Say what you like about COVID-19. (Except, on our channel, that it was a plot). But it sure got people’s attention. We were locked down, masked up, talked down to and shut out of schools and restaurants in a way that they never did for, say, typhus or polio. Apparently it was worse than the worst thing ever or some such, and if a measure saves just one life, well, no sacrifice too great. Except on global warming, since a new study warns that Europe faced an even worse killer than COVID last winter. And no, it wasn’t heat. It was lethal cold. And not even climate cold. Cold inside people’s homes because panicky climate change policies had made energy unaffordable. The Economist, which normally runs with the rabbits on the climate breakdown thingy, says “Expensive energy may have killed more Europeans than covid-19 last winter”. Think they’re going to lock anyone down over that one?
The study relied on a computer model so again we’re not suddenly going to say trust the machines. But if you believe in things like the precautionary principle, or say you do, how can you possibly embark on as hazardous a policy experiment as we have on climate change, one that cripples our economies in ways that make our COVID spasm look positively sedate especially in the long run, and by doing so puts so many lives at risk?
The study began by plotting “excess deaths”, that is, the number of people who died in various countries on any given date versus the number who typically die in a day, against temperature. And the finding is that of 149,000 excess European deaths in the winter of 2022-23, 68,000 seem to be driven by inability to afford proper heating, as against 59,700 for COVID and a mere 21,500 for other. But how did they come to the conclusion that it was energy prices, not just cold weather, that killed granny?
Well, to begin with, the story explains:
“A cold snap in December was accompanied by a rise in mortality. A drop of 1°C (1.8°F) in the average temperature over a three-week period is associated with a 2.2% rise in total deaths. However, last winter was milder than the average of 2015-19, so the cold alone cannot be responsible for the additional deaths.”
Real statistical analysis involves that sort of factoring. And more, because “Looking across countries reveals that those with the highest excess deaths typically experienced the biggest increases in fuel costs.” Not the biggest drops in temperature.
We have repeatedly noted that, contrary to alarmist hysterics, cold is already more deadly than heat not only in places like Sweden or Germany but even in India. And as The Economist article notes:
“After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Vladimir Putin weaponised his country’s energy supplies: cutting gas exports to Europe and causing prices to surge. Although wholesale costs have now fallen across the continent, the prices of domestic electricity and gas, compared with two years earlier, were up by an eye-watering 69% and 145% last winter.”
Yikes. And it is not irrelevant to observe that a great many vocal climate alarmists, from Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau to Professor Michael Mann, have no difficulty affording home heating on their lavish salaries (if indeed they even pay their own utility bills, which Trudeau does not).
If your home is too cold, you are at risk of respiratory ailments and also cardiac disease. Especially if you are also hungry, in which case your immune system does not work nearly as well. Imagine trusting policy to people who will keep children out of school for a year or more because they panicked over a disease that, while worse than the flu, is not nearly as bad as many ailments that never ever produced such a response, and then kill their grandparents in the name of a brighter future.
Are we fools? Or the pre-reform Scrooge, leaving Bob Cratchit to shiver without coat or sweater without enough coal on the fire while Tiny Tim slowly succumbs? Or do we just vote for such people?