Jul 11, 2016

Heat Waves Kill, Now We Know Why

Jeff Nesbit
US News & World Report
A heat wave in Paris in 2003 was deadly. Photo: Franck Fife / AFP / Getty Images
A heat wave in Paris in 2003 was deadly. Photo: Franck Fife / AFP / Getty Images

Just in case we needed any more science to show us that potentially catastrophic climate impacts are starting to make their presence known right here, right now, a new study published Thursday starts to dispel any lingering questions.


In short, researchers have learned how to study the extent of which an extreme weather event or disaster was caused by the natural course of events (natural variability) and how much was likely caused by an increase in planet temperature by roughly 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1 degree Celsius) since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

"It is often difficult to understand the implications of a planet that is 1 degree warmer than preindustrial levels in the global average, but we are now at the stage where we can identify the cost to our health of man-made global warming. This research reveals that in two cities alone hundreds of deaths can be attributed to much higher temperatures resulting from human-induced climate change," said lead author and Oxford scientist Daniel Mitchell.

What the study shows is that climate change was responsible for 506 of the 735 summer deaths recorded in Paris during the heat wave, while 64 deaths out of a total of 315 heat-related deaths in London were caused by global warming