Climate change coverage ignores heavy impact of heat on cold deaths-Bjorn Lomborg


JULY 4, 2021

By Paul Homewood

Bjorn Lomborg writes in USA Today:


Too often news stories and research focus only on the negative climate change impacts.

Imagine the news media touting new research showing almost nobody died of influenza last year. The information would be true. In the United States, only 600 people died from the flu in 2020, down 97% from its usual level.But most people would recognize this story by itself to be phenomenally misleading because it leaves out the huge death burden from COVID-19. Similarly, reports on the global economy in 2020 would be seriously cherry-picking if they only told us about the economic boom in the health care sector. To be well-informed, we need to hear both negative and positive impacts.

Yet, when it comes to climate change, too often news stories and research focus only on the negative impacts. This makes commercial sense because stories of Armageddon generate more clicks, drive fundraising and make for better political campaigns. But it leaves us poorly informed.

Last monthlandmark study in Nature Climate Change made headlines around the world. Rising temperatures from global warming increase the number of heat deaths,now causing more than a third of heat deaths,or about 100,000 deaths per year.

Obviously, this is a powerful narrative to justify urgent climate policies.

But the study left out glaring truths that even its own authors have abundantly documented. Heat deaths are declining in countries with good data, likely because of ever more air conditioning. This is abundantly clear for the United States, which has seen increasing hot days since 1960 affecting a much greater population.Yet, the number of heat deaths has more than halved. So while global warming could result in more heat deaths, technological development in, for instance, America, is actually resulting in fewer heat deaths.

More important,cold deaths vastly outweigh heat deaths worldwide. This is not just true for cold countries like Canada but also warmer countries like the United States, Spain and Brazil. Even in India, cold deaths outweigh heat deaths by 7-to-1.

Globally, about 1.7 million deaths are caused by cold a year, more than five times the number of heat deaths.

This matters because rising temperatures from global warming will reduce the number of cold deaths. Yet, the Nature Climate Change study scrupulously decided to only look at heat deaths by limiting its research to the four warmest months, ignoring the number of cold deaths, which were five times higher.

Cold deaths plummet as temperature rises

In The Lancet, some of the same authors estimated recent changes in full-year heat and cold deaths from the 1990s to the 2010s. Reliably, they found that heat deaths increased, but cold deaths decreased even more for all regions and, on average, twice as much. This suggests that leaving out cold deaths flips the central message.

Global warming up to now possibly means about 100,000 more heat deaths. But the Lancet full-year research shows it also very likely means we have avoided even more cold deaths, perhaps as much as twice that, equivalent to 200,000 avoided cold deaths.

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July 4, 2021 10:11 pm

Too true.

Where I was born, Menorca, barely ever had heat-related deaths. And those deaths were mostly older tourists.

It was the freakish cold spells that left piles of bodies in its wake, especially among the elderly natives.

Stephen W
July 4, 2021 10:25 pm

This article is terrible.

First of all, it assumes there is significant warming to save lives in winter, of which there is no evidence for.

But secondly, it suggests that in hot weather lives are saved by air conditioning, but in cold weather lives are saved by.. “global warming!”.
Rather than equally suggest that cold deaths are caused by heating and housing.

This article just further tries to suggest this is all evidence of global warming, and even if it’s saving lives today, it will probably kill us all as soon as co2 tips to some magic number of ppm.

Reply to  Stephen W
July 4, 2021 10:49 pm

global warming is mostly about warming nights and warmer winters. And most warming is nearer to the polar regions.

Stephen W
Reply to  gbaikie
July 4, 2021 10:52 pm


Stephen W
Reply to  Stephen W
July 4, 2021 10:59 pm

“Rather than equally suggest that cold deaths are caused by heating and housing.”

I meant to say..
Rather than equally suggest that cold deaths are saved by heating and housing.

Rich Lentz
Reply to  Stephen W
July 5, 2021 5:50 am

Sorry, But What I got out of this article is that SEVEN times as many people die from Hypothermia or “freezing to death” in layman terms,when it is unexpectedly cold than from hyperthermia when it is unexpectedly warm. AND NO ONE IS TOLD OF THIS. Worse “scientific” media, in support of the climate change hysteria, hides the deaths caused by it being to cold and only informs us of the coming deaths that will be caused from Global Warming feeding the hysteria..

Reply to  Rich Lentz
July 5, 2021 6:27 am

Most deaths due to hypothermia are alcohol related. Being passed out on a cold night has worse consequences than being passed out on a warm night.

Reply to  Stephen W
July 5, 2021 7:20 am

I strongly suspect that sources of heat have existed for a lot longer and are a lot cheaper, than sources of cool.

