Summer Mortality Rate to Rise with Global Warming

For the past few summers, it hasn’t been odd to see heat advisories on the news warning of extreme heat. We’re told to keep the young and elderly inside, and to seek air conditioned surroundings. There have even been cool zones so that people without AC can have somewhere cool to stay.

None of that will stem the effects of an overall increase in the earth’s temperature, says a recent study. According to HealthDay News, global warming will increase the amount of heat related deaths in the summer months. According to the study, temperatures are expected to rise between 1.7 and 4.9 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Because of this increase, the summer season will have more extremely hot days, and winter will less extremely cold ones.

What makes this study all the more intriguing is that the rising number of deaths that the study predicts will occur will not be balanced by lower mortality rates in the winter. “The results suggest that mortality won’t be compensated by a reduction in mortality in winter,” said Mercedes Medina-Ramon of Harvard School of Public Health’s department of environmental health.

That finding is new to scientists. “It seems that global warming will increase deaths due to extreme hot temperatures. That we already know,” Medina-Ramon said. “What we didn’t know was if that would be compensated by a reduction in mortality during the winter because it’s less cold.”

Medina-Ramon and her colleague, Joel Schwartz, researched data from 1989 to 2001 concerning death and weather. They found that when extremely cold weather hits, the mortality rate goes up 1.59 percent. In extreme heat, the rate raises much more to almost 6 percent.

Why is the mortality rate so different for hot and cold days? Medina-Ramon suggested that cities are more prepared for cold days. “In the U.S., most people have heating in their homes so a change in cold temperature won’t make as much of a difference,” she said. “It won’t make as much of a difference as hot temperatures because there are more people who don’t have an air conditioner at home.”

The easy solution may seem to crank up the AC, but Medina-Ramon doesn’t back that method, either. “We don’t want to say air conditioning is a solution because it’s going to have an impact on global warming. We should increase the use of air conditioning but stop the abuse. If we had air conditioning everywhere but people didn’t abuse it, that would be the best solution, along with investing in technology that is more efficient.”

Amanda Garbner. “Global warming will cause rise in death rates.” Yahoo News. URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20070628/hl_hsn/globalwarmingwillcauseriseindeathrates;_ylt=AlxX_BnzocqeRwVjVj28AwbVJRIF

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