Going Down: Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events

During our discussion of the preposterous news story from Pravda, claiming this headline: “Earth begins to kill people for changing its climate” a scientist dropped in to provide us some insight into his latest paper. It was highly relevant at the time since one of the repeating themes we see in the mainstream (and not so mainstream) media is the attribution of increasing death due to severe weather events to “global warming”.

But that is not supported by the real data, it is a false premise.

In the paper, Indur Goklany examines the worldwide trends  and makes some surprising discoveries base of examining data from the World Health Organization, NOAA, and other sources.

Some have claimed that, all else being equal, climate change will increase the frequency or severity of weather-related extreme events (see, e.g., IPCC 2001; Patz 2004; MacMichael and Woodruff 2004). This study examines whether losses due to such events (as measured by aggregate deaths and death rates2) have increased globally and for the United States in recent decades. It will also attempt to put these deaths and death rates into perspective by comparing them with the overall mortality burden, and briefly discuss what trends in these measures imply about human adaptive capacity.

The most telling graph is the first one in the paper:

Goklany writes:

Despite the recent spate of deadly extreme weather events – such as the 2003 European heat wave and the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons in the USA – aggregate mortality and mortality rates due to extreme weather events are generally lower today than they used to be.

Globally, mortality and mortality rates have declined by 95 percent or more since the 1920s. The largest improvements came from declines in mortality due to droughts and floods, which apparently were responsible for 93 percent of all deaths caused by extreme events during the 20th Century. For windstorms, which, at 6 percent, contributed most of the remaining fatalities, mortality rates are also lower today but there are no clear trends for mortality. Cumulatively, the declines more than compensated for increases due to the 2003 heat wave.

There is also a table of supporting data:

Click for a larger image

There are a number of things that have contributed to this trend of lowered death rates due to extreme weather events that I have identified, here is a short list:

  • Better real-time monitoring due to satellite technology and surface networks
  • Better forecasting due to increased skill sets and improvements in computer aided forecasting
  • Better warning lead times, due to satellites for hurricanes and radar for tornadoes and flash floods
  • Better and faster warning dissemination thanks to radio, TV, and Internet

But there is always this recurring complaint that “there are more natural disasters now than 50-100 years ago”. From a perspective rooted in the human experience of the western world, this is likely due to the instant communications we have now. 50 years ago, if there was a massive flood in China, we might not hear about it for days, 100 years ago, perhaps never.

The shrinking world due to instant global communications will ensure that our frequency of such experiences of severe weather will increase. As testament to this, this very blog entry will be read by a few people worldwide within minutes of its posting. Those outside of the USA, please post a comment to illustrate. This is posted at 9:10 PM Pacific time, 4:10 UTC on July 5th.

See more in the paper: Death and Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events, Indur Goklany

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July 5, 2008 9:16 pm

Stop bringing up facts. Seriously. Everyone except for oil-funded deniers knows that climate change is destroying our planet.

July 5, 2008 9:23 pm

Read at 12:21pm, Philippine time, on July 6. Not sure what that is in UTC.

July 5, 2008 9:24 pm

I know this isn’t on topic…But I just wanted to say keep up the good work!
I do not know much of science at all, as I am a Military Historian. While I do not know really anything od science I just couldn’t really believe in global warming…Yet at the same time I thought “I am not the expert, they are.”
It is good to know that in reality this doesn’t seem to be a problem at all, but rather it seems to be just natural cycles of the Earth.
Now I guess our next largest hurdle would be Peak Oil..hopefully it all plays out well enough.
Good day to you, sir.

spangled drongo
July 5, 2008 9:26 pm

What are we going to do?
If we keep surviving at this rate we’re all doomed!

July 5, 2008 9:32 pm

It’s even read by a few people on the East coast on EDT (GMT-0400)
“But there is always this recurring complaint that “there are more natural disasters now than 50-100 years ago”. From a perspective rooted in the human experience of the western world, this is likely due to the instant communications we have now.”
And that US media has discovered disaster coverage sells. Looks like a long wildfire season in the west this year….

July 5, 2008 9:53 pm

Does Boulder count as “outside the USA?”
Mr. Goklany also dispatched those silly alarmist arguments pretty effectively in a Cato Institute book entitled “The Improving State of the World.” A la Julian Simon, (and contrary to the claims of the dominant mass media), he does a nice job of describing in solid quantitative terms how good we really have it.
Thanks for the blog, Anthony. Really enjoy reading it.

Evan Jones
July 5, 2008 10:02 pm

I do not know much of science at all, as I am a Military Historian.
Brother Raccoon!

July 5, 2008 10:18 pm

Read at 5.14 pm in Auckland (NZ) on 6 July. We’ve just come out of one of the worst (cold and stormy) winter weekends I can remember. Even last year’s South Island cold snap didn’t reach Auckland in the same way.
Great site – I’m here constantly since i discovered it. Thanks for the intelligent debate and up to the minute information.

Evan Jones
July 5, 2008 10:20 pm

One wonders what caused the large jump after World War I.
Is the lower number “real” or an artifact? Could it a matter of a failure of reporting during the war? Was there a sudden concern and better reporting after the war? Or is it just “one of those things”?