Stephen W
Reply to  MarkW
July 5, 2021 1:56 pm

No doubt, heating is older technology, but it’s still not free.

Fact is, as the industrial revolution improved humans lifestyles, it allowed us to afford to do more, including improved heating and cooling.

Im pointing out it is in fact the industrial revolution saving lives.
Not co2

Rich Davis
Reply to  Stephen W
July 5, 2021 9:22 am

Lomborg can be rightly criticized for seemingly accepting all the premises of the alarmists without question, but I believe that he does so in order to move the focus away from irrelevant distinctions about arcane technical points toward a discussion about the relative costs of adaptation vs mitigation and a sane assessment of cost-benefit.

Air conditioning in summer, like heating in winter, is adaptation. Trying to stop temperature from rising further by eliminating CO2 emissions is mitigation.

Forget for the moment that you and I have serious doubts that CO2 causes significant warming and that recent warming has been mostly caused by increasing CO2. It doesn’t matter who is right about that. Focus on his argument that the cost of adaptation is modest and the technology is proven and readily available, while the cost of mitigation is exorbitant and the technology is unreliable and probably not feasible.

If we’re right, the cost of adaptation is virtually zero, and the alternative approach of mitigation, which won’t change the climate at all, is measured in hundreds of trillions of dollars. Following Lomborg’s advice, the cost is zero, even though he proves to be wrong on the scientific question.

If what Lomborg claims to believe is right, the adaptation costs will be higher, but still far lower than the hundreds of trillions of dollars that might have a slight mitigation effect. So following Lomborg’s advice is still the right answer!

Reply to  Stephen W
July 5, 2021 11:44 pm

I’ll give you housing – nobody can dial the insulation up and down in their home (although the Green Scam certainly negatively affects whether they can install proper insulation in the first place).

But poor people can dial the thermostat up and down – IF they can afford it. Less need for heat, fewer people that can’t afford it, lower death toll from cold.

Of course, that assumes that the cost of that lower heating usage doesn’t rise faster than the savings. Which is exactly the result of the Green Scam. Deaths from cold are rising wherever it has taken hold.

Joel O'Bryan
July 4, 2021 11:07 pm

Global socialists never let facts and the truth get in the way of a propaganda narrative. Silly Bjorn.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 4, 2021 11:38 pm

You can’t call them out though. You’ll be labeled a conspiracy theorist for pointing out their obvious conspiracy, and conspiracies don’t exist, hence why we have the word for it.

Reply to  Zoe Phin
July 5, 2021 11:41 am

The conspiracy nut case/wacko meme has successfully conditioned the population to reject any information associated when that word is invoked.

Never mind that you would have to be a wacko/ nut case to believe the powerful don’t engage in conspiracies to maintain and increase their power.

Reply to  Zoe Phin
July 5, 2021 11:50 pm

Conspiracy doth never exist: what’s the reason? Why, if it exists, none who conspire will admit of it.”

With apologies to Sir John Harington.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Zoe Phin
July 6, 2021 4:38 am

Manmade Globul Warming is not a conspiracy, conspiracies are undertaken behind closed doors & in secret!!! Manmade Globul Warming is being marketed in full open view for all to see, if they so chose to do!!!

Old Goat
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 5, 2021 1:45 am

There’s one Bjorn every minute…

July 4, 2021 11:43 pm

Especially in Britain, with the government now dominated by the National Health Service, attention must be focused on heat-related deaths so that the impending increase in cold-weather deaths and systems failures will seem less severe. This way, hysteria over global warming can be used to scapegoat any and everything other than policies that will have created energy and economic poverty and the mass delusion of the competence of public health care.

Reply to  dk_
July 5, 2021 3:16 am

And in keeping with that focus the impartial BBC was quick to act…

The BBC has deleted its Bitesize revision guide’s list of ‘positive impacts’ of climate change after caving to fury from environmental activists.

The broadcaster faced furious backlash from environmental activists after sharing an online GCSE revision guide that listed the creation of shipping routes due to melting ice and lower heating bills thanks to warmer winters among a list of ‘benefits’.  

Campaigners called the BBC Bitesize material for GCSE geography students an ‘absolute disgrace’.

The BBC said it decided to remove the list of ‘positive’ effects because it did not follow the national curriculum. The guide now shows only the negative impacts of global warming – the Daily Mail

The precautionary principle is king.

Reply to  dk_
July 5, 2021 3:32 am

Heat-related deaths in Britain?!?

When was the last time it was 115(F) in the shade (and there ain’t no shade) in Britain?

