Heat & Life - Cold & Death

Increasing mortality due to our sins of emission?

    On October 30, 2017, the once highly respected British medical journal The Lancet, published a paper titled “Countdown to Climate Change” that reviewed climate related health issues from 1990 through 2015. This was an update to their 2015 paper on world health effects owing to a warming planet.  


This paper encapsulates why so many legitimate scientists across many disciplines fear that the scientific process has been hijacked and politicized by a group of scientists that don’t hide their biases toward catastrophic man-made warming. Their original 2015 paper was a central focus of the chapter “Heat & Life, Cold & Death” in the recently published book Inconvenient Facts.  


In the Executive Summary of this latest paper, the authors list two primary conclusions based on their observations:  


· The human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and potentially irreversible—affecting the health of populations around the world today 

· The delayed response to climate change over the past 25 years has jeopardised (sic) human life and livelihoods 


Like many of the predicted climate-related apocalypses, the disastrous health forecasts within the report are based entirely on complicated climate models rather than actually reviewing what has taken place in the real world. These climate models that are used to forecast pending climate doom have been proven to fail miserably in their actual predictive capabilities compared to the real-world results.   

What do the facts, science and data tell us?

  According to their own data, the paper’s actual data show (but don’t discuss) that the overall trend of climate-related deaths is trending significantly downward (figure 1) which is completely contrary to the stated findings within the paper. Additionally, of the seven climate-related death categories reviewed, only two, deaths due to dengue and malignant melanoma were increasing.  


So let’s take a look at what the statistics tell us about heat and heat-related mortality.  


We shall start with the EPA’s own data which show no increase in heat waves in recent years. Instead, there was a remarkable spike in extreme heat waves in the 1930s, long before we could have affected the climate to any significant degree (Figure 2). 


John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville is the State Climatologist and provides useful charts of high temperatures (Christy 2015). Figure 3 shows the percentage of days that exceeded 100°F at almost 1,000 NOAA stations across the United States. Note that the lower 48 states of the U.S. have seen an 80-year decline in extreme heat. 


Climate extremists predict that heat waves and high temperatures related to global warming will kill increasingly more people worldwide. As usual, the inconvenient facts are otherwise. If the merchants of doom were right, the warming over the last 150 years should have been reflected in more deaths caused by heat waves.  

Cold kills far more people than heat

  The inconvenient fact is that cold kills considerably more people than heat. It is, by far, the biggest weather-related killer worldwide. Warmer weather would mean far fewer premature temperature-related deaths. 


A study of temperature-associated mortality in the U.K. and Australia found that cold-related deaths in the U.K. and Australia accounted for 61 and 33 deaths per million, respectively, while heat-related deaths were only three and two per million (Vardoulakis 2014). Cold kills more than 15 times as many people in these countries as heat.  


In the largest study to date on deaths attributable to heat or cold, Gasparrini (2015) and a large team of collaborators from around the world examined more than 74 million deaths in 13 countries between 1985 and 2012. Warm countries included Thailand and Brazil; temperate countries included Australia; cold countries included Sweden. The aim was to determine the number of deaths attributable to either heat or cold. 


The study revealed that cold weather kills 20 times as many people as heat. Worse, one in 15 deaths, from all causes, was attributable to cold. Only one death in 250 was attributable to heat. In every country examined, cold-related deaths greatly outnumbered deaths from heat. 


In the United States, summer heat-related deaths have declined dramatically in the last half of the 20th century (Figure 4). Between 1979 and 2006, United States annual death rates from heat declined by 10%, while deaths from cold fell by a dramatic 37% (Goklany 2009). In fact, extreme-weather deaths and death rates have been tumbling since the 1920s, notwithstanding the modest global warming since then. 


“Excess winter mortality” is the statisticians’ description of premature deaths from cold. The UK Office for National Statistics (2017) studied such deaths for recent winters in England and Wales and found a strong and persistent decline in excess winter mortality over the past 60 years. Only half as many die before their time in winter today as did in the 1950s (Figure 5). 


A study by the European Union predicts that a future reduction in deaths from cold will significantly outweigh any increase in deaths from heat (Ciscar 2009). By that year, the author predicts, 162,000 additional premature deaths per year from heat will be outweighed by the predicted 256,000 deaths per year from cold that would be prevented (Fig. 6). In Europe alone, the study predicts that close to 100,000 people would be spared an untimely death—thanks to global warming. That being the case, we should all welcome the increasing warmth that will lengthen the global average life span.   

Global warming is saving lives... and a lot of them

  The facts starkly challenge the contention that warmer weather kills. The truth is that warmer weather has already cut temperature-related deaths, and will continue to do so, directly raising life expectancies around the world. The facts and the data demonstrate exactly the opposite of what the prognosticators of climate doom predict. If this important element of the alarmist campaign is so easily debunked by so many scientific studies, shouldn’t one also look with a critical eye at all the other hobgoblins of alarm?  


REFERENCES


Christy J, U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology 2 Feb 2016, Tes-timony of John R. Christy University of Alabama in Huntsville. 


Ciscar, J, Watkiss P, Hunt A, Pye S, Horrocks L (2009) Climate change impacts in Europe, Final report of the PESETA research project, JRC Scientific and Technical Reports, European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute for Prospective Technological Studies 


EPA (2016b) U.S. Annual Heat Wave Index 1895 – 2015, https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-high-and-low-temperatures 


Gasparrini A, Guo Y, Hashizume M, Lavigne E, Zanobetti A, Schwartz J, Tobias A, Tong S, Rocklöv J, Forsberg B, Leone M, De Sario M, Bell ML, Guo Y, Wu C, Kan H, Yi S, de Sousa M, Stagliorio Z, Hilario P, Saldiva N, Honda Y, Kim H, Armstrong B (2015) Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multicountry observational study, The Lancet, Vol 386 July 25, 2015 


Goklany IM (2009) Deaths and death rates from extreme weather events, 1900 – 2008. J Am Phys Surg 14(4):102–109 


U. K. Office for National Statistics (2017) Excess winter mortality in England and Wales: 2015/16 (provisional) and 2014/15 (final) https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/births deathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/excesswintermortalityinenglandandwales/2015to2016provisionaland2014to2015final  


Vardoulakis S, Dear K, Hajat S, Heaviside C, Eggen B, McMichael AJ (2014) Com-parative Assessment of the Effects of Climate Change on Heat- and Cold-Related Mortality in the United Kingdom and Australia, Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 122, number 12