Climate-related Deaths and Insecurity

By Andy May

In the cartoon the guy being tortured is saying “OKAY! I believe mankind causes global warming!”  The priest is saying “Very well… give the heretic back his research funds.”  The cartoon is by Cox and Forkum (2007)

In this post we will discuss the assertion that there will be more climate-related deaths due to man-made global warming. This is the fifth post in a series of seven. In previous posts, we discussed assertions that man-made global warming is an existential threat to humans or the planet, the dangers of population growth, the financial cost of global warming, the threat of mass extinctions, and the threat of shutting down the Gulf Stream.

There will be more heat-related deaths

The IPCC AR5 report does not have much to say regarding climate-related mortality, they do mention that heat-related deaths will increase in several places, the following is from page 49 of the WG2 technical summary:

“At present the worldwide burden of human ill-health from climate change is relatively small compared with effects of other stressors and is not well quantified. However, there has been increased heat-related mortality and decreased cold-related mortality in some regions as a result of warming (medium confidence).”

In 2014, a National Health Statistics Report “Deaths Attributed to Heat, Cold, and Other Weather Events in the United States, 2006-2010” was published, you can download it here. The report used death certificate data collected by the CDC. Over the five years of the study, 10,649 people died from weather-related causes, 31% from excessive heat, 63% from excessive cold and 6% from other weather-related causes like floods or lightning.

In a very interesting paper that compares different mortality databases (Dixon, et al., 2005) report that the CDC data from 1979 to 1999 found that there were 3,829 heat-related deaths due to weather conditions. Over the same period there were 15,707 deaths due to hypothermia or excessive natural cold, excluding anthropogenic cold deaths. Examples of anthropogenic heat and cold-related deaths are boiler room accidents, kitchen accidents and factory accidents involving excessive heat or cold. In examining several studies on heat and cold-related mortality, Dixon, et al. report:

“Interestingly, depending on the database used and the compiling U.S. agency, completely different results can be obtained. Several studies show that heat-related deaths outnumber cold-related deaths, while other studies conclude the exact opposite. We are not suggesting that any particular study is consistently inferior to another, but, rather, that it is absolutely critical to identify the exact data source, as well as the benefits and limitations of the database, used in these studies.”

In addition to the large difference between heat-related deaths and cold-related deaths, deaths in general are lower in the summer than in the winter. Figure 1 from Dixon et al., 2005, plots the gross mortality for 12 cities in the United States. Optimal mortality (meaning the fewest deaths) is always in the summer. Yet, some studies that show heat-related deaths are more numerous than cold-related deaths, “detrend” the gross mortality data by taking out the pattern in figure 1 and working with the residuals (Kalkstein, 1991). This takes out much of the effect of winter on mortality and is a questionable methodology, in my opinion, for our purpose.

Figure 1: The percent of all deaths by month for 12 U.S. cities, source Dixon et al., 2005

Detrending the gross mortality data is useful for examining the effect of a weather event on mortality. The residuals from the trend could be used to investigate the deaths due to a heat wave or snow storm, for example. But, we are not interested in weather events for this post, we are interested in the effect of long term climate changes on mortality. Thus, the trend is more useful to us than the residuals.

Another source of weather-related mortality statistics is the NCDC “Storm Data” dataset. Dixon, et al., 2005 provides a very thorough examination of this database and concludes:

“Temperature extreme deaths listed in NCDC’s Storm Data are skewed heavily toward heat-related deaths.”

The database relies on media reports of storm deaths and misses a lot of individual deaths. Because it is based on media reports, it is also skewed toward media reported storm events and misses individual weather-related deaths that occur in the absence of a storm. These occur more often in cold winter weather, thus creating a warm bias. Further, media reports, during an event, often contain errors and these are not corrected later in this database. For whatever reason, the NCDC storm database seems to overestimate heat-related deaths and underestimate winter-related deaths. See Dixon et al., 2005 for a complete discussion.

The CDC data has problems as well, but is far more comprehensive and should be more reliable, in my opinion. Classification of the cause of death is mostly done by professionals and it is quality controlled, but misclassifications do occur. However, it seems likely that weather-related cold deaths outnumber weather-related heat deaths, in the U.S. by a factor of two or more, as shown in the CDC data. Dixon, et al., 2005 do not agree and conclude:

“Of the datasets identified in this study, the one that appears to be least influenced by the above limitations [misclassifications of cause of death] is gross mortality. However, the gross mortality data must be detrended in order to remove a persistent winter-dominant death maximum. Another major limitation of gross mortality is in obtaining regional daily mortality as opposed to only daily mortality for metropolitan areas.”