Leon Brozyna
July 5, 2008 10:22 pm

0105 EDT or 0505 UTC
Don’t forget the ubiquitous media interviews of disaster victims, experiencing the worst ______fill in the blank______ in memory. There’s no media conspiracy here, they’re just finding the hype that sells. If it’s a bad flood, they’ll show the victim that says it’s the worst he ever saw and ignore the old coot that remembers another flood even worse. Just human nature. Also, relying on subjective human memory is a tricky thing; people that experience disasters tend, over time, to let the image of the disaster blur and soften in their minds while others can recall such events with vivid clarity. Solid, objective facts are what counts but usually bore readers and won’t hype viewership.
Just look at the new hurricane season. TV meteorologists are building with breathless anticipation the newest tropical storm of the season. You just know that this one’ll be great copy with a name like Bertha! Here we go again.

July 5, 2008 10:23 pm

Although the number of floods has been increasing, severe floods have been decreasing over the last 30 years and deaths have decreased dramatically. Sorry I can’t find the link.
You can argue this is due to better flood control, but if you do, you also have to accept human management is more important than climate.
BTW, Google shows dozens of studies that link ‘climate change’ to increases in severe floods, despite the fact severe floods are decreasing in frequency. More of the junk climate science I railed against earlier.
Perth, Western Australia

Stefan Frodsham
July 5, 2008 10:34 pm

Acknowledged here in Perth, Western Australia. Well said; every article like this helps to counter the disinformation we’re constantly besieged with.

July 5, 2008 10:38 pm

“Despite the recent spate of deadly extreme weather events – such as the 2003 European heat wave…”
I always consider this event to be a tragic example of the lack of energy usage that alarmists are trying to foist on the rest of the world. In this heat wave, temperatures in France, for example, reached into the low 100’s. If more energy was used by having air conditioning, most of these deaths would have been avoided. The US Southwest is a case in point where temperatures routinely exceed those of the European heat wave, and yet somehow we don’t hear about a horrible death toll each summer. It’s really rather simple. All things being equal, higher energy usage = higher standard of living.

Denis Hopkins
July 5, 2008 10:46 pm

Read at 6.45am sunday 6th July england

retired engineer
July 5, 2008 11:20 pm

Forget the facts. You need a graph of media coverage of extreme weather events. Now that would be a hockey stick.

July 5, 2008 11:26 pm

Read a bit later at 7.26am in England.

Neil Crafter
July 5, 2008 11:56 pm

Read at 4.25 pm Central Standard Time in Adelaide, Australia.
Keep up the good work with your fantastic blog, I’m addicted to it and visit a number of times a day. Just thought I’d say hi so you can see your reach.
cheers Neil

July 6, 2008 12:28 am

Read at 7:07 UT in Belgium.
I’m also wondering about the low in the 1910-1919 decade. Did protection against the war result in better protection against natural disasters (but why don’t we see such a decrease in the 1940-1949)?
Great article!

July 6, 2008 1:27 am

Read and appreciated as all your articles are – Sweden, 10:27 GMT+1 (summertime)

Anthony Osborne
July 6, 2008 1:43 am

Hi Anthony
I have just read today’s entry and the time is now 10:36 am (local time = GMT 0836?) Le Touquet, France.
During the weather forecast on French TV we are frequently shown global maps highlighting any typhoons, hurricanes and other extreme weather events. Frightening place this planet. It’s a miracle how we survive.

July 6, 2008 1:48 am

Read at 10:45am (8:45 am UTC) 6th July in The Netherlands. Hey, it is Sunday and I had a party last night.

July 6, 2008 2:02 am

The last series of posts was approved at 2:02 am Pacific Daylight Time.

July 6, 2008 2:12 am

Read at around 10:10 am in sunny(!) UK.
I think that the global comms we have now will highlight more and more weather events. Couple that with the “Hot Topic” of climate change and we get the current hysteria on the subject…

July 6, 2008 2:29 am

“I always consider this event to be a tragic example of the lack of energy usage that alarmists are trying to foist on the rest of the world. In this heat wave, temperatures in France, for example, reached into the low 100’s. If more energy was used by having air conditioning, most of these deaths would have been avoided. The US Southwest is a case in point where temperatures routinely exceed those of the European heat wave, and yet somehow we don’t hear about a horrible death toll each summer. It’s really rather simple. All things being equal, higher energy usage = higher standard of living.”
I think the main reason for the decline in fatalaties has been missed. As the world as a whole has got richer, both internally and internationally nations are able to react quickly to ameliorate disasters. This is especially true for floods and droughts that mainly cause death by famine.
The extra food has been grown with nitrogen from fossil fuels, the food can be shipped quickly round the globe with fossil fuels.
The wealth has come from fossil fuels, giving people and governments the extra capacity to deal with emergencies.
Even if AGW was a reality, restricting fossil fuel use would certainly increase deaths due to disasters.

July 6, 2008 2:39 am

Read @ 10:33 am, Northern Portugal
(Lisbon: Current time zone offset: UTC/GMT +1 hour )
If i remember correctly, in the beginning of this year, the portuguese IM (institute of meteorology) predicted a +0.5°C above (the last 25 years) average summer. The mainstream media around said it was going to be the hottest summer in 25 years! Of course IM told it was wrong, but the “harm” was done.
So far, we’ve had only about a week of temperatures above 25°C since early june.