I’d think that the only heat-related deaths in Britain would be from house fires.
There is a problem with heat-related deaths in the elderly, but it has nothing to do with AGW. The very elderly become thin-skinned and have little body fat and so always feel cold. They keep their house closed up even in summer because it feels cold even at 80(F).

We almost lost my mother-in-law to heat death about a month ago. It was in the lower 90s(F) and she turned on the furnace in her closed-up house. She has later-stage dementia, got confused and turned up the heat instead of putting on the air conditioning.

The Mrs. was doing her usual check on her mom and walked into that oven. Her mom was severely heat stressed and on her way to heat stroke. She got her mom out of there, brought her to our cooled house and got her hydrated.

Close call, but I imagine that happens more than people think. There are other situations where the elderly can no longer cope, e.g. can’t open sticky windows and set up a fan. So a lot of heat deaths in the elderly have nothing to do with AGW and everything to do with declining mental and physical condition.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  H.R.
July 5, 2021 4:03 am

Nailed it:…deaths in the elderly have nothing to do with AGW and everything to do with declining mental and physical condition.”

Old folks should be something akin to an Innuit diet.

Supplemented with 100mg of Vitamin C whenever they can remember to take it.
e.g. Leave a little bowl of chopped up high strength tabs on the coffee table and the jobs a gud’un

Also use Dead Sea salt as their table & cooking salt.
Ad-lib. Free Range = As Much As They Want. Salt intake is self-limiting
Magnesium and Sodium are what helps you ‘keep your marbles’ and esp Mg, keeps the ticker ticking

Or as I do myself, grind up one of these as your salt supply

Last edited 1 year ago by Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 5, 2021 12:54 pm

High levels of Magnesium are equally correlated to dementia as low levels. I remember you also recommended taking Epsom salts with your tea. Are you sure you’re not taking too much Magnesium? It would explain a lot.

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  H.R.
July 7, 2021 9:10 pm

There are about 50,000 cold related excess deaths in the UK per winter. This is up from about 30,000 ten years ago. The cause is not extreme cold, but chronic underheating which the WHO defines as a room temperature of less tan 18 degree C. Being chronically cold creates perfect conditions for developing pneumonia and flu.

Ken Irwin
July 5, 2021 12:00 am

Only in climate change can you do a cost / benefit analysis and only look at the cost.

Stephen W
Reply to  Ken Irwin
July 5, 2021 12:56 am

And in lockdowns you only look at the “benefits”

Reply to  Ken Irwin
July 5, 2021 5:41 am

Fewer people are dying in the Northern states and more are reaching the end of their lives and dying in the South, especially Florida, Arizona and Texas. Must be global warming.

Reply to  Scissor
July 5, 2021 1:47 pm

They be called Snowbirds, Scissor.

July 5, 2021 12:44 am

The paper says, “Results of this investigation show that climate change has the potential to produce a substantial increase in temperature-related mortality in most regions. Figures show a steep rise in heat-related excess mortality that, under extreme scenarios of global warming, is not balanced by a decrease in cold-related deaths.”

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Stevec
July 5, 2021 1:11 am

The “figures” referred to are not empirical data but numbers on a screen generated by a computer program.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Hanley
Reply to  Chris Hanley
July 5, 2021 6:50 am

Chris, if you correctly quoted the paper itself (I don’t have access to it), what struck me was the phrase “under extreme scenarios of global warming”. In other words, in order for heat deaths to exceed cold deaths, according to unsubstantiated models, global warming would have to meet or exceed the highly implausible worst case scenario with the highest GHG emissions and the highest equilibrium sensitivity to GHGs. This is actually very good news. Even in their worst nightmares, climate catastrophists can only just barely make claims about heat deaths. Time to mark that off their list of concerns. Also time for the alarmists to cancel these researchers for not toeing the line. See if they ever get published again.

John Endicott
Reply to  Stevec
July 6, 2021 4:16 am

under extreme scenarios of global warming”

translation: results of computer models, not from any actual observed data. GIGO applies.

July 5, 2021 12:58 am

However the main increase in heat deaths is in areas which historically have not needed air conditioning and where it isn’t installed – with a rise in extreme events in those areas, heat deaths will go up. France 2003, Canada 2021.

and what are we counting as cold deaths? Excess winter mortality is a common measure – but that’s mostly flu. Direct deaths from cold?

And deaths don’t balance out for people who die… it isn’t OK you are dead of heatstroke because someone else doesn’t die of cold exacerbated flu.

Bill Toland
Reply to  griff
July 5, 2021 3:42 am

Griff, the Lancet study shows that 20 times more people die from cold than heat worldwide. The figures for Britain are even more extreme. And it’s got nothing to do with flu.

