Heat is among the most significant consequences of climate change that humanity faces. Effectively addressing this challenge in the US will require innovative policy approaches.
Over the last 30 years, heat exposure has killed more people in the US than any other weather-related phenomenon. Heat exposure has caused almost twice as many deaths as floods, and has caused as many deaths as tornadoes, cold weather, and hurricanes combined. Clear evidence links heat to a variety of negative impacts on human health and to economic impacts of labor loss, hospital visits, and reduced agricultural yield.
Heat is particularly dangerous for vulnerable, under-resourced communities, and climate change is expected to make the threat worse in coming years. Yet public and private sector decision-makers in the United States have been slow to recognize heat as a health hazard or invest in mitigation measures to effectively address the challenge. This is true even in the US South, where extreme heat is a persistent threat.
The Nicholas Institute launched the Heat Policy Innovation Hub to help decision-makers at all levels to understand the risks and impacts associated with extreme heat—and to identify policy approaches that protect individuals and communities. The hub integrates lessons from science with insights from community engagement to develop innovative and effective policy solutions for extreme heat. This work is strengthened by collaboration with external partners and with globally recognized experts across Duke University, including researchers and practitioners in medicine, health, policy, engineering, environment, and ministry.