The engineer
July 6, 2008 2:41 am

11.38 (GMT +1) here in cloudy Copenhagen.
The 2003 heatwave is already a distant memory.
Heading to drought plagued Costa Brava in Spain.
Gonna get me some global warming.

July 6, 2008 3:10 am

Read at 10:09 CET in France.

July 6, 2008 3:13 am

read at 11 am yorkshire uk. favourite site. keep it up anthony.

July 6, 2008 3:26 am

If the Earth is moving into a seriously cool phase it will be a case of : ‘You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet !’

July 6, 2008 3:48 am

The huge jump around 1920 was probably the world wide flu.
The Civil War in Russia was going on and there were widespread wars and genocides in central and eastern Europe. The Turks were killing the Armenians or driving them out. And Greece and Turkey each kicked the other’s people out. China was in almost total chaos during the decade.
Several massive earthquakes occurred in Asia in the 1920s.
Until the mid-1950s things were seldom quiet.
The war casualties were smaller than the deaths from famine, disease, and forced relocations.
I suspect the low values before WWI are mostly from poor records. Still, those two decades were noted for political stability and for fine weather which produced good crops all around the world. It has been called the golden age of farming.

July 6, 2008 3:49 am

Sunday 6th July @ 11:46am, England 🙂

old construction worker
July 6, 2008 4:29 am

7:30 AM Sunday July 6 Columbus,Oh

July 6, 2008 4:34 am

Greetings from Japan 8:32PM.
Great site. I have been reading your stories for few years already. Good stuff!

July 6, 2008 4:51 am

This is a vicious cycle!
The most effective propaganda machine for global warming, now..climate change is the lit up box at the other end of the living room.
Disaster sell and the cable TV news channels broadcasting 24/7 must be filled with news related disaster stories.
Inevitable, the general perception among people is that there is now a dramatic increase in weather related disasters due to global warming.
This of course creates more people to get engage in global warming eco-environmentalism so that they can help in the fight to save the world from global warming.
Politician and decision makers have to be news junkies in order keep up with what happens in the news.
If you tell them that there is no increase in weather related disasters, they just stare at you think you must be mad.
But, they are all fighting a mirage.

July 6, 2008 4:53 am

A valuable post; Lomborg has been coping flack for some time for the temerity of showing that not only are prosperity indicators postive globally, but that, if AGW is real, it will bring benefits. I might add conventional wisdom is that Lomborg is a warmist, but on reading CHP 3 of “Cool It” it would seem his ‘belief’ is a hypothetical one.
Lomborg draws heavily on WHO statistics and examines a number of European locations in making a comparison between heat and cold deaths; his method is refreshingly simple; at each of those sites he notes that temp which involves the least number of death from temp, either hot or cold, which becomes the optimum temp; at each of those sites he than compares the deaths from temp above and below that temp; deaths from cold consistently outnumber deaths from heat by more than 2 to 1.
Lomborg has been subject to vociferous criticism, especially from Kare Fog at this site;
Fog has specifically addressed Lomborg’s conclusions about heat being likely to cause fewer deaths than heat and that any AGW caused increase in temp would involve fewer temp-related deaths; Fog concludes that Lomborg is wrong because an increase in temp would mean that a graphical depiction of temp deaths would have its optimum point shifted to the right with a maintainence of the proportionate death rates from heat/cold on either side. But this can’t be right because the new optimum would have a larger benevolent flat spot on either side; on the new cooler side it take in that prior optimum and low cooling portion, and on the warmer side, the graph would have a longer flat portion to reflect the lessor rate of heat deaths at the low end of slight increases in temp.
Fog does refer to NOAA statistics which show that from 1986-2006 deaths from heat outnumber deaths from cold by 3007 to 515;
I presume the NOAA data is US based. In the Goklany paper, at Table 3, for the period 1979-2002 deaths from cold were more than twice the deaths from heat; this is sourced from USCB; I’m not sure who or what USCB is; is some clarification possible?

Carsten Arnholm, Norway
July 6, 2008 5:20 am

Read by a Norwegian currently in Thailand 19:19 local time

July 6, 2008 5:26 am

Read here on the East Coast USA at 0815 EDT. Referenced at the Global warming Clearinghouse at 0822.
CoRev, Editor

July 6, 2008 5:29 am

Read this in Canada’s Capital on Sunday July 6 2008 at 1328 GMT.

July 6, 2008 6:16 am

I have a feeling I’m missing something really huge and am about to make a total idiot of myself but I just have to ask…
I thought the global temperature metrics showed that – depending on which one you look at – the earth is either a little cooler than during the base periods or just a little warmer than during the base periods but still cooler than 10 years ago. Doesn’t that – sort of by definition – mean that any extreme weather occurring now can’t be caused by Global Warming since the globe is not currently warming (or warmed)?
(In New Jersey, Sunday, July 6, 9:14am US EDT)

July 6, 2008 6:35 am

Read at 11:33 Cairns Australia. …. Yep, it is indeed a small world…. But it is still the same world.

July 6, 2008 6:41 am

Outstanding entry. Thank you.

Daniel Rothenberg
July 6, 2008 7:07 am

Such are the benefits of study into meteorological/climatological phenomena and the communication of such research to the public at large. Gee, perhaps scientists aren’t just about securing that grant money and siphoning it off to buy their BMW’s?

