No fewer than 61,000 people last summer died across Europe because of heat waves, according to recent study as extreme heat likely to repeat more frequently.
Recent extreme heat across the Northern Hemisphere would have been “virtually impossible” without the influence of human-caused climate change, according to new research published today.
In a climate changed by fossil fuel emissions, heat waves of this magnitude “are not rare events,” said Friederike Otto, the co-founder of World Weather Attribution, a group of scientists who measure how much climate change influences extreme weather events.
If the composition of the atmosphere remained at today’s levels, there would be a 1 in 10 chance every year of a heat event similar to the one recently experienced in Southern Europe. But because humans continue to put extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the odds will continue to tip in extreme heat’s favor: Even if we stop, temperatures will not cool again, they will just stop rising, Dr. Otto said.
Many local and national governments, especially in Europe, have created heat action plans, which include resources like public cooling centers and advance warning and coordination between social services and hospitals.