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New Studies: Cold-Related Deaths Rising, 10-20x More Common Than Heat Deaths

Since the 1980s, deaths attributable to excessive heat have declined, whereas deaths attributable to cold weather have not.

Rising energy poverty with wind and solar energy penetration

Heating a home in the United Kingdom became 63% more expensive in the last decade, and electricity prices have risen by 80% in Germany since 2000.

These developments can be traced to the increasing reliance on wind and solar energy in these developed countries (Lomborg, 2014).

Image Source: Lomborg, 2014

Significantly due to California’s heavy emphasis on wind and solar energy penetration, Californians’ electricity prices rose 5 times more than the other states between 2011 and 2017 (EnvironmentalProgress.org).

Californians pay 60% more for electricity than the rest of the country.

Image Source: EnvironmentalProgress.org

Cold weather is 20 times more deadly than hot weather

A 2015 study analyzing 74 million deaths from 384 locations across the world (1985 and 2012) revealed that cold weather killed 20 times more people than hot weather did (7.29% of mortalities due cold vs. 0.42% of mortalities attributed to heat).

A new paper (Sera et al., 2019) analyzes attributable mortality trends in urban areas – 340 cities in 22 countries – and found there was a similar (but less pronounced) discrepancy between attributable cold deaths and heat deaths (6.05% vs. 0.56%) during 1985-2014 for the world’s cities.

Heat-related deaths are “low and non-significant” relative to exposure to cold weather in SW China according to another new paper (Deng et al., 2019).

Image Source: Deng et al., 2019

Cold weather death rates are increasing as heat deaths are declining

Two new papers (Díaz et al., 2019, Cheng et al., 2019) indicate that from Spain to Australia, heat-related mortality has been decreasing whereas cold-related deaths have risen in recent decades.

Vicedo-Cabrera et al., 2018 found heat-related deaths declined in 7 out of 10 countries studied since 1985 and no trends in cold-weather deaths.

It is likely that the rise in both energy prices and energy poverty have heavily contributed to the higher incidence of cold-related mortality in recent decades.

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