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« Once more unto the breach | Main | Array awry »
Tuesday
Nov262013

Far unfit to bear the bitter cold

The FT reports that excess winter deaths have risen by 29% over the previous year, a figure that is at once astonishing and entirely predictable.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that there were 31,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2012/13, a rise of 29 per cent on the previous year.

Last March was the coldest since 1962, with an average temperature of 2.2°C, and the second coldest since 1910.

The majority of the excess deaths (25,000) occurred among those aged 75 or above.

 

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Reader Comments (78)

Dave Nick and Ed have finally solved the overpopulation issue! Rejoice!

Nov 26, 2013 at 12:38 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Greenpeace scum

Nov 26, 2013 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergeckko

Green policies, from Africa to Australia to Europe and the US have deadly (allegedly) unintended consequences.
Let us not forget that highly touted enviro book, "Time's Up!"
http://www.farnish.plus.com/amatterofscale/timesup.htm
A call to destroy the technical infrastructure that keeps humans alive.
The author of this execrable book is an open monster. That level of honesty is rare in greens.

Nov 26, 2013 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I am always a little wary of the concept of excess winter deaths. Apart from the extreme examples of people freezing to death, or dying from injuries sustained in accidents caused by the conditions, most 'excess' deaths are presumably the old and infirm who would not be expected to live much longer anyway. As life expectancy continues to increase, is the excess in winter deaths actually caused by fewer people dying in summer? I hope this doesn't sound too callous.

Nov 26, 2013 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

The early deaths were mainly the over 75s who succumbed to the March and April cold.

As the cold increases into the new Little Ice Age, which we have been entering for about 16 years now, the death toll will rise inexorably.

People like Davey should be put on trial for deliberately increasing energy prices above the necessary level on the basis of fake IPCC science.

Nov 26, 2013 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

And how many get to live that long due to lack of clean water, cheap energy and basic medication? This number will never be known unlike the $1 billion frittered away each and every day on PlayStation pontifications of future catastrophes.
31,000 deaths are unfortunate, millions are but a statistic. A 21st century Holocaust and DramaGreens call us the deniers!

Nov 26, 2013 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

blokedownthepub
Well said. To pretend that these are 25,000 people killed by green energy policies is as dishonest as anything at SkepticalScience. Figures from Coroners’ Courts for deaths from hypothermia would be something else.
As health care improves there are more frail people around liable to die a month earlier or a month later from a cold spell or a heat wave - or maybe just because they’re bored because there’s nothing worth watching on the telly.

Nov 26, 2013 at 1:05 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

As health care improves there are more frail people around liable to die a month earlier or a month later from a cold spell or a heat wave - or maybe just because they’re bored because there’s nothing worth watching on the telly.

Nov 26, 2013 at 1:05 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers>>>>

If they could afford to keep their homes warm they wouldn't die from a cold spell!!

Nov 26, 2013 at 1:10 PM | Registered CommenterRKS

While it's true that people rarely die of cold directly they may suffer more from those things that impair them or directly lead to death. Strokes and heart attacks are more likely in people who are cold much of the time. Their blood thickens and is more likely to clot. They don't exactly know why, but being cold also aids many of the winter bugs in their attempts to invade your defences.

Yes, people have to die sooner or later but if it was you or yours, you'd prefer it was later.

Nov 26, 2013 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

@geoffchambers

Hypothermia has very, very little to do with it.
Lowering of the ambient temperature thickens the blood, causing increased death from heart attacks, strokes &c. Turning down the heating by even 1° has a huge effect, but it's one way to save money. Fuel poverty is real, and it causes excess deaths. Check it out (one could always follow our estimable [from his warm home] Prime Minister's advice and put on an extra sweater)
Your cynicism does you no credit.

Nov 26, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier

Just this morning I've been told that "Wiltshire's gritter fleet is prepared for what many are predicting as one of the worst UK winters for decades. Highways staff receive regular updates on weather conditions from the Met Office."

Not sure what MO forecast they are talking about, has anyone seen it?

