Story at a glance

  • The international study published in The Lancet Planetary Health Wednesday analyzed mortality and temperature data from 750 locations in 43 countries between 2000 and 2019.
  • Researchers estimate 9.4 percent of global deaths each year can be attributed to extreme cold and hot temperatures.
  • While most deaths were caused by cold exposure, the trend is likely to reverse as the planet becomes warmer.

Abnormally hot and cold temperatures that are worsening as climate change accelerates cause 5 million additional deaths globally each year, according to a new study.

The international study published in The Lancet Planetary Health Wednesday analyzed mortality and temperature data from 750 locations in 43 countries between 2000 and 2019. Over that period, global temperatures rose by 0.26 degrees Celsius per decade. 


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Researchers found that 9.4 percent of global deaths each year could be attributed to extreme cold and hot temperatures, equal to 74 excess deaths for every 100,000 people. 

The study notes that while most deaths have been caused by cold exposure over the two-decade period, heat-related deaths increased by 0.21 percent as deaths associated with colder temperatures fell 0.51 percent over the 20-year period. Researchers said that trend is likely to continue as the planet warms. 


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“This is the first study to get a global overview of mortality due to non-optimal temperature conditions between 2000 and 2019, the hottest period since the Pre-industrial era,” Yuming Guo, professor from the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and one of the study’s authors, said in a statement

“Importantly, we used 43 countries’ baseline data across five continents with different climates, socioeconomic and demographic conditions and differing levels of infrastructure and public health services – so the study had a large and varied sample size, unlike previous studies,” he said. 

The study found 2.6 million temperature-related deaths in Asia, 1.2 million in Africa and 835,000 in Europe. The U.S. recorded 173,000 deaths due to abnormal temps over the two-decade period. 


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Published on Jul 08, 2021