JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Despite record heat, six times as many people die of cold in Australia not heat

Australia has had the hottest temperatures for a thousand years (according to some). We’ve “shattered records” yet even so, at the peak of this hot era — six times as many Australians were felled by cold weather. Lord help us when the next ice-age comes.

A study on Australian deaths from 2000-2009 found that heat, cold, and temperature variability killed 42,000 people which was about 6% of all deaths. Of those temperature related deaths 60% were due to the cold. 28% were due to sudden changes in temperature. A mere 10% were due to heat.

Greenhouse gases should help prevent 90% of those deaths (they reduce temperature variability too). Looks like we need to burn more coal. For the sake of the vulnerable and needy.

When are our government and our government broadcaster going to start dealing with real problems, not fake ones?

 

 

Don’t assume we just got lucky. According to an ABC heatwave panic story, deaths from heatwaves during this 2000-2009 decade were among the worst.

The ABC warns us repeatedly of the dangers of a few hot days Heatwaves are Australia’s deadliest natural hazard and many of us are unprepared

As it got hotter in Spain, less people died. Thank air conditioning and electricity.

Cheap energy might save more lives than expensive “climate-changey” energy?

Researchers looked at 47 major cities in Spain, from 1980 to 2015 and checked 554,491 deaths. Even though temperatures have risen, less people are dying of heat in Spain. Apparently human ingenuity, energy and air conditioners were more than able to keep up with climate change. The population is older but less vulnerable to heat now than it was forty years ago.

Air conditioners rose from 5% of the population to 35% during the study period.

Oh the dilemma — to save lives, should we build more windmills to try to change the global climate or aim to get 100% of households access to an air conditioner?

Welcome to the dire threat of climate change:

The relative risk of death fell as temperatures rose (According to the model used). See the caption below.

From the Discussion in the paper:

The temporal evolution of heat-related mortality risks here found is, in general, consistent with those reported by previous studies in some other countries [12–15], which provide evidence for a decrease in vulnerability to climate warming despite the ageing of societies. For example, in Spain, the proportion of people [...]

Last winter 9,000 more British pensioners died than usual — how many were due to high heating costs?

Higher electricity costs mean more people turn off their heaters

There’s a big freeze coming to Britain with minus 12C temperatures possible in the next three weeks.

Last year in winter in England there was a remarkable 40% rise in winter deaths

David Archibald emails that last year was a mild winter for Brits, but the death toll rose from the normal 25,000 excess to 34,000 people. Remembering that it’s moderate cold that kills far more people than extreme temperatures. The UK government advises rooms be heated to at least 18C. (I’ve been in a Canberra house where the temperature fell to 11C indoors, and that was in May.) Despite all the newspaper headlines about outside temperatures, the big killer is indoors.

The big killer is indoor temperature and moderately cold, not extremes.

Campaigners demand urgent cuts to power bill after number of winter deaths among the elderly rise by 40%

Pensioner groups are demanding urgent measures to cut the cost of heat and light after official figures revealed a surge in deaths last winter. There were some 34,300 so-called ‘excess’ deaths during the cold months, according to new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). [...]

Forget extreme temperatures: Nothing kills as many people as moderate cold

Some are scoffing at the idea that rising heating costs will kill people. But check out the number-one temperature-killer in 74 million deaths across 13 countries. It’s not the extremes that we need to worry about, the deadly phrase is “mildly suboptimal temperatures”. Look at the blue finger of death in the graph below, starkly showing how irrelevant “extreme heat”, or any other ambient temperature zone, is.

Do you need an excuse to turn the heater on in winter? Low ambient room temperatures will thicken your blood.

Moderate cold accounted for as many as 6.6% of all deaths. Extreme temperatures (either cold or hot) were responsible for only 0·86%.

Join the dots — will we save more lives by:

a) making homes cold now in the hope that lower “carbon” emissions will,

b) mean less deaths from heat in 90 years time despite people probably having better access to heaters and air conditioners?

Would you sacrifice ten years of your life…

Note the big killer “moderate cold”  |  Click to enlarge

Cold is more likely to kill you in Sydney than in Sweden

Check out the curves below. As a percentage of the population, there [...]