Surprising Results From Study: Moderate Cold Kills More People Than Extreme Heat

Guest Post  by Kip Hansen

cold_outside

Science is a wonderful thing.  As time moves on, in a single direction,  Science, as an endeavor, discovers new things and improves our lives.

With a “hat tip” to the inestimable Jane Brody, health journalist at the NY Times who covers the story here, we are reminded of the study [free .pdf]  from Antonio Gasparrini et al. which was published in The Lancet,  July 25, 2015, with the [way too long] title:  “Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multicountry observational study”.

The bottom-line finding, the take home message, might surprise even readers here at WUWT, quoted in the side-bar of the journal article:

Interpretation: 

We report that non-optimum ambient temperature is responsible for substantial excess in mortality, with important differences between countries. Although most previous research has focused on heat-related effects, most of the attributable deaths were caused by cold temperatures. Despite the attention given to extreme weather events, most of the effect happened on moderately hot and moderately cold days, especially moderately cold days. This evidence is important for improvements to public health policies aimed at prevention of temperature-related health consequences, and provides a platform to extend predictions on future effects in climate-change scenarios. [extra emphasis mine – kh]

It is not extreme weather, not extreme temperatures, neither hot or cold, that cause the most temperature-related deaths:

 “The underlying physiopathological mechanisms that link exposure to non-optimum temperature and mortality risk have not been completely elucidated. Heat stroke on hot days and hypothermia on cold days only account for small proportions of excess deaths.

“Discussion

Our findings show that temperature is responsible for advancing a substantial fraction of deaths, corresponding to 7.71% of mortality in the selected countries within the study period. Most of this mortality burden was caused by days colder than the optimum temperature (7.29%), compared with days warmer than the optimum temperature (0.42%). Furthermore, most deaths were caused by exposure to moderately hot and cold temperatures, and the contribution of extreme days was comparatively low, despite increased RRs [relative risks].

Our results suggest that public-health policies and adaptation measures should be extended and refocused to take account of the whole range of effects associated with temperature…”

The oft-repeated mantra  of “global warming will cause more heat waves, extremely high temperature days,  which kill more people” is simply not true  — heat waves are not the big killer.   Rather, cold days are the big killer – but not extremely cold days, as we intuitively think, but moderately cold days are responsible for the highest percentage of excess deaths due to ambient temperature.  Equally true, it is not the extremely hot days that cause the bulk of high ambient temperature related deaths, but moderately hot days.

Read the study, [corrected now, h/t Griff and Les Johnson] it is short and accessible.

# # # # #


Anthony: I’ve updated the title and I thought it important to display this graph of results, thanks to reader “Greg”. From the paper:

More temperature-attributable deaths were caused by cold (7·29%, 7·02–7·49) than by heat (0·42%, ·39–0·44). Extreme cold and hot temperatures were responsible for 0·86% (0·84–0·87) of total mortality.

temperature_mortality

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144 thoughts on “Surprising Results From Study: Moderate Cold Kills More People Than Extreme Heat

    • It appears that the authors missed an important aspect of cold or hot spells. They should have examined the rate of mortality before, during, and after cold or warm events. What has ben found in other studies (one comparing heat episodes in Paris and Houston, TX, I think).

      If heat or cold were actually killing people, then the normal death rate would increase during an event and then return to normal after the event has passed. What was found was that the before death rate increased during the event, but the death rate decreased to below the normal rate fro a period after the event. What this indicated was that the heat wave simply hastened the death of people already with one foot in the grave, leaving that population low after the event. That is to say, healthy people were not involved here.

      Paris had about 12,000 deaths during one heat wave a few years back but Houston, which normally endures heat waves worse than that in Paris, had no deaths, zero deaths. This can be attributed to the simple fact that Texans have ADAPTED to these conditions and the Parisians were categorically unprepared for such an unusual event.

      Also, there are a variety of cheap and easy ways to cool a person down during a heat event, but, largely, the main way to warm people up for the duration is with housing with heat. Taking a shower can cool one down but how to keep warm is more of a challenge.

      • “Paris had about 12,000 deaths during one heat wave a few years back but Houston, which normally endures heat waves worse than that in Paris, had no deaths, zero deaths. This can be attributed to the simple fact that Texans have ADAPTED to these conditions and the Parisians were categorically unprepared for such an unusual event.”

        Texans have AC.

