European heatwave deaths could skyrocket: climate study

People refresh themselves in the Trocadero fountain in Paris, on June 19, 2017, as the French capital is placed on heatwave aler
People refresh themselves in the Trocadero fountain in Paris, on June 19, 2017, as the French capital is placed on heatwave alert as temperatures were set to soar in the coming days

Deaths due to extreme weather in Europe could increase fifty-fold from an estimated 3,000 per year recently to 152,000 by century's end if global warming is not reined in, researchers warned Saturday.

The toll would be especially high in temperate southern Europe, where deaths due to warming are projected to rise from 11 per million people per year to about 700 per million per year, they wrote in The Lancet Planetary Health.

Heatwaves will do most of the damage, claiming some 99 percent of future weather-related deaths—more than 151,000 of the annual total by 2100 from about 2,700 per year recently.

"Unless global warming is curbed as a matter of urgency and appropriate adaptation measures are taken, about 350 million Europeans could be exposed to harmful climate extremes on an annual basis by the end of this century," said the report, based on pessimistic global warming forecasts.

The researchers looked at records of weather-related events in Europe—the 28 European Union members plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland—for a 30-year stretch from 1981 to 2010—called the "reference period".

They then compared this to projections for and migration, as well as predictions for future heatwaves, cold snaps, wildfires, droughts, floods and windstorms.

"We found that weather-related disasters could affect about two-thirds of the European population annually by the year 2100," wrote four European Commission researchers.

This translated to about 351 million people exposed per year, compared to about 25 million per year in the reference period, when it was just five percent of the population.

Exposure means anything from disease, injury and due to an event, to losing a home or "post-event stress", the authors said.

'Could be overestimated'

Deaths from heatwaves were projected to increase by 5,400 percent, coastal foods by 3,780 percent, wildfires by 138 percent, river floods by 54 percent and windstorms by 20 percent.

Deaths from cold waves will decline by about 98 percent, said the team, which is not "sufficient to compensate for the other increases."

Climate change is responsible for 90 percent of the additional weather-related deaths forecast for Europe, said the team.

Population growth accounts for the other 10 percent, along with migration to hazard-prone coastal zones and cities.

For the purposes of the study, the team assumed a rate of greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas, that puts the world on track for average of three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 from 1990 levels.

The Paris Agreement, concluded by 195 nations in 2015, seeks to limit warming to under 2 C from levels before the Industrial Revolution, when fossil fuel burning kicked off.

The researchers also made no provision for additional measures being taken to boost human resilience to weather disasters.

In a comment on the study, Jae Young Lee and Ho Kim of the Seoul National University wrote its projections "could be overestimated".

"People are known to adapt and become less vulnerable than previously to extreme weather conditions because of advances in medical technology, air conditioning and thermal insulation in houses," they wrote in a comment carried by the journal.

On Wednesday, a study in the journal Science Advances said South Asia, home to a fifth of the global population, could see humid heat rise to unsurvivable levels by century's end.

Also this week, researchers wrote in Environmental Research Letters, that rising carbon dioxide levels will dramatically cut the amount of protein in stable crops like rice and wheat in the decades to come.

The new paper, said Paul Wilkinson of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, "is yet another reminder of the exposures to extreme weather and possible human impacts that might occur if emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated."

Explore further

The human fingerprint on Europe's recent heat

Journal information: Science Advances

© 2017 AFP

Citation: European heatwave deaths could skyrocket: climate study (2017, August 5) retrieved 16 October 2019 from
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Aug 05, 2017
Even if one were to completely discount climate change as a factor, there is still a well known "heat island" effect of larger and larger cities. So a heat wave of the same magnitude as prior years will have a disproportionate effect on cities and result in the sort of well documented wave of deaths from heat as there was in Europe in 2003.

In other words, whether you agree with the global warming theories or not, it would be wise do something to mitigate the heat.

After all, the city of Houston continues to exist, doesn't it?

