What does this have to do with the dreaded gradual warming of global warming?
Public health officials have long known that extreme temperatures are linked to more deaths, but in one Australian city, researchers have calculated how many years of life were lost due to heat waves and cold snaps.
Using this information, scientists also projected how a climate change scenario would affect life expectancies. “We’ve seen an increase in deaths in Australia in cold and hot weather before, but that’s just the number of deaths. When you look at the number of deaths, you treat a 40-year-old’s death the same as a 90-year-old’s. Obviously, from a societal perspective, they’re not the same,” explained Adrian Barnett, a researcher at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia.
Barnett and his team decided to measure not only the number of deaths in temperature extremes, but differences between the ages of death and life expectancy. In other words, they wanted to find out by how many years lives were cut short. They presented their findings last month in Nature Climate Change…
After analyzing the data, Barnett found that on days when the average temperature dropped to 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), men on average lost 14 years of life and women lost 52 years. (The measurements were made based on the number of temperature-related deaths that day. Collectively, the women — who appeared less able to adapt to the cold than the men lost an aggregated total of 52 years that they might have experienced had they survived.)
When temperatures rose to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), men lost 32 years and women lost 42. In 2000, temperature extremes led to 3,077 years of life lost for men and 3,495 for women. For comparison, Barnett said 3,700 years of life are lost to breast cancer…