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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 month, a landmark 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.

  1. July 4, 2021 10:22 am

    Bjorn Lomborg has always been a voice of reason. Long may he continue!

  2. AC Osborn permalink
    July 4, 2021 10:31 am

    There is no good news allowed, as the pressure on the BBC showed last week.

  3. Up2snuff permalink
    July 4, 2021 10:32 am

    Some, perhaps many, of the heat deaths – much hyped by the media in the UK – will be tragic accidents. For example people diving head first into water without checking the depth first, people with undiagnosed heart conditions jumping into the sea or rivers to cool off and suffering major heart trauma and people doing similar but having drunk too much alcohol beforehand. Sad but avoidable.

    • John Hultquist permalink
      July 4, 2021 5:21 pm

      When a person suddenly jumps or falls into very cold water there is an auto-reaction called Cold shock response or involuntary inhalation.
      The Wiki entry also mentions the things you report in your comment.

  4. Harry Passfield permalink
    July 4, 2021 10:32 am

    A report never to see light of day on BBC News.

  5. LayorNala permalink
    July 4, 2021 10:40 am

    As I understand heat deaths are in many cases caused by dehydration rather than heat as such.

    • July 5, 2021 12:16 pm

      Yes. Dehydration AND a deficiency in salt.I suspect most heat deaths are due to lack of knowledge on how to keep cool in hot situations. If you have access to water, salt, moving air and preferably shade; then there is no need to die, unless you have other medical problems.

  6. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    July 4, 2021 10:59 am

    Hot days increasing since 1960. How about since 1920?…….

    • Broadlands permalink
      July 4, 2021 1:11 pm

      Good point Chas… it seems as if the article acknowledges AGW but makes the fractional global temperature anomaly increase since pre-industrial time “tolerable” via technology that adds to the UHI effect.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      July 4, 2021 7:15 pm

      My mum ,born 1911, always told me that summers were better in her school days than they were in mine, born 1950. That means better sunmers in the Roaring Twenties than in the Swinging Sixties.

      • Vernon E permalink
        July 5, 2021 6:53 pm

        Try Brighton, Blackpool, Scarborough, Rhyl, Weston-Super- Mare…. I could go on. Do you think people were all stupid in thiose days?

  7. bsides2015 permalink
    July 4, 2021 11:13 am

    BBC deletes GCSE revision guide that listed the UPSIDE of climate change after fury from environmental activists

  8. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    July 4, 2021 11:50 am

    Moral panic. Them and us. Throw in secrecy to create fear and panic this is the Government’s modus operandi.
    Past fashions include mutrally assured destruction and weapons of mass destruction.

    Now we are working through climate change and total destruction – or at least, so the media would have us believe.
    With all its lies and ignorance, heaped upon lies and terror stories.

    Truth becomes a dirty word.

  9. Jackington permalink
    July 4, 2021 12:26 pm

    I don’t know where Andrew Neil and his news team get their inputs from but I would expect GBN to broadcast reports and others like this with alacrity.

  10. July 4, 2021 4:13 pm

    The only issue with this analysis is that the US is not experiencing more hot days.
    Tony Heller has been through this many, many times, unfortunately Lomborg has been fooled like many in believing the corrupted data and not the unadjusted numbers.

    • July 4, 2021 5:02 pm

      The report cited by Lomborg actually shows only minimum temperatures, not maximum temperatures. It is fairly well established that increasing CO2 does make night time temperatures a bit higher, but not much. As you point out. Hot days are declining. Lomborg should know better.

      • Mack permalink
        July 4, 2021 7:22 pm

        ‘It is fairly well established that increasing co2 does make night time temperatures a bit higher’. Really Dennis? Got any evidence for that assertion? Do those pesky molecules only start misbehaving at night? I would say that the UHI effect is much more of an issue in relation to any higher nocturnal temperatures than a fractional increase in the quantity of a trace gas in the atmosphere.

      • Vernon E permalink
        July 5, 2021 6:55 pm

        What on earth is the basis for that curious claim?

  11. It doesn't add up... permalink
    July 4, 2021 4:56 pm

    I think this is an opportunity.

