From the Scientific Urban Legend Department: Slight Rise in Temperatures Tied to Heat Wave Deaths

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen




The Claim:

The venerable NY Times carries this headline:  “In India, Slight Rise in Temperatures Is Tied to Heat Wave Deaths”.

The study cited makes this conclusion:

“Mean temperatures across India have risen by more than 0.5°C over this period, with statistically significant increases in heat waves. Using a novel probabilistic model, we further show that the increase in summer mean temperatures in India over this period corresponds to a 146% increase in the probability of heat-related mortality events of more than 100 people.”



Heat waves can be killers. More Heatwaves = More Deaths.  Longer Heatwaves = More Deaths.  Heat waves are prolonged periods of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity, especially in oceanic climate countries.  Heat waves tend to carry off the old, infirm, and vulnerable young ….(there is more, but you have to wait for it).

The rest of the study, the story and the claims are the result of questionable statistics, which even the study authors admit (or brag) are “novel”.

The whole case can be made using nothing but the study’s figures:


The authors insist “Figure 1A shows that summer mean temperatures have increased substantially from 1960 to 2009. The time series exhibits a statistically significant (95% confidence interval) upward trend confirmed using the Mann-Kendall (MK) trend test. The accumulated intensity, count, duration, and days of Indian heat waves have also increased over the analyzed time period over most of the country and especially in the northern, southern, and western parts of India (Fig. 1, B to E).”

Temperatures increased substantially if we look at a National Average (mean) — the actual increase in the National Mean Summer Temperature trend is from 27.55  to 27.9, an increase of 0.35 °C  )  or 0.63 °F.  (Note:  not the claimed 0.5 °C, which is a rounded up exaggeration)    In the fifty (50) years of the data set, this gives an increase of 0.07°C/decade.  This increase we will simply have to accept as valid, though we must point out that the National Average Summertime Surface Air Temperature may not be the best metric to use to judge what are obviously very localized heat wave events, according to the sub-panels B thru E, and may be skewed by UHI effects in India’s massively huge urban centers.  India is huge and geographically diverse —  from the tropical southern provinces to high Himalayan plateaus  —  making a “national” average temperature meaningless in this context.

The rest of the story is contained in these two excerpts from Figures 2, 3 and 4:


The primary feature of these two graphs is that they are long-term flat, with a couple of spikes and dips.

Look back up at the National Average Temperature graph — it shows a particularly low national temperature in 1971, which shows up the these two graphs as extremely low population-weighted and income weighted heat wave deaths. And we see the existence of two (possibly three) unusually high years, 1997 and 2003.

Here’s where the “novel” statistics takes place:


Panel C shows what we expect — The more heat wave days, the higher the average temperature.

Panel B likewise is as we would expect — longer heat waves are more likely to produce more deaths.

Panel A however, compares a probability density of Mean Summer temperature of 27°C  and 27.5°C .

Look at the original temperature graph one more time, where do 27°C  and 27.5°C  appear:


The apparent novel statistics involves comparing the data of a low temperature year, like  1971, (very near 27°C) — not with the most recent period, not the most recent decade, not the high temp end of the graph — with  27.5°C which appears at the beginning of the time series, in 1960 and looks like the approximate average low limit  for the data set.

I am, admittedly, confused by this selection of temperatures for the probability densities in Fig 4A — but it appears to have been chosen to “prove” the hypothesis of the effect of a  0.5°C rise in temperatures.  Where could they have gotten death data for 27°C ?  Not even a single year in the 50 year time series has national average temperatures that low.   Neither the full published journal paper nor the Supplementary Materials  contain any explanation for the choice of temperatures in the Figure 4 probability distributions, however the SM have results different (by several percentage points) from those in the published paper [see fig. S6. Results of a conditional probability density analysis of mortality given certain thresholds for summer maximum temperatures].

The two Deaths graphs above reveal the more scientifically correct findings of the study, which do come to light in the whole journal article, but are not highlighted in the Abstract, the Press Release, or the MSM.  Quoting from the paper:

 “In an effort to understand the underlying mechanisms of heat wave mortality, we further explored its relationship with population and income levels in India. Figure 3 shows that the relationship between population-weighted heat wave days and mortality rates is only slightly better than that between mortality and summer mean temperatures …; however, the correlation between income-weighted heat wave days and mortality rates is better….”

“These observations reinforce previous work that highlighted poverty as a significant factor in climate-induced mortality, such as heat wave deaths..”


The Bottom Line:

The nugget of truth:  Heat waves can be killers.  Heat waves tend to carry off  the poor, especially the poor elderly, the poor infirm, the poor vulnerable young.

But, primarily, it is Poverty that kills.  It kills the old, it kills the infirm, it kills the very young, it kills the weak.

Any stressor,  be it heat waves, cold snaps, drought, political instability, inflation, armed conflict  or price increases of basic food staples will cause spikes in deaths, especially among the poor — and the poor in India are very, very poor.

We really didn’t need another study to tell us that — and the use of “novel statistical methods” [stretching the truth] in an attempt to claim that “moderate increases in mean temperatures may cause great increases in heat-related mortality” does not contribute to the sum of human knowledge.

If we want to save lives, to decrease the threat of changing climatic conditions, we need to fight poverty — at the household level where real people live.

# # # # #

Author’s Comment Policy:

I’d be glad to answer your questions and respond to your comments.

I am not an expert in climate science — so I don’t respond to Climate Warrior salvos from either side of the great divide.

# # # # #






121 thoughts on “From the Scientific Urban Legend Department: Slight Rise in Temperatures Tied to Heat Wave Deaths

  1. “Neither the full published journal paper nor the Supplementary Materials the contain any explanation . . . ”

    That boldfaced “the” looks like a typo to me.

    • Roger ==> Thanks, my editor was not available yesterday…there are several other typos and such which I have corrected this morning.

  2. I live in Canada, 27.0C vs 27.5C, might have to fire up the BBQ. If it’s over 35C, now we are talking hot, might have to go for a swim. If these persons are dropping like fly’s at these temps, probably more to do with dehydration or exertion.