      • Jeff Alberts said “Texans have AC”

        True…..just as much an adaption to climate as wearing clothes

        And Parisians would have much less AC than Houstonians

    • Thanks. Elsevier giving away free copy of a paper : unpresidented !

      More temperature-attributable deaths were caused by cold (7·29%, 7·02–7·49) than by heat (0·42%, ·39–0·44). Extreme cold and hot temperatures were responsible for 0·86% (0·84–0·87) of total mortality.

      So how many days were classed as “extreme” and how many hot or cold but non extreme?

      Like all statistics, the devil, and the interpretation is in the detail.

      Here’s the money graph, quite striking.

      • My guess is that mortality from moderate cold is due to extended periods of cold. R code for the study is apparently available which is highly commendable.

      • Greg: Also, people still try to do things in moderate cold, whereas they bundle up and stay inside when it is extremely cold.

      • Greg ==> The focus of the study is the Public Health angle. Trying to answer the question: If climate change will bring more extreme weather/extreme temperatures, what should public health focus on to save the most lives?

        The answer turns out to be non-intuitive — worst is moderately cold ambient temperatures.

      • What’s interesting is that even in relatively warm countries such as Taiwan, Thailand & Brazil, the percentage of deaths by cold is still many times the deaths by Heat

      • Well cold is only thought to be moderate, because the Temperature zero is so gosh darn far away from Temperatures we experience routinely.

        Now just think, the center of the earth is at ten million degrees, so what we think of as extreme heat isn’t really all that extreme.

        So nothing new here; move along now.

        g

      • So how does that correlate with exposure days per year? Does it average out?
        for example:
        If you have 5 High heat days with 10 attributable associated deaths per year but 35 moderately cool days with 70 attributable associated deaths per year you do have 7 times more deaths on moderately cold days. But wouldn’t the law of averages dictate that you will also have 7 times more deaths on moderately cool days that on High Heat days simply from exposure probability?

  1. The link gave me an error message. Mostly, I was curious whether there was enough pathological evidence to back up what is claimed.

  2. Super hot and super cold, people stay out of the sun or snow. They don’t do yard work or shovel snow when it is super cold or super hot. It is often activity outdoors that causes deaths. Of course, if energy is cut or too expensive, then indoor deaths in both very hot and very cold weather will increase again. It is thanks to modern heating/cooling systems we don’t have lots of dead people in the northern hemisphere where we have cold winters/hot summers.

    • I would agree with that completely. People will be more cautious during extreme weather. In addition, most people do not know what they need to do to keep safe when temperatures are outside their normal range and when they finally suspect something is wrong it is too late. When I first moved to Florida it took only one very hard incident to understand you don’t wait until you are dehydrated to start drinking fluids. Lesson learned.

      • ‘Mythbusting’ is suggesting that for the simple dehydration diagnosis person’s urine colour method (for a healthy person) may be just a myth. Some (NHS) British hospitals provide ‘consultation’ colour charts, one example is shown here

      • v ==> Interesting how ingrained a myth can become. Anyone taking B-complex vitamins will be forced to “hydrate”, as you probably already know.

        “B2 riboflavin in vitamins can cause a bright yellow color in urine because the body flushes excess B2 through the urine. Urine color also varies depending on what the individual eats and drinks. Beets can turn urine pink or red, and carrots can lend an orange hue. Rhubarb can turn urine into a dark brown color, according to Harvard Health Publications. Dark yellow-colored urine is usually a sign of dehydration, and pale yellow-colored urine means that the individual may be drinking a large amount of water. Asparagus can give urine a green color and a bad odor. Rifampin is a tuberculosis medication that can cause red or orange urine, and Diprivan is a drug that can turn urine green or blue, notes Mayo Clinic.”

        Since many health conscious people take vitamin and mineral supplements, and are generally ignorant of the other factors chat change urine color, urine color is a very poor yardstick for hydration state for the general public. This is what the BMJ review found as well.

        The bottled water industry has used this myth to generate sales, pumping it up everywhere it can — so the vitamin touts get people to take b-vits, which turns their pee very yellow, so they run out and buy bottled waters to “hydrate”….good sales all around.

        One has to be quite seriously dehydrated to see a urine color change — and if not drugged or drunk to the gills, will be aware of the dehydration from thirst or dizziness or other symptoms by that time.

      • Beetroot eaters tend to panic and drink too much. Still remember the next morning after a dinner party with a lot of roasted beetroots and drink. My first thought was “I’m never going to drink again”.

