Study Quantifies Climate-Change-Related Deaths

For many, the present and future implications of climate change go unnoticed. Many climate change deniers and other members of the global community still cannot grasp the consequences this issue can entail for them, mainly because they are largely presented using indirect impact measures. Rising average temperatures over land and ocean may make people think of turning up their air conditioners. But do they make them think of an impending global crisis? Probably not.

A new study links hundreds of deaths from the 2003 European heatwave to man-made climate change - Photo Credit: Wikipedia

That was until now.

A study published in Environmental Research Letters quantified the number of deaths caused by climate change during the 2003 European heatwave. Directly linking losses to climate change is expected to be a more effective measure in showing people the devastating effects of this problem. Aside from statistics on the proliferation of tropical diseases, the occurrence of more extreme weather events, etc; showing people that climate change can carry fatal consequences perhaps will be an eye-opener for many.

Read the full article from National Geographic below:


A study in Environmental Research Letters suggests a fifth of premature deaths during a 2003 heatwave in Europe are linked to human-caused climate change.

“We are now able to put a number on the deaths caused by climate change in a heat wave,” said lead author Daniel Mitchell of the University of Oxford. “This has never been done before. Previous studies have attributed changes in heat waves to climate change, or related increased heat stress to human deaths, but none have combined the two.”

The study’s U.S. and U.K researchers calculated that, during a Europe-wide heat wave in summer 2003, 506 of 735 deaths in Paris and 64 of 315 deaths in London were due to a heat wave worsened by anthropogenic climate change. They reached that conclusion after putting the results of several thousand runs of two climate model simulations of the 2003 heat wave into a health impact assessment of death rates.

By comparing two scenarios—one reflecting the climate of 2003 without human influences and one reflecting all known climatic forces contributing to the 2003 heat wave—the researchers determined how climate change had affected that summer’s temperatures.

The study, reports Carbon Brief, analyzes a direct impact measure—mortality—rather than an indirect one—temperature. It links mortalities to climate and introduces another level of uncertainty, especially when long and reliable health datasets are not available for use in analyses.

Nevertheless, reports ClimateWire, the study demonstrates that losses can be directly linked to climate change and thus its framework can be used to assign costs of “loss and damage” and to improve planning and adaptation (subscription).

“It is often difficult to understand the implications of a planet that is one degree warmer than preindustrial levels in the global average, but we are now at the stage where we can identify the cost to our health of man-made global warming,” Mitchell said. “This research reveals that in two cities alone hundreds of deaths can be attributed to much higher temperatures resulting from human-induced climate change.”

Last week at a meeting held by the French government to study Paris Agreement-related actions to reduce health risks linked to climate change, the World Health Organization said that change is likely to kill 250,000 additional people each year by 2030—primarily through malaria, diarrhea, heat stress, and malnutrition. Children, women, older people, and the poor will be most affected.

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