Ground Report | New Delhi: Heat will cause more deaths; The temperature of the Earth’s surface is not uniform but varies to constitute regions that may not be optimal for human life. In this sense, the cold has been presented as our worst enemy and, although the heat has managed to reverse the balance in some regions, the norm is that low temperatures cause more deaths than high ones.
For example, 11.6% of deaths due to non-optimal temperatures in Asia between 2013 and 2015 were due to cold, compared to 2.7% explained by heat. Between 2000 and 2006, the risk of death from cold in the United States increased by as much as 12% from cold, compared to a maximum of 10% from heat.
Heat will cause more deaths
A recent study that analyzed deaths from non-optimal temperatures from the beginning of the century to 2019 ensures that this hot and cold trend has remained practically unchanged. According to their results, of the 5,083,173 annual deaths from non-optimal temperatures, some 4.6 million are due to cold, while the rest are caused by heat.
In total, 74 out of every 100,000 people die from non-optimal temperatures, yes, with regional differences since Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa raise this figure almost to double: “In the African region, the rate of death from cold was the highest. high, while in Eastern Europe the rate for heat was five times higher than the world average ”, highlight the study authors.
Now, this balance of mortality due to cold and heat seems to point to an imbalance in the coming years due to the fact that since 2003 deaths from cold began to decrease by up to 0.51 percentage points, while those from heat increased by 0.21 points.
These figures coincide precisely with the gradual increase in temperatures since the beginning of the century and which now remain, according to the latest report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), at 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Temperature data recorded
“The results indicate that global warming could slightly reduce temperature-related net deaths, although, in the long term, climate change is expected to increase the mortality burden, with a moderate increase from heat,” the authors note.
The conclusions of a similar study carried out by experts from the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal) seem to point in the same direction, at least in our continent. In this case, the authors analyzed the mortality and temperature data recorded between 1998 and 2012 from 16 European countries and found that, indeed, that cold temperature had an impact on mortality up to ten times higher than warm ones, with regional differences.
However, unlike the first study, ISGlobal scientists combined four climate models based on different emissions scenarios to check what the future of this trend could be between deaths from cold and heat.
Projections made using epidemiological models indicate that, if effective mitigation measures are not introduced immediately, the trend could be reversed by the middle of this century, leading to a rapid increase in heat-attributable mortality.