Wildfires in Portugal killed 64 people in June; the recent study explores how often and where similar weather-related disasters are likely to occur in the coming years. Photograph: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
If no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or protect citizens, weather disasters could kill 152,000 a year between 2071 and 2100, says study
Friday 4 August 2017 18.30 EDT
Deaths from weather disasters could increase 50-fold in Europe by the start of the next century if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or protect citizens, researchers have warned.
A new study estimates a toll of 152,000 deaths a year between 2071 and 2100 as a direct result of hazards relating to extreme weather, with those living in southern Europe likely to be the hardest hit.
“Governments and policies should be focused more on designing suitable adaptation measures,” said Giovanni Forzieri, a co-author of the study from the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Italy. “If no adaptation measures [are] taken, these estimates are really alarming.”
Writing in the journal Lancet Planetary Health, Forzieri and colleagues describe how they used state-of-the art predictions to explore how often and where seven types of weather disasters – including heatwaves, wildfires and floods – are likely to occur across Europe in the coming years if no action on global warming is taken.
The analysis also used large datasets from disasters in recent years to calculate a fixed value of human vulnerability for different weather events, and incorporated projections on how populations were likely to change.
Looking at the impact on Europeans over 30-year intervals, the team found that two in three people in Europe could be affected by weather-related disasters annually by the period 2071-2100 – an estimated 351 million people. By contrast, between 1981 and 2010, 25 million people were exposed – just 5% of Europe’s population.
- Increasing risk over time of weather-related hazards to the European population: a data-driven prognostic study – The Lancet Planetary Health August 8, 2017