    • Duncan, you have nailed it, it’s dehydration, lack of potable water with increased population in India. In 1960 the population of India was 450 million, now it’s 1.3 billion, that might have something to do with the change in death rates over that period.

    • A study of heat waves in Paris showed that, while there was a spike in deaths during a heat wave, there was a dip in the death rate in the weeks thereafter. The death rate did NOT go directly back to normal. This was because the heat wave took people who already had one foot in the grave and was not killing otherwise healthy people.

      Cold snaps are more likely to show death rates going directly back to normal because hypothermia can kill the healthy almost as easily as the weak and sick.

      • Do the authors provide the data or a data source that would allow one to estimate mortality rates in India associated with cold snaps. My guess is that more people in India die because of cold snaps than because of heat waves.

      • highley7

        I think we can safely, and robustly say that it is neither cold snaps nor heat waves that cause the bulk of temperature-related mortality. It is chronic under-heating of homes in cold climates that is the biggest killer. People of ordinary health for their age are badly affected by living in a chronically under-heated environment. Children and elderly are the most affected, as are those with weakened systems as you might expect.

        This past winter there was a home heating study by the World Bank in Kyrgyzstan monitored independently by Fresh Air, Netherlands. It showed a huge drop in medical and non medical symptoms in homes which were adequately heated compared with the ‘traditional’ systems. The change was made by changing the heating appliances and allowing people to operate them using the same fuels as before, until they were either comfortable or ran out of fuel. In all cases the new appliances were much more efficient so they reached ‘comfort’ before they ran short of fuel. All the neighbours were still running on the limit of their ability to afford or provide fuel. So the ‘test homes’ were warmer, about 5 C on average. The health result was remarkable.

        A single example is that children developing bronchitis in the ‘normal’ situations was 33% and in the ‘improved’ situations was 0%. That is a direct result of being warmer.

        This heat wave investigation does have a grain of truth in it – and taking the heat wave alone is not valid, as suggested in the analysis. It should cover the following 6 months to see of the ‘harvesting’ by the Grim Reaper was moved ahead a few weeks or months rather than being an additional cause of death.

      • It’s called harvesting.
        When talking about heat waves the correct metric to use is shortened life. Or premature death.

    • “If these persons are dropping like fly’s at these temps, probably more to do with dehydration or exertion”
      They can’t eat or drink anything during daylight hours, and this year the movable holiday season occurs now during the heat wave in late spring…

      • Hindus also fast, and it is possible that it is a contributing element, however it is also known that the weak, sick, the elderly and exempt are not required to fast which biases the sample.

        It would be interesting to see if the heat wave deaths in Indian and Pakistan are different, showing whether or not fasting is a contributing stressor.

        It is also relevant to consider that unlike Western peoples, not everyone in the world considers the purpose of life to be its interminable extension. A person dying of heat stroke is not more dead than someone dying from the complications of type 2 diabetes. For the heat-stressed impoverished of India, death is a welcome relief more than an unjust imposition. Because the ’cause’ is extreme poverty more than anything else, the cure should be for the iniquitous extremes of wealth and poverty, not ‘raising the price of CO2 pollution’.

        If the ice melts in a warming world, the increased surface area of oceans will have a moderating effect on all heat waves. There are no heat waves in Water World.

      • Crispin in Waterloo

        You also don’t have to fast if the weather is unbearable.

    • Duncan, It’s not just temperature. Humidity makes a huge difference. I once spent a couple of delightful weeks in Summer in California’s upper Salinas River Valley with daily high temps around 120F(49C). Unpleasant but not life threatening as long as you stay in the shade and keep hydrated. OTOH in the often humid Eastern US,daily high temps much above 100F (37F) really can lead to heat prostration and heat stroke — either of which can be fatal..

  3. Eleven authors in search of a citation.

    I’m confused by what this “a 146% increase in the probability of heat-related mortality events of more than 100 people” actually means.

    • Using a novel probabilistic model …

      ie non validated, home-spun, Mannian data processing. Yet again.

    • David (and Greg) ==> They are studying massive heat wave deaths — “heat-related mortality events of more than 100 people” –. they derived the increased probability of such events from their Figure 4 — 32% minus 13% = 19%. 19% divided by 13% = 146%.

      • 19% divided by 13% = 146%.

        Pardon? 32 / 13 = 2.46 = +146% growth

        But that’s an odd number because it depends on population growth? Also, on the brink of zero one gets large increase percentages which have low precision.

        There are profound changes during the last 50 years in India; it is clear that access to shade, access to clean water, electricity, possibility to stop working and rest are the things to improve.

        We can’t fix India by using solar and wind here. We can help India by providing means as much as possible for education, work, GDP growth, affordable energy, affordable medicine, etc.

        The study did not concern cold waves, and is thus not capable of telling what else climate change does.

      • By the look of it, yes. I’m just concerned because it is easy to bias results my people moving from cold regions to hot regions, for example.

      • Ok. Yet ??. How can average T be a proxy for heat waves. In general both UHI and GHG effect produce greater night time highs. Was this the case here? Did the study show day time highs increasing?

        Additionally the low average T is produced near the peak of the ” Ice age Scare” in the late 70s. Hummm!

        The fact that the authors round up to .5 degree increase is very telling of their bias.

        Your point regarding poverty and poor energy infrastructure being the overwhelming cause of death from heat waves is VERY cogent.

        Good article.g

      • Hugs ==> I have not been to India but I have been in the barracónes (literally ‘barracks’ — refers to the old slave quarters) and the Haitian “bateyes” (ghettos) of the Dominican Republic where the people own almost nothing and the summer heat and humidity quietly steals away the old, infirm, ill, and newborn profoundly poor. Even if the poor manage to acquire an electric fan, the power is liable to be off, especially during heat waves (the rich neighborhoods get priority power to run their air conditioners.)

      • Kip

        Well noted – the poor getting no power during heat waves.

