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The Many Impacts of Global Warming on Human Health

Paper Reviewed
Cheng, J., Xu, Z., Zhu, R., Wang, X., Jin, L., Song, J. and Su, H. 2014. Impact of diurnal temperature range on human health: a systematic review. International Journal of Biometeorology 58: 2011-2024.

It is usually the extremes of temperature to which people are unaccustomed that are the triggers of numerous human maladies; and since cold weather is typically much more deadly than warm weather - see Health Effects (Temperature - Hot vs. Cold Weather) in our Subject Index - anything that would cause daily low temperatures to rise more than daily high temperatures, leading to a reduction in the diurnal temperature range or DTR, would tend to reduce both the morbidity and mortality of mankind. And one such phenomenon that does just that - during periods of time when it may actually be occurring (rather than imagined) - is global warming, as has been demonstrated to be the case by the studies of Easterling et al. (1997), Vose et al. (2005) and Li and Chen (2008).

To further explore this phenomenon, Cheng et al. (2014) carefully reviewed the findings of 25 different studies of it, 11 of which investigated the relationship between DTR and mortality (death), while the remaining 14 examined the impact of DTR on morbidity (hospitalization). And in both of these situations, they found that a decrease in DTR - such as typically occurs when Earth's climate is in a warming mode - leads to decreases in both morbidity and mortality.

Parenthetically, these findings almost make one want to wish for a little CO2-induced global warming, as it appears to not only stimulate plant growth and development, but to enhance the well-being of humanity as well.

Easterling, D.R., Horton, B., Jones, P.D., Peterson, T.C., Karl, T.R., Parker, D.E., Salinger, M.J., Razuvayev, V., Plummer, N., Jamason, P. and Folland, C.K. 1997. Maximum and minimum temperature trends for the globe. Science 277: 364-367.

Li, Q. and Chen, J. 2008. Regional climate variations in south China related to global climate change and local urbanization. Proceedings of the 16th IAHR-APD Congress and 3rd Symposium of IAHR-ISHS.

Vose, R.S., Easterling, D.R. and Gleason, B. 2005. Maximum and minimum temperature trends for the globe: An update through 2004. Geophysical Research Letters 32: 10.1029/2005GL024379.

Posted 24 February 2015