People started dying in the United States. due to the current heat wave sweeping through the Pacific Northwest. The heat would be the deadliest extreme weather event, and large parts of the country will remain at high temperatures throughout the hottest months.
As the climate warms, the likelihood of heat waves increases. And an abundance of heat influences water consumption, finances, gas and electricity consumption. This heat wave negatively affects individuals as well as the economy.
Although Utah is a desert state, we weren’t prepared for the crazy temperatures we experienced last month and won’t be going any further.
Low-income areas are hardest hit by heat waves, due to the inaccessibility of air conditioning – in the United States, Native American and black communities have the highest rates of heat-related deaths.
Heat waves can lead to more hospital visits, loss of efficiency in construction and agriculture, lower agricultural yield and damage to infrastructure. People lose their ability to work and productivity slows as temperatures rise.
Last year, about 800 people died in a heat wave in Oregon and Washington. This trend is also appearing in Europe and Asia, with more than 2,000 people dying from heat-related causes in Spain and Portugal.
Heat-related illnesses also hurt people in the long term. If a person does not die initially, it will affect him for years. Heatstroke causes memory loss, damage to vital organs such as the brain, heart, liver and kidneys, and negatively affects cognitive function.
Economies have been found to grow at slower rates during hot summers. The combined power of heat waves and constant droughts is a major threat to agriculture, which plays a large role in Utah’s economy. Heat has been found to cause 10 times more crop damage than currently expected. The damage will only increase over time.
Small businesses like the relatively young restaurant Ramen Haus are keenly feeling this change. “It’s pretty typical in the summer for us to slow down a bit, just because it’s ramen and ramen is tough in the summer,” said Chloe Young, an employee at Ramen Haus. “But I noticed [this] with… the highest heats for sure. We have $700 days and as a business… what if we don’t make $2,000 a day? We could run out of rent.
With the heat slowing customer attendance, Young said they had to cut staff. “So we have to go into … rudimentary mode where there’s only one cook, maybe a dishwasher, and then just the two servers every night,” she said. This type of operation is not viable for those who have bills to pay.
Energy grids are struggling to keep up with demand for air conditioning, and many expect power outages throughout the summer months. Business results will be affected as they lose revenue to cool offices and protect workplaces from heat-related illnesses. On average, stock prices also fall about 22 basis points during a hot spell.
Besides lowering business revenues, the heatwave is also hurting vital services that we need as a community. Utah firefighters are coping with the heavy lifting, smothering heat-ignited wildfires. While performing their duties, firefighters are also at risk of developing heat-related illnesses due to extreme weather conditions and the effort required to wear the necessary protective equipment.
I’m tired of beating the dead horse that is climate change. The effects are tangible and fatal yet utterly despicable by those privileged enough to ignore it. Average people themselves are forced to assess their carbon footprint, while the wealthy and celebrities get away with it. People like Kylie Jenner are pumping carbon into the atmosphere while we’re still paying extra for sustainability. I’m lucky to have the ability to cringe at my air conditioning bill – others die in their overheated homes.
The heat is killing people and businesses at the same time. We need to get climate change under control because human lives are paying the price for inaction. At some point, the loss of money will cause those in power to take notice. For now, we’ll mourn the dead and turn on our fans.