Global warming with increasing weather extremes, like heat events, is enhancing impacts to public health. This essay focuses on unusual extreme summer heat extremes occurring in Germany at higher frequency, longer duration, and with new temperature records. Large areas of the country are affected, particularly urban settlements, where about 77% of the population lives, which are exposed to multiple inner-city threats, such as urban heat islands. Because harm to public health is directly released by high ambient air temperatures, local and national studies on heat-related morbidity and mortality indicate that vulnerable groups such as the elderly population are predominantly threatened with heat-related health problems. After the severe mortality impacts of the extreme summer heat 2003 in Europe, in 2008, Germany took up the National Adaptation Strategy on Climate Change to tackle and manage the impacts of weather extremes, for example to protect people’s health against heat. Public health systems and services need to be better prepared to improve resilience to the effects of extreme heat events, e.g., by implementing heat health action plans. Both climate protection as well as adaptation are necessary in order to be able to respond as adequate as possible to the challenges posed by climate change.
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