Extreme Weather Set to Impact European Life

According to a study published in The Lancet Planetary Health, two in three people living in European countries may be impacted by weather-related disasters by the year 2100. 

The study focuses on the 28 European countries, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland and analyses the effects of the seven most destructive types of weather-related disasters in said countries, which are: wildfires, droughts, river and coastal floods, windstorms heat waves and cold waves. 

This study’s increase was calculated based on belief that the emission of greenhouse gasses would not decrease, as well as there being no improvements to policies which have been put in place to reduce the effect of extreme weather events such as, air conditioning and medical technology. 

An increase in Europe’s death toll due to weather-related disasters may potentially increase. The estimates project that deaths may increase by 50 times, from 3,000 deaths per year between 1981-2010 to 152,000 between 2071-2100. 

Researchers analysed 2300 disaster records from 1981-2010, which would include the country, year, type of weather disaster and the total number of deaths accumulated by each disaster. They used this information to estimate the vulnerability of the population to the seven weather-related disasters. The researchers then link this information with calculations based on how climate change might progress and how populations may increase and also migrate. 

The study predicts that heat waves are going to be the most destructive weather-related disaster. Heat waves are estimated to cause 99% of all future weather-related deaths with a total number of 151,500 deaths a year estimated to occur in the years between 2017-2100. Deaths from coastal flooding is also projected to increase from six deaths a year at the beginning of the century, to 233 a year by the end of the century. 

The study concludes that climate change is most likely to be the main cause behind these potential increases. Climate change could be accountable for 90% of this risk, whilst other factors such as populations changes in growth, migration and urbanisation combined, account for the remaining 10%. 

The researchers of this study suggest that European countries need to start implementing the aims of the Paris Agreement in order to reduce climate change, which will help increase resilience and sustain the health and wellbeing of future generations.