        The linkage to look for is the GINI coefficient and heat wave deaths by income cohort. Being poor in a rich society create additional stresses that are not present in a more equitable society. For one thing, being really poor in say, Rio, means having to live with the heat exhaust of air conditioners adding to the pre-existing urban heat island effect of roads and construction. Leafy jungles are a lot cooler than open urban roasting pits. Urbanity is only more comfortable if you are rich.

    • chaamjamal ==> Thank you for the link and reference. (Is this your paper or is the author’s name a coincidence? )

    • Good point.

      You can also say India is a hot and humid country. Yet it supports easily a huge population and while heat is uncomfortable, there is a reason why India is populated but Siberia not. Modern tools may help contemporary residents of India to bear the hot and humid monsoon air. Just make sure the GDP grows and people in India start giving some value to life of the poorest.

      Much of the issues are caused by not poverty, but the steep hierarchy where some people are considered worthless. That is not a white man’s fault, but we can try to mitigate it by saying the problem aloud.

      • “You can also say India is a hot and humid country.”

        You can, but it’s a perceptive generalisation.

        India is a massive country extending from, roughly, the Himalayas to the equator so there is a considerable temperature range.

      • Hugs and HotScot ==> India is a continent-sized nation with widely varying eco-regions:

      • As a citizen of a definitely cold place, I can’t admit India isn’t hot and humid. But this is not to say there were not some places in (spacetime & India) which are not humid nor warm. On the contrary. Thanks for the map, it emphasizes the variety neatly.

      • “India is a massive country extending from, roughly, the Himalayas to the equator so there is a considerable temperature range.”

        But virtually all of it has a monsoon climate. And incidentally heat deaths in India don’t happen during the monsoon when it is hot and humid, but before it when it is very hot and dry.

      • tty, actually, leading up to the monsoon is very hot AND very humid. It’s only the monsoon that cools it down.

        I found that most people suffered when it fit particularly cold, which can often happen inland (like Australia).

    CALCUTTA, June 1.
    Scores of people have died and the towns
    are strewn with the bodies of birds, cats,
    dogs, and goats as the result of a heat wave
    in the lower area of South India. Record
    temperatures were reported yesterday at a
    number of towns, the highest being 120F [48.8C]
    degrees at Bezwads.
    The heat was so severe in Ellore, that
    cocoanuts, usually impervious to heat, cracked.
    Many people died of heatstroke at Aliganj,
    in the United Provinces, where 150,000 pil-
    grims in sweltering heat with piercing hot
    winds, crawled on all fours for two miles up
    a hill to seek favours at the temple of the
    Goddess Mahabir.
    Several persons were killed in fierce storms
    in North-eastern India, where houses were
    wrecked. Trains were blown off the lines
    and towns and villages were inundated by
    flood water.

    THIS WAS IN 1934

  5. Poverty or the lack of energy availability is the culprit of more human deaths globally. The mortality rates are generally higher in poorer countries from low nutritional food sources and availability as well as modern protection from the elements by cheap energy. Even in wealthy countries it is the poor that suffer the most with higher mortality rates for those reasons. When you think about it. The greatest humanitarian thing any country should be doing is to provide cheaper energy to their populations

    With hundreds of nations in the Paris Agreement with their hands out to collect aid from the few wealthier nations, it’s the leaders of those poorer nations that need to assess their failures of providing energy to their people. By providing an abundance of cheaper energy those countries could reduce their poverty rates through advanced farming to increase food production, reduce the mortality rates with electricity energy replacing burning dung and wood, and many other mortality rates caused by diseases because of poor living conditions would decrease.

    I am not my brothers keeper and their problems are ones they have made for themselves by the governments they keep. It’s the ignorance of the generations of people in those poor countries that don’t know how poor they are – in comparison to wealthier countries – that they don’t know there are better ways to live.

    • It depends on how you look at the issue of being my brothers’ keeper. You cannot possibly be expected to personally fund improving the lives of the millions who live in poverty, though you may choose to make some contribution in some way. That is entirely and properly your business.
      But making a protest when the already wealthy or ignorantly well off do things which impoverish and deny the world’s poor the chance to have a better life, or even one that is as comfortable as ours, in pursuit of some cynical and scientifically unlikely theory of climate catastrophe is something which we should all call out for what it is : A means of lining the pockets of people who need no further help by telling outrageous lies.

  6. “Using a novel probabilistic model” LOL, LOL

    Quick, tell Michael Mann, he needs to touch up his rhetoric. He pioneered the use of “a novel probabilistic model” to fineagle some results made to order to an agenda.

  7. The whole of modern climate science appears to be a giant exercise in novel probabilistic modeling. Or to give it its proper title – pseudoscience.

  8. Isn’t it strange that there are never any articles pointing out the lessening of cold related deaths due to higher temperatures? There are deaths related to both types of extreme temperatures, but strangely only extremely high temperatures attract any attention. How
    about that for obvious bias in research?

  9. Cold weather show a much higher mortality rate (factor 10) than hot weather. Moreover, after a hot period, mortality rates do drop, as most people dying from the extra heat would probably have deceased a few weeks to months later. Not so for cold related mortality: the extra mortality goes back to normal after the cold period, without a dip.

    For each region there is an optimum temperature range where there is lowest mortality. People living in warmer regions have a higher optimum than in colder regions.

    I don’t know if that is simple adaptation (as one can experience by moving from a colder or warmer place or period to the same inbetween temperature place or period), or in part genetically.


    The accesability to AC in warmer regions and heating in colder regions also plays a role:

    • Ferdinand Engelbeen June 10, 2017 at 5:13 am

      I don’t know if that is simple adaptation (as one can experience by moving from a colder or warmer place or period to the same inbetween temperature place or period), or in part genetically.

      I prefer calling said adaptation or adjustment to different “seasonal temperatures” as a result of one moving from a “colder to warmer” or a ”warmer to colder” seasonal climate …… as an act of being “climatized”, which is in fact a “conditioning” of one’s body to better regulate the emission of body “heat” via the epidermis (skin) ….. as well as an adjustment to one’s “tolerance threshold” to the newly experienced increase or decrease in air temperatures.

