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Climate Change in Europe

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Climate change is horrible enough in the United States. Summers in New England are so much hotter than they used to be, as we turn into Virginia, Virginia turns into Miami, and Miami disappears into the ocean. But it’s one thing to have humid, gross summers. It’s another to have be next to the Sahara Desert, not to mention the warm ocean currents that traditionally made Europe habitatable. So in Europe, climate change is worse than every other part of the world, in a place where the infrastructure in uniquely incapable of handling it because of the old buildings that trap heat and a lack of central air. Thus, deaths from heat are skyrocketing.

Europe is heating up about twice as quickly as the Earth as a whole, and that heat is killing large numbers of people during the summer months, according to a new report by European climate experts.

The number of heat-related deaths on the continent has increased by at least 30% in the last 20 years, the analysis by Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service and the United Nations estimates.

“The impact on human health is more pronounced in cities, where most people are living,” says José Álvaro Silva of the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization. Not only are populations concentrated in urban areas, but cities are warming more quickly than rural areas because buildings and roads stay hotter for longer.

The summer of 2023 was a clear example of how dangerous heat can be for Europeans. During a heat wave in July, intense heat and humidity made it feel like it was 110 degrees or hotter in nearly half of Southern Europe.

That’s the kind of weather that can kill people if they don’t have access to air conditioning. The final death toll from the heat wave is still being calculated, but is almost certainly in the tens of thousands, researchers say. One study estimated there were upwards of 60,000 people died prematurely because of the July 2023 heat wave.

“Extreme heat causes the greatest mortality of all extreme weather,” says Chris Hewitt, the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

Europe’s rapid warming is being driven by a trio of factors. The continent is close to the Arctic, which is the fastest-warming region on Earth. It is also naturally situated near warm ocean and atmospheric currents – that’s why London’s winters are so much more temperate than Chicago’s, even though London is farther north.

Not great Bob!

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