deaths since well before the Industrial Revolution, after all. But all of them are projected to worsen as the climate warms. As the study's fact sheet says, "Our finding that health costs from just these six U.S. events topped $14 billion demonstrates how much higher the true costs of climate change are and will be in the future."