Environmentalists frequently use heat deaths to talk about the dangerous of global warming, as shown by a Tuesday National Geographic article, but science shows a warming planet would actually lower the number of deaths related to overheating.
“Using heat waves to scare people about global warming is common practice. And much like other climate scare tactics, it is grossly off-base. What kills people are rare heat events in populations that are unaccustomed to them.” said Chip Knappenberger, the assistant director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
In the United States, hot cities like Phoenix, Ariz., have the lowest rates of heat-related mortality while cooler cities in the northeast have the highest rates. Once people get accustomed to heat, they take the actions necessary to survive it. Scientific studies show heat waves which occur a few years after especially deadly heat waves in a particular location result in far fewer deaths as the population has readily adapted.
If global warming does increase the frequency of heat waves, it would result in a reduced rate of heat-related mortality, as it would prompt adaptive measures, according to another study published in the scientific journal Nature.
Despite this scientific evidence, the National Geographic article claims that “[h]eat already kills more people than any other form of extreme weather,” and has caused “tens of thousands of deaths.”
Heat deaths in wealthy countries are already declining despite the predicted temperature changes from global warming as shown by the graph below.
Much of National Geographic’s article is based on a World Health Organization (WHO) study which predicts increased heat exposure due to global warming will cause the deaths of 38,000 elderly people every year from 2030 to 2040.
“[E]ven if one assumes that the relationships between climatic variables and mortality used by the WHO study are valid, the methodologies and assumptions used by WHO inevitably exaggerate future mortality increases attributable to global warming, perhaps several-fold,” Indur Goklany, a former delegate to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, wrote in a study published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
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