Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Heat-Related Deaths and Fishing Metaphors

Fred has left a new comment on "Suggest a Topic!":

"How about your analysis of global warming using the sport's heat-related deaths and injuries as your only indicator? That is, notwithstanding other evidence (surely a loaded phrase in and of itself, even though it shouldn't be), graph global warming (or global cooling, or neither) based solely on track and field’s increases (or decreases, or neither) in heat-related deaths and injuries."

If I had to answer your question "using the sport's heat-related deaths and injuries as [my] only indicator," I'd have the shortest analysis ever:

There isn't enough evidence to make a claim either way.

If you'll allow me to widen the net just a bit, I could actually get enough statistics in the boat to do a proper analysis and to make a valid claim, one way or another.

"Go ahead, matey," you say? You like fishing metaphors? Thanks. I appreciate that.

The CDC reports that, "from 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States." That's an average of 321 deaths a year caused by heat. That includes all deaths, including young children left alone in automobiles, the elderly or homeless who don't have access to air-conditioning during the hottest time of the summer, the homeless, the mentally ill and chronically ill. It does also include healthy individuals don't take common-sense precautions such as exercising during the coolest part of the day and rehydrating properly.

According to the CDC, "in 2001, 300 deaths were caused by excessive heat exposure." Since the 2001 rate is actually lower than the 25-year average, that would seem to indicate that heat-related deaths are not on the rise.

Much more worrisome are the 654,092 deaths that occur every year because of heart disease. The warming of the earth's climate shouldn't be as much of a concern to us as a hot plate of french fries and a double cheeseburger.

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