Removing “a persistent winter-dominant death maximum” prior to the analysis of weather-related deaths introduces a bias and suffers from the fallacy of removing the forest to study a tree. It’s OK if the tree is all you want to study, not so useful if you want to study the forest.

If the Earth warms there will certainly be more heat-related deaths. But, warmer temperatures will reduce the number of cold-related deaths. Since, currently there are more deaths due to cold, we expect the avoided cold-related deaths to outnumber the increase in heat-related deaths. For the foreseeable future, global warming will save lives.

“The first complete survey for the world was published in 2006, and what it shows us very clearly is that climate change will not cause massive disruptions or huge death tolls. Actually, the direct impact of climate change in 2050 will mean fewer dead, and not by a small amount. In total, about 1.4 million people will be saved each year, due to more than 1.7 million fewer deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 365,000 more deaths from respiratory disorders. This holds true for the United States and Europe (each with about 175,000 saved), as for the rest of the industrialized world. But even China and India will see more than 720,000 saved each year, with deaths avoided outweighing extra deaths nine to one.” Lomborg, Bjorn. Cool It (Kindle Locations 681-686).

The 2006 paper that Lomborg refers to is Bosello, Rosen and Tol, 2006; “Economy-Wide Estimates of the Implications of Climate Change: Human Health“. The paper computes the climate-related health effects of a 1.16°C global average temperature change in 2050. Figure one shows where this temperature falls on the IPCC AR5 temperature prediction scenarios. It is roughly the temperature change associated with the RCP 4.5 scenario.

Figure 1, source IPCC AR5 The Physical Science Basis, page 21

“For almost every location in the world, there is an “optimal” temperature at which deaths are the lowest. On either side of this temperature—both when it gets colder and warmer—death rates increase. However, what the optimal temperature is, is a different issue. If you live in Helsinki, your optimal temperature is about 59°F, whereas in Athens you do best at 75°F. The important point to notice is that the best temperature is typically very similar to the average summer temperature. Thus, the actual temperature will only rarely go above the optimal temperature, but very often it will be below. In Helsinki, the optimal temperature is typically exceeded only 18 days per year, whereas it is below that temperature a full 312 days. Research shows that although 298 extra people die each year from it being too hot in Helsinki, some 1,655 people die from it being too cold.”

“It may not be so surprising that cold kills in Finland, but the same holds true in Athens. Even though absolute temperatures of course are much higher in Athens than in Helsinki, temperatures still run higher than the optimum one only 63 days per year, whereas 251 days are below it. Again, the death toll from excess heat in Athens is 1,376 people each year, whereas the death toll from excess cold is 7,852.”

“This trail of statistics leads us to two conclusions. First, we are very adaptable creatures. We live well both at 59°F and 75°F. We can adapt to both cold and heat.” Lomborg, Bjorn. Cool It (Kindle Locations 344-355).

The IPCC predicts that the global temperature in 2100 will be about 2°C higher than today. But nobody lives at the global average. Temperatures are rising more in Siberia and Canada than anywhere else and Antarctica is getting colder. Land temperatures rise faster than ocean temperatures and temperatures at night are rising faster than daytime temperatures. The reality of climate change isn’t necessarily bad, it doesn’t mean a fierce heat wave, the temperature changes we are considering are small and will be welcomed by many.

Lomborg estimates, in Cool It, that for the temperature increase of about 0.4°C observed from the 1970s to 2005, we get about 620,000 avoided cold deaths and 130,000 extra heat deaths. Thus, global warming (1970-2005) saved almost five times more people than it killed.

According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment extreme cold events and cold waves are less frequent. They also say, rather disingenuously, that heat waves “have become more frequent in the United States since the 1960s.” This is misleading because the 1960s were unusually cool, see figure 2 and because the most severe heat waves, in the U.S. occurred in the 1930s according to the EPA (figure 3).

