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Assessing the Relative Risk of Temperature-related Mortality in Kuwait

Paper Reviewed
Alahmad, B., Shakarchi, A., Alseaidan, M. and Fox, M. 2019. The effects of temperature on short-term mortality risk in Kuwait: A time-series analysis. Environmental Research 171: 278-284.

Climate alarmists assert that CO2-induced global warming will lead to an increase in the number of temperature-related deaths. Climate skeptics, on the other hand, posit that if the world does warm, fewer people overall will suffer such mortality-induced events because cold-related deaths typically vastly outweigh the number of heat-related deaths at locations all across the world (see, for example, many reviews on this topic posted in our Subject Index under the sub headings for Mortality: Hot vs. Cold Weather). Nevertheless, debate on this topic continues.

Working with data from Kuwait, Alahmad et al. (2019) are among the most recent to examine this topic. Specifically, the four scientists analyzed daily mortality and meteorological data (daily mean temperature and relative humidity) over the period 2010-2016 to determine relative risks of mortality associated with the 99th, 97.5th, 2.5th and 1st percentiles of temperature. The impacts were also examined over time (30-day span) using distributed lag non-linear models to determine potential delayed effects.

And what did their study reveal?

In all, there were a total of 33,472 all-cause non-accidental deaths over the seven-year period of examination and both hot and cold temperatures were associated with higher mortality rates. In particular, overall relative risks of mortality for a cumulative distributive lag of 30 days amounted to 1.42 and 1.65 at the 99th and 97.5th percentiles for heat (relative to the optimum temperature of 34.7°C at the 66th percentile) and 1.53 and 1.67 at the 2.5th and 1st percentiles for cold weather. Thus, the relative risks of mortality were only slightly higher for cold weather than warmer weather at the 1st and 99th percentiles, but much greater when comparing the 2.5th and 97.5th percentiles (1.53 for cold vs 1.42 for warm). Consequently, the findings of Alahmad et al. would appear to provide support for the climate skeptic position on future temperature-related mortality.

Posted 27 April 2020