Weather related deaths in Europe could increase by fifty times to 152,000 each year by the end of this century if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is a warning given in a report published in the journal ‘The Lancet Planetary Health’, which states a ‘business as usual’ approach to climate change could expose around two-thirds of Europeans to weather extremes.
The study, funded by the European Commission, identified heatwaves, cold spells, wildfires, droughts, floods and windstorms as extreme weather patterns most likely to affect people. The projections indicate that heatwaves could cause 99% of all future weather-related deaths, with fatalities rising from 2700 each year to 151,500 by 2100.
Coastal floods are also expected to be responsible for significantly more deaths, but other extreme events should account for fewer.
However, the authors warn that there is an element of uncertainty in the study, because it uses observational data, and it does not consider the effects of multiple disasters striking at the same time.
The publication of this report is very timely in the wake of the extreme weather events that are currently causing destruction across the world. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma (category 5 storms) are hitting the US, fires and heatwaves are affecting parts of Europe and along with droughts.