It was previously assumed that increased global warming will reduce the number of winter-related deaths around the globe, but this assumption is disproved by a new study by the researchers from the Columbia University‘s Mailman School of Public Health.
For the study, researchers have analyzed temperature and mortality data from 39 cities in the United States and France, and they found that a warmer climate has little effect on the winter related mortality rates during winter months.
Professor Patrick Kinney, director of Columbia’s Climate and Health Program and the lead author of the study said, “Some have claimed that warmer winters due to climate change will lead to big reductions in winter deaths. Our work suggests that this is unlikely to be the case.”
Kinney and other researchers have obtained the mortality rate data from 36 cities in the U.S. and 3 in France between the years 1971 and 2007. To their surprise, they found that experiencing warm winter has similar rates to those with cold winters, and they found little correlation between temperature and the number of deaths.
Kinney who also serves on the New York City Panel on Climate Change and was a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report said, “These cities vary widely in demography, urban design, and socio-cultural background, all of which might influence exposure to outdoor temperature and related mortality risks.”
Because there are excess of deaths that are occurring during the winter, researchers observe that other non-temperature related factors may be the cause. They explained lack of exercise and mobility, low humidity in the air and increased time spent indoors, which increases the risk of flu and other respiratory infection, may be more prevalent reasons.
So more sedentary lifestyle people take during winter is the major contributor to the diseases as well as risky health conditions.
The findings of the study are published in the journal IOP Science.