News article gets facts wrong on heat-related deaths

By Paul MacRae

A June 13 Times Colonist article from Associated Press, “Phoenix hits record as scorching heat grips American southwest,” informs readers that “excessive heat causes more deaths in the U.S. than other weather-related disasters, including hurricanes, floods and tornadoes combined.”

As usual with so many “global warming” disaster stories, the article has its facts wrong, in this case the claim that heat kills more people than cold. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website has the following on deaths due to hot weather in the U.S.:

“Between 1979 and 2018, the death rate as a direct result of exposure to heat (underlying cause of death) generally hovered between 0.5 and 2 deaths per million people…. Overall, a total of more than 11,000 Americans have died from heat-related causes since 1979, according to death certificates.”

EPA, “Climate change indicators: Heat-related deaths,” April 2021

On deaths due to cold weather the EPA has this to say:

“Between 1979 and 2016, the death rate as a direct result of exposure to cold (underlying cause of death) generally ranged from 1 to 2.5 deaths per million people…. Overall, a total of more than 19,000 Americans have died from cold-related causes since 1979, according to death certificates.”

EPA, “Climate Change Indicators: Cold-Related Deaths.” April, 2021

In other words, almost twice as many Americans were killed by cold weather (19,000) as by hot weather (11,000) after 1979, and the news article should say that “extreme cold,” not extreme heat, is the worst killer when it comes to weather.

Statistics from many other countries—and not just those with temperate climates—confirm that cold is a far greater killer than heat. A huge study of more than 74 million deaths in 384 locations, including both cold and warm countries, found that excessive heat caused .5% of these deaths; extreme cold was responsible for more than 7% of the deaths.1

In other words, for every person who dies of excessive heat, 14 people die of extreme cold. Yet global-warming alarmists would have the public believe warmth is humanity’s main enemy.

The writer(s) of the AP article could easily have checked the facts about weather-related deaths but, alas, the accurate version doesn’t fit the “global warming will lead to disaster” narrative. Once again, climate-change ideology comes before accuracy.


  1. Antonio Gasparrini, et al., “Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multicountry observational study.” The Lancet, May 21, 2015. Available online with search terms “Lancet 2015 deaths due to cold”. You can find more details in Bjorn Lomborg, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet, pages 52-55.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *