Climate Change, Covid-19, and the End of Excess Mortality: Extreme Heat in Europe since 2003
Speaker: Richard Keller, Robert Turell Professor and Chair, Department of Medical History and Bioethics, UW–Madison
The unprecedented heat wave of 2003 caught European citizens and health officials off guard, leaving devastating mortality in its wake. Since then, a changing climate has made extreme heat events a regular summer occurrence. How have European policies and tactics adapted to the new normal of regular extremes? What have been the ongoing health consequences of excess heat, and how did the Covid-19 pandemic affect vulnerability to high heat? This talk argues that the normalizing of extreme events and the staggering effects of the pandemic have changed patterns of mortality and have rendered a critical epidemiological tool—excess death calculations—largely useless in their wake.