Despite the fact that the brutal summer of 2003 brought withit the highest weather-related death toll in Europeanhistory, the catastrophe was largely ignored by the USmedia. Estimates of the dead range from 22,000 to 35,000,and now a scientific group is warning that such summerscould become the norm, and not just in Europe.
Until now, it has been impossible to tell the degree towhich heat generated by human activity has been responsible,as opposed to natural weather processes. However, PeterStott, of the UK Meterological Office's Hadley Centre, andDaithi Stone and Myles Allen, of Oxford University have beenable, using extremely detailed data from thousands ofdifferent temperature sensors located across Europe, todetermine this, and their findings are sobering.
After building a detailed computer model of the way theweather pattern built until it was recorded as the hottestsummer in 500 years, and possibly the hottest summer inrecorded history in Europe, the researchers found that most,if not all, of the extra heat, came from human activity.
It appears that greenhouse gasses have at least doubled therisk of summers of extreme heat and violent storms, and thatthese conditions can prevail during the summer monthsanywhere in the world. Had the European summer of 2003struck in the US, it would have meant six weeks of hundreddegree plus temperatures and soaring pollution over theeastern half of the country.
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