A new study suggests that climate change could end up killing at least 150,000 people per year in Europe by the end of the 21st century if extreme weather events become more common and global warming continues unabated.
According to a report from the Independent, deaths related to extreme weather events may multiply by about 50, with about two-thirds of Europeans likely to be affected by these events in one way or another. Yet that’s just a general picture of what scientists from the European Commission have found in their new study, as several decades from now, climate change in Europe could result in hundreds of thousands of people suffering from heart and breathing problems and dying from heatstrokes due to extreme heat.
Droughts may also lead to food shortages and wildfires, with people running a higher risk of disease and infection, while flash flooding may result as a consequence of higher sea levels. It’s a dire reminder of the havoc global warming can wreak if it isn’t controlled, and as the Independent noted, the findings are based on historical statistics and records pertaining to extreme weather events, as well as population forecasts and projections of the potential damage climate change may cause by the end of the century.
Specifically, The Guardian wrote that about 152,000 Europeans may die each year between 2071 and 2100 due to these extreme weather events, with people residing in Italy, Spain, and the southern part of France likely to feel the brunt. In the 30-year span between 1981 and 2010, approximately 3,000 people a year died as a result of weather-related disasters.
All in all, that adds up to about 351 million people over that 30-year period, as compared to only 25 million people affected by climate change between 1981 and 2010.
As quoted by The Guardian, study co-author Giovanni Forzieri described the estimates as “alarming,” and stressed the importance of world governments stepping up their game and designing “suitable adaptation measures” to help curb climate change in Europe.
Reacting to the study’s results, Friends of the Earth campaigner Donna Hume told the Independent that something needs to be done about the climate change problem and fast.
“People across the globe are already dying due to extreme weather events and without concerted action this will get worse, including right here in Europe.”
More than 150,000 people could die each year as a result of climate change in Europe this century https://t.co/WkJFglMHVl
— The Independent (@Independent) August 5, 2017
Aside from emphasizing the sense of urgency in curbing climate change in Europe, Hume stressed that world governments need to be “serious” about eschewing fossil fuels for more environmentally-safe alternatives. She had singled out the United Kingdom government for its continued campaigns to dig and drill for oil in the British countryside and added that it’s important that up to three-fourths of the world’s fossil fuels have to remain unused in order to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
“It’s time to ditch plans for fracking and new coal mines and instead invest in the renewable energy revolution,” Hume added.
Regarding the possible reasons for the projected rapid rise in climate change-related deaths in Europe, the authors said that heatwaves may be responsible for 99 percent of the additional fatalities. Over 90 percent of the increased risk was attributed to extreme weather events possibly ramping up in frequency as global warming continues to be an issue, while the remaining 10 percent or so was linked to population increases and migration.
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