Push to list climate change as ‘cause of death’ in bushfires
Climate change should be listed as a cause of death on death certificates, under controversial proposals put forward by Australian university researchers.
They also claim the tally of deaths due to excessive heat in Australia in the past 11 years should be a staggering 36,765 - not the 340 deaths marked on official records.
But critics say the claims are "climate alarmism" and cold weather is 20 times as deadly as hot weather.
Previous studies have shown far more people die of the cold than heat. That includes an Australian study two years ago that found most temperature-related deaths were due to cold - 61 per cent - while temperature fluctuations accounted for 28 per cent and excessive heat only 11 per cent.
But in a letter published in the Lancet Planetary Health, medical researchers from the Australian National University and the University of Technology Sydney say the number of deaths caused by "excessive natural heat" is actually 50 times greater than recorded on death certificates.
Cardiologist and member of Doctors for the Environment Australia Dr Arnagretta Hunter said if someone died of an asthma attack during heavy smoke from fires, the death certificate should include that information.
"Climate change is a killer, but we don't acknowledge it on death certificates," she said.
"Climate change is the single greatest health threat that we face globally even after we recover from coronavirus.
"We know the summer bushfires were a consequence of extraordinary heat and drought, and people who died during the bushfires were not just those fighting fires - many Australians had early deaths due to smoke exposure."
Institute of Public Affairs research director Daniel Wild said the research was an example of taxpayer-funded academics "inflating figures to push governments to provide more climate funding to academics like themselves".
"The best available evidence suggests that cold weather is 20 times as deadly as hot weather," he said.
"University researchers should be using their taxpayer funds to help get the more than one million Australians who have lost their job over the past two months back into a job, rather than engaging in more inaccurate climate alarmism."
Originally published as Push to list climate change as 'cause of death' in bushfires