In a recent article in Ecological Economics, Bosello et al (Ecological Economics 58(3), June 25, 2006, pp.579-591) make the surprising prediction that the first stages of global warming will, on balance, save a large number of lives.
However, Ackerman and Stanton believe that this work is based on 3 flawed assumptions, namely:
First, human populations are assumed to be unable to adapt to new climatic conditions, continuing to respond as they do today even as average temperatures gradually climb. Second, the focus on slow changes in average temperatures ignores the important issue of mortality and other impacts of extreme weather events related to climate change. Third, the incidence of increased heat-related cardio-vascular and respiratory mortality is restricted to urban areas while decreases in cold-related cardio-vascular mortality are assumed to occur in both urban and rural areas.
Ackerman and Stanton could not reproduce the huge estimates made by Bosello et al, even using these flawed assumptions. Therefore:
a model that more accurately predicts the likely effects of climate change on mortality is essential to the formulation of climate and energy policies in countries around the world and to the future of international agreements regarding limits to the production of greenhouse gases. False optimism may have dangerous and long-lasting consequences.