July 6, 2008 7:13 am

My guess is that the low that shows up in the 1910 – 1919 decade probably occurred because no one was bothering to report these natural disasters or even paying much attention to them. Think about the times – that was actually one of the highest death-toll decades of the 20th century, and yet his graph shows a low point? You have 9 million dead from WW1, anywhere from 10 – 20 million dead worldwide (who knows the actual number?) from the great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, you have untold millions dead of revolution and starvation in Russia and in the old Ottoman Empire, you have China in another round of central govm’t vs warlords, with no one to count the dead – and not to mention the millions of post ww1 Central European refugees who simply disapeared into the earth with no one to note their passing.
With all that going on, I doubt a natural disaster could get noticed at all. That graph should have had a “Total deaths from all causes” bar to be fair, and that decade would be shown for what it was – worldwide carnage.

Bill Illis
July 6, 2008 7:25 am

This is what I hate the most about global warming science. The headlines usually say “disaster”, but when you look into what the data actually shows, it usually says something completely different.
Global warming scientists even complain when their paper doesn’t generate enough doom and gloom reporting even though the data produced doesn’t show a problem at all.

July 6, 2008 7:41 am

Read in Germany. Not minutes later really in my case, but would have been so if I’d been home yesterday night.
Great work, Anthony! Many thanks for sharing your perspective — much needed.

Chris D.
July 6, 2008 7:59 am

I simply do not believe that there were only 110 deaths due to extreme temps throughout the entire period of 1900-1989. I guess data is only as good as the mechanisms in place to collect and then reliably report it, as Anthony has mentioned.
REPLY: Chinese made heaters and air conditioners are everywhere, anyone can afford them. I’ve even see bums in shack house that have space heaters they’ve scrounged from trash bins and worked up a way to steal electricity.

July 6, 2008 8:07 am

I have been talking about this for years (the declining death rate from natural disasters.) This is one of the most amazing achievements of mankind. Over the last 100 years we have (mankind) been able to reduce the mortality from natural disasters by 98%. An AMAZING figure. We have reduced the annual death rate from 1 million/year to 20,000/year. We have done this through a combination of all the things humans are good at. We have been able to build better structures, dams and to move rivers in some cases. We have built levees and we have observations systems that can predict or warn us in advance. We have developed biological defenses and medicine. We have improved transportation and ability to respond quickly. All this has meant that the death rate for natural disasters has plunged more than anything else we have accomplished in the last century. Somehow this news isn’t well known. People still think that natural disasters are a big deal and they are in places where we still have not dealt with them, i.e. china, indonesia, iran, … The simple fact is that if these countries were to improve their systems over the next 20 or 30 years to the level of the west the rate of death from natural disasters would continue a massive decrease. By 2080 when all these deaths are “supposed” to occur from natural disasters caused by AGW nobody will die!!! More people will die from falling off ladders then will die from natural disasters every year. A further 98% reduction in death rates by 2080 will make death from natural disaster more unlikely than falling off trampolines is today.
I’ve been pointing this out for years and yet people continue to hang the entire AGW deadly side effects almost entirely on increased natural disasters. No matter if this specious argument were true that natural disasters would increase it is of almost zero consequence. We have nothing to fear from increased natural disasters even if it were true (which it isn’t) As all of you know there is no increase in number, severity or frequency in any measureable way from global warming. In fact, the opposite it seems like natural disasters seem to be more related to cooling temperatures which may explain why in the last year we’ve had a spate of bad luck. Temperatures have plunged in the last 12 months bringing us back 30 years in terms of global temperature and then we see a small surge in natural disasters. We may see an increase in natural disasters not because of global warming but because we appear to be heading into a cold period but regardless of whether natural disasters are tied to warmer or cooler weather is irrelevant because our mitigation strategies are so effective it is of no consequence in the large scope of our problems in this world.

jorge c.
July 6, 2008 8:33 am

Read at 12:30 Montevideo, Uruguay. great blog..

July 6, 2008 8:45 am

Interesting indeed.
I often do the mental eyeball roll (and sometimes the physical eyeball roll) when I hear seemingly normal people talk about the greatly increased death toll from modern weather events due to “global warming”. When I ask “Oh, really? Like what?” they point to hurricane Katrina and the French summer debacle of 2003, both of which, IMO, could have been largely prevented by people using some common sense and effective government to care for those who could not care for themselves.
Read on July 9 at 11:40 a.m. EST from NE Florida.

July 6, 2008 8:48 am

Quick question, what is the death rate per event? Galveston was hit by the 1900 hurricane with not only no warning, but assurance from the Weather service that it wasn’t anything to worry about. We have improved our warning and evacuation ability by orders of magnitude. The Indian ocean tsunami death toll was exacerbated due to a lack of warning capability.
Regardless of what the media (and Dems) imply Katrina was nowhere near the disaster it would have been without the weather warning and evacuation. Katrina was a problem of the local and state governments failing to evacuate people who couldn’t get out themselves along with people who wouldn’t leave when they could. Imagine the situation if no one had left New Orleans because no warning was issued.

robert burns
July 6, 2008 9:10 am

I don’t believe the numbers in Table 1.
Are the numbers as is or are they in thousands? The 2004 tsunami killed about 225,000 people. If no one else died from waves/surges 1990-2006 that would be about 14,000 per year, the table shows 207 per year. So the wave/surges numbers are not correct.
According to the table, Extreme Temperatures killed 110 per year from 1900-1989, and then killed 5,671 per year from 1900-2006. These numbers don’t make any sense. See Chris D’s comment above.
Move over, the deaths are not caused only by the event, but also by the lack of infrastructure to protect against the event (flood control, water supply systems, etc.)
The numbers appear to be so uncertain that no conclusions can be drawn.

