Business Insider has published an article titled, “Climate change is only going to make health crises like coronavirus more frequent and worse.” In reality, scientific evidence shows global warming is likely to reduce the frequency and severity of coronavirus, influenza pandemics, and other health crises.
Before addressing the science, it should be noted that the author of the Business Insider article is the founder of FullCycle Energy Fund, which markets its waste-to-energy products as being a low-carbon alternative to conventional energy. So, follow the money. The author has a vested financial interest in inventing false climate scares. This requires considering the Business Insider article with healthy skepticism.
Scientific research is clear that, if anything, a warmer world would make pandemics less prevalent in the future and result in fewer deaths.
Transmissible diseases like the flu and the coronavirus are far more prevalent and deadly during the late-fall, winter, and early spring, when the weather is cold and damp, rather than in the summer months when it is warm and dry. That is a reason the flu season runs from fall through early spring, and then peters out. And colds, while not unheard of, are less common in the summer as well.
Chapter 7 of the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change’s report, Climate Change Reconsidered: Biological Impacts, details the results of dozens of peer-reviewed studies and reports showing premature deaths from illness and disease are far more prevalent during colder seasons and colder climate eras rather than during warmer seasons and warmer climate eras.
It is not just virus outbreaks and epidemics that become less frequent and deadly as the Earth warms. A warmer virus reduces death rates across the board.
In 2010, British Broadcasting Corporation’s health correspondent Clare Murphy analyzed mortality statistics from the UK’s Office of National Statistics from 1950 through 2007 and found, “For every degree the temperature drops below 18C [64 degrees Fahrenheit], deaths in the UK go up by nearly 1.5 percent.”
U.S. Interior Department analyst Indur Goklany studied official U.S. mortality statistics and found similar results. According to official U.S. mortality statistics, an average of 7,200 Americans die each day during the cold months of December, January, February, and March, compared to 6,400 each day during the rest of the year.
In an article published in the Southern Medical Journal in 2004, W. R. Keatinge and G. C. Donaldson noted, “Cold-related deaths are far more numerous than heat-related deaths in the United States, Europe, and almost all countries outside the tropics, and almost all of them are due to common illnesses that are increased by cold.”
More recently, in a study published in the Lancet in 2015, researchers examined health data from 384 locations in 13 countries, accounting for more than 74 million deaths—a huge sample size from which to draw sound conclusions—and found cold weather, directly or indirectly, killed 1,700% more people than hot weather. No, that is not a typo – 1,700% more people die from cold temperatures than warm or hot temperatures.
Contrary to the fear-mongering assertions in Business Insider, the overwhelming scientific evidence shows it is cold, not heat, that kills. That applies to influenza, coronavirus, and the full range of temperature and climate-related deaths as a whole.