This is one of the many consequences of the heat wave: excess mortality. In France, this summer, successive heat waves caused 11,000 additional deaths compared to 2019 and the Ardèche was particularly affected. “What makes heat waves the most deadly weather events”, according to a scientist expert in these phenomena.
According to the first data communicated by INSEE, the heat wave could be the cause of 11,000 additional deaths during the summer period, compared to 2019 – last year without a Covid-19 epidemic – in France.
Even if it is difficult to disentangle deaths due to heat waves from deaths linked to the epidemic, mortality in all departments of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is clearly above normal in 2022, as shown in this map.
Ardèche is particularly affected, with an increase of 9.3% between January and August 2022 compared to the same period in 2019. Isère (+9.5%) and Drôme, (+ 7.6%) also show high excess mortality.
Figures which, according to INSEE, could partly be explained by the successive heat waves of the summer, because “mortality peaks correspond exactly to periods of heat wave“, explains Freddy Bouchet, physicist and climatologist of extreme climatic events. mid-July, mortality was up 13% compared to 2019. A trend that has not spared the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, such as the curve of this graph on the evolution of deaths between June and September.
As in 2003, therefore, the drama is repeated. That year, it is estimated that the heat wave killed 15,000 people in France. This makes heat waves the deadliest weather events. “Often, we think it’s hurricanes, or storms… The public is not aware that heat waves are one of the main causes of death linked to climatic events, because it happens in houses, in apartments , discreetly and there are no striking images on our screens…“, believes Freddy Bouchet.
Those most affected are the elderly and those who already have health difficulties. “People don’t usually die directly from the heat but from the impact of the heat on health problems they have elsewhere.”
And even if the 2003 heat wave was much stronger, with a rise in temperatures of 2.7°C on average, compared to 2.3°C this year, the characteristic of the 2022 episode is its duration . 33 cumulative days, a record. Which aggravates the phenomenon.
Already in 2003, it was noticed that the number of deaths was increasing every day while the temperatures remained stable, because people who suffer from the heat get tired, they have trouble recovering and die from comorbidity problems.Freddy Bouchet, research director at the CNRS
A phenomenon that should be repeated more and more often. According to one joint study by Météo-France and INSEE, in 2050, one inhabitant in seven will be exposed to a large number of abnormally hot days. And the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region will be one of the most affected territories.
But Freddy Bouchet nevertheless wants to put things into perspective. “What happens to us here is very little compared to what happens in other parts of the world“In the future, the countries most affected by heat waves and other extreme climatic events will be India, Pakistan and certain countries in Africa, which are less economically advantaged countries,”for some IPCC scenarios, the temperatures would then be at the limit of what is bearable by human physiology“.
Hence the urgency to adapt, “chang city structures, green them, use less concrete“, but above all to continue to fight against global warming. “Change the way we produce energy, feed ourselves, move towards sobriety“.
Source: France TV Info