Someone hide the snowballs from Senator Jim Inhofe. New research is out debunking the assumption global warming would lower winter-related deaths. Some have theorized rising temperatures would move the needle on hypothermia, exposure or other cold causes of death.

Lead study author, Professor Patrick McKinney, director of Columbia’s Climate and Health Program, summed up the results of the research:

“Some have claimed that warmer winters due to climate change will lead to big reductions in winter deaths. Our work suggests that this is unlikely to be the case.”

Using temperature and mortality data from 39 cities in the United States and France, the team found there was little correlation between mortality and whether a locale had warmer winters. Researchers studied 36 American cities and 3 in France between 1971 and 2007.

“These cities vary widely in demography, urban design, and socio-cultural background, all of which might influence exposure to outdoor temperature and related mortality risks.”

Why are people dying more in the winter? Well, for one, toss out what you see on TV.

Hypothermia can set in at 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) in wet and windy weather. If you’re not protected from the elements, what most would deem a nice fall day can turn deadly if you’re out long enough.

For people in the water, you don’t have to see icebergs floating around. Water temperatures of 60-70 degrees F (16-21 C) for prolonged periods of time can cause hypothermia.

It’s paramount people pay attention to the weather and protect themselves.

Next, the excess in winter-related deaths may be non-temperature related. Lack of exercise and mobility sets the stage for an increase in mortality rates.

People opting to stay indoors leads to more respiratory infections and flu. If the person is already at high risk (seniors, young children and people with compromised immune systems), the infections can turn deadly.

Global warming is a real challenge for the entire world. Economies, environments, national security concerns, etc. One item you can scratch off the list of possible benefits? It’s not going to erase winter-related deaths.


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