Are they planning for a winter worse than the one the FT is reporting?
If so, even more deaths?

2013 is the 50th year anniversary of Dr Who. It's also the 50th year anniversary of the winter of 1963.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_of_1962%E2%80%9363_in_the_United_Kingdom
I don't mind repeats of Dr Who 1963.

Nov 26, 2013 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRudolph Hucker

@geoffchambers

Hypothermia has very, very little to do with it.
Lowering of the ambient temperature thickens the blood, causing increased death from heart attacks, strokes &c. Turning down the heating by even 1° has a huge effect, but it's one way to save money. Fuel poverty is real, and it causes excess deaths. Check it out (one could always follow our estimable [from his warm home] Prime Minister's advice and put on an extra sweater)
Your cynicism does you no credit.

Nov 26, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier>>>>

I agree with you completely on this.

I was quite taken aback by the tone of geoffchambers post. Perhaps it's meant to be tongue in cheek but I think the subject of premature death due to fuel poverty deserves better.

Nov 26, 2013 at 1:27 PM | Registered CommenterRKS

I think some of you are missing the point here. This country is committing hundreds of billions of pounds of tax payers money to combating Mann Made Global Warming (tm) which will NEVER kill a single person in this country YET the government turns a blind eye to over THIRTY THOUSAND deaths which are attributed to cold related illnesses.

Let's also not kid ourselves that the massive increase in energy costs which have been artificially created by the Governments energy policies are contributing significantly to the winter death rate!

But let's all ignore that and continue to pretend Co2 is even more noxious than Government induced green stupidity!

Mailman

Nov 26, 2013 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Bloke down the pub
I remember reading somewhere on line that a researcher had shown that excess winter deaths were in fact just that, deaths that would not have happened had it not been cold. Cold causes deaths in the way Evil Denier has described. The same research showed that deaths caused heat waves were in fact deaths that would have happened within a reasonable period (weeks rather than months) in the future. As I recall the research looked into mortality rates in the period after the extreme hot/cold event. After cold the death rate amongst the vulnerable groups, the very old and the very young mainly returned to normal; however after a heat event the mortality rates fell to below normal before returning to the usual levels.

I'll try nod remember where I red this and post a link.

Nov 26, 2013 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered CommentersandyS

The Green Taliban will see these extra deaths as an unfortunate loss but we are saving the planet!

Fuel poverty, premature deaths, ruining the economy, etc. are not as important as saving the polar bear from pretend extinction. Think of the lonely fluffy toys WWF will be left with!

Nov 26, 2013 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Nov 26, 2013 at 2:04 PM | sandyS

That is how I understand it.

Nov 26, 2013 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier

Trading gimmicks with Labour won’t keep Britain’s lights on

" Cameron has put our energy security at risk by trying to match a Miliband price freeze."

We were given a brief glimpse of a dark future last Friday. Steve Holliday, the chief executive of the National Grid, made one of those announcements that should have resonated like a thunderclap but went unnoticed, except in Whitehall where it had a suitably electric effect......

...........let me translate: “Ministers are playing politics with the national power switch.” What Mr Holliday said next was even more striking: “Short-term interventions could be very dangerous.” Again, allow me to make his meaning plain: “If David Cameron and George Osborne carry on like this, we’ll be in deep trouble.”

Nov 26, 2013 at 2:54 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

This was published today, 26 November 2013

The Department of Health has responded to the ONS Excess Winter Mortality in England and Wales statistics which were published today.

A Department of Health spokesperson said:

This rise in deaths is concerning, but we know from a report published by Public Health England this August that increased excess deaths in 2012-13 were occurring across Europe and coincided with an unusually prolonged influenza season and late cold period.

In other words, it was the 'flu what did it and it was also a bit nippy in March. Move along, nothing to see here.

Nov 26, 2013 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

SandyS
Like you I can't immediately recall the source but I read the same report.
Deaths during heatwaves produce a spike followed by a dip which over a short period averages out the numbers.
Cold weather deaths produce the spike but numbers then return to the previous 'norm' rather than falling below it which points to a net increase in the number which would not have occurred but for the cold spell.
Like the MWP this has been known about for decades if not longer regardless of how many people torture the data to death to try to prove otherwise.

