This story includes details on the impacts of climate change that may be difficult for some readers. If you are feeling overwhelmed by this crisis situation here is a list of resources on how to cope with fears and feelings about the scope and pace of the climate crisis.
Between 90,000 and 142,000 people in Europe lost their lives to extreme weather events in the last four decades, events that also cost the continent more than US$572 billion, new analysis by the European Environment Agency shows.
The vast majority of the deaths, 91%, were attributed to heat waves, while more than 80% of the economic costs were due to severe flooding and storms, reports The Guardian.
Germany, France, and Italy were hit hardest, according to data spanning the 40 years from 1980 to 2020.
The economic impacts tended to be concentrated in a few major events, so the data did not show a clear trend of increased losses over the decades. “More than 60% of the economic losses came from just 3% of the weather events over the period—and these can strike anywhere and cause vastly different results,” writes climate reporter Fiona Harvey.
The absence of a steady trend also owes to the fact that more and more jurisdictions are taking climate adaptation seriously.
“There is no clear pattern for the most extreme events—they are still random, to a large extent. But adaptation is ongoing and is having an impact,” said EEA climate adaptation expert and study lead author Wouter Vanneuville.
Vanneuville warned against complacency, however, urging countries to continue full-speed ahead on climate adaptation strategies. “Even if we reach net-zero emissions before 2050, adaptation will still be needed to keep the impacts limited,” he said.
The EEA study also revealed a widespread dearth of insurance for climate crisis losses, with some EU countries worse off than others. “Just under a quarter (23%) of losses over the period were insured, though these rates varied widely among countries, with more than half of losses insured in Denmark and the Netherlands, and only about 1% in Lithuania and Romania,” Harvey writes.