Aug 05, 2017
Good point Abby, however, more probably and closer to the 'action' will be low lying Mexican cities like Monterrey, an industrial 'capital' in center of Chihuahua state. It has all the problems of Houston, with the addition of a large lower middle class and poor working population many of whom can not afford air conditioning.
We have had strange weather here in California as well. The general guarantee of global warming will most likely be weather 'bands' moving north to track the temperature avg rise. So our south will get more desertified from below as the Sonoran desert moves north, and in turn, the southern Sonoran desert will get wetter from the south and first become grassland as the more southern Cloud Forest band moves north in tandem with the others. This all affects the global wind circulation bands as well, so just how the conflicts with temperatures these bands have liked in the past will play out. Figure to watch is >140deg F daily highs...and higher wet bulbs.

Aug 05, 2017
Europe on the other hand IS particularly vulnerable. Ironically while Europeans have looked after security from crime and invasions, they do NOT pay attention to their own environmental safety. This culture of 'macho' and not investing in known HVAC tech for their homes in the face of central air cond. and central heating existing in the world for over a hundred years may cost unspeakable numbers of future preventable deaths. Europeans do not usually even install screens on their windows, but they will install armored mini-portcullises to keep out other humans almost every house, complete with doors with keylocks on both sides. You need a key to get OUT as well as IN. Often only ONE key and it worn about the neck of the resident. Many Europeans smoke, some in bed too yet one does not read often of the resultant fires. Gotta happen, maybe covered up. Heat is not only danger, cold possible too if Atlantic overturning current fails when Greenland melts. Try London 3m snow, -60F

Aug 05, 2017
Why be so conservative with just a 50-fold increase.. why not a 5,000-fold increase for as many as 15 Million deaths per year; it would be a great time to be a mortician.

Aug 05, 2017
This belongs in the Onion or Mad magazine, if you believe this you believe Algore. Per Algore prophecy such warming will melt all the ice and sea levels will rise by 40 meters. Further the added temperature will cause ocean water to expand. This will reduce Europe to something like the Indonesian archipelago. The Southern Mediterranean will be gone; however the new islands of Europe will remain. The weather will be greatly moderated by surrounding ocean. Temperature extremes are greatly reduced by surface water. Moral of the story buy now your future beachfront property in the Alps. Precision speculation 83 years into the future is a soft science is JUNK SCIENCE. Furthermore, Algore says "shall" this paper says "could."

Aug 05, 2017
Warmer 2000 years ago (Roman Climate Optimum).
Warmer 1000 years ago (Medieval Climate Optimum).

Call me when Greenlanders have raised wheat, barley and dairy cows for as long as 400 years.

Aug 05, 2017
Warmer 2000 years ago (Roman Climate Optimum).
Warmer 1000 years ago (Medieval Climate Optimum).

Call me when Greenlanders have raised wheat, barley and dairy cows for as long as 400 years.

Right. What happened during the Roman Climate Optimum? Civilization spread rapidly through the Mediterranean and down through Africa. Heat was not the problem. What happened next? The dark ages when weather got cold, and chased barbarians from the north down through civilization.

Yes, the French are going to need to get much better at caring for their elderly, but that needs to happen anyway. (Ten years ago, those were or who would have been born during WWII reached retirement ages. But there weren't very many of them. Now children born in the 1950s are reaching retirement age. And in Europe, like the US, there are a lot of them.)

Aug 05, 2017
only thing skyrocketing are the propaganda pieces like this

Aug 06, 2017
40,000 people a year die in Britain alone each winter because of cold. Cold kills FAR more people than heat. IF increased temps reduce winter cold, people will survive.

Aug 06, 2017
UPDATE: Temperature readings plunge after Australia orders end to 'tampering'...


Aug 06, 2017
Yes the global climate is changing.
It changes all the time.
It changes over long periods of time as well as short, geologically speaking.
We can't prevent it.
We can only adapt.

Aug 06, 2017
Trust me, the French always DID care for their old folks. To this day France, a good Catholic nation, creates a space for all its people even if some of them, like the Daesh, the world would be better off without. However, there are Vedic temples in 100 meter depth of water off the Gujurati Coast of India. These near ancient undersea continuations of surface rivers draining there. Mute testimony to sea level variation and geologic tilting during the uplift of the Himalayas from subduction. A high sea level rise IS possible and happening right NOW. Tell Mr Trampf's ideas to a Bangladeshi whilst he is busy jacking up his swamped home to be above the water there yet one more year. And tell the tale of Kellyanne's ''alternative lies" to a Nuaruan who lost his family in a high tide during the night when his home and land was washed away in an accompanying thunderstorm. As for island Europe, obviously you have never been there. Holland maybe, the rest!

Aug 06, 2017
One has to be optimist. Consider the flip side. Social Darwinism will cull the really stupid out of the population. This will result in a significant annual population reduction. 50,000,000,000- 152,000 or 0.000304%. Factoring this into to the atmospheric coefficient of expansion and 4.8% increase in water vapor content thus forcing a 37.86% increase of global cloud cover and global temperature will decline 7.8 C. This will end agriculture in the temperate zones thus bringing population into equilibrium with Ice Age conditions. Planet saved. Polar ice caps will descend to Iowa and northern Pennsylvania.

Aug 06, 2017
Good point on the interruption of the Gulf Stream. New Younger Dryas

Aug 06, 2017
that article
more or less proves tampering , ie they claim they couldn't trust the thermometer , ???? the simplest tool you can buy at a hardware store !

Aug 06, 2017
@Shootist...(and others reading this).

Be aware that since the Conservatives came to Govt here in OZ, the Bureau of Meteorology has been undermined and sabotaged in many ways and been 'captured' by the politicians who had the US Conservatives agenda to apply after the then Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited the US and was given the GOP 'manifesto' against Renewable Energy. Since then the Bureau of Meteorology has (like many other departments) been 'downsized and politicized' to follow their anti-renewables agendas. This can be seen with many OZ Conservative govt attempts to delay/frustrate early transition to renewables industries which could have provided more and safer jobs than coal/nuclear ever could.

PS: re the data analysis: it depends on what algorithms are being used (these changed in recent times by BoM). We need to know if current/past algorithms 'discarded' UPPER/LOWER 'limit' readings to prevent anomalous/error-based 'data points' from 'skewing' results. :)

Aug 06, 2017
Osirus1 said: Trust me, the French always DID care for their old folks.

Except during August 2003? Seriously, the problems of 2003 have been addressed, but the increase in the elderly in the Paris area is already straining those corrections if another heat wave hits in August. (Most French take August off.)

However, there are Vedic temples in 100 meter depth of water off the Gujurati Coast of India. These near ancient undersea continuations of surface rivers draining there. Mute testimony to sea level variation and geologic tilting during the uplift of the Himalayas from subduction.

History is slowly being rewritten as underwater ruins are discovered and explored. There was over a 100 meter sea level rise since the last Ice Age, over half of it since the Younger Dryas: https://www.giss....rnitz_10 Atlantis is turning out to be less of a myth, and more of a global event.

Aug 06, 2017
Also the areas of the world which were buried under the ice during the last Ice Age are rising. The floating continental plates are rising due to simple physics, but the layer of the mantle they float on is more like glass than a liquid, so this rise takes place slowly. Does this mean that some areas of the world are doubly doomed? (The rise of North America and northern Europe causing even more sea level rise?) Sort of. But the "doom" assessment applies to land masses not people. Trying to keep some Pacific Islands habitable is worse hubris than holding back the tide--even without sea level rise those islands are going to be subducted.

Aug 07, 2017
Just can't help myself, have to chuckle.

Everyone knows who Michael Mann (High Priest, Pooba, and magician with numbers he will not disclose). This is from the New Yorker "Michael Mann, the director of the Earth System Science Center, at Pennsylvania State University, declared that he was "not a fan of this sort of doomist framing," and the sociologist Daniel Aldana Cohen described it as "climate disaster porn.""

Michael Mann a climate loon in his own right even attacks Grand Fool and Leader of the Zealots Algore!

I really like the phrase "climate disaster porn." I hope that becomes coined. "Climate porn" should be the new term for Climate Junk science like this article.

Aug 07, 2017
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Aug 07, 2017
At the USDA, "A series of emails obtained by The Guardian reveal that officials have been instructed to use the term "weather extremes" instead of "climate change."" Trump must have ordered them to use common sense and stop that propaganda as they are not a scientific organization.


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