Nov 26, 2013 at 3:09 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Most old people can have a flu jab. Unfortunately there is no heat jab.

Nov 26, 2013 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDisko Troop

@ Brownedoff - Nov 26, 2013 at 2:55 PM

"'............ a report published by Public Health England ......."

With the objective of maximising year-round public health, that'd be the organisation which recommends an external house colour. And their sole advice is to use light colour - to minimise summer heat gain.

Nov 26, 2013 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

As this graph demonstrates, according to official figures the UK govt started forcing up the price of heating at precisely the same time as temperatures started to plunge. It doesn't take a genius to work out the end results

http://climatereason.com/Graphs/Graph11.png

tonyb

Nov 26, 2013 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

Sorry to disappoint you, little Monckton worshipping deniers, cold weather is caused by global warming.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/expect-more-extreme-winters-thanks-to-global-warming-say-scientists-2168418.html

An analysis of the ice-free regions of the Arctic Ocean has found that the higher temperatures there caused by global warming, which have melted the sea ice in the summer months, have paradoxically increased the chances of colder winters in Britain and the rest of northern Europe.

Nov 26, 2013 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterI Monbiot

Nov 26, 2013 at 3:11 PM | Disko Troop

Most old people do. (There are all sorts of incentives for the local GP practice, and most old people [how dismissive can you get? I wish old age on you - should I wish instead for the alternative?] look for any opportunity to get out).
There's also no jab for cold.

Nov 26, 2013 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier

Good luck with that train of 'rational thinking' I Monbiot - so cooling really IS caused by excess heat, eh?

Since you're not a scientist, then maybe you could resort to great literature to help confront your difficulties with reality - George Orwell describes doublethink well in 1984. Some also call it cognitive dissonance. I'm less reserved than that, generally speaking - and as for denialism... <smirk>

Nov 26, 2013 at 3:52 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

@ I Moonbat

"Sorry to disappoint you, little Monckton worshipping deniers, cold weather is caused by global warming."

And you go to link to an article dated today. We wasn`t getting this info a few years ago, when warmer, wetter winters were all the rage, and our "children weren`t going to know what snow is". And more to the point, Moonbat, you wasn`t calling out the likes of David Viner at the time, either.

All you lot are left with is with stories heat hiding where we can`t measure it, and trying to incorporate all the inconvenient data that doesn`t behave the way you thought it should (all of it, I think), and torture the backside off it to shoehorn it in to the mantra.

Nice try, Guardianista sock puppet.

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterGalvanize

Nov 26, 2013 at 3:38 PM | I Monbiot

[L}]ittle Gore worshipping believer:

Like all warmista 'explanations', this excuse is ex post facto. Try a[n accurate] prediction for a change. Not 'children won't know ....... Or yet another year for ice disappearance in the Arctic ..... Or the Himalayan glaciers ..... Or 100m sea level rise by 2100 (oh, sorry, that was Oz - at l[e]ast they've learnt to win!)

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier

Thanks I Monbiot.
I think I understand now. It was all so confused before. We shouldn't warm the UK, that's certain. We only need to cool the Arctic and the UK will warm up by itself. Wow. It's as if a bright light has gone off in my head.

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Alan Reed

The article was dated Friday 24 December 2010. You were warned well in advance. Colder means warmer. Warmer means warmer. It's not that difficult.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/expect-more-extreme-winters-thanks-to-global-warming-say-scientists-2168418.html

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Is I Monbiot a new name for ZDB or is it possible that there is another vacant mind trying to be clever?

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohnnyrvf

So it is "entirely predictable" is it? Did you predict the extreme cold? Did you predict the "influenza-like" illness that coincided with the peak in deaths? Did you predict that Germany, which has far higher electricity prices than the UK, would not suffer the same fate? One difference is that German houses are by and large far better built and insulated than UK houses. If you care about such excess deaths, you might campaign for a great improvement in building standards, regulations on landlords to ensure that rental houses are cheap to heat and public funds to pay for improvements to the houses of the vulnerable that are not easy to heat.

