Right Opinion

Winters, Not Summers, Increase Mortality and Stress the Economy

Joseph D'Aleo · May 28, 2015

Coauthored by Allan MacRae.

Global warming alarmists continue to over-emphasize the danger of heat and ignore cold in their papers and in stories for the media. The danger associated with this misdirection is that cold weather kills many more people than hot weather.

This conclusion is clearly supported by many studies of populations in a wide range of climates. Examples are provided below from a study of thirteen countries, as well as national studies from the United Kingdom, the USA, Canada and Australia.

Furthermore, this conclusion is not new, but has been known for many decades.

WORLD

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 were published in The Lancet.

The summary states:

“We collected data for 384 locations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, and USA. …

"We analyzed 74,225,200 deaths in various periods between 1985 and 2012. In total, 7.71% (95% empirical CI 7.43–7.91) of mortality was attributable to non-optimum temperature in the selected countries within the study period, with substantial differences between countries, ranging from 3.37% (3.06 to 3.63) in Thailand to 11.00% (9.29 to 12.47) in China. The temperature percentile of minimum mortality varied from roughly the 60th percentile in tropical areas to about the 80–90th percentile in temperate regions. More temperature-attributable deaths were caused by cold (7.29%, 7.02–7.49) than by heat (0.42%, 0.39–0.44). Extreme cold and hot temperatures were responsible for 0.86% (0.84–0.87) of total mortality. …

"Most of the temperature-related mortality burden was attributable to the contribution of cold.”

UNITED KINGDOM

The UK Guardian examined Excess Winter Mortality after the 2012/13 hard winter. A total of about 50,000 Excess Winter Deaths occurred that winter in the UK.



“Each year since 1950, the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) has looked at excess winter mortality…

"Excess winter mortality was 31,100 in England and Wales in 2012/13 — up 29% from the previous year. Figures for Scotland were also released recently showing a much smaller increase in winter deaths, up 4.1% to 19,908. In Northern Ireland meanwhile, the raw numbers were low but the increase was large — a rise of 12.7% to 559 deaths.

"The methodology behind the maths is surprisingly simple; the ONS take an average of deaths in winter (those in December to March) and subtract the average of non-winter deaths (April to July of the current year and August to November of the previous year). The result is considered ‘excess’."


In the milder climates of western and southern Europe, the Excess Winter Mortality is greater than in the colder northern climates, where people are more accustomed to colder winters and homes are built to keep the residents warm (better insulation and central heating). Also energy costs in Europe are much higher due to the early adoption of inefficient and much more expensive renewable energy schemes.

UNITED STATES

Similarly, the USA death rate in January and February is more than 1,000 deaths per day greater than in July and August.

Indur M. Goklany wrote in 2009:

"Data from the US National Center for Health Statistics for 2001-2008, shows that on average 7,200 Americans died each day during the months of December, January, February and March, compared to the average 6,400 who died daily during the rest of the year. In 2008, there were 108,500 ‘excess’ deaths during the 122 days in the cold months (December to March)."


MORE RECORD LOWS THAN HIGHS IN USA

Despite claims that extreme heat is increasing and cold decreasing, unadjusted state extreme temperature data shows the opposite. 23 of the state all-time record highs occurred in the 1930s and 38 before 1960. There have been more record lows since the 1940s than record highs.

CANADA

Statistics Canada also reports deaths by month. The graph below shows the deaths per day for each month in Canada averaged over the years 2007-2011.

The graph shows that the death rate in January is more than 100 deaths/day greater than in August. See more here.

AUSTRALIA

Even down under in Australia we see the same story. Queensland University of Technology found Australians are more likely to die during unseasonably cold winters than hotter than average summers.

Via Science Daily:

"Across the country severe winters that are colder and drier than normal are a far bigger risk to health than sweltering summers that are hotter than average.

"QUT Associate Professor Adrian Barnett, a statistician with the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and the lead researcher of the study, said death rates in Australian cities were up to 30 per cent higher in winter than summer.

"The researchers analyzed temperature, humidity and mortality data from 1988 to 2009 for Adelaide Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

"Professor Barnett said the finding that hotter or more humid summers had no effect on mortality was ‘surprising.’

”‘We know that heat waves kill people in the short-term, but our study did not find any link between hotter summers and higher deaths,’ he said.“

WINTER ECONOMIC IMPACT

An article in the Associated Press stated:

"There’s something strange about the U.S. economy in the first three months of every year: It frequently grows at a much slower pace than in the other nine months…
>
>"Alec Phillips, an economist at Goldman Sachs, noticed that from 2010 through 2014, growth in the first three months of the year has averaged 0.6 percent, while it has averaged 2.9 percent in the other three quarters.

"And Macroeconomic Advisers, a forecasting firm, has found that the pattern goes back further: Since 1995, outside of recessions, the first quarter has grown at half the pace of the other three.”

The government agency charged with calculating the economy’s growth rate said it would adjust its methods in an effort to resolve the problem. Other economists, including at the Federal Reserve in Washington, have concluded that the government’s figures are largely accurate. The first-quarter weakness over the years may be due in part to harsh winter weather.


Joe D'Aleo is a certified Consulting Meteorologist, Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), former chair AMS Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecasting, co-founder and first Director of Meteorology at The Weather Channel and a former college professor of Meteorology and Climatology.

Click here to show comments

Subscribe! It's Right. It's Free.