Over 20,000 died in Western Europe’s summer heat waves, figures show Climate crisis

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More than 20,000 people died in the West Europe in summer heat waves, in temperatures that would have been practically impossible without climate collapse, figures show.

Analysis of excess deaths, the difference between the number of deaths that occurred and those expected, based on historical trends, reveals the threats posed by climate change-induced global warming, scientists said.

In summer, heatwave temperatures above 40C (104F) in London, areas of south-west France reached 42C and Seville and Córdoba in Spain set records of 44C. Analysis from the World Weather Attribution group of scientists found that such high temperatures would have been “virtually impossible” without the climate crisis.

In England and Wales, 3,271 excess deaths were recorded between June 1 and September 7, according to the Office for National Statistics – 6.2% higher than the five-year average.

The analysis does not estimate heat-related deaths specifically, but the number of deaths was on average higher for heat period days than non-heat period days. Covid-19 deaths were excluded.

IN France10,420 excess deaths were reported in the summer months, according to data released by Santé Publique France, the public health agency.

One in four of these deaths, or 2,816, occurred during one of the three intense heat waves that hit the country. Excess deaths were 20% higher in regions where extreme temperature red alerts had been issued.

In Spain, the state-supported Carlos III Health Institute discretion there were 4,655 heat-related deaths between June and August.

The Robert Koch Institute, the German state health authority, discretion 4,500 people died in the country during the summer months especially due to extreme temperatures.

Dr. Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer in climate science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, said: “Heat waves are one of the biggest threats from climate change. High temperatures are responsible for thousands of deaths worldwide every year, many of which are underreported.

“Despite this overwhelming evidence, there is still little public awareness of the dangers that extreme temperatures pose to human health.”

The summer of 2022 was it hottest everaccording to the EU’s Copernicus climate change service.

Dr. Eunice Lo, a climate change and health researcher at the University of Bristol, said: “Heat waves are becoming more frequent and more intense as the globe warms, so we can expect more and hotter heat waves in the future.

“Scientists have linked many past heat waves to anthropogenic climate change. This means that observed heat waves have been made more likely to occur or more intense due to human emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Global warming is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and other human activities. The International Energy Agency announced last year that no new gas, oil or coal development could take place from this year onwards if the world were to limit global warming to 1.5C.

Lo said there was also a need for society to adapt to extreme heat. “We … need to adapt to heat in the long term. This includes designing homes, schools and hospitals that have good ventilation and prevent overheating, increasing green space and parks in cities and making heat warnings available to everyone.”

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