Six Climate Change-Related Events in the United States Accounted for About $14 Billion in Lost Lives and Health Costs

In this study, published in the journal Health Affairs, a team of scientists from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) partnered with university economists to investigate the health costs of six climate change-related events that struck the U.S. between 2000 and 2009. The estimated costs totaled more than $14 billion (in 2008 U.S. dollars), with 95 percent due to the value of lives lost prematurely. The study team selected six types of events that will worsen with climate change in ways likely to harm human health - ozone smog pollution, heat waves, hurricanes, mosquito-borne infectious disease, river flooding, and wildfires. The total health costs associated with ozone pollution ($6.5 billion) and the heat wave ($5.4 billion), dominated the analysis. 

Note that this multibillion-dollar price tag is from health costs alone and does not include the costs of other types of damage, such as damage to buildings and infrastructure.  The health effects and related costs of these events in these six case studies offer an indication of the threats that will be realized under a warming climate.

Publication Date: November 2011

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Kim Knowlton
  • Miriam Rotkin-Ellman
  • Linda Geballe
  • Wendy Max
  • Gina M. Solomon

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Resource Types:

  • Assessment


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