The health care costs that climate change will cause have been overlooked—and they'll be staggering, according to a new study. Researchers looked at six climate-related disasters in the US, including wildfires, a hurricane, and a flood, and calculated that those six disasters alone cost the US $14 billion in health expenditures and shortened lives, the Huffington Post reports. The climate-related events were chosen as examples of the kind of disaster the world is expected to see more of as global warming accelerates.
"This in no way is going to capture all of the climate-related events that happened in the US over that time period," the lead researcher tells Reuters. "At $14 billion, these numbers are big already." Most previous studies, she notes, have only looked at the damage climate change will cause to infrastructure and private property. But the study's authors also say the costs can be reduced with better preparation, including more efficient heat wave warnings.