Cold – not heat – is the real killer

Climate will change as it always has. While there is a religious belief among the radicalised of the true faith that man-made global warming is real, the reality is that there is no signature of man-made global warming that can be distinguished from the natural variations of climate. I have no doubt that whatever change occurs, humans will cope as well as they are able to, and history shows that even glacial conditions have not held back human development. When (not if) the current inter-glacial ends, humans will have access to energy levels and energy intensities magnitudes greater than what was available during the last glacial maximum (20 – 25,000 years ago). And we will have fossil fuels and nuclear energy to thank for that. Hydro Power will virtually vanish during glacial conditions. The more time we have to prepare, and the preparations we make, will determine how well we cope and how many deaths may occur while we do adjust.

It is cold which is by far the more dangerous and which requires the greater preparation. It is far, far better we prepare for the ice age that will undoubtedly come than for any imaginary man-made global warming.

A new paper in the Lancet reports on an analysis of over 74 million (74,225,200) deaths between 1985 and 2012 in 13 countries with a wide range of climates, from cold to subtropical. The results show that moderate cold or heat cause more deaths than extreme weather and that cold kills 20 times more people than heat.

Antonio Gasparrini et alMortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multicountry observational study. The Lancet, May 2015 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)62114-0

The Lancet (press release):

Cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather, according to an international study analysing over 74 million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries. The findings, published in The Lancet, also reveal that deaths due to moderately hot or cold weather substantially exceed those resulting from extreme heat waves or cold spells.

“It’s often assumed that extreme weather causes the majority of deaths, with most previous research focusing on the effects of extreme heat waves,” says lead author Dr Antonio Gasparrini from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK. “Our findings, from an analysis of the largest dataset of temperature-related deaths ever collected, show that the majority of these deaths actually happen on moderately hot and cold days, with most deaths caused by moderately cold 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. …

The study also shows that cold has greater impact in Japan and Italy than in Sweden but that is only to be expected. Warm countries will be more unprepared for cold and vice versa.


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