Excess Winter Mortality in Various Developed Countries and Its Implications for Mitigation Policies
Falagas, M.E., Karageorgopoulos, D.E., Moraitis, L.I., Vouloumanou, E.K., Roussos, N., Peppas, G., Rafailidis, P.I. 2009. Seasonality of mortality: the September phenomenon in Mediterranean countries. Canadian Medical Association Journal 181: 484-6.
The results indicate that the winter months have the highest deaths while the fewest deaths occur in the late summer to early Autumn (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Monthly mortality for various developed countries as a percent of yearly average. Source: Falagas et al. (2009).
A general warming may reduce mortality and extend life expectancies, at least in the temperate and higher latitudes. Based on the data provided in the supplementary information to the Falagas et al. (1010) paper, the average excess winter mortality - based on December, January, February and March in the Northern Hemisphere and June, July, August and September in the Southern Hemisphere - ranges from 300 in Cyprus to 78,000 for the U.S. for the period for which records were obtained.
1. Lends support to Deschênes and Moretti (2009) paper which estimates that migration from the Colder Northeast to Southern areas of the U.S.is responsible for 8%-15% of the total gains in life expectancy in the U.S. population from 1970 to 2000.
2. Indicates that the cumulative estimates of extreme winter mortality from the handful of countries in the above table exceed the global number deaths attributed by the World Health Organization to global warming annually (calculated for the year 2000) - 166,000 deaths including 12,000 from climate-change-induced cardiovascular disease - which have been faithfully reproduced in review articles, e.g., in the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (2007), Nature (Patz et al. 2005), Lancet (2009).
3. Suggests that efforts to reduce global warming may be counterproductive, at least for countries that have temperate or colder climate. Therefore, policies to pursue reduction in anthropogenic climate change should not be put in place until this matter is definitively addressed.
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