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterChandra

Chandra,

Spoken like a true green, you offer nothing but whining. The German solution would be good as their houses are far better quality than ours, and amazingly, on the whole much cheaper. Can you spot the problem? Here's a clue - the houses are already built. Building them to a higher standard will therefore require an investment in time travel. They also generally last longer than their owners, who are likely to have an aversion to knocking them down and starting again on the instructions of authoritarian airheads.

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:22 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

That's a lot of blood on the hands of greenscam and politicians

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJaceF

I don't usually get power cuts but I've had two very short ones in the last 3 days. I'm guessing but I would imagine this can happen when they are playing around with demand and supply across different parts of the grid.

Maybe it is something we shall all have to get used to.

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

I blame myself. I was blind.
Is it just too selfish to warm the Arctic in order to Cool Brittannia and stave off our global warming a little bit longer?
If we cool the Arctic in order to warm the UK we are just running into trouble.

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

ok sirI Monbiot

let s admit that global warming causes colder winters in europe.
will there be a turning point..i mean are the winter going to be colder in europe with the warming world until a given date and then winter will become warmer or what?...
so tell us mighty seer what will be...

and please can you admit one thing..you were wrong ...
and how come everybody was so surprised when hard winter come if...

A good definition of imbecility is to keep certain of being right even when you change your mind. Please wake up....

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterlemiere

Because April was colder, Mortailty was actually calculated as being lower than it would have been:

"Johnson and Griffiths (2003) investigated seasonal mortality and reported that historically, above average mortality is typically seen between December and March. Therefore the standard ONS method for calculating excess winter mortality defines the winter period as December to March. This method can lead to the perverse situation of a longer more sustained winter period resulting in a lowered estimate of excess winter mortality.

That is, because April is included in the non-winter comparison period, the higher than average mortality in April will have artificially lowered the EWM calculations for this year.

The EWM for 2012/13 was 29% higher than winter 2011/12, however the percentage increase would have been even greater had mortality for April 2013 been closer to average (see Background note 2)."

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health2/excess-winter-mortality-in-england-and-wales/2012-13--provisional--and-2011-12--final-/stb-ewm-12-13.html#tab-EWM-and-temperature

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

IMonbiot said

"Sorry to disappoint you, little Monckton worshipping deniers, cold weather is caused by global warming.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/expect-more-extreme-winters-thanks-to-global-warming-say-scientists-2168418.html

An analysis of the ice-free regions of the Arctic Ocean has found that the higher temperatures there caused by global warming, which have melted the sea ice in the summer months, have paradoxically increased the chances of colder winters in Britain and the rest of northern Europe."

I was at the Met Office just two weeks ago when we talked about this subject. The inconvenient truth is of course that the ice returns to the Arctic in September and the winter levels there have barely changed since 1979.So how does Arctic ice that's the same as its always been in the winter adversely affect our winter weather in the UK? Was the Arctic very warm and ice free during the LIA as that seems to be your logic?

Are you aware that the two warmest consecutive decades in the Greenland record are the 1930's and 1940's? This corresponded with summer ice levels similar to todays.

http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/10/historic-variations-in-arctic-sea-ice-part-ii-1920-1950/

The above is the edited version, if you are interested there is a fuller version in pdf form with around another 100 scientific references.
tonyb

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

Monbiot is wrong as is the information he quotes. This is not the first time that Monbiot has fallen for such propaganda.

The recent melting of the Arctic was part of the normal 50-70 year cycle, This is driven by the storage, in the freeze cycle, of dimethyl sulphide, the breakdown product of the cell walls of certain phytoplankton species, about 8. Also, dust adds Fe to the ice. These two contaminants drive the subsequent warming by reducing cloud albedo when the DMS forms cloud condensation nuclei, and in the case of the Fe, by nucleating phytoplankton blooms.

