Scorching temperatures due to global warming will be so extreme in the summer of 2030 that US scientists are predicting an additional 11,000 heat-related American deaths that year, according to a new White House report. The heat-related death toll could top 27,000 by 2100.
The largest toll will likely be on the elderly and children.
The death count is the most extreme of a number of health catastrophes expected from global warming, according to the report. The three-year US study involved 100 experts from 8 federal agencies.
Asthma cases are already on the increase because ragweed is thriving in warmer temperatures. Wildfires and increasing ozone in the air will likely lead to more respiratory problems and illnesses carried by ticks and mosquitoes will spread as the insects follow the expanding warmth.
In addition, an inevitable increase in extreme weather, from tornadoes to heavy winds and rain, will cause fatalities, serious property damage and take a toll on Americans' mental health, the report warns.
"Climate change is a significant threat to the health of the American people," the report stated. "Climate change impacts endanger our health by affecting our food and water sources, the air we breathe, the weather we experience, and our interactions with the built and natural environments. As the climate continues to change, the risks to human health continue to grow."
Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), noted at a press briefing: "This isn't just about glaciers and polar bears, it's about the health of our families and our kids."
Scientists expect a cumulative rise in average temperature of up to four degrees Celsius by 2030.
The report is a collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Health and Human Services. It takes into account some of the initiatives that are underway to address global warming, including early stages of implementation of the Paris Agreement reached in 2015 by nearly 200 countries.
But administration officials also stressed that the report suggests the need for further urgent action.
"There needs to be more than some significant global action," said John Holdren, Obama's chief science advisor at the briefing when the report was released. "We need to ramp up ambition over time to get deeper reductions if we're to avoid the worst of the healthcare impacts."