    • I have seen and experienced this myself. Being cautious in high heat or severe cold comes rather naturally to most people, over doing in moderate conditions is quite easy to do. Seen people fallout from dehydration and over exertion on 70 degree days many a time.

      • yeah, once got caught out doing garden clearing in Alice Springs. I was lovin’ the hot weather and the sun. Later that evening I had a stinking head-ache. Next day I was wearing a bush hat with corks hanging of it like everyone else in Australia !

      • It is easy to do, old devil Sun can get you on what seems a cool day. Wrote a full comment below, came back and connection had timed out and lost it. Oh, well.

      • “…a bush hat with corks hanging of it like everyone else in Australia”

        Nobody but tourists have corks on their hats. It’s one of our urban myths, like dropbears.

      • I’ve worked in a shed on a day that reached 47 C degrees (116F) for 6 hours before my arms cramped. Heavy lifting but I drank water and stopped at the first signs of distress. I have also suffered from heat stroke on a day below 30 C because I pushed through the discomfort. Similarly, the only time I came close to hypothermia was a summers evening in Sydney. Drinking a lot and wearing a T-shirt on an unusually cold night.
        It might be good to to see if there is a difference between men and women.

      • Hivemind said…”It’s one of our urban myths, like drop bears”

        Urban myth ?
        No. Be careful in deep forests
        Descendants of marsupial lions [drop bears] still lurk there

    • EMS I can handle hot. Before wide spread air conditioning in the southern US, people moved slower. I can handle 100 F for a month with no air, I won’t die. You can’t work like you do in New York. However, at 0 F, it will kill you and even more moderate cold. Hypothermia.
      I remember the first time we went south, I was really annoyed at how sloooow everybody was, and I was a kid. If you’ve ever talked to anyone who’s lived in the south, not one of them has any desire to move where it’s colder. When they do migrate north, it’s for jobs. They closed the schools on the threat of snow flurries.

      • I grew up in the Tucson desert and even lived in Death Valley when a child. We were warned to never go out in the summer, barefoot or stand with the sun shining on our toes…always turn your back to the sun.

      • “I can handle 100 F for a month with no air…”

        100 F is only 38 C. Yes, it can get a little sticky, but you can manage it for a season, no problems. We only consider knocking off outside work when it gets over 40 C.

    • Umm… Here in Canada, we shovel the snow no matter the temperature. We do have proper warm clothing though. That is a help. Also, shoveling the snow is unlikely to lead to a temperature related death. The warm house is literally right beside you. But you are correct, people do back country camping here, even in the winter; but they are unlikely to do so in extreme cold weather.

      • Same thing in Vermont. Moving snow (and firewood) around is also quite warming.
        The bottom line is the temperature isn’t a problem if you dress for it and know when to quit.
        On the other hand, people who do extreme camping in extreme weather, usually only do it only once…

  3. I tried to read the study and got this error:
    “An error has occurred
    The page or action you requested has resulted in an error.”

    What temperatures are considered moderately hot and moderately cold?

  4. The ratio of cold to hot effects (7.29%/0.42%) is about 17. This agrees with the estimate of about 20 that I recall from another study (or was it the same one?) a few months ago.

    • “or was it the same one?”
      It was. WUWT had an extensive thread on the paper at the time.

      They throw around the term “caused” a lot, but seem to have just a statistical association, and in fact no information (in the study) on actual causes of death. It doesn’t seem to be something that global warming would affect. Places like Thailand, Brazil and Sydney Australia all seemed to have big city people dying mostly of “moderate cold”. It seems wherever you are, winter is the season for diseases.

      • I believe that many of the people who are considered excess deaths are individuals who are deaths’ door to begin with, and certain conditions of increased stress lead to spikes in mortality.
        I do not think many of these deaths are from hypothermia or heat stroke.
        It is more like adverse temperature conditions are a trigger that leads to weak individuals finally succumbing to what has been ailing them.

      • yep- it’s the old fux on their last legs and there are ‘excess winter deaths’ in all countries- even tropical ones.
        one only has to look at the demographics of it and the specific causes of death.
        the ‘correlations’ are pretty useless as an argument about climate, pro or con.

