Heat Waves, Deadly Fungi And Renewable Energy
Climate, Health and Equity Brief

Heat Waves, Deadly Fungi And Renewable Energy

Hot Topic: It’s getting hot in here. Extreme heatwaves set records around the world this month. Last weekend, more than half of the U.S. endured a brutal heatwave that exposed more than 195 million Americans across the Central and Eastern U.S. to some of the hottest days on record. Power grids, cooling centers and emergency services had trouble keeping up, and several deaths were attributed to the heat. This week, Europe—still recovering from a record-breaking heatwave earlier this month—is facing heightened wildfire risks and another heatwave that is predicted to result in France’s highest temperature in recorded history.

Rising temperatures have serious health implications, particularly on poor communities and the oldest and youngest among us. Hotter weather has led to an increase in heat-related illness among military personnel and UPS delivery and warehouse workers—ranging from heat exhaustion to kidney failure. And rising temperatures may even be helping one deadly type of fungi, which had previously been unable to harm humans because of our high body temperatures, adapt to survive and reproduce in our bodies.

Thankfully, changes in state energy policy are making a difference; April was the first month in U.S. history in which renewables generated more power than coal, marking a milestone in the shift to clean energy.

—Matt & Traci, GMMB

P.S. We’ll be off for the next two weeks and back in your inbox on August 15. Stay cool out there!

Record-breaking heatwaves affected more than 195 million people in the Central and Eastern U.S. over the weekend, leading to power outages, increased heat-related 911 calls and several deaths. (CNN)

Europe is preparing for another extreme heatwave that is predicted to result in France hitting its highest temperature in recorded history. (Washington Post)

U.S. military troops, particularly the Marine Corps, have had a 60 percent increase in cases of heatstroke and heat exhaustion between 2008 and 2018. (New York Post)

Researchers believe that rising temperatures allowed Candida Auris, an often-fatal fungal infection, to adapt to the temperature of the human body, which was historically too warm for the fungus to survive. (Scientific American)

A new study in Lancet Planetary Health predicts that climate change-related decreases in the nutritional value of crops will cause as many as 2.2 child deaths annually. (Grist)

A National Institutes of Health study found babies birthed by women exposed to air pollution in the week prior to giving birth are 147% more likely to be admitted to the newborn ICU. (US News)

More than 100 UPS workers have been hospitalized for heat illnesses since 2015 because of high temperatures and lack of air conditioning in trucks and warehouses. (NBC News)

For the first time ever in the U.S., renewable energy sources generated more power than coal in April, proving that the shift to clean energy by states, utilities, and major retailers is making a difference. (The Hill)

This month in our periodic interview series with the movers and shakers in the fight against climate change, we talk with former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, now director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, about the importance of making climate change personal. (GMMB)

Check out KFF’s new U.S. Global Health Legislation Tracker

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