As Global Temperatures Soar, Study Shows Europe’s 2022 Summer Heat Killed 61,000+ - Common Dreams

As recent record-breaking temperatures fuel fresh calls for climate action and communities brace for more extreme heat this week, new research revealed Monday that Europe’s historically hot summer last year killed tens of thousands of people.

Based on researchers’ analysis of the European Statistical Office mortality database—which includes 45,184,044 deaths from 823 regions in 35 countries, with a total population exceeding 543 million people—last year’s extreme heat resulted in an estimated 61,672 deaths from late May to early September. Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain were hit particularly hard.

Two decades ago, 71,000 excess deaths were recorded in Europe after intense summer heat, resulting in “prevention plans and other adaptation strategies to protect at-risk populations across the continent, that is, older adults with preexisting cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, women, and socially isolated or socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals,” the study notes.

The new findings illustrate the potential shortcomings of those strategies amid a worsening climate emergency, the researchers said.

“In contrast [to the exceptionally rare heat during the summer of 2003,]” [lead author Joan Ballester, an associate research professor at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) stated,] “the temperatures recorded in the summer of 2022 cannot be considered exceptional, in the sense that they could have been predicted by following the temperature series of previous years, and that they show that warming has accelerated over the last decade.”

While data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the United States sees about 700 heat-related deaths annually—far fewer than Europe, the world’s fastest-warming continent—the U.S. agency’s figures are based on death certificates identifying heat as the cause of death, according to CNN.

Harvard University historian and physician David S. Jones—who was not involved in the European study—told CNN that the low U.S. statistics relative to Europe could be related to underreporting, differences in air conditioning, or both. For example, nearly 90% of U.S. households have AC, compared with just 5% in France.

Read the full story here

Common Dreams

Locations: Germany Greece Italy Portugal Spain United States of America 

Organizations: European Statistical Office (Eurostat) Nature Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Harvard University 

People: Joan Ballester David S. Jones 

Tags: Mass Death Extreme Heat Climate Change 

Type: Headlines