      • Menicholas,

        That is mainly true for heat related deaths, as shortly after a heat wave mortality rates drop to a lower than average level, but that is not the case for cold related deaths, as after a cold wave, mortality gets at normal rates for the period of the year. See:
        http://www.bmj.com/content/321/7262/670.full

        Another reason why cold is worse than hot…

        The study also shows that humans (as population) adapt to local temperatures, where the minimum mortality range is at a lower level in Finland than in the UK and again lower than in Greece.

      • It rather disproves the assertions that the planet is at it’s optimum at around 15 C. There was never any evidence for that.

      • Diseases contribute, but the main killer seems to be strokes and heart failure. Lower temperatures constrict outer blood vessels. This works the heart harder. Low blood flow also increases the chances of a clot forming.

        The temperature correlation is known, even in warm places. Some mortality studies defined a “cold event” as 10 deg C. This is a cool Canadian summer.

  5. makes sense.
    If it is really cold you wrap up, if it is really hot you get air conditioning.
    Somewhere between body is pushed a little too far to cope..

  6. The paper seems only to consider single day temperatures, but duration of heat or cold spells should be important factors in mortality rates.

  7. One-sided dogma also contributes to the human deaths through neglect and more directly in the case of eagles facing off with windmills.

  8. Quoting article:

    Rather, cold days are the big killer – but not extremely cold days, as we intuitively think, but moderately cold days are responsible for the highest percentage of excess deaths due to ambient temperature.

    Well, for sure, most people, when they were young adolescents, didn’t like “paying attention” to what their mothers and/or grandmothers told them, and for doubly sure, many of them didn’t remember what they were told even iffen they were physically forced to “paying attention” when they were young adolescents.

    And what their mommies and grand-mommies told them or should have told them, was. …. “Whoa, wait, stop right there …… and put some warmer clothes on because it’s cold outside.

    Well, ya’ll know what happens, ……. “Iffen someone don’t want to listen, …. then they will just have to feel.

    And when those people get older, and don’t remember their “listening”, they go outside in the moderately cold temperatures without sufficiently warm clothing on, …… or way too much warm clothing on, ….. and end up sick due to chills, colds, fevers, pneumonia, etc., etc.

    So, iffen you go outside today, …… dress according to the air temperature and the activity you are planning on engaging in.

    • “but moderately cold days are responsible for the highest percentage of excess deaths due to ambient temperature.”

      Since there are obviously far more “moderately cold days” than extremely cold days ( by definition ) it is not that surprising a result.

      You’d need to divide by the number of days in each category to find out whether extreme cold is more deadly. The result may then be closer to expectations.

  9. Good post, Kip Hansen, but your link

    Read ‘the study’, it is short and accessible.

    results in
    ____________________________________________

    An error has occurred
    The page or action you requested has resulted in an error. Please go back to the previous page by using your browser’s Back button, or visit the Home Page.

    Institutional Access
    ____________________________________________

    Anyway thanks. Hans

    • Hans ==> Yes, sorry about that, it is fixed now. (one of those sneaky internet pixies doubled-up the link inside the href…)

  10. I think everyone who has been traveling on a wet-cold day will be able to confirm this. Not only is every body part with weaknesses (such as knee arthrosis and the back) more painful on these days, one is also mentally in a worse condition. On the other hand, extremely warm days and extremely cold days are not the cause of such feelings. Perhaps it is due to the humid atmosphere or the atmospheric layering of the air on cold, damp days, which are often inversion days.

  11. Yet another study from Captain Obvious. An other instance of “driving at night takes less lives that day-driving”. Because there is much less of the most dangerous thing, it has less impact.
    The funny thing is, if ever we do take action so that we forever live at perfect temperature (+ moisture etc.), then ALL death will happen at perfect conditions.
    so …

    • Yes, sometimes it seems that there is a quest on to end each and every cause of death, as if finding a cure for cancer, preventing heart attacks and strokes, and getting everyone vaccinated against such things as pneumonia will end death.
      We are already in a situation in the US that the vast majority of the total lifetime health care expenses, for the so-called average person, occurs in the final months of life.
      But I doubt we will ever find a cure for shoveling snow with a weak heart.

      • Death cures all ailment, including this one.
        I have rather feeling alive by shoveling snow with weak heart, than feeling already dead for fear of dying in this “dangerous” business.

      • I agree…better to drop dead suddenly while doing something than lie around dying slowly doing nothing.

  12. Time does not move in a single direction ; it is merely a human philosophical construct describing entropy moving from an ordered to a disorded state.

