On the hottest day of 2022 in Kansas City, three people were shot and killed. Three more were shot and survived, the Kansas City Police Department said. The temperature clocked in at 101 degrees on July 23, according to Jared Leighton, a lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Kansas City. With 171 homicides, this year became the second deadliest on record in Kansas City — and some of those fatal shootings may be linked to an unexpected cause: climate change.
Researchers analyzed more than 116,000 shootings in 100 cities and found that nearly 7% could be attributed to days with above-average temperatures, not only in the summer, but also at other times of the year when it was unseasonably warm. In Kansas City, Missouri, the percentage of shootings tied to days with above-average temperatures was 6.13%, while in Kansas City, Kansas, it was 7.86%, according to the study published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“An increase in warmer temperatures and more frequent extreme heat events due to climate change may create environments with higher risk of firearm violence in the future,” the study said. Researchers concluded that the findings “underscore the importance of exploring heat mitigation strategies as tools to reduce shootings.” Experts have theorized that warmer temperatures increase stress hormones and lead to more interactions between people. “I think there are definitely higher volume call days when it’s hot outside but that’s also true when it’s just a nice day and not necessarily hot,” said Officer Donna Drake, a spokeswoman for KCPD. “There are more people out and about when the weather is nice.” Anecdotally, more violence occurs in the hotter months, said Janell Friesen, spokeswoman for the Unified Government’s Public Health Department. She noted that the study also touches on environmental justice.
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