Climate Change and Mortality Rate

Samantha Zeitz

A study published in The Lancet Planetary Health is showing that climate change is creating temperature-related health issues that could be spiralling out of control. Some effects even include an increased mortality rate.

The study led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, looked at 451 locations across the globe focusing on heat and cold related mortalities. It concluded, warmer regions will see an increase in mortality rate due to climate change sooner than other parts of the world. If we continue the same path, by 2090 to 2099 they are predicting a net increase in deaths by 12.7 per cent in South-East Asia, 6.4 percent in Southern Europe and, 4.6 per cent in South America. Colder regions like Northern Europe are expected to either see a minor decrease in mortality rate or no change at all.

In the past, it was believed that the increased mortality rates in warmer regions could be balanced out by a decrease in mortality rates in colder regions, but that study has found this to be false. With research funded by the medical Research Council, they were able to build the first global model of how mortality rates vary in hot or cold weather. They used real data from 85 million deaths between 1984 and 2015, including a wide-range of locations to compare different climates, socioeconomics, and demographics. With this information, they can predict patterns of temperature-related mortality rates defined by the four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for climate modeling and research in 2014.

Through their research, they determined if greenhouse gas emissions significantly decline, we can change the pattern. It could result in a less intense increase in mortality rate or even a decline. At this rate, all regions in this study could see results such as increase of 0.6 per cent in the death rate, or even a decline of 0.4 per cent. Sir Andy Haines, Professor of Public Health and Primary Care at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told Science Daily that fixing this issue could also have a positive impact on reducing deaths from air pollution.