Due to the heatwaves in Polish cities, we will record more and more deaths, alarm scientists from the Polish Academy of Sciences. Mortality could increase by more than 225 percent, experts say. – The heat waves and the urban heat island can be referred to as a silent killer – says Dr. hab. Iwona Wagner from the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection, University of Lodz. How does the climate catastrophe affect our lives? How will I shorten them? Can it be stopped? Urgent action is needed. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.
A green square was created in the center of Wrocław at Bernardyńska Street. – Before that, there was a parking lot, a concrete space, sad and dilapidated. It was used by drivers and, of course, by us officials, because there is a municipal office nearby, admits Agata Dzikowska from the city hall in Wrocław.
Wrocław wants to change and turn green. In this way, it was possible to destroy another urban heat island. – Three thousand hectares of green urban areas, this is what makes us feel a little better – adds Dzikowska.
There must be more such changes, otherwise we are in mortal danger. We are threatened by a heat wave. According to scientists, in Warsaw alone, the mortality rate may increase by as much as 225 percent – according to their forecasts, it will be after 2040. Until then, from year to year, we will be dying more and more often in all Polish cities due to the heat. Experts from the Polish Academy of Science are alerting about this. They also advise what to do to prevent this.
Professor Barbara Szulczewska from the Institute of Cities and Regions Development argues that instead of “a lawn that is beautiful, green and rolled”, you should have “slightly wild trees and shrubs” in your garden.
Experts advise how to combat high temperatures in cities
It is still a long way to summer, but we must act now. The report is like a signpost for each of us. – Some property owners want to get rid of these trees, just in case there is no danger, but they are invaluable – emphasizes Professor Szulczewska.
It is cities that contribute significantly to climate change. And it is also in cities that you can feel their effects the most. Also more and more frequent flash floods or hurricane winds. Doctor Hab. Iwona Wagner from the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection, University of Lodz, says that rainwater should be collected. – It can be a small pond or a water barrel, and every few hundred liters captured from the gutter will prevent this water from spilling out somewhere and causing flooding – he adds.
In short, a lot comes down to the slogan of “detonating the city” wherever possible. Activists have been talking about this for years. – It is often absurd to spend a lot of money on revitalization projects, which consists in cutting down trees and replacing green areas with concrete areas – emphasizes Jan Mencwel, activist and author of the book “Betonoza”.
The impact of heat on mortality
Inhabitants of large cities have nothing to fear, and in Poland they constitute over 60 percent of the population. – The heat waves and the urban heat island can be referred to as a silent killer, because it is difficult in statistics to find a relationship between higher mortality and temperature, but it does occur – says Dr. Iwona Wagner.
We have seen many times that high temperature can kill. According to scientists, in 2003 it caused premature death of about 70 thousand people in Europe, and in 2010 in Russia – more than 11 thousand people. In Lodz, in 1994, the record heat increased the average mortality rate by as much as 63 percent. – You have to pay attention to how our surroundings are changing and speak up when local plans are adopted, because this is where the protection of green areas may be included – says Mencwel.
Aleksandra Kąkol, asty // now
Main photo source: Rafał Guz / PAP