Since the 1980s, heat related deaths have been on the decline, whereas cold-related deaths have been stable to increasing. Studies indicate deaths attributable to cold weather have been 10 to 20 times more common than deaths attributable to extreme heat.
Image Source: The Guardian
Rising energy poverty with wind and solar energy penetration
Heating a home in the United Kingdom became 63% more expensive in the last decade, and electricity prices have risen by 80% in Germany since 2000. These developments can be traced to the increasing reliance on wind and solar energy in these developed countries (Lomborg, 2014).
Image Source: Lomborg, 2014
Significantly due to California’s heavy emphasis on wind and solar energy penetration, Californians’ electricity prices rose 5 times more than the other states between 2011 and 2017 (EnvironmentalProgress.org).
Californians pay 60% more for electricity than the rest of the country.
Image Source: EnvironmentalProgress.org
Cold weather is 20 times more deadly than hot weather
A 2015 study analyzing 74 million deaths from 384 locations across the world (1985 and 2012) revealed that cold weather killed 20 times more people than hot weather did (7.29% of mortalities due cold vs. 0.42% of mortalities attributed to heat).
A new paper (Sera et al., 2019) analyzes atrributable mortality trends in urban areas – 340 cities in 22 countries – and found there was a similar (but less pronounced) discrepancy between attributable cold deaths and heat deaths (6.05% vs. 0.56%) during 1985-2014 for the world’s cities.
Heat-related deaths are “low and non-significant” relative to exposure to cold weather in SW China according to another new paper (Deng et al., 2019).
Image Source: Deng et al., 2019
Cold weather death rates are increasing as heat deaths are declining
Vicedo-Cabrera et al., 2018 found heat-related deaths declined in 7 out of 10 countries studied since 1985 and no trends in cold-weather deaths.
It is likely that the rise in both energy prices and energy poverty have heavily contributed to the higher incidence of cold-related mortality in recent decades.
Image Source: Díaz et al., 2019
Image Source: Cheng et al., 2019