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Deaths from heatwaves could surge due to global warming

06 August 2017
Deaths from heatwaves could surge due to global warming

"If the global warming is not content emergency, and if appropriate adaptation measures are not taken, approximately 350 million Europeans could be exposed annually to extreme weather unsafe by the end of the century", they stress.

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

A study confirms that deadly heatwaves will kill thousands of people a year in Ireland by 2080, especially if climate change is not tackled correctly.

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While European weather-related deaths between 1981 and 2010 stood at roughly 3,000 a year, the study projects an exponential increase for the final three decades of the 21st century. About 3,000 people have died during this period.

They conclude that southern Europe will be hardest hit, particularly Spain and Italy.

They focused on weather disasters that would have the greatest impacts: heatwaves, cold snaps, wildfires, droughts, river and coastal floods, and windstorms.

The team looked at disaster records from 1981 to 2010 to estimate population vulnerability, then combined this with modelling of how climate change might progress and how populations might increase and migrate.

In a study in The Lancet Planetary Health, scientists said their findings showed climate change placing a rapidly increasing burden on society. They said from six deaths a year at the start of the century, the numbers could go up to 233 a year by 2100.

The researchers said climate change would be the main driver, accounting for 90% of the risk, while population growth, migration and urbanisation would account for 10%.

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.

That said, these projections are a long way off, and other researchers believe the results of climate change may not be quite that severe.

"However, this also serves as a reminder that those of lower economic status will struggle the most with the heat tied to climate change, as air conditioning may not be accessible. Heat will also be worse in the urban areas". Because of this, the results "may be overstated", noted Jae Young Lee, and Ho Kim, Seoul national University, in a commentary of the study.

This means two in three Europeans are likely to be affected if greenhouse gas emissions and weather-related issues are not controlled and dealt with properly.