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Global Warming Would Reduce Mortality in Europe
Keatinge, W.R., Donaldson, G.C., Cordioli, E., Martinelli, M., Kunst, A.E., Mackenbach, J.P., Nayha, S. and Vuori, I. 2000. Heat related mortality in warm and cold regions of Europe: Observational study. British Medical Journal 321: 670-673.

What was done
The authors studied heat- and cold-related mortality in north Finland, south Finland, southwest Germany, the Netherlands, Greater London, north Italy, and Athens, Greece, in people aged 65-74. For each of these regions, they determined the 3C temperature interval of lowest mortality and then evaluated mortality deviations from that base level as temperatures rose and fell by 0.1C increments.

What was learned
According to the authors, "all regions showed more annual cold related mortality than heat related mortality." In fact, over the seven regions studied, annual cold related deaths were nearly ten times greater than annual heat related deaths.

What it means
The authors note that the very successful adjustment of the different populations in their study to widely different summer temperatures "gives grounds for confidence that they would adjust successfully, with little increase in heat related mortality, to the global warming of around 2C predicted to occur in the next half century." Indeed, they state their data suggest that "any increases in mortality due to increased temperatures would be outweighed by much larger short term declines in cold related mortalities." For the population of Europe, therefore, an increase in temperature, if it were ever to occur, would appear to be a climate change for the better.

Reviewed 27 September 2000