Figure 2 (data: HADCRUT 4)

Figure 3 (source EPA, 2016)


The IPCC WGII AR5 Technical Summary claims that climate change will cause great uncertainty and increase population insecurity. Most of the claims in the section are easily dismissed as silly, like the threat of war will be increased, or cultural values will be eroded. But, some are worth discussing, for example:

“Climate change over the 21st century is projected to increase displacement of people (medium evidence, high agreement). Displacement risk increases when populations that lack the resources for planned migration experience higher exposure to extreme weather events, in both rural and urban areas, particularly in developing countries with low income. Expanding opportunities for mobility can reduce vulnerability for such populations. Changes in migration patterns can be responses to both extreme weather events and longer-term climate variability and change, and migration can also be an effective adaptation strategy. There is low confidence in quantitative projections of changes in mobility, due to its complex, multi-causal nature.”

Warming, unlike war or repressive governments, is a gradual thing and air conditioning is currently not very expensive as long as electricity is available and cheap. If an area becomes too warm, people may want to move to cooler places, but we are not talking about rapid warming. Warming is expected to be at a rate of 0.1 to 0.2°C per decade. This is also a time of rapid increases in standard of living. As people become more affluent, they will have many more options to adapt to the changes in-place or by moving to a cooler locale. “Wealthier is Healthier” as noted by Pritchett and Summers in 1993.

The IPCC also claims that climate change will slow down economic growth and make poverty reduction more difficult, increase hunger, etc. But, we have examined these issues elsewhere in this series of posts and shown that there is no evidence, other than unvalidated models, to support these projections.


We have shown that, according to the CDC death certificate database, more lives will be saved due to lower cold weather mortality than caused by higher temperatures in the U.S. In addition, the World Health Organization has found that studying climate-related mortality is very complex and the results of their study are uncertain, they conclude:

“Climate change is expected to affect the distribution of deaths from the direct physiological effects of exposure to high or low temperatures (i.e. reduced mortality in winter, especially in high latitude countries, but increases in summer mortality, especially in low latitudes). However, the overall global effect on mortality is likely to be more or less neutral. The effect on the total burden of disease has not been estimated, as it is unclear to what extent deaths in heat extremes are simply advancing deaths that would have occurred soon in any case.”

The U.S. and many other developed countries in the temperate latitudes have good statistics on the cause of death and in these areas, it seems highly likely that cold weather-related deaths outnumber hot weather-related deaths and it follows then, in these areas, that warming will reduce the weather-related deaths overall. As shown in Dixon, et al. many more deaths occur in the winter than in the summer in any case, regardless of the cause. However, this is in temperate areas and 50% of the surface of the Earth lies between 30°N and 30°S. The data for this latitude band is incomplete and not as accurate. So, it seems likely that we should accept the WHO conclusion that we simply do not know what the global effect of global warming will be over the entire world, but it will likely be “more or less neutral.”

Climate changes, whether natural or man-made, are very likely to make some populations insecure. Droughts, flooding, severe weather, and other weather-related problems will increase in some areas and other areas will benefit. Due to these changes, people will move, as they always have in such circumstances. The cold period from about 100 AD to 400AD, near the end of the Roman Empire, may have initiated the so-called “Migration Period.” This resulted in the Visigoths and other migrating people conquering large parts of the Western Roman Empire. The timeline here marks the cold period on the Central Greenland Temperature record.

Each city on the Earth has an ideal temperature, as Lomborg has pointed out. This ideal temperature is usually close to the average local temperature in the summer. Above this temperature and below this temperature deaths increase. The range of ideal temperatures is large, much larger than the average warming expected in the various climate model projections for the next several hundred years. Thus, as man has spread over the planet he has already adapted to more extreme temperatures than we are likely see anywhere in the next few hundred years. In Helsinki, where the ideal temperature is 59°F, people do well. They also do well in Athens where the ideal temperature is 75°F and in Philadelphia where they do well at 80°F. It does not seem that climate change is a health risk.


67 thoughts on “Climate-related Deaths and Insecurity

    • Except while this was being concocted and debated, opioid deaths came up on the outside track to overtake auto accidents in some area stats. That’s what happens when the debate is so distorted of important issues. And that new was largely paid for with health insurance.

    • Winter is on here in the US.
      TWC jumps on the chance to blame an auto accident death to the seasonal weather.

      • PS Drunk driving or anything else is never considered. They are geared toward giving the impression that any tragic event has only one cause.

