The Summer’s Gonna Get You

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From Climate Scepticism


Every morning I like to trawl through the BBC News website, and every morning I manage to catch something suitably fishy. Usually, it is a ‘news’ item designed to kindle eco-anxiety so that we may more readily accept a domestic heating system that will not work, wheezy cars that many won’t be able to afford, a smart metering system designed to facilitate disconnection from an increasingly unstable electric grid, and an industrialised landscape festooned with bird-munching eyesores that I am reliably informed can farm the wind on those days it dares to pass by. Given how much bullshit has already been expended fertilizing this alarm, you’d think that I would be good and ready by now to hand in my sceptical weaponry as part of the deniers’ amnesty that surely must be just around the corner. But I’m not there yet.

Not that the BBC would ever admit to being alarmist. Nor indeed would such an allegation be accepted by the Met Office or the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). Theirs is not to alarm but merely to alert. Yes, they are nothing more than alertists, and (as of the start of June) their alertist services have been extended to warn us of that thermal hell we used to call summer. Appropriately, the alarm levels – sorry, alert levels – are painted with the palette of control:

  • Green – Nothing to see here, move on
  • Yellow – If you are at death’s door then the heat may give you a helpful push
  • Amber – So hot that even the woke yoof may start wilting and the papers will start proclaiming ‘Hotter than Madrid’
  • Red – We’re all going to die

All very helpful, I’m sure you will agree. And all very necessary says the BBC because:

Will Lang, from the Met Office, said the effects of human-induced climate change were already being felt on UK summers „with an increase in the frequency, duration, and intensity of extreme heat events over recent decades“. The health alerts would help save lives, protect property and the economy „as we all work to tackle adverse weather and climate change“, he said.

He said that then, did he? Okay, but I wonder what the Office of National Statistics has been saying recently on this subject. Well, it just so happens that this is the very sort of thing that it has been collecting data on and it has published its findings in a paper titled, ‘Climate-related mortality and hospital admissions, England and Wales: 2001 to 2020’. Sounds kinda relevant, so what does the data say regarding recent trends in temperature-related deaths?

Over a 20-year period the estimated change in deaths associated with warm or cold temperature was a net decrease of 555,094, an average of 27,755 deaths per year (Table 1). A decrease in deaths from outcomes associated with cold temperature greatly outnumbers deaths associated with warm temperature.

Ah yes, I hear you say. But the decrease in cold-related deaths has nothing to do with the benefits of warming and everything to do with the benefits of improved insulation in housing. Whereas, the increase in heat-related deaths has everything to do with the perils of warming and nothing to do with a failure to improve air-conditioning.

To which I reply: What increase in heat-related deaths? According to the ONS:

“We found relatively little increase in deaths caused by warmer weather and a reduction in deaths caused by cold winters, leading to a net decrease in deaths”

Ah yes, I hear you say. But what about other countries?

To which I reply: This is not about other countries. This is about an alert system introduced in England to deal with a heat-related death crisis that does not exist in England, combined with a failure to introduce an alert system in England to deal with a cold-related death crisis that does.

Ah yes, I hear you say. But what about the future? Cold related-deaths are receding and there will come a point when heat-related deaths do start to rise and take over, even in the UK.

To which I reply: This may be true, but that would be a problem for the future. The UKHSA’s heat alert system is a solution to a crisis that is supposed to exist today. The reason why it has been introduced today (when there has never been a cold alert system) is because buy-in to Net Zero is wanted today, and that buy-in requires achieving certain levels of eco-anxiety no later than this summer.

Ah yes, I hear you say. But is Lomborg a scientist? To which I reply: I don’t remember mentioning Lomborg.