Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Climate Change Will Bring 50-Fold Rise in Europe Weather-related Deaths

Children play in mist at a water fountain as a heatwave hits south of France in Nice Children play in mist at a water fountain as a heatwave hits south of France in Nice
Sammy Stanley | 06 August, 2017, 01:09

Researchers found that around two-thirds of Europe's population are likely to feel the effects of extreme weather by 2100, a huge increase from around 5 percent up to 2010.

Northern countries, including the United Kingdom, appear a bit safer, with three weather-related deaths for every million people predicted.

The number of deaths caused by flooding in coastal areas could rise to hundreds every year, compared to just a handful in past years.

"Climate change is one of the biggest global threats to human health of the 21st century, and its peril to society will be increasingly connected to weather-driven hazards", Giovanni Forzieri, one of the authors of the study, told the BBC.

The researchers analysed the probable impact of the seven most unsafe weather-related disasters - heatwaves, cold snaps, wildfires, river and coastal floods, windstorms and droughts - in the 28 countries of the European Union, together with Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

"If global warming is not immediately taken into account, if not taken appropriate measures, by the end of the century every year about 350 million Europeans may suffer from harmful weather emergencies", said the researchers.

Climate change is responsible for 90% of the increased risk, while population growth, migration and urbanization make up the other 10%.

The researchers advocated for adherence to the Paris agreement on climate change to "limit global warming and increase resilience to climate change to preserve the health and wellbeing of future generations of people in Europe".

The researchers derived these numbers by looking at disaster records from 1981 to 2010 and estimating how vulnerable people in each country were to each of the seven types of weather-related events.

"It is critical to remember that the number of deaths from heat far outweigh the decrease in deaths due to lack of cold", said Sean Sublette, a meteorologist at the nonprofit Climate Central, who did not participate in the study.

The death toll is expected to rise from 2,700 at the start of the century to 151,500 by its end.

The study does not consider either the improvement of the policies undertaken to reduce the impact of these phenomena.

That said, these projections are a long way off, and other researchers believe the results of climate change may not be quite that severe. "Heat will also be worse in the urban areas", Sublette said.

Experts from South Korea's Seoul National University warned that the study's results "could be overestimated".

Dr Forzieri added: "This study contributes to the ongoing debate about the need to urgently curb climate change and minimise its consequences".

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