Thread via Cherry “Born Maskless And Staying That Way” Davis
John is the “chief data reporter” at FT.
…Would humanity settle on a new planet where going outdoors during daylight was potentially lethal, leading to time spent scurrying between buildings and vehicles in search of shelter from the environment? Surely not. Yet somehow Phoenix, Arizona, where maximum temperatures have now exceeded 40C for 26 successive days, is America’s fastest growing big city.
I fear that one of the reasons for such irrational behaviour is that most discussions about climate change continue to emphasise the risk of much worse things coming down the tracks. This is understandable, but a permanent focus on the future can blind us to what is already happening. We instead insist that life simply goes on, that we’re adapting.
The thing is, for a growing number of people, life does not go on at all. It’s all very well saying that Arizona has always been very hot, but there are degrees of very hot. Between 1970 and 1990, an average of 16 people per year died from “exposure to excessive natural heat”. Between 1990 and 2015, the average rose to 38. In 2020 it was 210, and 2022 came in at 257.
These figures are not estimates of excess mortality coinciding with extreme heat, where different methodologies can produce different figures. They are specific individuals whose death was judged by a medical examiner to have been directly caused by extreme heat. Some are people who suffered severe burns when their skin came into contact with pavements superheated to as much as 82C (180F). This is not a forecast for 50 years time, it’s happening today.
As climate anxiety grows, the risk that humanity continues to be the frog in a slowly boiling pot of water is only exacerbated by the fact that we continue to emphasise abstract statistics instead of things that people can really see and feel.
He should realize that the sudden spike in “heat-related deaths” beginning in 2016 and accelerating needs to be analyzed because it looks like a reporting issue, not climate change. He doesn’t do it.
So, let me.
First, there has been no noticeable increase in days over 100 degrees per year in Phoenix over the last 2 decades – one of the hottest parts of the state. Indeed, you will notice that 2023 is so far a below average year.
So, an increase in extreme days can’t explain that very sudden jump in coding for heat-related deaths.
Second, data prior to 1999 can’t be compared to today. The reason is that the ICD changed and even the EPA admits that pre-1999 data cannot easily be compared to today.
Third, the EPA also provides a clue as to what is happening. In its Technical Paper from 2017, it admonished coroners that “it has been well documented that many deaths associated with extreme heat are not identified…by the medical examiner.”
Well, let’s go back to the data!
Look at that. The EPA, and likely other groups, push for increased reporting of heat-related deaths and that’s what they get.
Sudden spikes like this don’t make sense if one is pointing to climate change when the climate hasn’t changed that radically.
Of course, John knows this. But he has a mission to paint as grim a picture as possible. Many people won’t dig into the numbers. They will just accept them. John knows this as well.
This is where statistics lie to serve a particular agenda. You can thank data experts like John.