Climate change causes 5 million deaths a year
The large variations between extreme heat and cold that occur more and more frequently as global climate change accelerates are responsible for 5 million deaths worldwide each year.
Extreme weather accounts for 9.4% of all abnormal deaths internationally between 2000 and 2019, according to researchers who on Wednesday published the first study linking temperature changes to annual increases in mortality.
Although most deaths have been caused by exposure to cold, the trend is likely to reverse as the planet overheats, as they pointed out.
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“In the long run, climate change is expected to increase the magnitude of mortality” as more and more deaths are linked to warming, said Yuming Guo, one of the report’s authors and a professor at Melbourne’s Monash University.
Hundreds of people have already died from heat waves crossing the Northern Hemisphere this summer. The past two decades have been the hottest since the pre-industrial era, with the 10 warmest years recorded during this period.
Global warming continues to accelerate, with the planet heading for heat about 3 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial average, according to estimates by the Non-Governmental Climate Action Tracker. Scientists predict that due to climate change, a further increase in average temperature by 2 degrees Celsius would be catastrophic for life on Earth.
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Researchers at Monash University in Australia and Shandong University in China estimated there were 74 additional deaths from unusually cold or warm temperatures for every 100,000 people.
The research, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, analyzed mortality in 43 countries across continents. It also concluded that cold-related deaths decreased by 0.5% from 2000 to 2019, while heat-related deaths increased by 0.2%.
Europe had the highest death rates per 100,000 people due to exposure to extreme heat, according to the survey. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest death rates per 100,000 people due to their exposure to severe cold.
Source : Bloomberg