    • Does a tree still exist in the forest when no one is looking at it? Hmm.

      Please explain in what circumstances time does something other than move is a single direction since you have categorically stated that is not what it does.

    • AleaJactaEst ==> Thank you for reading carefully and catching my little mousetrap … way too off topic for this tread, of course, but it would be an interesting discussion at The Reference Frame: Luboš Motl’s blog.

    • I think time moves in a single direction, but I haven’t seen proof, yet. Nor have I seen proof that it is merely a human philosophical construct describing entropy moving from an ordered to a disordered state. For all I know, time may move in several directions at once, or not at all, and it is us who move in time. Or the wonderfully named John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart (who was not a Scotsman, may be right. He has an interesting argument.

      https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mctaggart/#UnrTim

  13. The war on cheap Freon is not helping poorer people in hot climates. Nor is the war on fossil fuels helping them in cold climates, of course. Why does the Left hate the poor?

    • I’m sure that countries can, if they wish, exit the Montreal Protocol. No doubt they would get some heavy-handed “advice” from the World Bank and other beneficent organizations regarding the wisdom of such a course of action but they could still do so.

  14. I was working in a mental institution back in the 1970’s when radiators connected to central coal fires were introduced in the wards – the old men and women simply stopped dying!! We all talked about it! But after 5 or 10 years they were dying at the same rate as before. (Temperate latitude).

    • AndyE

      I was working in a mental institution back in the 1970’s when radiators connected to central coal fires were introduced in the wards – the old men and women simply stopped dying!! We all talked about it! But after 5 or 10 years they were dying at the same rate as before.

      The death rate at that institution you worked at earlier is very likely to have returned to its previous level, but were the inmates not now dying at (slightly) older ages than before? The elder do pass away, and new (but not necessarily significantly younger) inmates would be replacing the ones lost by death. Note too the change in “insane asylum” policies over that period: The mental health “industry” outside the gates began forcing institutions to release tens of thousands inmates to the streets (to immediately become “homeless”), rather than keep locked indoors in institutions (but where they were warm, fed, and sheltered).

      • I had to deal with that in NYC in the 1970’s. Suddenly, the streets were flooded with former inmates who were in terrible shape and many began dying that winter and winters back then were brutal. It was heartbreaking. I took in more than one to the hospital after finding them near death in Manhattan.

      • The homeless in NYC are now being put up in hotel rooms costing up to $600 per night!
        Bill De Blasio is a great humanitarian.
        But a silly manager of other people’s money.

      • No, he is not. A “great humanitarian” would use his own money, not steal from other people. DeBlasio The Corrupt has truck loads of money, and yet he keeps it to himself.

      • RACookPE1978 – I so agree with your sentiments. In the old days you were treated charitably if you were insane, protected from existing in our modern city community – which is impossible for an insane person. That is why they built asylums in a more charitable age.

      • Andy E, having a family member that has gone through that is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone It to me is one of the biggest downfalls of the “Human rights” laws everywhere.The story would fill a book!

      • Alas – obviously I cannot publish a website on this blog!!! I have a petition going. How about NZ mental health care petition ??

      • Andy E ==> I’ve checked your comment, where the link did not appear, in the editor, and there is nothing there….I mean, no link, no malformed link, no nothing.

        Try to include the link in a comment on the “Test” page (link on the main header at the top of the page).

        if you can’t get to appear, email it to me at my first name at the domain i4 decimal net and I’ll put it in your comment.

  15. Last spring I stumbled across some ‘Stats Canada’ figures for monthly deaths covering 2008-12. When I analyzed the data I found the average daily deaths in July and August were under 620; for December and January they were over 700. A glaring difference. So there is no surprise to the results of the study discussed in this post… in Canada the likelihood of dying during the cold of winter is around 13 or 14% higher than during the heat of summer.
    Probably because the cold keeps more people indoors, and viruses/bacteria have more opportunity to spread around among the vulnerable.

  16. It’s nice to have a confirming study, but this is really common sense–you find far more diversity in the jungle than on the tundra. Nature thrives in heat, not cold. And we are part of nature.

  17. A study is always a great support, but I do not need a study to tell me what I have deduced from cold (no pun intended) hard experience. My body fat is quite low, and I dress accordingly, always wearing a hat, even in warm weather, but especially on cooler days, since I tolerate extreme heat much better than I tolerate days with temperatures even below 70 degrees F. I would not survive for any length of time if exposed for a prolonged period in moderate cold. This is where being fat could actually save a life.

