Report: Heat-Related Deaths In The UK Will Rise 257% By 2050

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The number of annual deaths caused by hot weather in the UK is expected to rise by over 257% by the year 2050, according to new research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Public Health England.

The significant rise will be primarily as the result of a warming climate, a growing population, and rising energy costs. Unsurprisingly, this increase will not be distributed evenly — the elderly (75+), the destitute, and the disabled, will be the most affected. The research suggests that London and the Midlands will be the areas seeing the largest increases.

Image Credit: Hot via Flickr CCImage Credit: Hot via Flickr CC

Among the most interesting findings of the new research is that the number of “hot weather days” is expected to triple in frequency by the mid 2080s, while the number of cold days falls, but at a notably less dramatic rate. So, essentially, the hot parts of the year will be getting notably hotter, while the cold parts of the year will be warming at a much slower pace.

The British Medical Journal explains the work:

The research team, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Public Health England, used time-series regression analysis to chart historic (1993-2006) fluctuations in weather patterns and death rates to characterise the associations between temperature and mortality, by region and by age group.

They then applied these to projected population increases and local climate to estimate the future number of deaths likely to be caused by temperature — hot and cold — for the 2020s, 2050s, and 2080s. They based their calculations on the projected daily average temperatures for 2000-09, 2020-29, 2050-59 and 2080-89, derived from the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC), and population growth estimates from the Office of National Statistics.

The calculations indicated a significantly increased risk of deaths associated with temperature across all regions of the UK, with the elderly most at risk. In the absence of any adaptive measures, excess deaths related to heat would be expected to rise by 257% by the 2050s, from an annual baseline of 2000, while those related to the cold would be expected to fall by 2% as a result of milder winters, from a current toll of around 41,000, but will still remain significant.

Amongst the other notable findings of the research:

  • Those over the age of 85 will be the most affected — a group that is projected to increase in proportion to the rest of the population significantly by that time.
  • There will be notable regional variations — London and the Midlands will become more vulnerable to hot weather; while Wales, the North West, Eastern England and the South will remain more vulnerable to cold weather.
  • The steeply rising costs of fuels will make adaption harder. The rising temperatures will contribute to these rising fuel costs as the demand for active cooling systems is projected to rise significantly.
  • Effective adaption would include the use of such simple technologies as “shading, thermal insulation, and choice of construction materials implemented at the design stage of urban developments,” according to the researchers.

The new research was just published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

6 thoughts on “Report: Heat-Related Deaths In The UK Will Rise 257% By 2050

  • Not gonna happen, just speculation (“elderly at risk” well guess what 2050 we gonna have life extension a la aubrey de grey so that’s that). Pls zach & co, stick to cleantech (…nica!).

  • England will install air conditioning and solar to run it. They will also start distributing fans and setting up cooling centers for those with the lowest ability to afford AC.

    It may take a short term rise in deaths to get the government’s attention.

    • You’d think so but we don’t distribute fans or have cooling centers in Australia. Or rather we do have private cooling centers. They’re called shopping centers. Old people are told to head there when the heat gets too bad. Now that I think about it, we really should be installing solar on the roofs of our shopping centers in Australia as they are basically anti-death camps and we want their air conditioners to keep working in the event of a grid failure. (Not that grid failures during heat waves are likely these days, but better safe than sorry.)

  • They missed the fact that average tends to hide the extreme cold that can happen with climate change. Ask the people in lower Georgia what happens when you get a light snow where you haven’t seen it in 100 years.

  • This is news? 2000 people per year die from heat related deaths in a country with a population of over 60MM? Tobacco costs them 100,000/yr and alcohol 30,000+/year.

    • Plus, the headline-grabbing increase in deaths from heat is half offset by the smaller decrease in the much bigger, and scandalous, total of deaths from cold.
      Britain is very ill-adapted to deal with heatwaves – people have no idea how to cope with them, like drinking lots of water, wearing thin but baggy clothes and floppy hats. A few years ago, there was a heatwave in France and Spain. The deaths in France were much higher; many of them old people in flats, with neighbours over-respectful of their privacy or absent on holiday. Family and community support was stronger in Spain, plus they have the protective siesta habit.

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