      And there is nothing “simple” about being “re-climatized” because it can take up to 6 months to a year to complete. And I speak from my experience of moving from the “90F days of summer” and the “mild winter temperatures” of a mid-Atlantic state ……. to the “80F days of summer” and the extremely “cold winter temperatures” of upstate New York.

      • Samuel C Cogar ==> I have experienced being “acclimatized” in both directions — moving from upstate NY to the Caribbean where my wife and I lived for ten years on our sailboat — and then (now) contemplating the move back Upstate. As a result, I am uncomfortable at anything under 75°F and have to put on a long-sleeved shirt. Wife and I are rather concerned how we will fare through a real winter here.

      • Samuel,

        Didn’t know that it did take that long to get “climatized” to other climates. There must be some genetic part too: some people are more comfortable in colder temperatures, others in warmer. I prefer colder, maybe some remains of the Vikings in my ancestors which occupied the coastal parts of the North Sea countries and part of the Atlantic (Normandy)…

      • Kip,

        “Wife and I are rather concerned how we will fare through a real winter here.”

        I suggest beginning early (fall) to allow yourselves to be slightly uncomfortable.

      • JohnKnight ==> Good suggestion — but i fear that with this many more years under the bridge I may have a more difficult time adjusting.

      • When we came back to tge Uk from a trip to India and Australia for a year, having had a perpetual tropical summer, it took us a year to reacclimatise. We came back in UK summer, but that winter was brutal.

        Now I live in the Australian tropics, and anything less than 20C is very uncomfortable. I actually found a breeze of 30C ‘cool’ one summer here :)

      • Kip Hansen, …… I agree with JohnKnight only I suggest a move no later than mid to late August so when the days and nights start cooling down in September your body will start getting used to the cool/colder temps. Lucky for you, the winter temps during the past 10 or so years haven’t been as brutally cold as they were during the 60’s and 70’s. I’ve become good friends with the couple that bought the farm that I owned ……. so I’ve been getting weather reports for the past 10 years or so.

        And keep in mind now, you are older and iffen you are not an active, energetic, outdoorsy type person then your “heat generating” metabolism is slowing down and it might require extra clothing to keep you warm.

        I moved from WV to the Mohawk Valley about the 1st of February and I literally froze my arse off until the “heat wave” of July 4th arrived. Then I moved to Philly for 3 years and then back north to the Village of Herkimer for about 4 years and then moved to a farm high up on a hill in Herkimer County about 3/4 miles NE of the Utica city limits where I could see the “city light” at nighttime.

        So I wish you luck with your move and am sure you and your wife will cope just fine with the now milder winter temps.

      • There are genetic adaptations for climate adjustment. There is a gene common in NA peoples that permits the body to quickly adapt to a suddenly colder environment, generating heat rapidly. I think my wife has two copies. I have not heard of a heat tolerant equivalent. Maybe there is one.

        Most of us have to feel the cold for a while before the metabolism catches up. That is why 0 C feels terrible in October but warm in March. We adapt seasonally.

      • As a native of Arizona that spends more time outdoors than indoors the temperature changes don’t seem to effect me while others that are not natives complain when it changes. It has to get above 100 degrees before I feel uncomfortable and into the 30s before I feel uncomfortable enough to dress a lot warmer. Genetics or not, I think it has more to do with how people live inside more and are effected more when they’re outside during the changes. Obviously it’s just my opinion.

  10. In the meanwhile according to Wikipedia India is projected to be the world’s most populous country by 2022, surpassing China, its population reaching 1.7 billion by 2050. Not that projects would mean a lot, but still

    • “Does India have more people than China? A U.S. researcher claims Beijing’s population statistics are wrong.”

      This potentially radical suggestion was made Monday by Yi Fuxian, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, during an event at China’s Peking University.

      According to the South China Morning Post, Yi suggested that China had only 377.6 million new births from 1991 to 2016, far less than the official figure of 464.8 million. This meant that China’s official population estimate, currently at 1.38 billion, was wrong, Yi said. Instead it should have been 90 million lower — a gap roughly the same as Germany and Belgium’s population combined.

      That would make it 1.29 billion, and lower than India’s estimated 1.32 billion population, according to Yi.

      • There is no meat in the story to explain why the numbers would be wrong and how more correct numbers have been reached. It is interesting to see how WaPo writes about ‘worse’ development. Didn’t they use to say population growth is the problem? It appears people can’t come up to a common conclusion what is good, but that does not prevent them being hotly for and against.

      • Heh heh – there are millions of unrecorded births in China. When the census taker comes to the door to count inhabitants, a small bribe sends her away. The number of children hidden in this way may be 150m. The population is probably closer to 1,5 bn than 1.3.

        As the US knows, legally counting illegal people is difficult.

  11. Notice that India is selected as the subject of this study. This is yet another bias in this study : cherry pick the place where heat related deaths are almost the norm and where even a tiny increase in temps can have a detectable effect.

  12. India: 19.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.) and 7.3 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.). For some reason this type of situation cannot be observed in colder climates.

  13. If Eskimos figured out how to survive and thrive in – 40 C, why can’t Indians figure out how to survive in + 40?

    • Mick ==> Would I be right to assume that you live in a house with electricity, running water, heat in the winter and a/c in the summer? That there is food on the table at every meal? That you have flush toilets, windows with screens, medical care when you are ill? That you don’t share a single-room-house with two other families? and that it seldom , if ever, gets hotter than 100°F there?

      The well-to-do, the rich, the middle classes in India do not die from the heat either. Only the poor.

      • And to put emphasis on ‘poor’, it is not the people who are just poor, it is the people which are considered worthless in India. Castless people. This is something that is fairly difficult to fix from outside.

  14. A few important tidbits:

    1) Most of the temperature increase in India has been attributed to Land-use and Land-Cover changes rather than greenhouse gas emissions.

    “Our results also show that LULCC alone causes warming in the extremes of daily mean and maximum temperatures by a maximum of 1–1.2 ◦C, which is comparable with the observed increasing trend in the extremes. Decrease in forest cover and simultaneous increase in crops not only reduces the evapotranspiration over land and large-scale convective instability, but also contributes toward decrease
    in moisture convergence through reduced surface roughness.”

