Global warming has saved a third of a million Britons in the 21st century?

(ORDO NEWS) — British researchers analyzed how the temperature mortality in their country changed in 2001-2020 and found that it fell by more than half a million people.

Most likely, a third of a million of them were saved by global warming. True, the media are in no hurry to tell their readers about it. As well as the fact that global warming will save many more lives this century.

The UK National Bureau of Statistics released a study summarizing data on temperature mortality for 2001-2020.

It was in the UK that it was found that human mortality reaches a minimum at certain temperatures: in cool countries it can be plus 16 degrees, and in Spain – above plus 35. Such a temperature in the Western scientific literature is called the point of minimum mortality, and, starting from it, it was found out quite a long time ago that in a period of cool and very hot weather, mortality among people increases.

Technically, mortality at any temperature point above or below the optimum begins to grow immediately: there is no “safe range”, for the population as a whole this is exactly the point. Moreover, such growth “above and below the optimal point” occurs both in the tropics and in temperate climates.

A number of scientific works have tried to establish whether cold mortality depends on humidity, the number of sunny days, or atmospheric pressure, but no noticeable correlations of this kind have been found. Turns out it was all about temperature.

Further analysis showed that low temperatures cause an increase in blood viscosity, and this dramatically increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. Therefore, in the cold season, the number of victims of such diseases is much greater than in the hot season.

Acute overheating of the body can also increase the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes due to heart overload, but for this to happen in really large quantities, temperatures are needed, which in practice are quite rare . But situations when mortality from cold reaches large values occur in most countries every year.

Another important factor related to temperature is respiratory diseases (it is easier for them to develop in the cold season). Also, falling temperatures worsen the condition of people with Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Therefore, worldwide (and even in tropical Bangladesh ), the number of cold deaths is many times greater than the excess deaths from hot days.

What British statisticians found

From 2001 to 2020, the number of deaths related to sub-optimal temperatures for England and Wales alone fell by 555,000, or 27,800 a year, according to the UK Office of National Statistics . There is no such comparison in the study, but we will add: in total, approximately 0.7 million people die in the UK every year.

At the same time, in 1999-2000, the annual excess winter mortality for the UK amounted to 48 thousand cases. It should be taken into account that cold mortality is higher than winter excess, since people die due to diseases that are either caused or exacerbated by cold – and they die this way not only in winter.

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In other words, the reduction in mortality from sub-optimal temperatures is not just important, but one of the most important factors in excess mortality in Britain. He even blocked the losses of the British from Covid-19 by more than four times.

Of course, statisticians were also interested in how many people died from too high temperatures. They managed to find 1643 people who died from these causes in 2001-2020 (84 per year). Thus, the ratio between the decrease in mortality associated with cold and the increase in deaths associated with heat exceeded 1 to 300. In other words: for 555,000 lives “saved” due to a drop in » an increase in heat-related deaths.

What could cause the drop in temperature mortality

It is known that in 1990-2020 the average annual temperature in Britain rose by 0.9 degrees. However, this does not mean that we should attribute the entire drop in mortality to this rise in temperatures alone.

After all, Foggy Albion does not stand still in terms of technical progress: as noted by the British National Bureau of Statistics, if in 1996 there were only 30% of double-glazed windows in frames, today this figure is slightly higher than 80% (!). Undoubtedly, such a striking success could have influenced the fall in temperature mortality, which, judging by the above statistics, in the British is formed mainly by cold.

Another important factor is flu shots. Most of us think that the flu is just a week of sneezing, coughing, and that’s it. Here the same mistake occurs as with the cold: the most important thing cannot be seen with the eyes.

None of us knows how much the cold changes the viscosity of his blood, we cannot notice with the naked eye the winter increase in deaths from the heart, blood vessels and diseases of the respiratory system by several percent. But for society, the flu alone can give a colossal increase in tens of thousands of deaths annually.

In Russia, such deaths are even impossible to detect: the local system for registering influenza has the same shortcomings as the system for registering coronavirus diseases (simply speaking, both do not reflect reality).

But in Britain, the medical system will not be “called to the carpet” for too high mortality rates from influenza, therefore, the facts of diseases themselves and deaths from heart attack / stroke in case of influenza are easily visible there.

From sources like this, we learned that those who were vaccinated against the flu had a sharp drop in the likelihood of death from cardiovascular diseases (and mortality in general). In Britain, more and more people are being vaccinated against the flu (due to a gradual but steady increase in public awareness of the problem). This could also reduce temperature mortality.

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Another important scientific achievement, the role of which is noted by both the British press and the National Bureau of Statistics, is subsidies for fuel poverty. This innovation allowed the local poor old people to significantly raise their heating costs and thereby increase the average temperature in their homes.

Why do we call this a scientific achievement? Because without science, it could not have taken place – and the one who was able to push the local authorities to this was even given the Nobel Prize.

Because of all these complexities, the National Bureau of Statistics does not even attempt to figure out how much of the reduction in thermal mortality should be attributed to global warming. Therefore, we will try to answer the question on our own.

What really caused it?

If the point is the increase in the average temperature in the homes of the British in the winter, then today it has reached plus 18, although half a century ago it was only plus 12; if flu vaccination or something else not related to temperature is the reason for everything, then such hypotheses should have a clear and distinct possibility of testing. It’s called a “cold winter”: if a winter in the 21st century suddenly shows an average temperature at a level typical of the winters of the 20th century, then it will be easy to compare the mortality in these two centuries and establish how much it differs.

If the hypothesis of British cold adaptation—through improved heating and flu vaccines—is correct, a cold winter after 2000 will kill fewer people than a similar one in the 20th century. After all, a return to the previous temperatures on the street will not mean a return to them in the houses. As well as a return to the previous low levels of influenza vaccination. Having established this, we test the hypothesis with facts.

