Temperature extremes have been closely linked with an increase in mortality rate.
- Published On July 31, 2017
Global Warming, Global Effects
Global Warming has in recent years become accepted by experts around the world as a calamity that is slowly having detrimental effects on the world. Effects of global warming on the environment such as the melting of ice caps in the polar region, as well as rising ocean water levels and increasing desertification are well known. However, one area that has not received similar global attention is the impact of global warming on human health specifically.
Direct Link Between Global Warming and Human Health
In the past, global warming and its effects were seen as indirectly affecting the health of people, but no research had been conducted to assess any direct health implications attributed from global warming. Indirect impacts of global warming include the rise of water-borne diseases attributed to the El Niño phenomena. However, in 2017 Gasparrini published a report on the online journal Lancet after researching global mortality between 1985 and 2012 which aimed to assess the link between global warming and human health and mortality rates. The researchers analyzed over 74 million deaths from 384 locations drawn from the United States, South Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Taiwan, Spain, China, Italy, and Australia which occurred in the 28 years.
Cold Temperatures Prove to be More Deadly
In their report, Gasparrini identified that environmental temperature did have an effect on human mortality with cold temperatures having more profound effects than hot temperatures. Cold-related deaths trumped warm-related deaths at a rate of 17:1 with cold temperatures causing 7.49% of total deaths while hot temperatures are causing only 0.42% of total temperature-related deaths. The report also showed that temperature-based mortality was higher in the temperate regions than in the tropics. Based on these findings one can easily deduce that increased global temperature has an effect on human health, but contrary to common public misconception that it leads to a decrease in temperature-related deaths. However, the research is primarily based on mortality and therefore does not show the relation of global warming with human health.
For a proper analysis of the link between global warming and human health, one needs to check another recent study conducted by Zhao et al in 2017. In the study, researchers conducted a four-year study in twelve cities in China establishing the relation between daily mean ambient temperatures in the cities and number of emergency room patients. The graphic representation of the study clearly shows that cold temperatures put residents at a far greater risk to visit the emergency room (with a cumulative relative risk of 1.8) compared to warm temperatures (with a cumulative relative risk of 1.15).
These two reports show that human beings are more adaptable to face cold temperatures than hot temperatures and support the argument that global warming is linked to a reduction in temperature-based deaths and morbidity.