What kills more people worldwide each year, cold or heat?


The above article points out that in the USA, NOAA says heat, while the CDC says cold.

"In a 2014 interview in the Washington Post of University of Miami climatologist Larry Kalkstein, who has published numerous research papers on weather-related mortality, weighed in on the matter: “Comparing apples to apples, which would be to evaluate acute or short-term responses to weather, I would always give the nod to heat-related deaths. However, if you are considering the seasonal differences in daily mortality, rather than just the “spikes” that we find with acute deaths, I can see why one can argue that winter (or cold-related) mortality is greater.” That was certainly the conclusion of a 2015 epidemiological study of deaths in 13 countries in The Lancet, which found that cold-related deaths in the U.S. were about a factor of fifteen higher than heat-related deaths. Cold deaths outnumbered heat deaths by a factor of twenty when averaged over all 13 countries studied. However, this study did not control for the seasonal cycle in death rates; deaths are always higher in winter, due to influenza and other non-weather-related factors."

So... the claim seems to be that mortality is higher in the winter, but not due to cold. This seems extremely dubious. What else would cause the seasonal difference?

It's easy to accept, however, that EXTREME heat kills more than EXTREME cold.

Another relevant link: https://www.climatechangepost.com/news/2021/7/12/more-and-more-people-die-heat-fewer-and-fewer-cold/

9.43% of global deaths in the period 2000 to 2019 were related to ‘non-optimal temperatures’, with 8.52% and 0.91% of deaths related to cold and high temperatures, respectively.

From that figure, it seems cold kills far more people than heat each year.

I invite a more thorough analysis, but anticipate that the question may be closed, since it doesn't seem cut-and-dry.

  • 2
    Medical science is only tangentially related to this. I suggest asking on skeptics.stackexchange.com or earthscience.stackexchange.com In re "mortality is higher in the winter, but not due to cold. This seems extremely dubious." I don't see anything dubious about it in an advanced country where most people are not sleeping rough or falling drunk in the streets in large numbers. It depends whether you want to attribute influenza deaths to cold (or not).
    – Fizz
    Oct 24 '21 at 19:36
  • Yeah, it seems like possible answers depend too much on how you particularly decide to attribute deaths to one or the other. Oct 25 '21 at 4:52

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