According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people in the United States are almost twice as likely to die from the cold than they are from the heat. This study apparently confirms similar studies done in other places in the world by different countries.
What is interesting to note in this study is that it was systematic and examined the cause of death for people in the US, related to weather phenomenon, from 2006 to 2010. This is only a four-year time span and it is only weather-related deaths just in the US. However, the sampling was of 10,649 weather-related deaths, so it is a large sample. The CDC has also done similar studies in the past, with similar results, so the results aren’t surprising.
Of the 10,649 weather-related deaths, the CDC found that about a third died from excessive heat. Almost two-thirds died from excessive cold. Floods, storms, and lightning accounted for a small portion of the deaths.
Unlike many other studies funded by government agencies, this study didn’t set out to prove any political agenda. For that matter, the study also broke down the deaths according to income, race, age, and other key factors. For instance, it was found that the weather-related deaths were 2 to 7 times higher in the counties that have the lowest income. Likewise, older people were more impacted than were teens and people in their 20s.
This isn’t at all a surprise, but it is confirmation of what most people probably believe or understand.
It is likely that many more people died of heat or cold than has been reported to the CDC, however, there is no reason to think that the statistics wouldn’t remain consistent if the additional information was made available, especially considering the data from previous studies that has remained fairly consistent.
It should be noted that I’m not trying to make any specific point here, except for one, and I’m not trying to prove anything specific, either. The US has all climate zones from artic to subtropics and deserts, and all of these climatic areas are populated. In fact, the coldest areas aren’t as heavily populated as the warmer ones.
That is the only point. With all the worry about global warming, few people have considered what might happen if it went the other direction. The fact is that in the past five years, after the end of this study, winter weather conditions in the US have gotten colder than they were previously.
During that time, more cold weather records have been broken than ever before. On one particular 24 hour period during that time frame, all 50 states registered freezing temperatures for the first time in recorded history. Northern Mexico also registered freezing temperatures that day. That same year, massive snowstorms and cold temperatures raged in Europe and Asia. Snow was recorded in equatorial regions. The second lowest temperature ever recorded on earth was registered in Antarctica, at -135.1 F. This all could be an aberration, although the past five years strongly hint that it isn’t.
It also isn’t very surprising from the aspect of physiology. Man is simply not designed for the cold. A human can suffer hypothermia at any temperature below body temperature. People have and do become hypothermic at temperatures of 85 F / 29.4 C to 98 F / 36.6 C. On the other hand, if people have adequate hydration (if they drink enough fluids), they can survive surprisingly high temperatures for sustained periods. In fact, though the study didn’t specifically mention it, there is a likelihood that many of the deaths relating to heat were due to dehydration.
Still, how many people have given thought to what would happen if the earth continues to get colder? This is food for thought, is it not?