    .. glad to know that science can confirm that I am not some sort of freak.

    Speaking of “freak” … a freak thought: Could the obesity epidemic be some sort of whole-earth response (yeah, I know, twilight-zone-la-la-land-fantasy-crap) to an impending, unforeseen, rapid ice age — a species-protective mechanism to ensure survival of the race, when the true climate shift happens? … can’t seriously entertain these discussions here, I know, for risk of being deleted due to fringe/pseudo science content.

    • “Could the obesity epidemic be some sort of whole-earth response (yeah, I know, twilight-zone-la-la-land-fantasy-crap) to an impending, unforeseen, rapid ice age” No it due to the food police demonizing fat and pushing carbohydrates over fat and protein. The idiots don’t understand all carbohydrates enter the blood stream as sugar and that cannot be held in the blood stream long it either burned or turn to fat. It takes about two hours for that to happen so someone eating the food police “health diet” is hungry again in two hours reaching for the carbohydrates again so they keep adding fat to their bodies, fat and protein can remain in the blood stream for an extended period of time.

  18. Hey, here in Niagara Falls Canada, we had a dump of snow on Saturday, freezing rain late Saturday afternoon and overnight. Sunday windy and 10F – perfect coating of ice everywhere. I work in the local hospital emergency – 9 broken hips there on Monday morning – NEVER has there been more than one in the spring, summer or fall…

  19. Odd statistics in that new graph – more people die of “extreme cold” in Thailand and Brazil than in Canada or Sweden. A global warming hazard for Canada?

    • Kip, I don’t see an issue with the y-axis. More of an issue is that they define “extreme cold” as a percentile of wherever you live. So it doesn’t matter whether the climate warms or cools; you’ll still have about the same amount of “extreme cold”. They have the same amount in Rio and Winnipeg.

      I note that Australia, where I live, also has more deaths from extreme cold than Canada or Sweden (or Thailand). And it tells me that 6% of deaths here are attributable to “moderate cold”. The winters here are pretty mild. Their sole weather statistic is daily average; here I doubt that it has ever been below 5°C. So I think all they are saying is that here, as most places, winter is flu season.

      • Nick ==> Best to look at the .pdf file — their Figure 1 gives a better representation of the data.

        Remember that this study is not part of the Climate Wars — these are public health researchers — epidemiologists — though their funding, which was from many sources depending on the researcher involved, probably depended on a climate change hook in the proposals.

        It is an interesting look at the issue, for all of its epidemiological faults. (I am not a fan of modern day epidemiology being used in this way.)

      • Kip,
        Yes, I looked there. I noted that in Bangkok, moderate cold is anything less than 25°C. And already at that temp there is substantially increased “cold” mortality.

      • Nick ==> Wierd, huh? I lived for years in the Dominican Republic, and if the temps got below 70F the locals came out in puffy jackets and ski caps…seriously!

      • “I doubt that it has ever been below 5°C”

        You must live in Sydney. In Canberra, it can go down to -4 C in winter. In Thredbo & Perishers it goes somewhat lower.

      • “In Canberra, it can go down to -4 C in winter”
        I’m speaking of the daily average, not the minimum. That’s what they used. But I have lived in Canberra, and been out and about in -10°C. That would pull the day average below 5.

        But the study covered major cities, and I think the said three from Australia. Probably coastal.

      • “…winter is flu season.”
        Well, Mr Stokes, isn’t that a surprise. Why is the flu season in winter? Because it’s cold. What does flu do? It kills people. So, because it’s cold, more people die.

      • I moved from North Dakota to Mesa AZ in 2007, presently in anything less than 50 F my wife digs out her North Dakota heavy coat and wool gloves. When she lived in Fargo and Watford City ND that was below zero clothing.

  20. No one ever died from moderate cold per se. What happens is either it strains the heart, or you get sick. No one gets sick from it being too warm. That is hypothermia death are not the cause.

    • “No one ever died from moderate cold per se. What happens is either it strains the heart, or you get sick. No one gets sick from it being too warm.”

      I think that is pertinent to the question. Cold puts stress on the heart, and cold is also the best time to catch viruses.