    2. I always wonder why nobody tries to understand the reduction of high energy uses (air conditioning and refrigeration) in an environment of high energy prices. The proposed “solution” to warming is higher energy prices. One effect of this is bound to be a reduction in air conditioning and high energy food storage and a delay in implementation of these technologies in poorer nations. The impact of such policies during heat waves is bound to be more deaths, not fewer.

    If the goal is to reduce deaths from heat waves, then the policy should not make the problem worse.

    • IIf the goal is to reduce deaths from heat waves, then the policy should not make the problem worse.

      Well, there is a long way to AC for castless in India. But shade, water and rest are technically possible.

      • And when they do, it’s intermittent at best.

        When there I was often asked if we had electricity all the time. When I confirmed that we did, people really did not fully believe it.

        Sadly, that may not be true now as renewables take hold…

      • Right — however the quickest way for lesser developed nations to develop strategies to mitigate the effects of warming is through inexpensive electricity. Higher electricity costs push the solution further away, not closer.

        “Current renewable sources of energy are not technologically capable of lifting hundreds of millions of people out of energy poverty. Consequently, the Breakthrough writers see “no practical path to universal access to modern levels of energy consumption” that keeps the projected increase in global average temperature below the Paris Agreement on climate change goal of 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. This implies that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide will exceed 450 parts per million. They correctly point out that forcing poor people to forego economic development in order to prevent climate change is a “morally dubious proposition.” They additionally observe that the wealth and technology produced by economic growth increases resilience to climatic extremes and other natural disasters. When bad weather encounters poverty, disaster ensues.”

        In addition, I’m not just referring to India. The poorest people in America and Europe will suffer the most from high energy costs.

  15. Shouldn’t the flight of the New Yorkers to Florida in winter also lead to massive loss of life? After all, we’re not talking just a fraction of a degree warmer, nor a gradual increase in temperature, nor a relative higher temperature lasting just a few days…

  16. Why are the heat waves always in west India? This is very stark for duration and intensity. For number of days and frequency, there is a secondary “hotspot” east of Bangladesh.

  17. This bothers me, Indias population is 1.3 billion, at an average life expectancy of 68 years. This means that on average 19 million people die every year and around 52000 every day. The is a 46% greater chance that 100 more people die due to the extra heat on hot heatwave summer days, amounting to 52100 / 52000 = a 46% increased chance of a 0.19% increase in deaths on hot days !, if we assume 4 weeks of heatwave a year then that’s 2800/19,000,000 or a 46% increased chance of a 0.015% increase in deaths on an annualised basis. This is meaningless since the increase in deaths is below the noise floor. 0.015% (0.00015). Given the 52000 deaths a day average we need to understand the average rate of clusters of 100 deaths or more due to any cause to know whether the increase due to non existent warming is significant.

    • And, given the proven research that 20X more people die from cold weather than hot weather …..
      … they are NOT including the greater number of lives being saved by global warming.

      What they are doing is simply lying with statistics as usual, like stating that automobile air bags cause 100% of automobile air bag inflation deaths.

  18. The time frame appears to be a complete cherry pick. The start is during the last combined negative phases of the AMO and PDO. It then ends right near the end of the +PDO near the peak of the +AMO.

    • Richard M ==> They picked fifty (50) years. India is a bit slow on vital statistics and COD (causes of death) thus the end in 2009, takes them a while to get all the data in and tabulated from the provinces. I pretty sure the authors did not choose the data for result.

      The US has the same problem with opioid-overdose deaths — the data is always a bit out of date.

  19. Why anyone in their right mind could possibly believe that a temperature increase of less than one degree centigrade could make any difference whatsoever is very much beyond my understanding. I have personally experienced temperatures ranging from below 30 minus to 34 plus in the same little country called Norway. (Some places has had minus 52 dC in winter and about 34 in summer).

    My point is: Life thrives anyway! It’s all up to adaptation.

    These doomsayers are just copying from medieval times – pay for your sins, or else…….

    • Bernie ==> The study in question was funded by “the U.S. NSF Award No. EAR-1316536, [US]
      Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Award No. W911NF-14-1-0684, and the [US] National Oceanic and
      Atmospheric Administration Award No. NA14OAR4310222.”

  20. India is the proverbial elephant in the AGW room. Because since it is perceived by the left as poor and downtrodden it is given a pass when it comes to restrictions on all sorts of pollution but especially greenhouse gas emissions. For example, over half of Indian households have telephones but not a toilet. Toilets in your house is considered by many unclear and they don’t use the local public toilet. The Indian government has campaigns trying to get people to poop in the right place. So 400 to 500 thousand children die each year in India due to water born illnesses. But back to the subject, India is third in energy use, 44% coal and 23% waste and biomass. The first thing an Indian buys when they can afford it is a refrigerator. (I guess to keep cool during heat waves.) I cannot imagine India as a government or a people wanting to stop or even slow economic growth. They know, as China found out, spur economy growth for the average worker and population growth will slow. While I was in China in 1980s on a technical delegation China would start each meeting with a slide show about their troubles and the world’s troubles. They saw India as a major threat not just to China but to the World’s security. Interestingly one of the issues was religious conflicts within India and with its neighbors that would spill over.

    • Ed ==> If electricity is available, the poor buy a fan then a refrigerator (less intelligent buy a TV first).

      A refrigerator is necessary to be able to keep fresh food safely for more than a day. One can store dry goods in metal cans (with metal lids) but perishables must be refrigerated …. if not, they must be bought every day or one meal at a time. Mothers want gas (bottled) stoves and refrigerators.

      The same is true in the Caribbean — many poor have refrigerators, but intermittent power so they are simply cupboards.

    • “I guess to keep cool during heat waves”

      You guess wrong. A refrigerator heats its surroundings, particularly in hot weather. But it keeps food fresh (and safe). A lot more people die from gastrointestinal infections than from heat in India.

