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Record heat across Europe last summer was responsible for more than 70,000 deaths, according to research published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europea number that captures just a fraction of the health impacts of human-caused climate change and is already poised to be surpassed this year after blistering temperatures broke records around the world.
An estimated 70,066 people died due to extreme heat across Europe last summer, according to research by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).
The number marks an increase of more than 10 percent from the group’s previous estimate of about 62,000 deaths due to extreme heat published in July. Nature Medicine.
The researchers, who analyzed years of data in 147 regions of Europe to assess cold- and heat-related mortality, said the difference arose from the use of aggregated data, for example where data is grouped weekly or monthly into unlike every day. .
While aggregate data can be useful in the short term—they are often available more quickly as institutions often make aggregate data available in real time—an analysis of annual data from 1998 to 2004 showed that weekly models underestimated the number of deaths associated with with heat and early or premature deaths by about 9% and 22%, respectively.
The last eight years of Earth were the hottest in history. This year it is in orbit to be the warmest so far and the following years are expected to be even warmer. While some of this is due to natural variations caused by the El Niño The climate event, which is warming surface waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, the evidence shows overwhelming evidence that human activity is warming the planet. Experts warn that such activities, including the burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions from sectors such as agriculture, are pushing humanity to a climate tipping point that could lead to catastrophic and permanent changes to our environment. Rapid and drastic action to reduce emissions can help mitigate the worst of the expected damage, but not prevent it entirely. Extreme weather events such as droughts, fires, floods, freezes, heat waves and major storms are expected to intensify and multiply as this happens, with many already reaching record levels of damage and death in recent years.
While mortality is a key element when assessing the consequences of climate change and increasingly hot weather, there is much that these data do not capture. Our health is deeply intertwined with our climate and environment, and climate change is expected to have significant negative impacts on health and well-being. Climate stressors will exacerbate already significant problems related to the availability of adequate food and water around the world—these problems are already affecting billions of humans—and increase the risks of foodborne and waterborne illnesses. Infectious diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, Zika and dengue fever are at risk of spreading to new parts of the world as a warming climate makes many areas, including large swaths of the US, more hospitable to the mosquitoes that carry them. Destruction of vital habitats will trigger episodes of viral threats such as coronaviruses, Ebola, Marburg, and Nipah—as well as an unknown “Disease X“-more likely. Air pollution is linked to a range of health problems, including increased risk of heart disease and cancer, mental health problems and increased risks of contracting infectious diseases. There is growing evidence that climate change is also having a significant impact on mental health. Extreme weather events expose more people to traumatic experiences that can cause distress and increase the risks of conditions such as PTSD, depression and substance use disorders, for example, and there are increasing reports of “climate anxiety” among children and of the climate crisis. Even higher ambient temperatures could be harmful to our mental well-being, with higher temperatures connected in increasing suicide and suicidal behavior and higher levels of hospital attendance or admission for mental illness.
Planting more trees in cities could reduce summer heat deaths, study finds (Forbes)