It takes a special arrogance to come to a city that suffered a catastrophic heat wave in 1995, resulting in over 700 deaths in just 5 days, and say that “Warm is good for people, and it's particularly good for people as they get older. The people that warm spells kill are already moribund."
That special arrogance belongs to one of the policy analysts with the Heartland Institute, which is holding its annual head-in-the-sand climate conference here in Chicago, Illinois – a city that was scarred by the heat wave’s extraordinary toll.
But such a statement also requires ignorance – a hallmark of Heartland's – given that it is well documented that people die in heat waves, and not just people who are "near death." In fact, the risk factors for dying in a heat wave include social conditions (such as income, race, and education), social isolation, access to air conditioning, and age/disease prevalence.
So, the Heartless Institute is basically saying we can write off lonely grandmothers who can't afford A/C, among others.
But it turns out rising temperatures have a pretty big body count. NRDC just today released a report analyzing peer-reviewed scientific studies which found that rising temperatures fueled by climate change will cause an additional 150,000 heat-related deaths by the end of the century.
Not that I expect the Heartless Institute to accept our report – or any science, for that matter- since this is an organization that likens anyone who accepts climate science to terrorists.
Given the sudden dry spell of donors following Heartland’s experiment with putting hate speech on billboards, I guess folks over there would be in a moribund state of mind.
UPDATE: DeSmog Blog just reported that Heartland Institute President Joe Bast announced that this year's conference will be their last.