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Statistician chills warming fears: The ‘reduction in cold-related deaths actually dwarfs the rise in heat-related deaths!’

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http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2014/06/media_misleads_on_statistics.html

Let’s look at another headline, this one from February:

Yowza. Stay inside, stock up on ice cream, and blast the air-conditioning!

But lost in the rush to predict dire consequences from global warming, were two key nuggets of information: 1. There will be more deaths anyway as the population of the United Kingdom grows older. 2. The reduction in cold-related deaths actually dwarfs the rise in heat-related deaths!

Take a look at the original graphs from the research showing off heat deaths and cold deaths. Notice anything misleading? (Hint: take a look at the vertical axes.)

The axes on both plots had been arranged to make the numbers look more comparable than they really are!

On his blog, Spiegelhalter remade the graphs and combined them to more accurately reflect the data.

Looking at these graphs leads one to a different conclusion. “Overall, for any individual in the UK, the risk of a temperature-related death is expected to fall steadily due to climate change,” Spiegelhalter wrote.

Anytime you read an alarming headline where assessments of risk are involved, be skeptical. There could be a more nuanced story buried in the details.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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