Policy Documents

Cold Weather Kills More People than Heat

James M. Taylor –
January 12, 2010

BBC News  and Department of the Interior analyst Indur Goklany have published separate papers documenting how cold weather kills far more people than hot weather.

Federal mortality statistics show 800 more people die every day in December, January, and February than occurs on an average day during the rest of the year. The winter months kill 72,000 more U.S. citizens than the spring-summer-autumn average.

The three months with the lowest mortality are the hot-weather summer months of June, July, and August.

Heart attacks and strokes are major culprits. As temperatures cool, blood vessels contract to preserve heat and blood composition changes. As a result, BBC News notes, the heart has to work harder to pump blood and blood is more likely to clot.

Additionally, cold weather makes the human respiratory more susceptible to viruses. Compounding matters, influenza becomes more resistant to the human immune system when temperatures fall.

Alarmist claims that global warming will increase mortality are little different from other unsubstantiated scares. Sure, warmer temperatures may exacerbate heat-related diseases and health issues, but warmer weather will eliminate a much greater number of cold-related virus outbreaks and cold-related deaths.

EPA, are you paying attention?