      • Interesting Gunga. I had to look it up; a money quote …
        “The summer season usually offers the best weather and driving conditions of the year – dry roads, excellent visibility, and longer daylight hours. But the seasonal benefits can be negated by other factors. According to the NHTSA, a higher volume of holiday travelers, including a significantly higher number of alcohol-impaired drivers, cause nearly twice the number of automotive deaths during summer months than during the rest of the year combined. ”

    • The more they keep publishing this sort of junk the more the public and politicians tune out. They treat it like those stupid medical announcements “xyz cause cancer”, “pqr cause heart disease”.

      These soft sciences even write hard hitting examination of the problem, here is an example

      So they isolate that 85% of all research ends in waste, billions of dollars down the drain and they reach what blind freddy could tell them

      research findings are frequently much less meaningful to clinicians and policymakers in the real world than they could be

      Then the stark realization the industry will continue as usual with 85% waste and research thrown in bin :-)

      Climate Science is going down the exact same path and wonder why they are getting the same treatment.

      Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results .. Albert Einstein

  1. In the future there will be more climate related deaths due to heat because water pumps, air conditioning, refrigeration, will all be compromised due to the absurd energy policies of the progressives.

  2. “For whatever reason, the NCDC storm database seems to overestimate heat-related deaths and underestimate winter-related deaths.”

    I know why. The data come from the National CLIMATE Data Center. Nuff said.

  3. The trend in reporting has become quite obvious that propaganda rules. Throw out a claim in bold letters whether it’s justifiable or not and then ignore dissenters. The people remember the false claims and aren’t made privy to the real facts. People are catching on though and the propaganda is backfiring on the perpetrators. The wolf never comes and the sky doesn’t fall.

    • My thought as well. I think professional journalism is dying and I don’t see how it recovers. We are in a period where anyone can get their news from the source, we do not need that added filter.

      Journalists learned some years ago that by cultivating Washington DC sources they could get “scoops.” The sources then realized they could “play” the journalists and use them for their political dirty work. Well, the public caught onto that one and afterward the journalists were viewed as tools for destructive government gossips with agendas, think FBI, CIA, NSA and Congress.

      Then they learned that if they put an ideological edge in their reporting, by ignoring one side (usually the conservative side) of the argument, then they could cultivate a gullible minority that only wanted to hear one side. There were not a lot of them, but they were loyal so long as you always agreed with them and a 2% market share is “success.”

      Finally the public saw the “swamp” this had created and wanted it cleaned up. I still don’t think the DC bureaucrats and insiders quite get why Trump was elected. It wasn’t because anyone likes him, he’s not very likable, its just that the public wants to see some butt kicked in DC and he seemed to be the one to do it.

      • Andy May – I like what you say when you deal with data. Politics is something else. Your comment on bias in journalism is ridiculous. You assume that bias is only associated with liberal media, and while that bias certainly exists, the most rampantly biased media on TV is Fox News, which perfectly fits your description of media that ignores, and in fact scorns, one side in favor of the other.

        Of course, none of this is either here nor there to this particular post. Let’s stick with the data.

      • “Scraft1”?

        Your statement was more “political” than his was. I give you a little credit for not saying “Faux News” but not much. Even Hillary said that Fox was honest (at least when her opponent was Obama).

        I didn’t vote for Trump and I voted for Jimmy Carter. That’s twice I have been world-destroyingly wrong.

      • Scraft …. just have to disagree with you. I don’t see conservative outlets being near as biased as the liberal outlets. Fox News is much more likely to point out some skeptical view on Climate, whereas The collection of mainstream outlets will bury such if they mention it at all. And then there is the issue, that even the majority of journalist at Fox, as well as almost all of the journalist everywhere voted for Hillary, not Trump. Fox may “appear” to be conservative, but they really aren’t.

        I proudly voted for Trump, and he is kicking butt and taking names, especially on Climate …
        And the economy and energy … and just about everything else. Don’t really like his presentation, but his substance is spot on.

    • Yeah, I gotta now go along with preventing AGW because there are already too many people on the Earth. If natural death by cold is eliminated this place will be crawling with more people than there are stars in the sky. In case you should suggest I go first, I only have about 222 months left according to my doctor (he actually gave me an age but months seems like I have more time) so I will be gone long before the heat takes over.

      • And if you really believe there are too many people be honest and don’t use those life-saving advances.

        I and my children will.

      • squiggy9000 December 18, 2017 at 6:49 pm

        There are no life saving devices being used. I simply told my doctor I wanted to live to 100 and he said with the several underlying conditions I have 85 would be doing very well. I hope to prove him wrong.

