Rates of violence spike during heat waves. Are community services prepared for a hotter world?

Climate scientists and law enforcement have long known that gender-based violence rates rise noticeably following extended periods of extreme heat.

Why It Matters

Extreme heat is a major cause of climate-related illnesses and deaths, but its link to gender-based violence is largely overlooked. With climate change creating more heat waves, more assaults could happen in the coming years.

This journalism is made possible by the Future of Good editorial fellowship on climate change and human health, supported by Manulife. See our editorial ethics and standards here.

Over the course of a week in June 2021, the sixth hottest heat wave ever recorded worldwide killed over 600 people in British Columbia. Trapped inside stifling homes, mostly without air conditioning, they died of exposure to the 40 C heat. Most were over the age of 70, lived in low-income neighbourhoods, and suffered from health conditions that worsened their chances of surviving the heat dome.

Heat waves may be among the most insidious of the many climate disasters affecting communities today. They don’t often provoke an emergency response from local authorities the same way a wildfire or mass flood m


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