A new study makes the highly questionable claim that man-made global warming could increase the number of heart attacks due to more erratic fluctuations in daily temperature.
“Global warming is expected to cause extreme weather events, which may, in turn, result in large day-to-day fluctuations in temperature,” Hedvig Andersson, a University of Michigan cardiologist, said in a statement.
The basic argument is that global warming will result in more extreme weather, including heat waves, storms, and cold spells. These weather events can cause temperature swings and increase heart attack risks, Andersson argues.
“Our study suggests that such fluctuations in outdoor temperature could potentially lead to an increased number of heart attacks and affect global cardiac health in the future,” said Andersson, the study’s lead author.
Except, there are a few problems with the premise of their study.
In more extreme global warming scenarios, some extreme weather events become more frequent and intense in the future. But there’s little evidence temperature variability actually increases with global warming.
Climate models tend to show a decrease in temperature variability, and observational records don’t show much change in the last 50 years. Cold waves, for example, are expected to become less frequent, cutting down on wintertime variability.
“The frequency of cold waves have decreased during the past fifty years, not increased. That alone shows that such claims are baseless,” University of Washington climatologist Cliff Mass said in January when some were linking a U.S. cold snap to global warming.
Moreover, a study by Climate Central found U.S. cold spells “have decreased in intensity and frequency over the last century.”
“Cold outbreaks like this are getting warmer (less frequent) due to global warming, but cold waves still occur somewhere in North America almost every winter,” Climate Central found.
Despite this, University of Michigan researchers say their study shows a link between temperature and cardiovascular illness.
Andersson and his colleagues looked at data from 30,000 patients treated at 45 hospitals in Michigan in the last six years and compared them to weather records. They claimed to find heart attack risk increased with every nine-degree Fahrenheit swing in temperature, which was more pronounced on warmer-than-average days.
The study predicted twice as many heart attacks on a hot summer day with a 63 to 72 degree Fahrenheit fluctuation than on a day with no temperature swing.
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