How dangerous are heat waves?

It can be quite difficult to determine exactly how many deaths can be attributed to heat waves. Complicating the issue is the concept of mortality displacement -- the idea that heat waves mainly affect people who are already in poor health. Even so, most "research suggests that although mortality displacement does account for some of the heat-related mortality, the majority of those killed by a heat wave would not have died without the oppressive heat," said Adam J. Kalkstein, a geography and environmental engineering professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

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