Climate crisis: Europe's cities dangerously unprepared for heat wave hell
Hot weather gets deadly in places that are not ready for it. In August 2003, during one of the heaviest heat waves in England in recent years, mortality across the country increased 16% due to heat. In London, however, 42% more people died than the average of the same periods in the last five years.
In densely built-up cities, temperatures are usually several degrees higher than rural and suburban areas. The phenomenon, known as the urban heat island, is caused by the combination of surfaces that capture heat, low air flow, traffic, and other heat-generating activities in cities.
The difference tends to be greater at night than in cities Do not cool as much as rural areas.
Older people and children are particularly prone to heat in cities, but extreme weather affects everyone.
"Healthy people are generally fine in hot weather as long as they take precautions "But when it gets to about 40 degrees Celsius, healthy people are also at risk," said Bob Ward, director of politics and communications at the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, part of the London School of Economics.  Productivity Declines Significantly as Temperatures Increase, A 2018 Harvard School of Public Health study found that students' response times in a room without air conditioning were 13% slower than heat waves in cooler rooms. "src-mini =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190628132300-03-cities-climate-crisis-restricted-small-169.jpg "src-xsmall =" // cdn.cnn.com / cnnnext / dam / as sets / 190628132300-03-cities-climate-crisis-restricted-medium-plus-169.jpg "src-small =" http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190628132300-03-cities-climate -crisis-restricted-large-169.jpg "src-medium =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190628132300-03-cities-climate-crisis-restricted-exlarge-169.jpg "src large = "// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190628132300-03-cities-climate-crisis-restricted-super-169.jpg" src-full16x9 = "// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/ dam / assets / 190628132300-03-cities-climate-crisis-restricted-full-169.jpg "src-mini1x1 =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190628132300-03-cities-climate-crisis -restricted-small-11.jpg "data-demand-load =" not-loaded "data-eq-pts =" mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781 "/>  The reflection pool in Bordeaux, surrounded by gardens, provides relief during the heat wave. ” class=”media__image” src=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190628132300-03-cities-climate-crisis-restricted-large-169.jpg”/>
It's a problem that will only worsen as more and more people move into cities. According to the United Nations, 55% of the world's population currently lives in cities. By 2050, this number should rise to 68%.
Europe gets a taste of the climate crisis this week. In France, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic all temperature records were broken this week.
The cities were the worst hit. Paris has introduced a special heating plan to provide relief for the inhabitants. The plan was drawn up after the 2003 heat wave, which left 14,000 dead in France alone. The city set up public refrigerators in urban buildings, put fog on the streets, and left parks and swimming pools open longer than usual.
While the current European temperatures of just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit do not seem too high for some, they are well above the region's seasonal averages.
And since most European infrastructures and cities were built before anyone realized the threat of climate change, the heatwave is even more dangerous.
"Cities that are used to temperate climates, such as London, find it very difficult to deal with," said Ward.
"Places where cold winters prevail are more concerned with isolation … but of course, some of the measures you take to keep the heat in winter can prevent the heat from escaping in the summer makes them even more problematic. "
It's an acute problem in the UK According to the Environmental Audit Committee of the British Parliament, one in five buildings overheats in the summer.
Kathryn Brown, Head of Adaptation to the UK Climate Change Committee, told a committee that temperatures in some UK hospitals are 30 degrees Celsius may exceed when the outside temperature is about 22 degrees.)
Buildings with dark surfaces trap heat because they absorb light Instead of reflecting it, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a dark roof only reflects 20% of the light, compared to 80% reflected by a light.
It also works with roads. The Los Angeles Street Services last year tested the idea of applying bright coatings on otherwise dark public asphalt roads. The coating is said to have lowered temperatures by 10 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, some solutions may aggravate the situation. The air conditioning brings relief indoors, but it makes the outside even hotter by putting hot air on the road.
Worse, it contributes to climate change. With an estimated 1.2 billion electric air conditioners around the world (a figure that is expected to triple by 2050), refrigeration could release so many greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere that temperatures would rise by 0.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century
That's why scientists, architects and urban planners are desperately looking for other ways to cool buildings and streets.
The creation of more parks, green roofs and vertical gardens is one way to remedy this situation. According to the Environmental Audit Committee, the surface temperature in an urban green space can be up to 15 to 20 degrees Celsius lower than in the surrounding streets, which makes air temperatures 2 to 8 degrees cooler.
Water is another favorite – fog showers, fountains and reflective pools lower the temperature.
Simple shutters can also help keep out heat as long as they are outside the windows and prevent the light from entering.
You do not have to be old-fashioned either. The London architects Ahr painted a skyscraper in Abu Dhabi with dynamic, flower-shaped shutters whose shape changes depending on the time of day.
As the screens fold and unfold in response to the movement of the sun, they are reflected upwards to 50% of the light. According to AHR, the screens reduce the need for artificial lighting and artificial air conditioning.