  4. All over the world, almost everything is getting better. link

    Prosperity is good. Prosperity is mostly due, directly or indirectly, to fossil fuels. The gains due to fossil fuels far, far exceed any possible losses due to a warming climate, even if we accept AGW (which we don’t).

  5. As long as there is reasonably cheap electricity and carbon fuels I’m happy as a bug in a rug in my domicile.
    I have redundant HVAC systems that don’t rely on solar or wind. I do however have a 208/120/3/60, 100A propane powered generator with a 1000 gal. propane storage tank. Boy Scout Motto “Be Prepared:.

  6. Do you think looking at Figure 1 by state might be more useful? For example, should I expect more deaths in summer in (Phoenix) Arizona and more deaths in winter in North Dakota?

  7. Interesting. I wonder, do areas near the equator also have a death rate that correlates so well with the movement of the sun? In those regions the solar maximum occurs in March and September. But I would guess that there is not enough quality information from these areas, and the only useful information from a death certificate is not cause of death but merely that a person has died.

    • I did look for data, but didn’t find anything I thought was usable. If anyone knows of any month-by-month mortality data for a large population between 20N and 20S I’m interested. Indonesia? Brazil? Kenya?

      • Can deaths from Malaria “really”be considered climate related …. or would it be better understood as the result of the bogus regulations on the use of ddt?

      • Dr. Deanster, There were two views on this. One looked at cause of death from death certificates, this produced a small sample and a lot of misclassifications. The other view just took gross mortality, all causes but looked at it monthly or daily, versus the weather at the time. The trend is as shown, high in winter and low in summer, so over long periods cold is more dangerous. The residuals from the trend can also be used to estimate the impact of severe weather events. But, winter is a long term hazard and not always identifiable as a weather event, it is a dangerous season.

  8. From: Gasparrini et al: Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multicountry observational study. The Lancet, May 2015

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

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

    • Thanks Sommer, I skimmed it quickly, but I didn’t detect any data, thus my BS meter was red-lining. Lots of “mights’, “projections” and “maybes” in there. Much of the document was a plea for money, typical.

  9. Ron ,there is a more recent compilation from Gasparrini of results from senior researchers around the world;
    Projections of temperature-related excess mortality under climate change scenarios
    Lancet Planetary Health , Nov/Dec 2017
    This is a new journal from the Lancet stable , organised by a group that has Christiana Figueres as its leader , so it is decidedly not a journal sceptical of AGW , but this paper ( which is open access) has a reassuring message ;
    Methods and findings :

    We collected observed daily time series of mean temperature and mortality counts for all causes or non-external causes only, in periods ranging from Jan 1, 1984, to Dec 31, 2015, from various locations across the globe through the Multi-Country Multi-City Collaborative Research Network. We estimated temperature–mortality relationships through a two-stage time series design. We generated current and future daily mean temperature series under four scenarios of climate change, determined by varying trajectories of greenhouse gas emissions, using five general circulation models. We projected excess mortality for cold and heat and their net change in 1990–2099 under each scenario of climate change, assuming no adaptation or population changes.

    Our dataset comprised 451 locations in 23 countries across nine regions of the world, including 85 879 895 deaths. Results indicate, on average, a net increase in temperature-related excess mortality under high-emission scenarios, although with important geographical differences. In temperate areas such as northern Europe, east Asia, and Australia, the less intense warming and large decrease in cold-related excess would induce a null or marginally negative net effect, with the net change in 2090–99 compared with 2010–19 ranging from −1·2% (empirical 95% CI −3·6 to 1·4) in Australia to −0·1% (−2·1 to 1·6) in east Asia under the highest emission scenario, although the decreasing trends would reverse during the course of the century. Conversely, warmer regions, such as the central and southern parts of America or Europe, and especially southeast Asia, would experience a sharp surge in heat-related impacts and extremely large net increases, with the net change at the end of the century ranging from 3·0% (−3·0 to 9·3) in Central America to 12·7% (−4·7 to 28·1) in southeast Asia under the highest emission scenario. Most of the health effects directly due to temperature increase could be avoided under scenarios involving mitigation strategies to limit emissions and further warming of the planet.”-

    Take a look at Fig 2 in particular.
    There has to be a global warming message at the end of course but overall it appears that , especially with the low RCP forcings , a warming world is ,from point of view of mortality from temperature, a better world.

