May 05, 2007
Heatwaves and a rise in food poisoning, flooding, ultra-violet light and ozone pollution triggered by global warming could kill thousands of people a year across Britain in coming decades, say government forecasts published yesterday.
Scientists commissioned by the Department of Health to update a 2002 study on the impact of climate change concluded that the nation had adapted well to rising temperatures over the past 30 years, with no extra heat-related deaths.
The document, which is now out for consultation, does not alter a number of key forecasts made five years ago, including some benefits of climate change such as the likelihood that warmer winters will cut the number of annual cold-related deaths by about 20,000.
But research conducted following the 2003 heatwaves that killed more than 35,000 people across Europe suggested there would be 6,350 premature deaths during such an event in Britain - the likelihood of which was put at one in four over the next 10 years.
Adapting to the damaging effects of climate change, plants are gradually moving to where temperatures are cooler, rainfall is greater, f...