July 6, 2008 9:37 am

Then, as now, storm surge remains the major killer in a hurricane and should never be underestimated, particularly by people below or near sea level.

July 6, 2008 9:58 am

Didn’t log on yesterday (my bad!). Just got home from church and am now reading. As said many times already – great stuff and thank you! Read in Chapel Hill, NC, 12:56 PM 7/06.
Good day to you all, wherever you are!
REPLY: Hey Bob since you are in Chapel Hill, NC do you think you could get some follow up photos of this official USHCN Weather station there? It is visible from the street and Google Street view but would like better photos, particularly of the MMTS shelter closeup to see if mold/dirt exists on it.
It is at the Orange Water and Sewer Authority on Jones Ferry Road. A couple of pix from compass point angles would be appreciated if you can get them.
More here:

M. Jeff
July 6, 2008 10:04 am

robert burns (09:10:24) : “The 2004 tsunami killed about 225,000 people.”
Quote from Death and Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events: Notes 1 This paper uses “extreme weather events” synonymously with “extreme events.”
A little confusing, but perhaps because the 2004 tsunami was not weather related, the 225,000 were not included?

July 6, 2008 10:19 am

Those outside of the USA, please post a comment to illustrate. This is posted at 9:10 PM Pacific time, 4:10 UTC on July 5th.

I’m from France and read this topic now at 19:13 July 6/2008 Paris time .
And that’s coming back from a freezing weekend at the beach, if it were on working days, I would have been alerted minutes after your posting by my RSS newsfeed.

John Costello
July 6, 2008 10:55 am

read it at 1:43 PM Sunday the 6th, because I was too busy to go on-line yesterday and overslept today on my day off.
My training is as an archaeologist, not as a meteorologist or climate scientist, but when I saw Mann et als.’s hockey stick I knew from my own research it was fraudlent( it failed the test of consilience — my work involved dating African sites using obsidian hydration, which is temperature dependent, and very clearly the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warming period both show up, and cancel each other out for dates preceeding them) , and after watching Ted Koppel ream out Al Gore on Nightline years ago I’ve never trusted him since then. Also, Military Historian, we are both trained in data analysis, which makes it easy to spot liars.

JFA in Montreal
July 6, 2008 11:00 am

Montreal, Canada, July 6th, 14h00 EDT, 18h00UDT

Douglas Hoyt
July 6, 2008 11:15 am

I have developed my own chronology of weather disasters based upon many books and some internet sources. There were plenty of disasters between 1910 and 1919 and here are some of the larger ones extracted from my list:
1910: In Niger, the first year of a four year drought. 85000 die over 4 years.
1911: In September, in China, the Yangtze overflowed forming a lake 80 miles ling and 35 miles wide; 100000 died.
1912: In August in China, a typhoon kills 50000 people.
1913: On June 12, Canton China was wiped out by flooding and 100000 died.
1914: On January 14, the North Sea overflowed the Netherlands and killed 10000.
1915: On September 24-29, a hurricane hit the Gulf Coast destroying 90% of the buildings over a wide area, killing 500. [NHC rank 85/259 with 279 dead]
1916: On December 1, a cyclone hit Pondicherry, India, killing 1000.
1917: On June 5-6, tornados in KS, KY, MI, and MO killed 249.
1917: On July 27-August 3, a heat wave hit NYC setting a 25 year record and killing 190.
1918: On September 30, a typhoon hit Tokyo, Japan, killing 1619, leaving 1000 homeless, and destroying 2000 boats.
1919: On September 10, a hurricane struck the FL Keys drowning more than 500 persons (600-900).
1919: On September 14-17, the hurricane struck Corpus Christi TX killing 250- 280 along the Gulf Coast. [NHC rank 50/259 with 600 to 900 dead]
There were also lots of hot spells during that decade such as:
1911: On July 4, the northeastern United States experienced sweltering 100 degree heat. The temperature soared to 105 degrees at Vernon VT and North Bridgton ME, and to 106 degrees at Nashua NH, to establish all-time records for those three states. Afternoon highs of 104 at Boston MA, 104 at Albany NY, and 103 at Portland ME, were all-time records for those three cities; 380 die in the heat wave from July 3 to 11.
1913: On July 10, the mercury hit 134 degrees at Greenland Ranch in Death Valley CA, the hottest reading of record for the North American continent. Sandstorm conditions accompanied the heat. The high the previous day was 129 degrees, following a morning low of 93 degrees.
1916: On July 10-29, a heat wave scorched Chicago killing 305.
1918: On August 6, unusually hot weather began to overspread the Atlantic Coast States, from the Carolinas to southern New England. The temperature soared to an all-time record high of 106 degrees at DC, and Cumberland and Keedysville hit 109 degrees to establish a state record for MD. Temperatures were above normal east of the Rockies that month, with readings much above normal in the Lower MO Valley. Omaha Neb reached 110 degrees.
1918: On August 7, Philadelphia PA established an all-time record with a high of 106 degrees. NYC experienced its warmest day and night with a low of 82 degrees and a high of 102 degrees. Afternoon highs of 108 degrees at Flemington NJ and Somerville NJ established state records for the month of August.
And plenty of cold spells as well, but they don’t mention deaths during those events as far as I know.
Read and posted around 2 pm in the foothills of cold WV.

