US Climate and Health Alliance

Was Climate Change Partly to Blame for Europe’s Deadly Heat Wave?


Climate change is directly responsible for more than 500 deaths in London and Paris during the heat wave that swept Europe in 2003, according to a new study by the University of Oxford. In the three months from June–August 2003, searing temperatures — the hottest recorded in Europe since 1540 — caused upwards of 70,000 deaths across the continent. At its height in Paris, a city largely equipped without air conditioning (and where most of the elderly population lives alone), temperatures exceeded 110 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result of funeral homes becoming so overwhelmed with the bodies of casualties, public squares were turned into makeshift mortuaries, according to reports. The heat wave was ultimately one of the 10 deadliest natural disasters to strike Europe within the last century. Almost 15,000 people died in France alone.

Resource Type
Magazine/newspaper article
Pacific Standard
Resource URL
July 12, 2016
Organization Type
Health and Human Impact
Heat illness/extreme temperature
Climate and Environmental Impact

Resources main page