News – Study finds weather-related deaths in Europe could rise

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Hailey Montgomery
Digital Reporter

Saturday, August 5, 2017, 8:56 PM – A recent study by members of the European Commission Joint Research Centre finds that over 150,000 Europeans could die from exposure to weather-related hazards if the continent does not step up its efforts to curb the effects of climate change.

The findings, published in The Lancet’s Planetary Health Journal says that around 3000 Europeans died from exposure to hazardous weather between 1981-2010, a number which could be fifty-times larger in 50 to 80 years.

Further, about two-thirds of Europeans, 351 million, could be exposed to a weather-related disease every year from 2071-2100. 

Researchers analyzed the risk of weather related death or injury to Europeans as function of hazards, exposure, and vulnerability for a reference period of 1981 to 2010. They then used this information to form their prognosis on how weather related hazards would effect the populations between from 2070 to 2100. These projections were calculated with the assumption that the continent’s current greenhouse gas emission totals and population demographics (population growth, aging population) stayed consistent with current norms.

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The weather related hazards in question were heatwaves and coldwaves, wildfires, droughts river and coastal floods, and windstorms. Research was compiled on how many people, and what subset of people, currently die or are injured from these hazards every year. 

The study’s discussion reads that current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will not suffice to sustain population health in Europe.

“Climate change is the dominant driver of the projected trends, accounting for more than 90% of the rise in the risk to human beings,” it reads. These risks will be most adverse for the elderly and those who suffer from diseases.

 “This study shows that, 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.”

Authored by doctors Giovanni Forzieri, Alessandro Cescatti, Filipe Batista e Silva, and Lucu Feyen, the results posit that “Europe must fulfill the key goals of the Paris Agreement if it means to preserve the health and well being of future generations of people in Europe.”

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