Study: More people die from cold than from hot weather, by 20 to 1

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According to a study conducted nearly a decade ago, cold weather is 20 times as deadly to humans as hot weather.

The study was published in 2015 in the British scientific journal The Lancet, which analyzed over 74 million deaths in 13 countries between 1985 and 2012.

Of those, 5.4 million deaths were related to cold, and only 311,000 were from heat.

The study also said that most of the heat- or cold-related deaths occurred on moderately hot and moderately cold days. It wasn’t the extreme temperatures that were doing the killing.

Although risk of dying due to extremely cold or hot days is actually higher, they are less frequent, said researcher Antonio Gasparrini of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The study was launched after the European heatwave of 2003, when governments said about 70,000 premature deaths resulted in countries, particularly in France, and subsequent heat waves in other countries.

The period of extreme heat was at the time thought to be the warmest for up to 500 years, and many European countries experienced their highest temperatures.

The Focus on extreme weather (such as heatwaves) might ignore the incremental risk of moderately unusual temperatures, the journal reported. Both high and low temperatures have been reported to be associated with mortality and morbidity from causes such as cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.

“Although deaths attributable to cold are substantially more common in most places than are those attributable to heat, they attract far less public attention,” the journal said.

Gasparrini and colleagues used a vast multi-country database to help them analyze attributable risk of ambient temperature for mortality. They collected data for daily mortality, temperature, and other confounding variables from 13 countries, which included more than 74 million deaths recorded in 384 locations across temperate and tropical climates (roughly a third of locations were in the USA).

“Overall, deaths attributable to extreme heat are roughly as frequent as those attributable to moderate heat, while those attributable to extreme cold are negligible compared with those caused by moderate cold,” the researchers observed.

Read the study at The Lancet at this link.

Photo credit: Rob Bussell

31 COMMENTS

  1. Referencing outdated studies is common for climate deniers, nobody should die from the heat or cold in the USA. Only a fool would move to Arizona to escape the cold right now

    • Are you saying an 8-year-old scientific study is outdated, Frank?

      If that is the case, then more than 90% of what we know to be true in the world is outdated. I just checked Flagstaff and it’s 90 degrees, more or less average for this time of year. Prescott is 91 degrees. 112 in Phoenix, and 104 in Tucson. All within range for that area. It’s too hot for me, but that is not the worst it’s ever been. The hottest temperature recorded in Phoenix was 122 degrees on June 26, 1990. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Arizona was on June 29, 1994 at Lake Havasu.

      Ooops that information is older than 8 years so much be outdated??? Get a grip, Frank.

    • Oh Frank two can play that game…
      “Manipulating data is common for climate alarmists….” suffice it to say that those “predictions” have not come to pass. ( Al Gore and his “fever of the earth” and rising sea levels) Having spent several years in Arizona, I recall a drive through Phoenix when my car thermometer hit 120 degrees. Back then it was just called “weather” and people simply moved on.

    • At least without govt subsidized air conditioning… And “clean” nuclear power since the hydro is all being sold to CA and the lakes are drying up because all the idiots in the desert who water their lawns.

    • We certainly would like to see no one die from hot or cold in the USA, but any comment that is written that “nobody” should be harmed from this or that, takes the free will of people not making good decisions out of that comment. It is the ideal situation for no one to die from cold, heat, another person, drunk driver, traffic accident, etc. But the reality, which is where we all do live, is that mistakes happen, people make bad choices, people make evil choices, and accidents happen, every. minute. of. every. single. day.

  2. So the answer is clear: screw the climate and have more global warming.

    Save the people, doncha know.

  3. You can always add clothing when it’s cold. Only so much you can take off in public. Trust me, I have lived in very hot places. fresno, CA and Houston, TX. Where A/C is not a luxury!!

    • About 250 people died in Texas during a winter storm in 2021 when natural gas facilities that weren’t properly insulated froze up. If you’ll recall it was a statewide disaster. So, even some of those places can’t escape severe cold.

  4. The vast majority of humanity lives in warmer temperate areas, subtropical, or even tropical climates not in cold areas. That makes death by cold vs heat even more heavily weighted towards cold being more deadly than heat.

    • Let’s not forget that the vast global population that live in equatorial and subtropical climates are also some of the poorest peoples in the world. In the global north, there are resources to help address extreme cold climates.

      • I guess I don’t follow. Are you saying that in equatorial and subtropical climates there aren’t resources to provide for a sustainable life even though more people live in those areas than cold climate areas? Or are you saying people who live in equatorial and subtropical climates are lazy or otherwise incapable of developing the resources to develop wealth? Or is it possible you are saying warmth really a precursor to poverty?

        • What he is doing is further elaborating upon your own point. Those residing between the tropics generally endure a lower standard of living. Ergo, they are less able to ameliorate the dangerous effects of high heat… yet the danger of heat remains 1/20th that of cold. This factor further strengthens the premise that heat is less deadly than cold.

        • I’m guessing, but I think (big word) some of what he might be getting at is:

          it’s harder to grow an economy in extreme heat due to its effect on potential natural resources.

          It’s far easier to have a robust growing season in Fairbanks than Saudi Arabia.

          But that’s a guess.

          • Granted, growing food in Fairbanks may be easier than the Sahara. However, both of those combined x10 do not come close to the productivity of Nebraska, California or the Ukraine. Alaska will never be a highly productive agricultural zone. Its a natural resource zone.

  5. In the long run humanoids are going to die off and our solar system will “expire.” Cosmologically, we are so insignificant that we won’t be missed by “anybody.” Come fire or ice, why should I care about anybody but myself? Between now and then, there will be plenty of time for those who so desire to drop to their knees and pray like hell for their withering souls; I will go on living like there is no tomorrow.

    What happens in the cosmos will occur regardless of what I think, feel, or believe! So, to hell with it all: you can find me out muddin’!

  6. When reading this, does the two million person fema camp up near Fairbanks come to anyone’s mind? What a quick way to get rid of two million people and there would be no worry about the bodies getting stinky if they are frozen.

    • I know a lot of Californians who would like to transfer there right now. Triple digit in SoCal with the very same double hot system stationary for 3 weeks is taxing everybody’s nerves. Seriously, are you sure about the camp? There aren’t even one million in Alaska right now, and if they are going to be like the mob that runs Anchorage who needs them?

  7. I’ve lived in Fairbanks and briefly in the Middle East. I’ve seen -65 and 125.

    I’ll choose freezing to death anytime.

  8. Well! Our body temperature is 98.8. We weren’t created for cold. Maybe one day if God allows He will send me out to a warmer state. I don’t look forward to September.

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