  21. When I worked in Nigeria in the mid sixties, long before CAGW was possible, a statistic I was told (unfortunately no link I can find readily at hand ) was that 50% of the population didn’t reach the age of 12yrs.

    Nigeria was one of the better off countries on the continent. Oil was already being produced, there was a significant mining industry and the land was fertile, even in the Sahel, where the seasonal rains then were fairly reliable. It was hot in N Nigeria (two clinical thermometers I brought with me burst in my luggage) and in the dry season, temperatures over 45C were common and this was the season I mapped geology on foot, two-day compass and pace traverses (one day out, offset a half mile at right angles to my line and one day return) by myself through the heat of the days and I passed farms with the whole families out working in fields harvesting. Disease was the killer, malaria, other and a host of parasites and the poor the most vulnerable.

    A civil war broke out while I was there and continued on after I managed to get out with my family. Three million people died, the largest number from starvation in the turmoil and I’d be surprised if the poor weren’t completely wiped out.

    I think you would need novel statistics to prove this weak thesis in Nigeria.

    • Gary,

      Not much changed since then… Our youngest daughter worked several years in Nigeria (helicopter pilot in a company working for Exxon) until a few years ago. It was getting more dangerous by the day. 2% of all people earns all the oil money, 98% is poor to extremely poor. Corruption from high to low, kidnapping for a ransom, political or religious reasons, drilling in high pressure oil lines to distill the petrol out of it on open fires (!), sometimes with hundreds killed by explosions as result… You have nothing to loose if you have nothing…

      One day there was an oil leak from an old undersea line between an oil rig and the coastal refinery of Exxon. Local fishermen hasted themselves to the leak to drench their nets in the oil to claim huge compensations from Exxon for their bad luck… Who can blame them?

      Another day, one of the local Exxon directors was killed in a road accident. His wife was badly injured and should be transported to a hospital in the capital. My daughter flew to a nearby airfield of the accident. There she waited 3 hours before the ambulance showed up. They had refused to pay an (illegal) “fee” at the entrance of the airfield and only after threatening that they would accuse them with murder if the patient died, they were allowed to enter the tarmac…

      • Ferdinand, I was back in 1998 briefly, my ultimate destination the neighboring countries of Benin and Togo to lay out a gold and diamond exploration program for a client. After over 30yrs I didn’t see much of a change except the population of Lagos had gone from under 200,000 to many millions. The temperature in Lagos (and Cotonou and Lome) was 30C, virtually the same as my 60s visit.

        I worked in Tanzania in the 1980s and climbed Kilimanjaro (temporary gastric illness kept me from making the last 4th day push to the top) while waiting for an electrical inspector to okay our stone cutting plant. I have a new project in D. R. Congo and an invitation to discuss one in Zimbabwe.

        I know that foreign investment and development of abundant natural resources is the key to raising Africa out of poverty. One of the major obstacles is NGO pressure against this form of economic development. Interestingly, China has created a competitor fund to the World Bank and is investing in coal fired electricity plants, an end run around the West’s refusal to fund them. Ironically, after almost 60 years of impotent “development” by the west, China is likely to accomplish this in a couple of decades. This rich continent will be China’s treasure trove and Africans’ pathway to prosperity.

  22. What ever happened to”Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”?
    Love the post modern concept;
    “Using a novel probabilistic model, “.
    The rest of that verbage can be used as fire starter or as infill material for any other Modern, insert pseudo science title, Thesis.

  23. “Using a novel probabilistic model” That says it all.

    I am curious why 80° F is a heat wave? What is the deal? I, who am heat sensitive, was out mowing my lawn in 80° weather. Not only novel statistics, but moving WAY down the definition of heat wave. Maybe they should move it to 75° and they can get even more deaths. This is so far from science…..

    • Sheri, a monumental problem among climate scientists, medical researchers and many others outside the core hard sciences is a lack of understanding of statistics and even a facility with mathematics. Except for economics, the social sciences are generally hopeless at this. The courses they take for stats are elementary. They are the last folks who should be experimenting with novel” statistical methods. I believe when they get a bunch of data with no obvious pattern, they truly think putting through every ‘statistucal’ process until they get an accidental trend, is what scientists do. The massive computing power put in their hands makes one think of giving a large number of typewriters to a large number of monkeys?

  24. Kip Hansen combines a first-rate mind with a thorough command of facts and (rarest of all) common sense. Over the years, I have learned to pay close attention to his commentaries on and criticisms of climate “science.” We are all beneficiaries of his work.

  25. So Kip it would appear that your only issue with this paper is that it did not discuss all the other
    causes of death? If I wrote a paper saying that the probability of dying in a car accident increased with
    the blood alcohol level of the drivers would you still complain that poverty was the biggest cause of death?

    • Geronimo ==> I hope you’ll give the essay another read and see if you can’t come away with a different impression. Nothing in my essay relates to failure to account for other causes of death.

  26. India weather is highly variable. Several localised and regional factors, both weather and non-weather factors, play major role on weather. Many a times people with little knowledge on such systems write and publish articles in international journals – unfortunately the peers themselves have little knowledge on such.

    People used talk and write saying that desert is moving towards Delhi, the capital city of India [in fact this is one of the question posed to me in the interview for a post in ICRISAT in Hyderabad in 1976]. In 70s one international scientist requested IMD to provide rainfall data from desert zone to answer this question. IMD supplied the data [at that time data was not available on computers but just started to transfer data on to punched cards (I was involved)] by copying from the records as they are. The scientist using this data as it is and published an article in an international journal. My office was just by the side of IMD library, I used to go there to look in to new journals or books during lunch time. The librarian Mr. Dabir showed me the journal in which this article was published. It was shocking. Unfortunately the scientist did not has the knowledge that rainfall data was recorded in inches up to 1956 and there onwards in millimeters. This was brought to the notice of DDGC [(late) Shri K. N. Rao, who was a co-author of WMO’s Climate Change Manual in 1966] and he in turn brought the same to the notice of the scientist. He withdrew the article from the journal.