  10. A quibble. Not deaths ‘caused by’ but rather associated with’ moderately cold weather. There are at least three causal reasons for the obvious association. First, there is more moderate cold than bitter cold, so the law of large numbers comes into play in the statistics. Second, people are more indoors in drier air. That is why the flu season is winter not summer. Same holds true for all URIs (think elderly pneumonia). Third, snow is associated with moderate not bitter cold, and cardiovascular events relate to clearing snow. And so on.
    The more heat deaths AGW meme is also belied by all the snowbirds now flocking to south Florida from places north. An annual migration called ‘the season’.
    The sillier the AGW assertion, the faster and harder the whole AGW house of cards falls.
    Nice post, AM. Excellent comment, RC.

  11. Oh, dearie, dearie me! It appears that I may die due to one (or more) of the following:
    1 – going outside in the middle of a lightning-heavy thunderstorm and standing near a big tree (storm caused by global warming)
    2 – going outside in freezing cold weather, wearing a t-shirt and a pair of shorts
    3 – going for a walk in 90F weather wearing a heavy ski jacket, insulated ski boots, several layers of thermal underwear, and heavy sweaters and a knit cap
    4 – being dumb enough to ignore weather warnings to stay off unplowed side roads in a blizzard, in farm country where the county gets to those roads LAST OF ALL
    5 – any other dumb thing you can think of.

    I think I’ve become numb to the argument, because I’m not sure what it’s all about, other than fists pounding on a tabletop while the Warmians and Greenbeans shriek “I’m RIGHT! You’re WRONG!!!”

    I find the hyperbolic vocabulary now appearing in online weather reports to be rather repugnant and misleading. Instead of just forecasting snow, it’s ‘a storm plunging’ into the area. I did not know that snow could plunge. I’ve been enlightened. It’s particularly offensive because it is a form of rhetoric meant to scare people. Unfortunately, as with the Warmians and the Greenbeans, it’s so overused that it means nothing now. Is it going to snow in my area, or not? Yes, it will snow or no, it will not. The current lack of accuracy is far more bothersome, and if you ask for an estimate on snow totals for the area, you get a blank look, and then they divert attention to that Timmer fellow and his storm chasing antics..

    This is far more bothersome than the nonsensical arguments that Andy May is relaying to us, because those are based on tenths of a degree, something that no one will even notice. The average mean temperature levels between now and 2100, long after I’m dead and gone, are not nearly as important as what our weather is going to be like this winter. And the odds are very high that the people who posit these ridiculous statements won’t be around to talk about any of it, either, because they have life spans, too. All of us have life spans.

    Thanks for the article, Andy. Keep up the good work.

      • Sara,
        ” Is it going to snow in my area, or not? Yes, it will snow or no, it will not.”

        One more possibility: – ‘It may snow; it may not snow – we don’t know.’

        And, despite being told ‘The science is settled’ – which may mean ‘We know which side our bread is buttered on’! – the third possibility certainly applies quite a bit here in the UK – certainly until within a day, or (much) less, of the time for which the forecast is made.

        But I enjoy and agree with the general thrust of your comment.


  12. All people will die eventually, and someone who lives to a ripe old age and then gets incurable cancer or some other chronic disease is just as likely to die in July as in January.

    But cold weather is far more stressful on people than hot weather. How many people die in winter from traffic accidents on icy or snowy roads, or plane crashes in low visibility, more common in winter than in summer? How many people with health emergencies in winter can’t get to a hospital in time due to snowy weather? People also tend to stay indoors longer during cold weather than warm weather, meaning that contagious diseases are more easily transmitted, and there are deaths from overexertion while shoveling snow, and injuries due to slipping on ice. A warming climate would tend to reduce these deaths.

    However, if a heat wave 50 years from now is 2 C hotter than they were last summer, heat waves occur in sunny weather, when roads are dry, and visibility is excellent, so that traffic accidents and plane crashes are infrequent during heat waves, and people with health emergencies do not have trouble being transported to a hospital. During a heat wave, people tend to cut down their activities during the middle of the day (mid-afternoon siestas in southern Europe), and be more active during the early morning and evening or at night, when the weather is cooler. This type of adaptation is not possible in winter, when daytime temperatures can be well below freezing.

