The science deniers* (aka warmers) tell us that a major reason to fear global warming is because so many people will die from the heat. But would an increase in global temperatures actually reduce the number of deaths? According to study published in The Lancet of over 74million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries, cold weather kills 20 times as many people as does hot weather. On balance, warmer weather would probably reduce the number of weather related deaths.
If you are not familiar with The Lancet, Wiki describes it this way:
” The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is one of the world’s oldest and best known general medical journals, and has been described as one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world. In the 2013 Journal Citation Reports, The Lancet ’ s impact factor was ranked second among general medical journals, (at 39.207), after The New England Journal of Medicine (54,420)“
The study analysed over 74 million (74,225,200) deaths between 1985 and 2012 in 13 countries with a wide range of climates, from cold to subtropical. Data on daily average temperature, death rates, and confounding variables (eg, humidity and air pollution) were used to calculate the temperature of minimum mortality (the optimal temperature), and to quantify total deaths due to non-optimal ambient temperature in each location. The researchers then estimated the relative contributions of heat and cold, from moderate to extreme temperatures.
Around 7.71% of all deaths were caused by non-optimal temperatures, with substantial differences between countries, ranging from around 3% in Thailand, Brazil, and Sweden to about 11% in China, Italy, and Japan. Cold was responsible for the majority of these deaths (7.29% of all deaths), while just 0.42% of all deaths were attributable to heat.
The study also found that extreme temperatures were responsible for less than 1% of all deaths, while mildly sub-optimal temperatures accounted for around 7% of all deaths — with most (6.66% of all deaths) related to moderate cold.
According to Dr Gasparrini, “Current public-health policies focus almost exclusively on minimizing the health consequences of heat waves. Our findings suggest that these measures need to be refocused and extended to take account of a whole range of effects associated with temperature.”
Study upon study in the past have arrived at this same conclusion although this may be the most comprehensive of such studies. No doubt the science deniers will continue to deny these facts.
*I use the word “deniers” reluctantly. However the catastrophic man-made global warming folks, have recently undertaken a plan to fully brand all skeptics as “deniers.” Maybe an unwise choice, but should we fight fire with fire?