Tom in Florida
July 6, 2008 11:33 am

As we lower the natural human death rate through technology, we interfere with natural selection and change the course of evolution. No longer do just the strong survive, now almost everyone does and that allows the weak and defective to reproduce passing on those weak and defective genes on to the next generation. Our species is being watered down to our own detriment.

July 6, 2008 11:34 am

Natural disasters, AGW weather-related or other, are no longer my greatest fear. I took a look at the operating manual for our new digital cooktop stove yesterday, and now I’m afraid to turn it on. From page 3(in bold type):
!You can be killed or seriously injured if you don’t *immediately* follow instructions!
And (?) immediately below that, again in bold black type:
!You can be killed or seriously injured if you don’t follow instructions!
Following is three additional fullsize pages of Safety Warnings, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
These idiotic warnings of impending disaster are everywhere in our culture. The media hype and mass hysteria over AGW is just a reflection of how paranoid our culture has become.
If the weather don’t get’cha, your electric stove will!
It’s 11:34AM in So. CA

July 6, 2008 11:42 am

Read at 7.40pm Co. Waterford Ireland, a wet, windy and cool ireland! This post just goes to prove what one gentleman, a lot more intelligent than me said… “We’ve got nothing to fear but fear itself”

Evan Jones
July 6, 2008 11:52 am

The 2004 tsunami killed about 225,000 people.
Not weather related (as previously noted).
I simply do not believe that there were only 110 deaths due to extreme temps throughout the entire period of 1900-1989.
That would be deaths per year.

Evan Jones
July 6, 2008 11:56 am

we are both trained in data analysis, which makes it easy to spot liars.
There are liars, damnliars, and outliers.
There is red snow, white snow–and yellow snow.

BobW in NC
July 6, 2008 12:04 pm

Anthony – I know where the OWASA plant is on Jones Ferry road – let me take a look and see what I can do. Not being familiar with these stations, I assume it is connected with the structure identified as MMTS on Google. Is that what you’re referring to?
BobW in NC
REPLY: Hi Bob, this is what the MMTS looks like:

john mathon
July 6, 2008 12:27 pm

As people have pointed out most of the deaths in recent natural disasters could have been cheaply and easily averted with almost zero cost. Since the french disaster there have been many warm periods. The french have learned. The death toll is now near zero from heat related deaths in subsequent heat waves.
There is a web page you can find with google on the top 100 natural disasters of the 20rh century. It is fascinating study. If you consider how the population of the world has tripled and the reporting of disasters has improved over the years it is likely the percentage decline in disaster deaths is down possibly as high as 99 percent.
Even things like katrina as someone pointed out should not have killed anyone. A stupid local politician decided not to evacuate people sending 1000 to their deaths but even that is an astonsihsing figure. Hundreds of helicopters rescued tens of thousands of people from other wise certain death. This mayor could have been responsible for 10000 deaths but with excellent systems even a stupid irresponsible local mayor cannot cause too much damage.
Everytime I look at these “projected” deaths it seems like the people saying these things must be unbelievably stupid or purposefully deceitful. For instance the starving in 2080 claim just makes my head feel like its going to burst. The idea we will have less food in 2080 defies any rational thinking. It has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen written.

Evan Jones
July 6, 2008 12:57 pm

Yes. MMTS. Looks a bit like a beehive.

Mike Bryant
July 6, 2008 1:15 pm

Tom in Florida,
It’s not enough that we have to overcome the AGW idiocy, but we still must fight Global Eugenics? I guess I was naive enough to believe we won that war when we took Hitler out.

July 6, 2008 1:18 pm

Another great post, Anthony, and yet another spanner in the wheels of the alarmist bandwagon. I work for a large corporation which offers life insurance, among other services. Our internal communications often stress the importance of being greener, cutting back on carbon emissions, etc. But I’m now beginning to wonder which reality our own actuaries are looking at – the AGW version, where deaths are projected to increase (and which the company pays lip-service to, at least), or the real deal, as revealed by Indur Goklany. Corporate schizophrenia? Hmm, looks like something for me to find out…
This is posted from London, UK at 9:17 PM British Summer Time on Sunday July 6th.

Steve Moore
July 6, 2008 1:21 pm

I’ve seen the decline in deaths for some events reported elsewhere, but it’s nice to see the whole picture presented. Thanks!
Reading this a little later than normally (1:15 Pacific) because earlier today a Tree Rat committed suicide by shorting the transformer across the street. Once they got here, the PGE crew took all of 15 minutes to replace it and restore power — makes one think they’ve done it before.

