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Guest “yawn” by David Middleton

Study blames climate change for 37 percent of heat deaths worldwide
“These are deaths related to heat that actually can be prevented. It is something we directly cause,” an epidemiologist said.

May 31, 2021
By The Associated Press

More than one-third of the world’s heat deaths each year are due directly to global warming, according to the latest study to calculate the human cost of climate change.

But scientists say that’s only a sliver of climate’s overall toll — even more people die from other extreme weather amplified by global warming such as storms, flooding and drought — and the heat death numbers will grow exponentially with rising temperatures.

Dozens of researchers who looked at heat deaths in 732 cities around the globe from 1991 to 2018 calculated that 37 percent were caused by higher temperatures from human-caused warming, according to a study Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

[…]

About 35 percent of heat deaths in the United States can be blamed on climate change, the study found. That’s a total of more than 1,100 deaths a year in about 200 U.S. cities, topped by 141 in New York. Honolulu had the highest portion of heat deaths attributable to climate change, 82 percent.

[…]

NBC News

The study by “dozens of researchers” is pay-walled.

“Heat death numbers will grow exponentially with rising temperatures”

Why aren’t they already growing exponentially?

Figure 1. US heat-related death rate, 1979-2018. “Between 1998 and 1999, the World Health Organization revised the international codes used to classify causes of death. As a result, data from earlier than 1999 cannot easily be compared with data from 1999 and later.” US EPA

“More than one-third of the world’s heat deaths each year are due directly to global warming”

So… We must be having less cold-related deaths… Right?

Figure 2. US cold-related death rate, 1979-2016. Since 1999, the cold-related death rate has been about twice that of the heat-related death rate. US EPA

“Honolulu had the highest portion of heat deaths attributable to climate change, 82 percent.”

According to the CDC, from 1999-2016, there were so few heat-related deaths in Honolulu County, that a reliable death rate can’t be calculated. That’s the entire island of Oʻahu. Due to data use restrictions, I won’t post the actual number or even the link to the dataset. However, if you Google (or Duck Duck Go) “CDC WONDER,” you can spend hours wading through more causes of death than I ever knew existed.

Even funnier…

Figure 3. Honolulu HI, climate change since The Ice Age ComethGISS

“And now for something completely different…”

This “problem” was solved over 20 years ago…

Abstract

Heat is the primary weather-related cause of death in the United States. Increasing heat and humidity, at least partially related to anthropogenic climate change, suggest that a long-term increase in heat-related mortality could occur. We calculated the annual excess mortality on days when apparent temperatures–an index that combines air temperature and humidity–exceeded a threshold value for 28 major metropolitan areas in the United States from 1964 through 1998. Heat-related mortality rates declined significantly over time in 19 of the 28 cities. For the 28-city average, there were 41.0 +/- 4.8 (mean +/- SE) excess heat-related deaths per year (per standard million) in the 1960s and 1970s, 17.3 +/- 2.7 in the 1980s, and 10.5 +/- 2.0 in the 1990s. In the 1960s and 1970s, almost all study cities exhibited mortality significantly above normal on days with high apparent temperatures. During the 1980s, many cities, particularly those in the typically hot and humid southern United States, experienced no excess mortality. In the 1990s, this effect spread northward across interior cities. This systematic desensitization of the metropolitan populace to high heat and humidity over time can be attributed to a suite of technologic, infrastructural, and biophysical adaptations, including increased availability of air conditioning.

Davis, Knappenberger, Michaels, and Novicoff, 2003

“The answer is blowing in the…” window

With hot weather comes the desire to cool off. For those of you who don’t have internal air, the window air conditioning unit is a good second option. This video will show you how to install one.

Reference

Davis, R. E. , Knappenberger, P. C. , Michaels, P. J. , & Novicoff, W. M. (2003). Changing heat‐related mortality in the United States. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111(14), 1712–1718. 10.1289/ehp.6336 [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]

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June 1, 2021