      • A lot of cancer patients (including my mother and uncle from personal experience) do not die directly of the metastatic cancer, but rather from systemic complications in the terminal stages of the disease. For example, chemo=>weakened immune system=>greater infection susceptibility. Cachexia=>weakened immune system, and so one. Explains your most interesting curve via a very real intermediate proximal cause.

      • A typical story. My mother died of MRSA infection brought on by the colectomy surgery done to obviate her terminal metastatic bowel cancer (inoperable) tumor obstruction. And, as to cardiovascular disease, absolutely true. Body instinctively restricts cold blood flow to core, and core is more CVD impaired. PAD is less common than CVD, alrhough underlying biological causes are the same (LCL, etc). Severe patients like Dick Cheney suffer both. Had leg stents after heart stents before heart transplant. Not a good prognosis—the new heart will eventually clog up up if his ongoing PAD does not kill him first. Typical death is pulmonary thrombosis. Blood clot from leg PAD breaks off, travels to heart, gets pumped into lungs, and then finis.

  13. Here I offer a small list of headlines for future use by climate alarmist media outlets:






  14. Andy,
    From The Washington Post January 7th 2014

    Extreme cold turns out to be deadlier than extreme heat. Hot weather kills, but digging deep into the data, Deschenes and Moretti find that it mostly kills people who were already close to death. After the heat wave ends, the death rate drops so sharply that it totally offsets the weather-related spike. “The only effect of the weather shock is to change the timing of mortality, but not the number of deaths,” they write.

    Periods of extreme cold are also associated with an immediate spike in deaths. But unlike extreme heat, there’s no offsetting decline in expected mortality in the weeks following cold snaps. The result is that “the cumulative effect of 1 day of extreme cold temperature during a 30-day window is an increase in daily mortality by as much as 10%.” In total, the authors calculate, the cold is responsible for more annual deaths than “leukemia, homicide, and chronic liver disease.”

    Are you able to confirm this?

    • Philip, The data sounds correct from what I’ve read. Heat deaths are spiky, cold deaths occur over long periods of time. I’ve read that a lot. I’ve not compared cold weather related deaths to leukemia, homicide and liver disease. One problem with comparisons like that is it depends on what database you are using and what death certificate categories you interpret as “weather related.” I don’t know of anything that contradicts what they say, but I can’t confirm it either. I’ll try and look into it more.

  15. Excellent post, thank you. And thank you for the references to cold versus heat deaths. These have become increasingly difficult to find with the world’s “best” search tools, along with the more pedestrian data for absorption spectra of CO2 and methane. I wonder why?

  16. Funny. Love this meaningless statement that sort of sounds like it means something:

    “However, there has been increased heat-related mortality and decreased cold-related mortality in some regions as a result of warming (medium confidence).”

    Let me try:

    However, there has been increased flood-related mortality and decreased drought-related mortality in some regions as a result of warming (medium confidence).

    However, there has been increased bear-related mortality and decreased lion-related mortality in some regions as a result of warming (medium confidence).

    However, there has been increased heat-related stupidity and decreased cold-related stupidity in some regions as a result of warming (medium confidence).

  17. Two words given the game away ‘sweat glads ‘ which human have a great deal, off to help them deal with heat. On the other hand human adaptations to cold are no where near as well developed.
    And lets face it who ,outisde of skiing , rushs to go on holiday in ‘the cold ‘

    Still the ‘good news ‘ is that thanks to the ‘heads I win , tails you lose approah’ used within climate ‘sceince’ cold also proves AGW. So any deaths due to a decrese in tempertures are also down to ‘global warming ‘

  18. “The cold period from about 100 AD to 400AD, near the end of the Roman Empire, may have initiated the so-called “Migration Period.” This resulted in the Visigoths and other migrating people conquering large parts of the Western Roman Empire.”

    Don’t let Greenland temperatures rewrite Roman history for you, that’s the best part of the Roman Warm Period, up to about the 350’s AD. With a positive NAO regime of course it would warmer in Europe while being colder in Greenland.

    “If the Earth warms there will certainly be more heat-related deaths. But, warmer temperatures will reduce the number of cold-related deaths.”

    If the mean global surface temperature rises by say 1­°C, does that directly control the level of cold and heat extremes in regional weather? It doesn’t seem to.

    • The key question, does global warming even matter? I’m trying to examine a few claimed hazards of global warming, but at some point we need to step back and ask if 2 deg. C makes any difference anywhere.

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