Europe faced its highest number of ‘extreme heat stress’ days in 2023, according to Climate Crisis News.

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A recent report has raised concerns about the increasing risk faced by people living in Europe, a continent that is warming at twice the global average rate. Climate monitors have issued warnings about the intense heat waves that are becoming more frequent in Europe, with the human body struggling to cope with these extreme temperatures.

According to the European Union’s Copernicus climate monitoring service and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), 2023 saw a record number of “extreme heat stress” days in Europe. Last year, a July heatwave affected 41 percent of southern Europe, resulting in strong, very strong, or extreme heat stress – the largest area ever recorded in Europe.

In addition to extreme heat, Europe also experienced catastrophic flooding, severe droughts, violent storms, and the largest forest fires in its history. The report highlighted the increasing trend of heat stress across Europe, with 2023 setting a new record for the number of days with extreme heat stress.

To measure the impact of environmental conditions on the human body, Copernicus and WMO used the Universal Thermal Climate Index. This index considers not only high temperatures but also factors such as humidity, wind speed, sunshine, and heat emitted by the surroundings. Parts of Spain, France, Italy, and Greece saw up to 10 days of extreme heat stress in 2023, requiring immediate action to prevent heat-related illnesses.

Heatwaves pose a significant risk to those who work outdoors, the elderly, and individuals with health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. The report highlighted a 30 percent increase in heat-related deaths in Europe over the past 20 years. With Europe warming at twice the global average rate, scientists warned that heatwaves are expected to become more frequent and severe in the future.

As temperatures continue to rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, Europe faces a growing health burden related to extreme heat. The report emphasized the need for more effective interventions to protect the population, which is aging and becoming increasingly urban.

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