Dave Andrews
July 6, 2008 2:00 pm

Earlier this year the UK Department of Health and the Health Protection Agency published a report ‘Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2008’
It has a whole chapter on heat and cold related deaths from which the following excerpt is taken;
“Despite the increasing temperature, the trend in annual heat-related mortality per million
aged 65+ fell significantly in Scotland and non-significantly in other regions:
South-East England from 258 in 1971 to 193 in 2003
rest of England and Wales from 188 to 93
Scotland from 125 (in 1974) to only 8 in 2003 (p<0.05).
Winter temperatures tended to rise and the trend in cold-related mortality per million
aged 65+ fell in all regions (p<0.001):
South-East England from 9,174 to 5,903
rest of England and Wales from 9,222 to 6,088
Scotland from 9,751 in 1974 to 6,166 in 2003.”

July 6, 2008 2:17 pm

Re john mathon (12:27:38)
Even more disheartening is that the mayor was re-elected and the blame was put on the Federal Gov. Other politicians (Louisiana’s Congressmen) had supposedly diverted funds that should have gone to the levees to other projects, thus ensuring the disaster was much worse than it should have been.

July 6, 2008 2:50 pm

Many of you have raised questions regarding the paper and the data it provides.
First, please look at Endnotes 3 and 4 to get a better idea about the data, whence it came, and its quality. Second, regarding the jump in numbers after the 1910-1919 period noted by many of you (e.g., Evan Jones, Jan Jenssens, WWS), I think this is probably due to a combination of generally poorer communications in earlier days, and, as noted by Evan Jones and WWS, probably due to the fact that with the war from 1914-1918 and the Bolshevik Revolution and its aftermath, newspapers and other information sources probably weren’t focusing on deaths from extreme weather events. From the perspective of their time, it was probably more like “routine” deaths.
Also note the sources of the basic data: NGOs, research institutes, UN agencies, insurance companies, press agencies and newspapers. At that time there were few NGOs, virtually no research institutes, no UN agencies, and I suspect insurance companies (which would be operating in the developed countries for the most part) were like, press agencies and newspapers, more concerned with other events.
K: The paper only looks at extreme weather events, specifically, hydrometeorological events such as droughts, extreme temperatures, slides, floods, waves/surges, wildfires, windstorms. I excluded famines because they are frequently exacerbated by, if not entirely due to, human failures (e.g., wars, collectivization, and other political experiments, etc.). Had I included them, then the apparent reduction in deaths and death rates during the 20th century would have been even more pronounced.
Chris D.: Regarding deaths from extreme temperatures from 1900-1989, Table 1 provides deaths per year, so actually that would be 90 x 110 deaths (= 9,906 deaths). That said, I’m also skeptical of these numbers myself. I have to believe that many more people worldwide died from extreme cold, for instance, in particular during the world war periods when many were close to starvation – but would that be “natural” or “man-made”? For example, how many soldiers froze to death on the Eastern Front? I would think the numbers would be greater. But take a look at Endnotes 3 and 4, and you can see that many deaths from extreme weather events during war periods were probably excluded.
Jan Janssens: You raise a really good question. More detailed examination of the data indicates that from 1940-49, most of the deaths were due to droughts and none to extreme temperatures! Surely some soldiers, not to mention civilians, froze to death on the Eastern Front. See above comments. However, there were zero deaths attributed to extreme temperatures from 1910-1919 too. I think the reason might have to do with a combination of poorer coverage in earlier years, and perhaps some luck – after all we are talking about extreme events.
Robert Burns and M. Jeff: Deaths from the 2004 Tsunami were excluded. See Endnote 3. But now looking at Endnote 1, I can see how one might think that tsunami deaths were included. So to clarify, the paper only looks at extreme WEATHER events, but for brevity in the paper I refer to them as “extreme events”.
Douglas Hoyt: It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, even if it’s in the virtual sphere. It should be possible to figure out if EM-DAT, the original source of the data, has accounted for the events you have identified. You may want to communicate your list to them. They are at: http://www.emdat.be/

robert burns
July 6, 2008 2:58 pm

M. Jeff….You are correct, the tsunami was not an extreme weather event. In my (weak) defense, “wildfires” do not appear to me to be extreme weather events either. And Table 1 shows EM-DAT as a source. EM-DAT shows the 2004 tsunami deaths in it’s waves/surges classification.
Evan Jones…please reread my post, i said per year. The 110 deaths per year times 90 years is 9,900 deaths. Google showed me 1,213 people died in 1934 in the USA due to extreme heat. If both numbers are correct, that means 12% of the deaths for the world over 90 years took place in 1 year in one country.
My point is that Table 1 is flawed, and therefore no conclusions can be drawn from the data.

July 6, 2008 2:59 pm

Douglas Hoyt: I should have added that the next time I update the paper, I’ll look into whether the events you identified were accounted for. If there are significant discrepancies between your list an EM-DAT, I would either jettison the data from the earlier decades or, more likely, I’ll note that prominently on the graphs and tables, etc. Thanks.

July 6, 2008 3:22 pm

Evan Jones wrote: ” Yes. MMTS. Looks a bit like a beehive.”
Kinda looks like a Malibu lamp to me.

July 6, 2008 4:03 pm

Dave Andrews; thanks for the link.

Tom in Florida
July 6, 2008 4:09 pm

MIke Bryant,
I hope you didn’t think I was a proponent of eugenics. I was just stating that we have disrupted the natural selection process. It may be for the good or it may not be. None of us alive today will ever know. .

