Suffice it to say Eli was a bit surprised to hear NOAA sources quoted recently (like about when the local temperature went up to boil) that heat causes more deaths than cold. This contradicted a bunch of earlier reports that he had internalized, so poking about the INTERNETs the bunny went.
About the best comment was on weather underground
The three 2008 studies for the U.S. show the ratio of cold deaths to heat deaths ranges from 2:1 to 1:3, which is very different from the 7:1 and 9:1 figures quoted by Will and Lomborg for Europe, India, and China. I don't trust any of these numbers, since heat and cold mortality statistics are highly uncertain and easy to cherry pick to show a desired result.Counting the dead is not the problem, assigning the cause of death, heart attack, hypo or hyperthermia is. Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter take a shot at it, and evaluating a couple of previous publications, the results of which can be seen to the right. They conclude
Hazard mortality data are fraught with inconsistencies across databases. Differences manifest themselves from the subjective nature of attributing any death to a hazard event. Because of the lack of a standardized death classification scheme, hazard deaths are not counted in the same way for any two databases. In fact, even within a national database (i.e. SHELDUS, Compressed Mortality File), hazard death attribution likely varies geographically. Therefore, we are cautious that the analyses and conclusions drawn from hazard mortality data are based on estimates of deaths from natural eventsbecause if you can answer that question, you can take precautions and improve infrastructure for dealing with the natural hazards. Of course, if you keep on piling greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, it is possible to make large portions of the earth uninhabitable in a couple of hundred years. But, as we say in the hutch, that's your problem
There is considerable debate about which natural hazard is the most "deadly". According to our results, the answer is heat. But this finding could change depending on the data source, or how hazards within a data source are grouped, as we've shown here. Even if researchers could definitively assert the 'deadliest hazard,' a better issue to pose is where residents are more susceptible to fatalities from natural hazards within the United States.