It is because the world has been experiencing the swift whiplash of Mother Nature’s wrath in the last few years, that people have been preoccupied with protecting themselves from extreme weather. However, a vast study reveals that there are exponentially more people dying every year as a consequence of prolonged exposure to bearably low or high temperatures then people who die because of extremes.
Another vastly spread misconception is that hot weather is far more dangerous than cold weather. What people usually say is that while in winter you can put on one or two extra sweaters and a warmer jacket, in summer, you are left with too few items from that you can discard. But the data obtained by this study also disproves this popular theory.
The lead author of this study is Dr. Antonio Gasparrini, of the the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It was him and his colleagues who have analyzed a gigantic amount of deaths reported over a period of 27 years in 13 very different countries with extremely different climatic conditions, ranging from ones of the coldest to ones of the warmest locations on the planet.
They have assessed a whopping 74,225,200 deaths dating from 1985 up to 2012, from Canada, China, Italy, Spain, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, the UK, the US, Australia, Japan, Brazil and Sweden. Anybody can agree that this constitutes enough data so as to give great weight to their results.
The main findings of the study reveal that while the deaths attributed to extreme temperatures amount to 1% of the ones studied, those caused by non-optimal weather constituted up to 7,71% on average. The values that have rendered this average however are significantly different among the countries of the study.
While countries with generally warm weather had much lower rates than those known for their fearsome winters. While in Brazil only 3,5% of deaths were a cause of unwelcoming temperatures, in China the proportion got all the way up to 11%.
Moreover, from the mean value of 7,71%, only 0,42% of deaths were caused by extended exposure to high temperature. This means that regular cold winter days are far more dangerous for human health than those ripe days of summer are.
‘Our findings, from an analysis of the largest dataset of temperature-related deaths ever collected, show that the majority of these deaths actually happen on moderately hot and cold days, with most deaths caused by moderately cold temperatures.’ says Dr. Gasparrini.
This ground-breaking study was published in the scientific journal The Lancet and it causing great surprise among its readers, as there are strongly implemented concepts that it is bringing down. Chinese researchers from Duke Kunshan University in Jiangsu are showing their support for the study, as they write about the “incremental risk” that is posed by temperatures that exceed our comfort limits.
Ultimately, all of a sudden it is easier to understand why winter and its cold frosty days are associated with depressive episodes and a general sense of unease that always manages to get past your coat and collection of sweaters and take hold of you.
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