Updated Jul 20, 2023, 12:33pm EDT

How longer and hotter summer heatwaves will impact us

REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

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The News

Longer, hotter heatwaves across much of Europe and the U.S. are prompting significant shifts in tourism, redefining the summer camp experience for American children, and causing psychological distress to countless others.

We’ve collected insights and reporting on the impact of the record breaking summer temperatures.

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  • Soaring temperatures across southern Europe could lead to long-lasting travel pattern changes. Tourists seeking cooler temperatures may choose other destinations, or elect to travel in cooler months as large parts of Europe experience droughts and wildfires during the scorching summer. The number of people hoping to travel to the Mediterranean region during the summer has already fallen by 10% compared to 2022, European Travel Commission data showed, while countries in northern and eastern Europe have seen a spike in interest from foreign travelers. The impact could profoundly reshape the economies of the continent: France, Spain, and Italy rank first, second and fifth, respectively, in international tourist arrivals according to the World Tourism Organisation. — Reuters
  • Higher temperatures impact the body both physically and psychologically. A 2018 study published in Nature found that higher temperatures increased suicide rates by about 0.7% and 2% in the U.S. and México respectively. Another study showed a rise in the use of depressive language on Twitter during the hottest months. Higher temperatures may trigger physiological responses that release stress hormones, while they can also lead to sleep-deprivation, potentially worsening psychological conditions. Dehydration has also been linked to anxiety and impaired cognitive function. — Heatmap
  • Triple-digit temperatures across much of the south of the U.S. have restricted the capacity to be outdoors. At a summer camp in Austin, Texas, where temperatures regularly exceeded 100 degrees, children were allowed to play outside for just 15 minutes a day. “It’s like walking into a convection oven,” the camp’s co-founder said. With summer camps serving about 26 million school-age children annually, higher temperatures may disrupt a long-cherished American tradition. “Being outside is a beautiful thing,” a mom of two summer campers said. “I hate for kids not being able to experience that.” — The Wall Street Journal
  • Exceptionally warm heatwaves can also destabilize agricultural patterns, pushing food prices higher in a phenomenon known as “heatfaltion.” Coldiretti, Italy’s biggest agriculture association, warned last year that 30 to 40% of its seasonal summer harvest was threatened by a heatwave that pushed temperatures above 105 degrees Fahrenheit on numerous occasions. The heatwave also disrupted a crucial pollination window for maize crops, while milk production declined for weeks as livestock was shielded from overheating. — France24