    • There was a documentary in the UK that explained it thus:

      In moderately cold weather, it isn’t cold enough to rug up. So, here is Mr Traveler standing on the platform waiting for the train. And it is late, for whatever reason, as usual. So Mr Traveler is left there in the cold for an extra half hour & while he is waiting, the blood pools in his legs & forms small clots. Once he is back in the warm office, the blood clots dislodge & travel to the heart, lungs & other organs causing deep vein thrombosis.

  21. And those statistics do not include the number of people that die in the world for carbon monoxide poisoning or fires due to improper heating during the winter. We get several of those reported every winter here. Entire families sometimes, which is very sad. Last winter a bunch of young people staying at a rural house with zero experience with the dangers of improper combustion and lack of aeration.

    • Javier ==> Yes, yes, and yes. CO is a deadly sneaky vicious killer, taking most of its victims in the middle of the night as they sleep. In the summers, we live in our camp trailer, with a propane furnace — a CO detector is an absolute must.

  22. Cold IS the enemy of all life. It kills whenever Man or beast have not prepared a protected den. Plants are in a near death dormancy, they cannot thrive nor feed the critters.

    Yet the unthinking, touchy feely scientists and public want it to be our default “safe” direction. Woe to the world. GK

  23. But cold weather is also caused by anthropogenic CO2, sayeth thee good book, thy IPCC 5th assessment report.

  24. Interesting that Canada and Scandinavia have a relatively modest death rate from cold strongly supporting the finding that extreme cold is not a big factor. Jogged by – 25C mornings the previous several days, I suggest two things :first, in such weather, the air is calm and often sunny. I remarked to people I met as I walked with my grandson to school what a lovely day it was. Of course we were bundled up. Second, I believe we are fairly healthy folk and this must be a factor. I’ll be sampling my 80th year next year so I reckon I must be considered at higher risk than most but I feel unthreatened on the coldest day with no wind and the sun shining.

    Hot days don’t seem to bother me either. I mapped geology in the Sahel of northern Nigeria for a couple of years and there was no air conditioning to come home to, explored for gold tin and diamond placers in Benin and Togo and opened a quarry and built a stone sawimg plant in Tanzania at the foot of Kilimanjaro. The worst was delivering the Winnipeg Tribune in 105 C in the late 1940s and beginning of the 50s, but then I went out to play with my friends afterwards.

    • The worst was delivering the Winnipeg Tribune in 105 C

      Where in the world is twice as hot as death valley in August?

      Winnipeg!

  25. Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
    “Although most previous research has focused on heat-related effects, most of the attributable deaths were caused by cold temperatures. Despite the attention given to extreme weather events, most of the effect happened on moderately hot and moderately cold days, especially moderately cold days.”

  26. I didn’t read the study, but I wonder if they adjusted for the school year? The “moderate cold” deaths just seem dis-proportionally high.

    Kids go to school in the winter. As a consequence, they are exposed to all the germs of all the kids in the classroom. They bring those germs home, and pass them on to mom, dad and grandparents. Anecdotally, I noticed less colds and flu in the household once the kids were out of school.

  27. Yes, there is a very good reason why the show “Survivor”, and any of the billion or so copycat shows don’t take place in any other place than the tropics: people would get hurt.

  28. I’m certain there are at least two studies published before 2010 with the same results. It is strongly suggested that platelet adhesion and blood viscosity are factors. In the U.K., the Office for National Statistics has monitored “excess winter deaths”. Sorry I can’t get you further by typing on a piece of glass.

  29. Interesting study. It would also be interesting to determine correlation not only to temperature but to humidity and precipitation.
    Hypothermia (exposure) is what kills people. Your body’s inability to produce heat faster than the environment takes it away will kill even hale and healthy military personnel. Your body doesn’t sense temperature it senses heat flux, how fast heat is entering or exiting. This is why room temperature certain objects (metallic objects for instance) feel “colder” than the surrounding items although they are all the same temperature. The “colder” objects merely are conducting heat away faster than the others.
    Cold can be a nuisance, but cold and wet is down right deadly. If you are wet it doesn’t need to be even particularly cold for hypothermia to become an issue. An individual can die from hypothermia even on a temperate day.

    • Exactly so – 33 Degrees F is more dangerous than 20 below. Those who play in the cold extremes, like mountain climbers, know that snow is your friend.

      • Heat flow in and out of the human body is rather complex as there are numerous heat transfer mechanisms many of which only partially are determined by temperature. More are governed by the thermal mass and conductive properties of the air surrounding you as well as its ability to absorb more moisture and further evaporative cooling.

