Saturday, February 16, 2008

British report on the upside of warming.

Maybe I missed this in the U.S. media but I’ve only seen this story on the BBC site. A recent study by the Department of Health and the Health Protection Agency investigated the impact on death rates from a warming climate. What they found sounds much like the first chapter of Bjorn Lomborg’s new book Cool It. The BBC says the study found that “overall global warming may mean fewer deaths due to temperature.”

The say that while a bad hot spell in the Summer could kill thousands that even the worst heat wave is nothing compared to the 20,000 deaths each related to cold weather. They also looked at actual weather related deaths in England from 1971 to 2003. There were no increases in Summer deaths but cold-related deaths declined by 3%.

I’ve not read the report and I’m relying on the BBC to have done an accurate job portraying it’s contents. Basically it is saying that the number of people who will die due to bad weather will decrease under warming. Whether one disputes that or not what I don’t get is some bureaucrat from the National Health Service Federation, then using the report to make this statement: “As the report highlights, rising temperatures will put significant pressure on the NHS, and may increase the amount of heat-related deaths and skin cancers, as well as respiratory and insect-borne diseases.”

You can’t dispute that warmer temperatures will cause more heat-related deaths but the BBC says the report shows total deaths will decline. So while heat-related problems may increase cold-related problems will decrease. And most importantly, in terms of deaths, the downside of warmer is less than the upside of warmer. I must admit, that outside the so-called “skeptics” this is the first mainstream report I’ve seen that acknowledged that there could be some benefits to warmer weather.

Actually the travel sections say that all the time which why hundreds of millions of us flock to the warm climates every year to relax. But to have the the British government admit that warmer might save lives, and to have the BBC report that they admitted it, is news.

Photo: It appears this kitten has embraced the idea that warmer is better.