Global warming will boiled us all to death, say Manhattan experts
THIS is a fascinating little example of how the debate of climate change gets very skewed. In fact, the report is more interesting for what it says about that than it is in its intended actual result.
The number of people dying from unbearable heat in big cities could almost double because of climate change, according to new research.
A study in Manhattan found the number of fatalities caused by global warming will far outstrip the reductions in those perishing from the cold.
It follows a report last year by the Health Protection Agency that warned heat related deaths in the UK will increase by more than 10,000 annually – a fivefold rise.
It’s undoubtedly true that if and when global warming happens then more people will die of the heat than happens now. So the finding isn’t all that odd.
But the standard answer to this has always been that yes, OK, but at the moment many more people die of cold than die of heat. Therefore, if the world warms up a little, then we’d expect fewer people in total to die from temperature. 20% fewer cold deaths is more people than 20% more heat deaths sorta thing. The *net* effect is what is important and that net effect seems like a good thing.
Enter this study. We’ve studied this in Manhattan and actually, we know know that there will be more heat deaths than cold deaths saved. Thus global warming is a very bad thing.
And here’s the catch to the finding. In Manhattan heat deaths are already larger than cold deaths: or at least higher than they are out in the boonies. Out in the countryside cold kills many more than heat does. Therefore, studying what happens in Manhattan, an already exceptional place, does not tell us what is going to happen everywhere. But it will be taken as such: this study will be used to show that heat will kill more than cold does now. A result which is specific and unusual to Manhattan, not to the whole country or world.
Myself I’m pretty much onboard with the idea that climate change is happening, we’re causing it, it’s a problem and we should do something about it. But I do still despise the way that specific results are (by both sides and all) generalised in a manner which isn’t or shouldn’t be permissible. Even if it is all true, we’re still being lied to again and again.