    In 70s government of India planned to lay new runway in Santacruz [Mumbai] airport for creating new International terminal and for this purpose a hillock was removed [I was a trainee in Santacruz Airport for a month as part of IMD one year training]. Later I plotted the rainfall data of Santacruz and Colaba and found that Santacruz rainfall gradually come down to around 300 mm. Later this was recovered with tall international terminal building construction and several other buildings.

    Indian weather varies with climate system [as defined by IPCC] and general circulation patterns. Heat and cold waves are associated with Western Disturbances, part of general circulation pattern. This flow direction and intensity is modified by several local and regional circulation patterns. On this I published an article in 1978 in IMD Journal.

    Human comfort is related to three weather parameters, namely temperature, relative humidity and wind [speed and direction]. Under dry conditions high temperature rarely kill people. Even with low temperatures with high relative humidity kill people. The intensity is reduced by wind. In fact the impact is directly related to Wet Bulb Temperature. The impact [deaths] of heat wave is high in Bihar region with high Wet Bulb Temperature condition. In desert with high Dry Bulb Temperature in desert the impact [deaths] is less.

    I published papers on these issues in IMD Journal in 70s.

    In India droughts and floods have direct relationship with temperature. For example, during 2002 and 2009 drought years with 0.81 and 0.79% of normal rainfall, the temperature was raised by 0.7 and 0.9 oC. In the present article the figure 1960 to 2009 showed a peak in 2009. This peak is not a part of heat wave condition but it is part of drought. Deaths are associated with several factors associated with drought condition.

    Though average temperature showed a raise but this raise is more associated with night time temperature [UHI].

    Deaths are also associated with several other factors such as food, shelter, water, food adulteration, etc.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    • Dr. Reddy — just so I understand your one of your conclusions, I would like to rephrase it and see if you agree with it:

      “In India droughts and floods have direct relationship with temperature. For example, during 2002 and 2009 drought years with 0.81 and 0.79% of normal rainfall, the temperature was raised by 0.7 and 0.9 oC. In the present article the figure 1960 to 2009 showed a peak in 2009. This peak is not a part of heat wave condition but it is part of drought. Deaths are associated with several factors associated with drought condition.”

      So, you are claiming that the drought is what led to the higher temperatures, not the other way around. Is that correct? I’ve always had this idea going back to the US Great Depression. The Continental US had close to the highest temperatures in our history. The more I looked at it, it became clear that the drought led to the higher temperatures and the drought was predominantly caused by unsustainable farming as farmers tried to earn enough money during the Depression.

  27. so, see it I got this right. The poor are poor because there are poor. and when it heats up they die, um, because they are poor. and the way out of this is for them not to be poor.

    So if temps go up, the poor, the ones that remain poor, die.

    got it.

  28. The nugget of truth: Heat waves can be killers. Heat waves tend to carry off the poor, especially the poor elderly, the poor infirm, the poor vulnerable young.

    But, primarily, it is Poverty that kills. It kills the old, it kills the infirm, it kills the very young, it kills the weak.


    This is largely an evidence free assertion. That’s worse than the novel stats they employ.

    Estimating the excess deaths or early harvesting of people due to heat waves… ( and both kip and the writers screw up the definition of heat wave) requires good mortality data and weather data. ..More than temps are needed.
    Partitioning all the causes or factors would require patient identifying data..
    Bottom line. Heat waves kill. And climate warming will not decrease heat related early harvesting of people. Yes poverty plays a role. This why you don’t want to make the unsolvable problem of poverty harder by emitting c02 that you don’t have to. In other words those of you who are pretending to care about the poverty problem are not fooling anyone.

    • Mosher ==> If you think that “But, primarily, it is Poverty that kills.” is “largely an evidence free assertion.” you need to get out and spend a couple of years living in a Third World country — outside of the All-Inclusive Resort enclave, and outside of the modern capital cities.
      My wife and I spent ten years doing humanitarian work in the Latin Caribbean and I have seen the evidence first hand, up close, and still have nightmares about it. I invite you to spend a few days living in a Haitian batteye in the Dominican Republic nursing a sick child whose only crime is black skin, a child that could be saved with a nickles worth of amoxicillin, if there was only a doctor willing to give it to him.
      Evidence does not mean sterile numbers — real evidence happens in the real world.
      The Poverty Finding is the Indian study authors….

    • There is plenty of evidence linking poverty to risk factors associated with death from natural disasters (including heat waves.)

      “While this reality brings with it unquantifiable risks of dangerous climate change,
      insisting – either implicitly or explicitly – that the poorest people on earth forego basic
      economic development in order to mitigate climate change would seem to be, at the
      very least, a morally dubious proposition, particularly given that energy development
      generally increases societal resilience to climatic extremes and natural disasters.”


      “Consider two recent examples: a cyclone struck the Indian state of Orissa in 1999 destroying 2 million houses and killing 10,000 people and in 2004 three hurricanes hit Florida killing 116 people. The people of Orissa and Florida both suffered disasters, but there was big difference in their aftermaths. What makes people more or less vulnerable to weather disasters? …

      “The Christian Tearfund charity issued a report for COP-10 noting that “98 percent of those killed and affected by natural disasters come from developing countries, underlining the link between poverty and vulnerability to disaster.” The Tearfund report added that in 2001 some 170 million people were affected by disasters. The three billion people living on less than $2 per day don’t have much to fall back on in an emergency.

      “Consider the difference in the death tolls caused by a cyclone in Orissa and hurricanes in Florida. The United States has better early warning systems, more hospitals and paved roads, sturdier houses and better emergency response than does India (vulnerability score 30, average income, $2,900). All these things are made possible because Americans are wealthier than Indians: U.S. per capita annual GDP is $37,800.”

      Specifically, heat wave deaths in India have been tied to poverty:

      “Counties in the highest quartile of median household income had the lowest rates of death due to any of the weather-related causes (Table 3). The age-adjusted heat-related and cold-related death rates for counties in the lowest median household income quartile were about 2 times as high as those for counties in the highest quartile.” With heat waves, death rates in the lowest income quartile were 3.2 per 1,000 compared to the highest of 1.8 — cold weather deaths were ~ twice as high as warm weather deaths.

