A study conducted by researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health has disapproved an old assumption which suggests that an increase in global warming will reduce winter-related fatalities globally. For those who don’t know: the Mailman School of Public Health is a wing of the Columbia University, New York.
During the above-mentioned study, scientists analyzed the mortality and temperature data collected from 39 cities in France and the United States. The results obtained from the analysis allowed them to conclude that warmer climatic conditions have little or no association with weather-induced deaths during the winter months.
Dr. Patrick Kinney, the study’s lead author and the director of Columbia’s Climate and Health Program, said that in the past few years many experts have claimed that climate change has resulted in warmer winters, which will eventually reduce the number of winter deaths significantly. According to Dr. Kinney, the findings of this new study are suggesting that it’s unlikely that anything like that will happen.
The mortality rate data analyzed by Dr. Kinney and his team was collected from 3 cities in France and 36 in the US between 1971 and 2007. While analyzing the temperature and mortality rates of different cities, scientists found that weather-related mortality rates during the winter months were similar in cities experiencing comparatively warmer winters and cities experiencing cold winters. According to the research team, they observed a little correlation between death rates in winter and temperature levels.
Here, it must be mentioned that Dr. Kinney also happens to be the lead author of a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that suggested that these US and French cities vary extensively in urban design, socio-cultural background and demography, each of which can influence people’s exposure to extreme outdoor temperature and mortality risks associated with it. Also, he is also a member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change.
As in spite of increased global warming, the winter months are witnessing excessive amount of weather-related deaths, scientists are now trying to find out what are the possible non-temperature factors resulting in such high mortality rates in winter.
Low atmospheric humidity, lack of mobility and exercise and staying confined indoors might be bigger causes of winter deaths. This is because those habits increase one’s chances of developing respiratory infections and flu significantly.