According to a study carried out in 43 countries

In the last two decades, an average of 37% more people have died each year from heat attributable to human activities. In Madrid they account for 177 more deaths annually, 94 in Barcelona and 39 in Seville.

A woman protects herself from the sun in Benidorm last JulyANTONIO HEREDIA

Heat can kill. It has always been a health threat, but rising temperatures due to human-caused climate change are already responsible for more than a third of heat-related deaths during summers in the last two decades.

This is assured by an international study published this Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change after collecting data from 732 populations from 43 countries. According to global estimates made by this team, during the period between 1991 and 2018, 37% of deaths linked to exposure to heat can be attributed to global warming due to human activities.

It is estimated that since the industrial age began, Earth’s global temperature has already risen, on average, one degree Celsius due to the accumulation in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases and, according to the authors of this study, in countries of all inhabited continents there has already been an increase in mortality from this cause. However, due to the lack of available data, large areas of Africa and South Asia could not be included.

“From previous studies, we know that heat acts like trigger of cardiovascular and respiratory events, such as myocardial infarctions, ischemia and respiratory insufficiencies, in addition to other pathologies such as kidney diseases and mental disorders “, explains to this newspaper the environmental epidemiologist Ana Mara Vicedo-Cabrera, researcher at the University of Bern, in Switzerland, and first author of this study in which scientists from the Institute for Environmental Diagnosis and Water Studies (IDAEA-CSIC) also participate.

30.3% more deaths in Spain

The percentages of additional deaths due to heat related to climate change collected in this research vary according to the geographical area, reaching 76% in South American countries such as Ecuador or Colombia, and ranging between 48% and 61% in Southeastern nations. Asian.

In Spain, where data from 50 cities were analyzed during the period 1991-2014, the percentage rose to 30.3%.

The study also collects an estimate of the number of additional heat deaths linked to human activities in some cities. In the case of Madrid, 177 additional annual deaths were recorded, which represents 31.9% of the people who died from the heat in this city. In Barcelona they account for 94 additional deaths and 39 in Seville.

In Santiago de Chile there were 136 additional deaths (44.3%), 189 in Athens (26.1%), 172 in Rome (32%), 156 in Tokyo (35.6%), 82 in London (33.6 %), 141 in New York (44.2%) or 137 in Ho Chi Minh (48.5%).

“In case there was any doubt, we made it clear that climate change is a reality, and that it is no longer just a matter of future generations, but that we are already living it and our health is being affected,” emphasizes Vicedo-Cabrera, who alert that “if we do nothing to prevent it, this mortality burden will increase exponentially in the next few decades. “

From his point of view, “the percentage of mortality from heat attributable to the influence of man will increase in the coming years because warming is expected to continue accelerating (as it has happened in the last decade). Therefore, more efficient adaptation strategies will be needed to counteract this increased mortality. Furthermore, our results suggest once again that ambitious mitigation measures should be urgently implemented as soon as possible. “


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