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#GettingWorse: Life Expectancy Edition

22 May 2024 | Science Notes

Climate change, we are told, is an existential threat. And it’s getting worse. People are dying yada yada yada. And climate change has been hitting us full force for decades (though it is also about to hit with full force). According to the IPCC most, or all, or even more than all, the warming since 1950 has been manmade. Put it all together and you’re guaranteed to have... people living decades longer now than they did since 1950. If only every existential threat were like this one.

The numbers are from Our World in Data and they look like this:

Yes, it’s going up. Except for the last two years, which is either due to COVID-19 or the COVID policy over-reactions, lockdowns, etc. Also there’s that V-shaped notch in the Asian data at 1960 when Mao’s Build Back Better Great Leap Forward wiped out a few million of his unfortunate subjects. Many things have improved over this interval, including health, nutrition, medical science, the quality of home heating and cooling, and countless other contributors to human longevity. The availability of fossil fuels played a big role in promoting all these things, and whatever warming they caused clearly didn’t stop the gains from accruing, and may even have added to them.

As far as longevity goes, since 1950 it has not been getting worse. Quite the contrary.

One comment on “#GettingWorse: Life Expectancy Edition”

  1. The dip at the end of those lines is almost certainly caused by governments sending sick retirees into nursing homes leading to a mass death scenario of the very elderly. I suspect that this was intentional, but either way this event reduced demand on hospitals so sharply here in the US that many hospitals are going bankrupt now! When you consider that there was NO CHANGE IN THE DEATH RATE during the pandemic, at least here in the US, just a change in cause of death and who died, death from dread diseases of all kinds but particularly pneumonia declined VERY sharply to be replaced by COVID deaths, at the same time, death by accidents (transportation and workplace) and homicides declined sharply....old people died at a much higher rate and young people did not die so frequently. A side benefit might be that Social Security and Medicare services may be fiscally secure for much longer!

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