    • Bite your tongue…everyone knows that warmth is not escaping to space but that energy is ‘energizing’ all those 400 CO2 molecules which in turn are radiating downward and further warming the arctic…jeesh how many times to I have to tell ya?

  30. The Lancet paper is excellent.

    Joe d’Aleo and I rewrote our previous paper on Excess Winter Mortality to include it:
    https://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/Excess_Winter_Mortality.pdf

    Excess Winter deaths total ~100,000 per year in USA and ~10,000 in Canada.

    The UK is very high at up to 50,000 per year. Many warm countries are very high too. This is avoidable.

    The key is adaptation. Cheap heat, insulation, central heating, flu abatement, etc.

    Best, Allan

    • Allan ==> Thanks for the link to your piece on this — the Lancet study is not new news, but this essay was prompted by Jane Brody’s highlighting the study afresh in the Health section of the NY Times earlier this week.

  31. Of course moderate cold kills more than extreme cold. Extreme cold is very rare…that’s why it’s extreme. Tell me the probability of death during extreme cold/moderate cold/etc., not the % of deaths during those times. I’m sure the probability of death is still much higher during extreme cold.

  32. So how would you call this? You think this would have any negative effects during moderate and extreme weather periods ? Isn’t cheap energy essential for a modern society ?

  33. Hmmm…

    The well known ‘excess winter mortality’ in the UK and elsewhere is frequently attributable to flu and similar winter season infections… which can cause excess (over other season) deaths even in mild winters.

    See:
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/excesswintermortalityinenglandandwales/201415provisionaland201314final#causes-of-excess-winter-mortality

    There is also pollution factor caused by temp inversions (but this may be offset by summer smogs?)

    I’d say that this is not showing cold itself as the direct factor, while deaths in excess high temps are related directly to temperature….

    • “Griff December 21, 2016 at 3:22 am

      I’d say that this is not showing cold itself as the direct factor, while deaths in excess high temps are related directly to temperature…”

      Do you see how idiotic that statement is?

      Compare cold climates with warm climates. It’s is rather strange that, more people live in warmer climates…which ARE directly related to temperature.

    • Griff ==> The whole issue, the point of the study, is focused on Public Health and how public health agencies can focus/refocus their efforts to lessen the impact of ambient temperature effects – particularly “excess deaths”. “Excess Deaths” is a peculiar public health epidemiological concept that may or may not have a physical reality, but, none-the-less they pursue it with enthusiasm.

      By the global nature of their approach, the research team hoped to overshadow local effects to find a more general answer.

      The study is quite short and can be read in 15 minutes or so.

  34. Tom in Denver wrote:

    “What’s interesting is that even in relatively warm countries such as Taiwan, Thailand & Brazil, the percentage of deaths by cold is still many times the deaths by Heat”

    Indeed so. That would be explained if the actual cause of excess mortality from cold was something correlated with temperature rather than temperature itself. Obvious (negatively correlated) candidates are length of day or hours of sunshine, it generally being cold during the winter months when days are shorter, and also colder when there are fewer sunshine hours (typically in winter).

  35. I live in Darwin, Australia. It’s bloody hot but we’ve had no air conditioning in our home for 15 years. You do adapt! -( although I’ve finallygiven up and have just put an air conditioner in the bedroom this year. ) Part of the key to adaptation is good house design – we have over 600 louvres and lots of ceiling fans.

    The hospital occasionally sees people with heat related illnesses, – people who’ve had a fit in the heat and damaged their muscles more than if they”d been cold, people lost in the desert, or soldiers who’ve been forced to exercise too hard.

    I only remember one cold-related injury – frostbite in a guy who fell asleep in a refrigerated truck full of beer!

    Elderly people often can’t afford to run the aircon and sit inside in roasting houses – but for the most part don’t come to too much harm! Many people play sport in the heat of the day – the football season happens during the mornings of the hottest part of the year when we have temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius and close to 100 percent humidity, and lots of people ride bicycles in the day. There have been studies that show that cyclists in Darwin develop core temperatures that would be considered lethal elsewhere.

    I think that everyone can adapt to higher temperate if given a year or so, and probably cold temperatures too. This is why studies about deaths during acute temperature changes are not applicable to longer term changes

  36. Seems to me that many people would be apt to think, “It isn’t THAT cold,” and not wear sufficient protective clothing

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