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Nature2 December 2004

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Climate change: The heat is on

The extreme heat in Europe in summer 2003 resulted in many excess deaths. Such a summer can occur by chance in any climate, whether or not it has been modified by external influences. But it is possible to ask, as Stott et al. do in this issue, by how much human activity may have increased the risk of such a heatwave. Using a mean temperature exceeded in 2003 but in no other year since 1851, they estimate a greater than 90% chance that past human activity has more than doubled the risk of an extreme heatwave. If human activity can be implicated in such an event, could a victim seek redress in law from those responsible? Climatologist Myles R. Allen (a co-author on the above paper) and barrister Richard Lord pose that question. From their conclusions it is safe to say that the courts are not likely to be overwhelmed by claims any time soon... but watch this space...

commentary
The blame game
MYLES R. ALLEN & RICHARD LORD
Who will pay for the damaging consequences of climate change?
Nature 432, 551–552 (2004); doi:10.1038/432551a
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letters to nature
Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003
PETER A. STOTT, D. A. STONE & M. R. ALLEN
Nature 432, 610–614 (2004); doi:10.1038/nature03089
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news and views
Climate change: Hot news from summer 2003
CHRISTOPH SCH�R & GERD JENDRITZKY
The European heatwave of 2003: was it merely a rare meteorological event or a first glimpse of climate change to come? Probably both, is the answer, and the anthropogenic contribution can be quantified.
Nature 432, 559–560 (2004); doi:10.1038/432559a
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2 December 2004 table of contents

  
  © 2004 Nature Publishing Group