July 6, 2008 4:29 pm

The whole 2003 heat wave numbers of Europe have been exagerated by Gore et al. They say Portugal contributed with 13000 deaths, when the real number was 14, and really only about 2000 excess deaths…
One more inconvenient truth…

Douglas Hoyt
July 6, 2008 4:48 pm

Looking at my own data for the 1920’s, I see 6.5 million killed in China alone due to drought and famine. In contrast, the deaths in the 1910’s were about 0.2 million, so there was a real increase in reported deaths between these two decades. I have the increase by a factor of 30 or more whereas Goklany sets it at about 20. Reasonably close.

Mike Bryant
July 6, 2008 6:20 pm

Tom, whenever anyone decides who lives or dies based on his or her genetics we have already all lost.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

July 6, 2008 10:17 pm

Indur: Yes, much of what I said was about other causes of death. Someone had asked what was the cause of the huge numbers after 1920.
I saw no other explanation except that the numbers were in someway contaminated by deaths from war related problems such famine, disease, exposure, and poor medical care.
WWI ended in late 1918 but historians know civil society suffered more afterward than during the 1914-1918 war. And that lasted for decades.
Interesting study. I can’t believe the numbers from 1900-1960 accurately reflect natural disasters. But sobeit.

Evan Jones
July 6, 2008 11:04 pm

Evan Jones…please reread my post, i said per year.
Yes, I know. But I was actually responding not to your post but to Chris D.’s comment (which I quoted verbatim). He had apparently missed the header.
I was just stating that we have disrupted the natural selection process.
We ARE the natural selection process!

July 7, 2008 2:50 am

2:44 AM NW Washington State 07-07-08.Take that Gore.The real sadness to this AGW hype is I have some close friends that will not even open their minds long enough to see any other side to the story,especially the college educated ones.A mind is a terrible thing to close….Keep up the great work.

July 7, 2008 6:50 am

[…] severe weather merely by their methods of reporting. Bottom line, though, is that it’s not true. Going Down: Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events Watts Up With That? __________________ "Skepticism is the highest of duties, and blind faith the unpardonable […]

Evan Jones
July 7, 2008 8:56 am

I think it’s important to point out that insofar as the data is unreliable, it is on the side of undercounting the further back one goes. Does this invalidate the conclusion on account of bad data, or does it perhaps make the point even more strongly?

Paul Penrose
July 7, 2008 11:00 am

Mr. Burns,
Since no data are perfect, you could say they are all “flawed”. Obviously this does not prevent us from making conclusions from such data; what we must do however, is make a determination as to how much the data is in error. Then we can decide how much certainty to place on the conclusions. Generally as one goes back in time, data is less and less accurate, which is to be expected. This does create problems, and statisticians continue to devise new ways to quantify these errors and uncertainties, but it’s not an insurmountable problem by any means.

robert burns
July 7, 2008 12:42 pm

Mr. Penrose,
You are correct that no data is prefect. Are you saying that the data in this study, in your opinion, is good enough to base conclusions?
Let’s look at this study.
The question is whether or not the data is good enough to warrant a conclusion.
The study is titled “Death and Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events”. The data in Table 1 is mainly from Em-Dat, who runs a disaster database, not an extreme weather event database. I did not read the paper before I made my first comment. I had looked at table 1 and saw numbers that made no sense. I have now read the paper and the numbers still make no sense.
There is no definition of an “extreme weather event” in the paper. Without a definition, what is the author talking about? Without a definition, how can any of the numbers be verified? Mr. Goklany has questions (in the comments above) about the extreme temperatures deaths in WW2.
When are high temperatures an extreme event? When are low temperatures an extreme event? Is there such a thing as a normal hurricane? An extreme hurricane?
In Table 1 there is a line for Wild Fires. Is a wild fire an extreme weather event?
Table 1 shows 30 times increase (.03 vs .91) for the risk of death from extreme temperatures. Do you think that is reasonable estimate? Do you think this is a reasonable conclusion?
Do you believe that the 110 deaths per year is a realistic number?
That is the problem in a nutshell. Ironically, I agree with Mr. Goklany’s conclusion, but the data as shown is so flawed it should not be used.

July 7, 2008 5:58 pm

Evan Jones (08:56:08) :
I think it’s important to point out that insofar as the data is unreliable, it is on the side of undercounting the further back one goes. Does this invalidate the conclusion on account of bad data, or does it perhaps make the point even more strongly?
I just Want to repeat what Evan Jones Did say back there!
Thats the Best I could come out with!!

Bill P
July 7, 2008 10:51 pm

“In addition, some state policies may inappropriately create a “moral hazard” situation in which individuals have incentives to bear less than their full burden of risk, effectively transferring portion of their risk to other segments of society; this may place even wealthier populations at greater physical risk (in addition to increasing financial risk; Goklany 2000).
Mr. Goklany: Would you give an illustration of what you mean by this?

January 28, 2009 4:56 am

[…] of Hurricanes; Extreme Storms; Extinctions; Floods; Droughts; Ocean Acidification; Polar Bears; Extreme weather deaths; Frogs; lack of atmospheric dust; Malaria; the failure of oceans to warm and rise as […]

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