Fisking deaths from climate change

Thomas Lumley blogs at Stats Chat:

Stuff has fallen for an egregiously over-promoted paper on future temperature-related deaths in the UK

The story says:

Deaths caused by hot weather are projected to rise by more than 250 per cent, with the elderly most at risk, the New Zealand Doctor magazine reported today.

The increased death rate, driven by , population growth and ageing, would occur by the middle of the century, according to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health on Monday.

It was found that “in the absence of any adaptation of the population”, heat-related deaths would be expected to rise by about 257 per cent by the 2050s, and cold-related mortality would decline by 2 per cent.

Where did this story comes from? The Greens!

Stuff attributes this story to NZ Doctor, but all they did was reprint an explicitly unedited Green Party press release.

So Stuff didn’t realise that it was not a news report, but a press release. Or maybe they didn’t care.

As to the facts:

Professor David Spiegelhalter has already savaged this one elegantly on his blog.  All the projected increase in temperature-related deaths in the UK is due to the increase in the number of elderly people.

If you compare people of the same age, the projections say cold-related deaths will fall by about twice as much as heat-related deaths rise, as his graph of the numbers from the paper shows.  That is, the paper actually predicts that global warming will reduce the number of temperature-related deaths in the UK.

Will Stuff run the truth as prominently as the original story.

Finally a point worth noting:

In the USA or Australia, let alone Africa, India, and other less-wealthy tropical places, there is going to be a real problem with temperature-related deaths from global warming.  In many more parts of the world, there’s a potential for weather-related deaths from drought, flood, storm, and ‘tropical’ disease.

Heat waves in the UK are not in the top ten list of things to worry about from global warming. Pretending they are is likely to be counterproductive.


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