Aug 2, 2006

More than 52,000 Europeans Died from Heat in Summer 2003

Portugal
Belgium
Switzerland
by
Janet Larsen
,
Treehugger
2003 heat wave over Europe. Photo: Wikipedia
2003 heat wave over Europe. Photo: Wikipedia

Following a string of high heat days and meteorologists' warnings that this summer could be another scorcher, European public health officials and politicians are revisiting the devastating heat wave of 2003. The severely hot weather that withered crops, dried up rivers, and fueled fires that summer took a massive human toll. The full magnitude of this quiet catastrophe still remains largely an untold story, as data revealing the continent-wide scale have only slowly become available in the years since. All in all, more than 52,000 Europeans died from heat in the summer of 2003, making the heat wave one of the deadliest climate-related disasters in Western history.