    Advertising to get right in the faces of politicians. Message

    You will be poor. You will be cold. You will be hungry. You may lose your job. You may lose your car. You may lose your home. The Net Zero manifesto of COP26

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      July 5, 2021 5:53 pm

      My comment sent, wonder if it will be published.
      Thanks for the link.

  12. Harry Davidson permalink
    July 4, 2021 6:01 pm

    The DT has a piece today,
    It is a blatant advert for the Alarmist cause with not the slightest attempt balance, riddled with inaccuracy and mis-representation.

    Normally I would be relieved, it would suppress any thoughts of paying a sub, but their complete dis-interest in Wales (contrasted with the endless coverage of Scotland) has recently already put that out of the question.

  13. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    July 4, 2021 6:07 pm

    “Obviously, this is a powerful narrative to jurtify urgent climate policies.”

    Coal, oil and gas are run down, despite the number of cold deaths being the larger problem.

    As for the Lancet. This publication demonstrated it’s bias years ago, so lost all credibility.

  14. Vic Hanby permalink
    July 4, 2021 6:16 pm

    About ten years ago a research project known as LUCID was funded by the EPSRC and it examined in detail likely climate impacts in London. It was led by Prof Mike Davies who is a member of the Climate Change Committee. One of its conclusions was that the reduction of cold-weather deaths would far exceed the increase in hot-weather deaths. The science is there but the MSM and ‘activists’ aren’t interested in it.

  15. MrGrimNasty permalink
    July 4, 2021 6:38 pm

    The whole argument is daft. It’s an argument over categorizations of deaths, a few days or weeks taken at the end of a life, not causing more/preventing deaths in healthy people with years to live.

    People die. Fact of life. As they approach the end of life there is often a circumstance that is the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. After a heatwave surge in deaths, there will then typically be a period with below average deaths.

    We’ve seen this with covid where in the UK the average age of a covid victim was (and probably still is) greater than average life expectancy.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 5, 2021 8:29 am

      This repeats a fallacy about Covid. Life expectancy AT BIRTH in the UK is around 84 but if you are 84 your life expectancy is around 88.

      But you are right about heat deaths, they are almost entirely deaths “brought forward” by a few weeks, as were a significant proportion of Covid deaths this winter (hence months of below average deaths amongst the elderly). But even then, most heat deaths are avoidable with proper support of those who are vulnerable. The very high number of deaths in France a few years ago was large due to the heatwave happening in August when most support and health workers and family were on holiday.

      • dave permalink
        July 5, 2021 10:24 am

        Heat deaths are caused by a combination – of physical activity, hot sun, and carelessness. The core of the body can heat very quickly – and irreversibly.

        Lie down, early in the day, in the shade, with limbs immersed in bowls of cool water, during a heat wave, and you will do fine, even if you are old*. Dash around in the sun sweating inside your clothes, and you risk death, even if you are young. Remember those SAS candidates who died, in ordinary Welsh summer weather, a few years ago, because they were forced to complete their march too quickly?

        *Marco Polo has a description of how the citizens of a seaport on the Arabian Gulf did just this, all summer, using water flowing down from dams in the hills behind them. There are also descriptions of sailors regularly dropping dead, on passage, in the same region, as late as the 20th century, because their captains did not understand the danger.

  16. Ben Vorlich permalink
    July 4, 2021 9:40 pm

    Interesting from Google feed.

    As we become more reliant on electricity, rationing it might be necessary’
    Mike Rutherford does not believe the UK Power Network will be able to cope with the demands of EV drivers

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      July 5, 2021 8:36 am

      Very hard to achieve though – if you know you can’t recharge you car/phone/laptop this evening then you recharge it now. But that simply shifts the problem in time. Rationing means using less and you can only achieve that with electricity by giving each household an allowance monitored and controlled by the state. But then the state simply shuts down your fridge and freezer? Turns off your lights? How do you work from home with no electricity? And do we seriously expect that the rich couple in a large house with 3 EVs will get the same ration as a poor couple in a council flat?

      Rationing is rioting.

      • Jack Broughton permalink
        July 5, 2021 5:56 pm

        What will happen, as in third world countries, is that areas will have rolling power cuts “to save the planet”. These will show who can afford stand-by generators!

    • James Neill permalink
      July 5, 2021 3:51 pm

      Smart meters anyone?

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