  29. This is part of the climate wars.
    The Indian government want reliable despatchable coal fired power stations for its population and is building them.
    There is a crackdown on black money, a GST is being implemented across India, effectively unifying the currency and stabilising the tax system.
    Digital economy and internet is fast progressing.
    The monopolistic coal miners are being broken up
    ‘Around 70 percent of power generation is coal based. The country is the world’s third-largest producer and its third-biggest importer of coal, which the government wants to change by boosting local coal production.
    In a presentation seen by Reuters, government officials recommend that Coal India – with a stock market valuation of $28 billion – should be broken up into seven companies, which they say would make it more competitive and efficient.’

    ‘The government wants Coal India to increase production of coal to 1 billion tonnes a year by 2020 from around 539 million tonnes in the fiscal year that ended in March. It wants India as a whole to produce 1.5 billion tonnes a year by 2020.’
    ‘Under Modi, Coal India’s production growth rate has nearly doubled, marking one of the administration’s biggest successes. Fuel shortages for power plants have turned into oversupply.’

    Looks like they will be adapting to any climate change.
    As shown above India is a multiple chimera of climate zones.
    They are actually studying these with their own scientists and space technology.
    In the meanwhile little Australia is closing despatchable power without replacement and the bankers and monopolies have taken over energy supply.
    We look forward to political promises and scarce, costly, electricity.

    • lawispbuckingham — All the statements are inaccurate. On some of those items my open letter to Prime Minister of India in wide circulation in media. They are helping rich businessmen and industrialists at the cost of around 85% of Indians. About the thermal power as per 2011 information:

      Type India USA
      RES 11% around 3.8%
      Nuclear 02% 21.5%
      Hydropower 21% 06.0%
      Diesel 01% —
      Gas 10% 19.8%
      Coal 55% 48.9%

      Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    • Griff ==> India and its people are at the mercy of the monsoons. The come late or miserly they are in trouble, when they come, sometimes they come too much and there is flooding. Always it is the poor that suffer the most.

    • Droughts, monsoons, and heat waves in India have been linked to land use and land cover changes (and, of course, ocean oscillations.) Note how this does not “contradict” your citation, as yours never actually tries to show the reason for the increase is due to Global Warming or Climate Change. (I also note that the statistics in the paper seem pretty weak.)

      “… it is demonstrated that part of the changes in moderate rainfall events and temperature have been caused by land-use/land-cover change (LULCC), which is mostly anthropogenic. Model simulations show that the increase in seasonal mean and extreme temperature over central India coincides with the region of decrease in forest and increase in crop cover. Our results also show that LULCC alone causes warming in the extremes of daily mean and maximum temperatures by a maximum of 1–1.2 °C, which is comparable with the observed increasing trend in the extremes. Decrease in forest cover and simultaneous increase in crops not only reduces the evapotranspiration over land and large-scale convective instability, but also contributes toward decrease in moisture convergence through reduced surface roughness.

      “Results from these additional experiments corroborate our initial findings and confirm the contribution of LULCC in the decrease in moderate rainfall events and increase in daily mean and extreme temperature over India. Therefore, this study demonstrates the important implications of LULCC over India during the monsoon season.”

    • I’d also note that your citation does not really discuss the “water crisis” as such crises are most often linked to population.

      I did miss that your citation also suggests that the precipitation changes (and heating) are due to evapotranspiration, which is more related to LULLC:

      “Figure 4(a) shows vertical velocity at 500 hPa, which clearly suggests sinking motion (with positive values) over the northern parts of the country. These atmospheric conditions are also associated with depleted soil moisture (as shown in Fig. 4b) and reduced precipitable water content over northern parts of the country (Fig. 4c). … Previous studies showed that soil moisture/temperature interactions increase summer temperature variability, resulting in extreme temperatures when soil moisture is low.” (i.e. low soil moisture leads to high temperatures and reduced precipitation just as reported by Halder, et al.)

      The paper also points out a significant link between ocean oscillations and these heat waves:

      “The first SST spatial mode shows large loading over the tropical Indian Ocean, suggesting a major influence of the tropical Indian Ocean on the variability of heat waves.” and “The spatial pattern of the second mode of SST shows more loading from the tropical Pacific region, which suggests the ENSO phenomenon is also a major factor influencing heat wave events over the Indian sub-continent. The time series of frequency, duration and maximum duration (Fig. 3) clearly suggests a link between the El Nino events and heat wave events over India. … ”

      Outside of those, the trends are pretty weak and assume that ENSO events will increase over time. In other words, it’s not really any change from what we know.

  30. Maybe worth noting that Indian began introducing Automatic Weather Stations from 1984/85. There is evidence that AWS exaggerate extremes in max.

    A good read. Heat waves are hardly an issue in India despite being common.
    Mortality rate for under 5 dropped from 248 per 1000 in 1960 to 48 in 2015. For adults, around 500 down to about 200 for men and even lower for women.
    About 90% of deaths are put down to disease. Authorities estimated 2500 deaths in the 2015 summer due to the heat. That is 0.002 per 1000 and possibly much less for healthy individuals.
    Priorities, people.

  32. So – what about this 2016 study??
    “Over India, heat waves occur during the summer months of April to June. A gridded daily temperature data set for the period, 1961–2013 has been analyzed to examine the variability and trends in heat waves over India. For identifying heat waves, the Excess Heat Factor (EHF) and 90th percentile of maximum temperatures were used. Over central and northwestern parts of the country, frequency, total duration and maximum duration of heat waves are increasing. Anomalous persistent high with anti-cyclonic flow, supplemented with clear skies and depleted soil moisture are primarily responsible for the occurrence of heat waves over India.”

    • Griff ==> Very interesting conclusion:

      “Anomalous persistent high with anti-cyclonic flow, supplemented with clear skies and depleted soil moisture are primarily responsible for the occurrence of heat waves over India.”

      Not slowly (barely) increasing national-average surface air temperatures or national-average summer mean temperatures, claimed by the study which is the subject of this essay.

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