Air conditioning and heating systems make a significant contribution to reducing mortality related to extreme temperatures in Spain, according to a study led by the International Health Institute of Barcelona (ISGlobal), supported by the La Caixa Foundation. That’s what it means. The survey results are environment internationalprovides valuable insights for designing policies to adapt to climate change.
Temperatures rise, but mortality rates fall
Spain, like many parts of the world, has experienced rising temperatures in recent decades, with average annual temperatures rising at an average rate of 0.36°C per decade. The warming trend is even more pronounced in summer (0.40°C per decade). Remarkably, this increase in temperature has coincided with a gradual decline in heat-related mortality. In addition, the mortality rate from colds has decreased.
“Understanding the factors that reduce sensitivity to temperature extremes is critical to inform health adaptation policies and combat the negative effects of climate change,” said ISGlobal and Inserm, lead authors of the study. Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Commission Postdoctoral Fellowship.
effective social adaptation
In this study, Achebak and colleagues analyzed the demographic and socio-economic factors behind the observed decrease in heat- and cold-related mortality despite rising temperatures. Researchers found that increased prevalence of air conditioning (AC) in Spain was associated with decreased heat-related mortality, while increased heating prevalence was associated with decreased cold-related mortality. discovered. Specifically, from the late 1980s to the early 2010s, AC was found to be responsible for approximately 28.6% of the decrease in deaths due to heat and 31.5% of the decrease in deaths due to extreme heat. Heating systems contributed significantly, accounting for approximately 38.3% of the decrease in cold-related deaths and a significant 50.8% decrease in extreme cold-related deaths over the same period. The reduction in cold-related mortality would have been even greater had it not been for demographic changes that increased the proportion of people aged 65 years and older, who are more susceptible to the effects of cold weather.
The authors conclude that the reduction in heat-related mortality is primarily a result of the country’s socio-economic development during the study period, rather than specific interventions such as heat wave warning systems.
40 years of data
For statistical analysis, the research team collected data on daily mortality rates (all causes) and weather (temperature and relative humidity) in 48 provinces of mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands from January 1980 to December 2018. did. These data were then linked to 14 states. Indicators of the situation (demographic and socio-economic variables such as housing, income, education, etc.) of these groups over the same period.
Impact on climate adaptation
The findings extend previous findings on heat-related mortality in Spain and highlight the importance of air conditioning and heating as effective adaptation measures to reduce the effects of heat and cold. . “However, we observed large differences in the presence of AC between provinces. Many Spanish households still cannot afford air conditioning,” Acebak says.
The authors also point out that other cooling strategies are also needed, such as expanding green and blue spaces in cities, as widespread use of AC could further contribute to global warming depending on the source of electricity generation. .
“Our findings have important implications for the development of climate change adaptation strategies. They can also help predict future impacts of climate change on human health,” said ISGlobal researcher and researcher. Research coordinator Joanne Ballester concludes.