These were observed about 12 years ago from Space, up to 110 km from the pack ice limit. They cause substantial Northern climate change and the seas warm from increased SW thermalisation, also the land around the Arctic, hence the ice melts faster, positive feedback.. (The same phytoplankton blooms form as icebergs melt, releasing the Fe.)

When the DMS and Fe is used up, the Arctic refreezes. Today the ice extent is within 1 SD of the long term average. By 2020, the Arctic will be frozen solid. It seems Monbiot is desperately clutching at straws.

PS the same mechanism acts at the Antarctic to amplify the Milankovitch warming at the end of ice ages and you can see many putative attempts at melting before the 100,000 year event. There is no need to use a CO2 argument and anyway, its warming effect is near zero over a wide range as is being shown experimentally.

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Nov 26, 2013 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier
Most old people do. (There are all sorts of incentives for the local GP practice, and most old people [how dismissive can you get? I wish old age on you - should I wish instead for the alternative?] look for any opportunity to get out).
There's also no jab for cold.

Get over yourself evil denier. I am an old person and I do have a flu jab every year. I am merely pointing out the inadequacy of the NHS response to the problem. Even with flu jabs cold kills and to say that is fine because it happens all over Europe is complete bollocks.

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDisko Troop

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:33 PM | tonyb

"So how does Arctic ice that's the same as its always been in the winter adversely affect our winter weather in the UK?"

Homeopathic summer ice melt?
Ice-trology?

There must be others.

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

The comment from I Monbiot has been widely misinterpreted!

Nov 26, 2013 at 4:50 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

All that time spent working in the fields of fluid flow, thermodynamics and heat transfer wasted. I could have saved years of effort and just asked I Moonbat what the answer was.

Nov 26, 2013 at 5:02 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Give it time I am sure the Green Taliban will blame the extra deaths on the greed of the big six energy generators!

They will deny that it has to do with the green levies, if fact they will argue that these green levies should be increased to save the planet

Nov 26, 2013 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Dear I Monbiot, You give yourselve away with the word "paradoxically". As I infer from your reaction you believe the run of the mill climate science. Well the run of the mill climate science is based on the assumption that the climate models, working perfectly in the virtual world, have anything to do with the real world, I and you are living in. Well these models are based on artificial assumptions that carbon dioxide is the heating agent. Well it is not, not by far. And you know that. As politics and climate science have been in bed with each other for too long you are travelling along a path which has already being left by people (including Mr Gore) with money. Just check your economy pages of whatever paper or website you care to read. As a society or societies we have been conned.

Nov 26, 2013 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered Commenteroebele bruinsma

Come on, I Monbiot is a pisstake.

Nov 26, 2013 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

Those who were finished off by the cold will at least have departed with the warm glow of satistaction that the UK is taking the moral lead in fighting climate change.

Nov 26, 2013 at 12:55 PM | AlecM

I'm inclined to agree. The situation regarding climate change goes beyond the normal bounds of political stupidity - and goodness knows, there's been plenty of that from post-war governments of all colours - and into the territory of negligence.

Nov 26, 2013 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Paul Matthews - I am struggling to see where I Monbiot has been misinterpreted!

Can you help a simple man?

Nov 26, 2013 at 5:53 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave

Re The Impact of Heat Waves and Cold Spells on Mortality Rates.

i haven't found the article I was thinking about but did find these
Dutch study The results concerning the forward displacement of deaths due to heat waves were not conclusive. We found no cold-induced forward displacement of deaths.

Moscow Study Conclusions: This study confirms that daily mortality does increase in Moscow during heatwaves and cold spells. A large proportion of excess deaths during heatwaves occur only a short time earlier than they would otherwise have done, but harvesting, or short-term mortality displacement, may be less significant for longer periods of sustained heat stress. "

Nov 26, 2013 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

kellydown


Language !!! Parody, not pisstake. Sorry. Once only.


https://twitter.com/ecofst

Nov 26, 2013 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterI Monbiot

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