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One of the most severe winters of the 21st century in England was in 2017-2018. The average temperature then was plus 3.6 degrees – 0.2 degrees less than the average norm of 1981-2010. This is easy for us to imagine, because about the same usually holds in central Russia in late October – early November.

Rainfall was no more than usual, but sunlight was a little more than the British winter norm. At the same time, both December and January turned out to be even warmer than the climatic norm of 1981-2010, but February was 1.3 degrees colder. The graph below shows that in February the main frosts were brought by the very end of the month. What happened to mortality?

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She soared up to 50,100 people. And no, this is not total mortality, but rather excess cold mortality for the winter of 2017-2017 in one European country. It is easy to see on the graph that this is higher than all indicators in the 21st century (let’s add: in the pre-coronavirus era).

Even in the relatively harsh winter of 2014-2015, there were seven thousand fewer deaths due to the cold. The last time higher winter mortality in Britain was recorded in the winter of 1975-1976, and it was also quite cool.

This is where we begin to understand why the National Bureau of Statistics so cleverly avoided asking what the contribution of global warming to the drop in temperature mortality that has occurred in the 21st century.

If we proceed from the numbers of excess mortality in the winter of 2017-2018, then we will not see any cold adaptation in the data at all. Then it turns out that the entire recession is related to global warming, and this conclusion is ideologically unacceptable these days.

Are there alternative explanations for why a severe winter in the 21st century takes about the same amount as in the 20th century? It is not so easy to attribute what happened to population growth: the per capita excess mortality is also comparable. We can offer another alternative version with caution.

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Flu strains are known to change from year to year. At the same time, their lethality can not only decrease, but even increase, and this process is absolutely random and unpredictable – a well-known example is the “Spanish flu” of a century ago. It cannot be ruled out that in 2017-2018, the winter brought with it an influenza virus that caused increased mortality.

The unpredictability of this “winter” virus (here we wrote why people don’t die from the flu in the summer) makes it impossible to accurately answer the question: is there cold adaptation due to the development of technology or not? If in 2017-2018 the lethality of the dominant influenza strain was higher than in the 70s, it turns out that cold adaptation (some kind) exists.

If it is lower, on the contrary, there is cold maladjustment (decrease in the habituation of the population to cold with an increase in excess mortality in the same cold weather). By the way, for Spain and a number of other countries, a number of works show cold maladaptation. But you shouldn’t use the data for Spain in your conclusions about Britain: after all, these countries have too different climates.

As an extremely conservative and cautious assessment, it is better to refer to another scientific work from all over Britain. According to it, in 1976-2005, cold mortality for Britain decreased by 85 people per million per year – and at least 47 (55.3%) of these 85 were provided precisely by global warming.

In other words, even assuming – which is not very noticeable from the empirical data for England – that cold adaptation does exist, it is responsible for only a minor part of the reduction in cold mortality. The main part of the decline, more than 55%, is due to global warming.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the article and try to answer the question: how many lives has global warming saved in Britain in the 21st century? We multiply 555 thousand by 55.3% (see the paragraph above) and we get 307 thousand people.

This is the lowest and most conservative estimate that can be made based on the existing scientific literature. Most likely, the real figure lies somewhere between 307 and 555 thousand. More research is needed to answer this question more precisely.

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But we can confidently predict: they will not. No one will give a grant for a study on how many lives global warming saves. Europe is now in the middle of an energy crisis caused by the fight against global warming. Prices for electricity and heating in Britain have soared by about half.

Aluminum smelters and fertilizer plants in Europe are closing (otherwise their producers would have to operate at a loss). Scientific papers about how many lives warming saves are no more likely in such a setting than public atheist lectures in 14th-century Rome. They require freedom of public discussion, which, frankly, has not been on this issue for quite some time.

On the contrary, something else is in vogue: works that tell how temperature mortality will increase due to warming sometime later, in tens of years, when the authors of the corresponding modeling works die and there will be no one to ask them in case of an error. Particularly alarming in such articles is that they all assume that no adaptation of people to rising temperatures will happen.

Meanwhile, from a number of studies it is reliably known that with an increase in temperatures, adaptation to them – and a decrease in mortality from heat – certainly occurs. In other words, the promises of an increase in mortality from heat are based on a hypothesis that has not yet been confirmed by anyone for any region, but has been reliably refuted for a number of regions.

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One of the works mentioned at the beginning of the previous paragraph is also referred to by the UK National Bureau of Statistics. The article promises that by 2050, cold mortality in England will fall by less than a thousand people a year.

A rather unexpected figure, especially if you remember that, according to the same bureau, the figure has already decreased by 27 thousand people a year – and the main part of the drop in temperature mortality fell precisely on the effect of global warming.

It turns out that the fight against global warming has become a modern secular religion. Within its framework, no one informs citizens that anthropogenic carbon emissions have increased agricultural yields by 10-20%, that global warming has saved hundreds of thousands of lives in Britain alone (as mentioned above), that the area of ​​Pacific island states like Tuvalu, thanks to warming increases, not decreases.

All of this is as irrelevant as if in 17th century Europe someone was informing the population about the dead end of not washing because of the miasma theory and about the benefits of capitalist hygiene.

However, nature cannot be deceived: contrary to all the relevant “party line” stories about the horrors of warming, the planet is not only greening globally, but also falling mortality. Yes, the coronavirus has seriously slowed down this process, but its influence in this regard will obviously not last forever.

This means that the next winters will claim fewer and fewer lives – which, whatever one may say, is not bad.


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