Reply to  griff
July 5, 2021 7:28 am

Griff, I understand that stupid is your thing, but this comment is stupid, even by your standards.
Just because a particular region doesn’t need air conditioners 9 years out of 10, is not evidence that the 10th year was caused by CO2.

Secondly, all deaths are tragic, but you are trying to claim that a decreased number of deaths doesn’t matter because some people are still dying.

Reply to  griff
July 5, 2021 7:50 am

So Griff, would you prefer living in 1700 to 1775 when CO2 was so benign and the climate was cooler, or this terrible time of “dangerous” CO2, 1950-2025?

Reply to  griff
July 5, 2021 8:25 am

France 2003 wasn’t climate but extrem weather, the persons died because of wrong or no treatment. (dehydration, closed windows, no ventilation, unprepared handling)

“and what are we counting as cold deaths? Excess winter mortality is a common measure”

Excess summer mortality isn’t a common measure ? Do you believe your self writing such nonsense ? Unbelievebal….

Frank Hansen
Reply to  Krishna Gans
July 5, 2021 10:56 am

Old people died in Paris in 2003 because all their relatives were vacationing in the riviera and could not take care of them.

Reply to  Frank Hansen
July 5, 2021 2:00 pm

As I did, being in Montpelier 😀
It was warm, nearly hot, that’s right, but had no relatives at home to care about.
Wive and children enjoyed these holidays in southern France and the daily tour to the Mediteranean Sea.

Rich Davis
Reply to  griff
July 5, 2021 9:32 am

You seem to have missed BobM’s question.

Would you prefer living in 1700 to 1775 when CO2 was so benign, or this terrible time of “dangerous” CO2, 1950-2025?

John Endicott
Reply to  Rich Davis
July 6, 2021 4:19 am

Oh he didn’t miss it. He just refuses to answer it.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
July 5, 2021 10:08 am

“However the main increase in heat deaths is in areas which historically have not needed air conditioning and where it isn’t installed – with a rise in extreme events in those areas, heat deaths will go up. France 2003, Canada 2021.”

Here we see Griff grasping at straws. Adiabatic, Griff. Think adiabatic. Think.

Dave Fair
Reply to  griff
July 5, 2021 10:40 am

Yep, Griff, a 2 C increase in Northern Hemisphere, high-latitude winter and nighttime temperatures will kill us all with massive heatwaves.

July 5, 2021 3:06 am

Climate change coverage during the heatwave in the American/Canadian North West has been interesting in the UK, where the weather is proving David King 100% wrong (again); we are not having the hotter drier summers he promised us after all. Far from it.

It’s hard to visualise a heatwave when it’s grey wet and decidedly cool for the time of year. But the narrative driven media did give it a go.

Last edited 1 year ago by strativarius
Bruce Cobb
July 5, 2021 4:26 am

Hoo boy, it’s a tangled web. Mr. Lomborg correctly points out the intentional misinformation and disinformation (i.e. lies) by the Climate Caterwaulers regarding “heat deaths”. The truth is that the Climate Liars don’t have much going for them regarding actual temperatures, other than the conveniently-ignored fact that cities are subject to UHI, so will naturally record higher temperatures. They have to fall back upon emotion-laden claims, hoping that the dull-witted sheeple will obediently follow along.
Digging deeper, it actually is mostly the lack of wealth that causes needless death to occur. It is an obvious truth, and one that the proponents of CAGW ideology hate. Bad weather, including both record cold and heat has always happened, and always will, so blaming the weather is purely a blame-shifting, political stance. Build wealth, and people will be less apt to expire due to bad weather. And how do we build wealth? For starters, we don’t deliberately destroy wealth the way that the Climate Liars and their toadies want to do.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 5, 2021 4:45 am

emotion-laden claims…

Are key to everything they do. From the people who created Greta:

“How is it possible for you to be so easily tricked by something so simple as a story, because you are tricked? Well, it all comes down to one core thing and that is emotional investment. The more emotionally invested you are in anything in your life, the less critical and the less objectively observant you become.” — David JP Phillips, We Don’t Have Time board of directors, “The Magical Science of Storytelling”

mark from the midwest
July 5, 2021 5:49 am

I think this is the first time I’ve seen Bjorn go totally off the rails. Cold related deaths often have little to do with average temperature, and are almost entirely related to significant winter weather events. In that regard here are a few realities. First, it’s substantially less likely that people will become stranded in winter weather, take a 49 Ford Flathead and a 2016 Toyota Rav 4 and drive around in a blizzard. Second heating systems in homes are much less likely to fail, take an elderly couple, living alone and heating with coal in the 1930’s. Now move ahead to a natural gas furnace in 2021. Finally, reliable communication. Three years age Verizon helped us locate, in about 45 minutes, a teen driver who inadvertently drove down a seasonal road during heavy snow. Given the location and weather the outcome could have been much worse.

Reply to  mark from the midwest
July 5, 2021 7:32 am

The same is true for heat related deaths. It’s not the average temps that matter, it’s the extreme events.

Temperatures rising into the high 90’s in New York State will result in people dropping dead from heat related causes all over the state.
On the other hand, in Arizona, when the temperature drops to 90, locals put on sweaters.

Rich Davis
Reply to  mark from the midwest
July 5, 2021 10:00 am

I don’t see that Bjørn is at all off the rails here, Mark (ftmw).

He points out that you need to look at the benefits along with the costs. He points out that there is an order of magnitude higher level of death due to cold than due to heat.

Yes it’s the unexpected event (and thus poorly prepared for and ill-adapted to) that is most likely to lead to a death.

But maybe you are not considering that in a world where electric heat is the only available option, and electricity becomes highly unreliable during bitterly cold events, that becomes an extreme event caused by climate policy. For that matter making electricity expensive and unreliable k!lls at both temperature extremes.

John Endicott
Reply to  mark from the midwest
July 6, 2021 4:27 am

” First, it’s substantially less likely that people will become stranded in winter weather, take a 49 Ford Flathead and a 2016 Toyota Rav 4 and drive around in a blizzard.”

Except those things are to be replaced by EVs whose charge is significantly compromised in cold winter conditions. IE you’re more likely to be stranded in your Tesla EV than you are in a Toyota Rav 4.

“Second heating systems in homes are much less likely to fail,”

But far left “green” climate polices want to take away the coal and natural gas and any other reliable fossil fuel and replace them with weather dependent sources of energy like Wind and solar that are likely to fail in a blizzard (no sun in a blizzard, and blizzard conditions are not very conducive to the bird choppers functioning). Not to mention that such polices drive up the costs of said energy, meaning even if it’s available, many poor elderly folk will need to make the choice between starving or freezing as they can’t afford both food and heat.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Endicott
Tom Abbott
July 5, 2021 10:02 am

From the article: “This is abundantly clear for the United States, which has seen increasing hot days since 1960 affecting a much greater population.”

Putting it this way is a distortion of reality. I know Bjorn is just using the deceptive EPA page, but by doing so he is perpetrating the narrative that we are living in the warmest times in human history, and completely ignores that it was just as warm in the past within the lifetime of people who are still alive.

These people just won’t give you a clear picture of the situation. If they did, they would be out of a job.

Richard M
Reply to  Tom Abbott
July 5, 2021 10:54 am

This graph tells the real story.
comment image

Rich Davis
Reply to  Tom Abbott
July 5, 2021 11:17 am

Sure, it’s worth challenging him on his blind acceptance of whatever the consensus narrative throws at him. I agree that he’s making a flawed argument because the premise is based on fake data.

But understand that his tactic is to use the alarmist argument against them. He’s not promoting the idea of increasing hot days, he’s pointing out that even if we accept the claim, there have been fewer deaths.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rich Davis
July 6, 2021 8:31 am

You are correct, Rich, but it still grates on me. I feel like if I don’t say something, then I’m going along with the distortion.

July 5, 2021 11:54 am

I live in Montreal. We still fly south for vacation, winter or summer. Every time we get. Why is that?

July 5, 2021 1:39 pm

“We will know our disinformation program is complete, when everything the American public believes is false” — William Casey CIA Director 1981

July 5, 2021 2:00 pm


Here is a video of life with low CO2. Enjoy. The Safe Climate Of Low CO2

Geoff Sherrington
July 5, 2021 6:02 pm

Commenters here need to move from snappy comments to simple data analysis. Then use your data to show the correct message.
For heat waves, the official message is that they are getting longer, hotter and more often. I took official Australian data for our 6 State capitals and extracted the top 40 heat wave events for lengths of 1, 3, 5 and 10 days. In most instances, these heat waves are not getting hotter, longer or more frequent.
There is a misconception that global warming has added one degree C per century to ambient temperatures. If you use maximum temperatures over several days as in a heat wave, you might expect that extra one degree to show. But, it does not seem to show in most cases I have studied.
So, you clever guys and gals who blog here need to do similar studies of your cities and countries.
It is no longer adequate to be literary buffs. It is serious and you have to present correct, proper data analysis. Geoff S

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