Over half a million fewer people died in England and Wales over the last 20 years due to a small rise in temperatures, according to recent work by the Office for National Statistics. According to the ONS, reduced climate-related mortality rates were 90% attributable to milder winters and 10% to warmer summers. Over three times the number of lives were extended due to climate change than are said to have been lost in the Covid pandemic.
In the mainstream media, the news was greeted with a deafening silence. There were few reports highlighting the lives saved. The BBC didn’t even mention the half million figure, but noted: “Hot days saw more injuries, violence and suicide but the relatively small rise in deaths was offset by warmer winter temperatures.” The third paragraph of the story claimed: “Climate change is a substantial threat to human health globally.” Resident green activist Justin Rowlatt then supplied an “analysis”, noting immediately that “statistics can be slippery, as these new climate-death figures show”.
For some inexplicable reason, there was no 5pm Downing Street press conference announcing that nearly 30,000 lives a year had been saved by climate change. There was no Professor Ferguson-inspired model suggesting that if current trends were followed, everyone in the world would be saved by teatime next Tuesday.
What there was, as we can see from the BBC example, was a desperate attempt to fit the story into an pre-arranged green agenda. The work continues. Last month, researchers from UCL and the University of Reading said that the death rate linked to extreme temperatures would increase significantly under global warming of 2°C. But seemingly with one eye on the unfortunate ONS findings, the researchers had to note that: “At current global warming of around 1.2°C we see a slight decrease in temperature-related mortality in winter and a minimal net effect in summer, meaning that overall, at this level of warming we see a slight decrease in temperature related mortality rate.” Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez went on to claim: “Limiting the average global rise in temperature is likely to have substantial benefits for the overall health of the population.”
In the land of ‘settled’ science and agenda-driven politics, half a million lives extended due to climate change is a “slight decrease” in mortality, while a third of that total (if that) for Covid deaths is cue for a two-year horror lockdown, leading to huge economic, educational, health and societal problems.
A major difficulty with catastrophising climate change for largely political Net Zero purposes is that most of the observable effects from recent warming and CO2 rises have been beneficial. Rising carbon dioxide levels have caused a massive greening of the planet, leading to an estimated 14% extra vegetation over the last 30 years. This has alleviated food shortages and famine in many parts of the world. Dr. Roy Spencer, the former senior scientist for climate studies at NASA, notes that plants benefit from higher levels of CO2, adding: “It is amazing how little there is in the atmosphere.” In the northern hemisphere, growing seasons have been slightly extended. Wildlife of all descriptions is more likely to survive slightly less cold winters.
Levels of CO2 have been much higher in the past, leading to abundant life and vigorous plant growth, a small part of which is now releasing past sequestered CO2 by humans burning fossil fuel. Current global temperatures are also on the low side but sub-tropical humans have learnt to cope and thrive in the cooler latitudes as the last ice age subsided. As we have seen from the ONS figures, cold is a much greater threat to human survival than heat.
Global warming actually ran out of steam about two decades ago, whatever the recently upward-adjusted temperature databases say. Climate models guessing imminent temperature rises of 6°C are simply laughable, while catastrophising bad weather as extreme and blaming it on humans is just a creative opinion, and has no basis in science.
History teaches us that the ‘end of the world is nigh’ crowd will always be with us, preaching their cults du jour and controlling political agendas. But at least with warmer days extending our lives we can enjoy it while it lasts – and while they let us.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor