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Freezing to Death on a Subtropical Island: Report from Tiawan
Reference
Lin, Y.-K., Wang, Y.-C., Lin, P.-L., Li, M.-H., and Ho, T.-J. 2013. Relationships between cold-temperature indices and all causes and cardiopulmonary morbidity and mortality in a subtropical island. Science of the Total Environment 461-462: 627-635.

Background
The authors write that "high temperatures have garnered considerable attention in Europe and the U.S. because of their short-term adverse health impacts." However, they say that several studies have reported that "the adverse health effects of cold temperatures may be more significant than those of high temperatures in Spain, Canada, Shanghai and Taiwan (Gomez-Acebo et al., 2010; Lin et al., 2011; Ma et al., 2011; Martin et al., 2012; Wang et al., 2012)," while also noting that "mortality risk associated with low temperatures is likely underestimated when studies fail to address the prolonged effect of low temperature (Martin et al., 2012; Mercer, 2003)."

What was done
Working with data pertaining to daily area-specific deaths from (1) all causes, (2) circulatory diseases and (3) respiratory diseases, Lin et al. developed relationships between each of them and a number of different cold-temperature related parameters for the period between 2000 and 2008.

What was learned
The five researchers discovered that "mortality from [1] all causes and [2] circulatory diseases and [3] outpatient visits of respiratory diseases has a strong association with cold temperatures in the subtropical island, Taiwan." In addition, they found that "minimum temperature estimated the strongest risk associated with outpatient visits of respiratory diseases."

What it means
It's beginning to appear that wherever one lives in the whole wide world, local minimum temperatures provide a much greater threat to human life and wellbeing than do local maximum temperatures, which suggests that global warming is considerably more beneficial for the health of the world's human population than is global cooling.

References
Gomez-Acebo, I., Dierssen-Sotos, T. and Llorca, J. 2010. Effect of cold temperatures on mortality in Cantabria (Northern Spain): a case-crossover study. Public Health 124: 398-403.

Lin, Y.-K., Ho, T.-J. and Wang, Y.-C. 2011. Mortality risk associated with temperature and prolonged temperature extremes in elderly populations in Taiwan. Environmental Research 111: 1156-1163.

Ma, W., Xu, X., Peng, L. and Kan, H. 2011. Impact of extreme temperature on hospital admission in Shanghai, China. Science of the Total Environment 409: 3634-3637.

Martin, S.L., Cakmak, S., Hebbern, C.A., Avramescu, M.L. and Tremblay, N. 2012. Climate change and future temperature-related mortality in 15 Canadian cities. International Journal of Biometeorology 56: 605-619.

Mercer, J.B. 2003. Cold - an underrated risk factor for health. Environmental Research 92: 8-13.

Wang, Y.C., Lin, Y.K., Chuang, C.Y., Li, M.H., Chou, C.H., Liao, C.H. and Sung, F.C. 2012. Associating emergency room visits with first and prolonged extreme temperature event in Taiwan: a population-based cohort study. Science of the Total Environment 416: 97-104.

Reviewed 25 December 2013