A previous version of this article stated "increasing global temperatures now saves 166,000 lives each year" and cited a new study in The Lancet as proof of the claim.
Facebook fact checkers have stated that this statement is false and cited two co-authors of the study who have explained that the study was not designed to test the influence of climate change on heat or cold-related deaths, hence the 166k figure is unsupported.
This is the full response from second author, Professor Yuming Guo:
Yuming Guo, Professor at School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University
Cold-related mortality decreased and heat-related mortality increased from 2000 to 2019, causing a net decrease in total deaths. However, it is not correct to interpret that this net decrease was caused by climate change.
We just estimated the trend of mortality burden related to non-optimal temperatures, but did not do further analysis to examine whether this change is due to climate change or other factors.
To calculate the burden related to non-optimal temperatures, we need the following information:
Temperature-mortality association (exposure-response relationship) at each location, for example relative risk of mortality at different daily temperatures.
Daily temperature data at each location.
Mortality rate and population at each location.
As we calculated annual average excess death ratio (attributable fraction of death) and excess death per 100,000 residents, the "mortality rate and population" has been adjusted in the estimation.
The main contributors for the change of mortality burden due to non-optimal temperatures are (1) temperature-mortality association and (2) daily temperature data.
We should particularly pay attention to (1) temperature-mortality association, which is ignored by Lomborg.
We predicted temperature-mortality association at each location using the continents, indicators for Köppen–Geiger climate classification, GDP per capita, the yearly average of daily mean temperature, and the range of daily mean temperature.
The predictors not only include temperature indices but also economic and spatial factors. This means the spatiotemporal variation of temperature-mortality association was not only caused by climate change, but also by economic and spatial factors.
The cold-related mortality risk might decrease, because people have the ability (caused by economic increase) to take actions (heating, wear more clothes, drive cars in winter) to prevent cold-related health issues. This will lead to decrease of mortality burden due to cold temperatures.
We cannot interpret this part of the decrease to be caused by climate change. In this case, the warming of the “2) daily temperature data” would further decrease the mortality burden related to cold temperatures.
However, we still need further analyses to separate the contribution of climate change and human adaptation (mainly caused by economic development).
Lomborg’s conclusion "Climate change saves lives" is biased, as climate change does not influence temperature-related mortality, but also has other direct and indirect impacts.
For example, climate change affects flood, drought, air pollution (including bushfire smoke, sand and dust storms), food supply and others which are related to increased risks of mortality.
We cannot only focus on temperature and ignore other effects. If we take into account all the factors’ impacts, climate change has serious impacts on human health.
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