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European heatwave deaths could skyrocket: climate study

Deaths due to extreme weather in Europe could increase fifty-fold from an estimated 3,000 per year recently to 152,000 by century's end if global warming is not reined in, researchers warned Saturday.

The toll would be especially high in temperate southern Europe, where deaths due to warming are projected to rise from 11 per million people per year to about 700 per million per year, they wrote in The Lancet Planetary Health.

Heatwaves will do most of the damage, claiming some 99 percent of future weather-related deaths -- more than 151,000 of the annual total by 2100 from about 2,700 per year recently.

"Unless global warming is curbed as a matter of urgency and appropriate adaptation measures are taken, about 350 million Europeans could be exposed to harmful climate extremes on an annual basis by the end of this century," said the report, based on pessimistic global warming forecasts.

The researchers looked at records of weather-related events in Europe -- the 28 European Union members plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland -- for a 30-year stretch from 1981 to 2010 -- called the "reference period".

They then compared this to projections for population growth and migration, as well as predictions for future heatwaves, cold snaps, wildfires, droughts, floods and windstorms.

"We found that weather-related disasters could affect about two-thirds of the European population annually by the year 2100," wrote four European Commission researchers.

This translated to about 351 million people exposed per year, compared to about 25 million per year in the reference period, when it was just five percent of the population.

Exposure means anything from disease, injury and death due to an extreme weather event, to losing a home or "post-event stress", the authors said.

- 'Could be overestimated' -

Deaths from heatwaves were projected to increase by 5,400 percent, coastal foods by 3,780 percent, wildfires by 138 percent, river floods by 54 percent and windstorms by 20 percent.

Deaths from cold waves will decline by about 98 percent, said the team, which is not "sufficient to compensate for the other increases."

Climate change is responsible for 90 percent of the additional weather-related deaths forecast for Europe, said the team.

Population growth accounts for the other 10 percent, along with migration to hazard-prone coastal zones and cities.

For the purposes of the study, the team assumed a rate of greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas, that puts the world on track for average global warming of three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 from 1990 levels.

The Paris Agreement, concluded by 195 nations in 2015, seeks to limit warming to under 2 C from levels before the Industrial Revolution, when fossil fuel burning kicked off.

The researchers also made no provision for additional measures being taken to boost human resilience to weather disasters.

In a comment on the study, Jae Young Lee and Ho Kim of the Seoul National University wrote its projections "could be overestimated".

"People are known to adapt and become less vulnerable than previously to extreme weather conditions because of advances in medical technology, air conditioning and thermal insulation in houses," they wrote in a comment carried by the journal.

On Wednesday, a study in the journal Science Advances said South Asia, home to a fifth of the global population, could see humid heat rise to unsurvivable levels by century's end.

Also this week, researchers wrote in Environmental Research Letters, that rising carbon dioxide levels will dramatically cut the amount of protein in stable crops like rice and wheat in the decades to come.

The new paper, said Paul Wilkinson of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, "is yet another reminder of the exposures to extreme weather and possible human impacts that might occur if emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated."

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Vardy at double, Iheanacho injured

England striker Jamie Vardy struck twice as Leicester defeated Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1 on Friday in a pre-season friendly but new £25 million striker Kelechi Iheanacho came off injured.

Vardy scored in the 67th and 74th minutes after Thorgan Hazard had given the German side the lead with a fine finish from distance early in the second half.

Nigerian international striker Iheanacho, who signed from Manchester City on Thursday for £25 million ($32.8 million), set up Vardy's winner but was substituted with an injury shortly after.

Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare said it was just a precautionary move.

"Last thing he needed was another kick on it (his leg), so we played if safe," said Shakespeare.

US jobs report sends global stocks higher

Rosy US jobs numbers sent Wall Street higher on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising to an eighth straight record finish.

The beleaguered US dollar also got a shot in the arm from the strong July employment report, which showed the world's largest economy adding north of 200,000 new positions for the second straight month.

Across the Atlantic, European equities also pushed higher amid unequivocal signs of American economic strength.

In New York, the Dow rose 0.3 percent, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq each gained 0.2 percent.

But Adam Sarhan, CEO of 50 Park Investments, told AFP the jobs numbers were a "double-edged sword."

"On the one hand, it is good to see the economy growing, jobs coming in," he said. "At the same time, it is a hawkish data point for the Fed."

The strong job creation and slowly rising wages could spur the Fed to raise the cost of borrowing a third time this year to keep a tight rein on inflation.

But a rate increase would boost bank profits, and that fueled banking shares. Goldman Sachs jumped 2.6 percent, and JP Morgan Chase added 1.3 percent, leading the Dow higher.

Meanwhile, the dollar jumped 0.8 percent against a basket of other major currencies, rising off a 15-month low.

- European markets higher -

"Strong wage growth is key takeaway today," ING Economics said, but one strong jobs report may not be enough to sway skeptical investors trying to second-guess the US central bank.

The data also helped European equities extend early tentative gains ahead of the weekend, with Frankfurt and Paris seeing increases of better than one percent and London adding 0.5 percent.

The newfound dollar strength took the pressure off the euro whose recent rise has been threatening to undermine the competitiveness of eurozone exporters. But fundamentals are still in favor of the European single currency, many analysts say.

"The eurozone is today seen by many as a zone of stability," Philippe Waechter, an economist at Natixis, told AFP.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 22,092.81 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent at 2,476.83 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.2 percent at 6,351.56 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,511.71 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 1.1 percent at 12,297.72 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.4 percent at 5,203.44 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.2 percent at 3,507.41 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 19,952.33 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 27,562.68 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,262.08 (close)

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 41 cents at $52.42 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 55 cents at $49.58

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1770 from $1.1871 at 2100 GMT on Thursday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3041 from $1.3138

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.68 yen from 110.04 yen

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