NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Health Benefits of Global Warming

January 1, 1996

Although satellite data over the past 25 years show no trend toward increasing global temperatures, Americans would benefit from improved health and quality of life if the earth's climate were to warm moderately over the next few decades. Based on an analysis of data on mortality, illness and wage rates:

  • If temperatures rose 2.5 degrees Celsius, deaths in the United States from respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and influenza, diseases of the circulatory system and even infectious diseases would drop by about 40,000 per year.
  • Warming might reduce medical costs by about $20 billion annually.
  • Since Americans prefer warm climates and will accept lower pay to work in those areas, they would value a warmer climate at between $40 billion and $61 billion.

A 1995 report by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expressed concern that increases in heat waves would cause a rise in deaths from cardiorespiratory complications, vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue and yellow fevers. But the IPCC report also acknowledged that global warming would result in fewer cold-related deaths.

In addition, a 1992 IPCC report found that over this century, in much of the world, winter and night temperatures have risen while summer temperatures have fallen.

Source: Thomas Gale Moore, "Health and Amenity Effects of Global Warming," Working Paper No. E-96-1, January 1996, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, (415) 723-1754.


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