The ‘climate emergency’ no one is talking about

Tens of thousands will die and crop yields will fall dramatically.

Rob Lyons


While Extinction Rebellion activists glue themselves to the buildings and roads of London, and the great and the good hang on Greta Thunberg’s every syllable, there is a climate event coming that will affect us much, much sooner than the ‘climate emergency’ that is the focus of so much attention.

Just look at the impact it will have on the UK. Tens of thousands of people will die. Infectious disease will skyrocket, sometimes with lethal consequences. The sun will disappear from the sky for large chunks of the day – some northern parts of the UK will soon have less than six hours of daylight per day. Crop production will fall dramatically. Travel will at times be difficult, even impossible. People will flock to shops to purchase protective clothing. We will need to produce and use copious amounts of additional energy, meaning household energy bills will shoot up.

But the UK is lucky – we will not face the worst of it. In many other countries, conditions will be far more extreme. Moreover, top scientists have confirmed that this dangerous climate event will happen every year from now on. Parts of the southern hemisphere will experience similar problems approximately six months later than the northern hemisphere.

This climate event is, of course, winter. It seems ludicrous to describe winter in the terms above, even though everything I have written is true (apart from the need for ‘top scientists’ to confirm its arrival). The temperature drop from summer to winter is enormous, even in a temperate country like the UK. According to the UK Met Office, average daily maximum temperatures in London’s Greenwich Park vary from 23.4 degrees Celsius in July to 8.1 degrees Celsius in January – a drop of over 15 degrees. The difference between the highest temperature in a particular year and the lowest would be even greater than that.

Excess winter deaths do run into the tens of thousands. Colds proliferate, as does influenza, killing a small proportion of the millions who suffer from it. Hypothermia does still, tragically, kill many people. Indeed, cold weather kills far more people than heatwaves. Some winter crops are produced, but, for the most part, we live off stores and imports. No wonder that Game of Thrones meme, ‘Winter is coming’, strikes such a chord.

But the reason most people have no reason to fear winter is down to economic development and human adaptation. Of course, that process is not new. Any society experiencing cold winters would have developed the means to cope or would have disappeared. But the line between survival and destruction must have been a thin one at many times in the past.

Now we live in solidly built homes with plenty of energy to heat them. We also have easy transport and good communications networks. There are always plentiful food supplies, unless a strong bout of snow leaves the local supermarket out of bread, milk and fresh veg for a day or two. We can treat the sick and infirm. Thanks to the advent of cheap electric lighting, the long nights are of little concern.

Clearly, given there are still plenty of excess deaths in winter, there is far more we could do. But we have adapted to winter pretty well. In fact, many people look forward to it, whether it is the prospect of Christmas festivities or paying a small fortune to get chair-lifted up a mountain to slide back down it on skis.

Adaptation and development is how we have always overcome the harshness of nature. And this is worth thinking about in the context of the panic about climate change. Extinction Rebellion founder Roger Hallam warns of ‘the slow and agonising suffering and death of billions of people’ that will apparently result from climate change. But global deaths from natural disasters have plummeted over the past century. And global population is booming, despite declining fertility rates, because almost everyone is living longer than before. There is no reason to expect these trends to go into reverse.

Meanwhile, the policies espoused by the eco-activists would cause far more suffering than the climate change they fear. The government’s Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) for 2018 makes clear how much we still rely on fossil fuels, despite the subsidies lavished on low-carbon energy: ‘Fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy supply, but now accounts for 80.1 per cent, a record low level. Supply from renewables has increased, with their contribution accounting for 10.2 per cent of final consumption.’ Yet Extinction Rebellion believes we can reach ‘Net Zero’ emissions – that is, get rid of fossil fuels entirely – by 2025, in just six years. If the eco-worriers got their way, we would face incredible hardship, particularly in winter.

Let’s take a step back and appreciate an incredible human achievement – that winter is no longer anything to fear. And let’s put the panic about the climate into some perspective.

Rob Lyons is science and technology director at the Academy of Ideas and a spiked columnist.

Picture by: Getty Images.

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Ven Oods

17th October 2019 at 11:07 am

They should just invite XR on to TV interviews, rather than report on the demonstrations.
Every time they put a spokesperson on screen, they are exposed as exaggerating fantasists.
While most people seem to be genuinely worried about where we’re headed, XR scaring the crap out of our children isn’t going to improve things any time soon.

Thomas Billings

18th October 2019 at 4:49 am

All their efforts will fail and it will be your fault for not responding to the climate emergency. Peace be with you.

steve moxon

15th October 2019 at 11:19 pm

We’re entering a grand solar minimum, so winters are going to get a lot worse, as temperatures generally fall.
Global warming group-dumb scientific illiterates are going to have egg on their faces — frozen on indeed.

Walter Segall

15th October 2019 at 10:20 pm

Linear extension of trends seems to work until it doesn’t work anymore. There may be a reversal of global warming, and it may be a worse catastrophe than anyone can imagine. at Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences at NYU an interdisciplinary team is working on a hypothesis that the last glaciation period which ended about 12,000 years ago was started by a phenomenon very similar to global warming, and that more snow fell on the Northern Hemisphere in winter than melted in summer for a few centuries causing glaciers to form and to push South. This might be a terrible catastrophe for humanity.

Dan Under

18th October 2019 at 8:58 pm

The globalism Green Trojan horse.
No statistical significant warming trend from 1998 to to the present day.
US has not warmed since 2005 ( NOAA U.S. Climate Reference Network data)
>95% atmospheric CO2 is natural.
Chief influences on OGLWR, water vapour and high cirrus. (Lindzen)
Holocene ice core records up to 8000 years before present demonstrate close to normal distribution with a centennial average SD of temperature of 0.98 ± 0.27C. (Lloyd)
Business as usual. AGW signal to noise undetectable.

James Knight

15th October 2019 at 5:43 pm

Winter’s coming.

Jane 70

15th October 2019 at 12:35 pm

What I mean is -we close our mines but still need coal.

Jerry Owen

15th October 2019 at 11:59 am

Martin Bishop
There are no sympton’s that is the point !

cliff resnick

15th October 2019 at 11:51 am

Nohing like a bit of satire to point out the “bleeding obvious”

A Game

15th October 2019 at 9:57 am

Lol, the article makes a simple, but oh, so stellar point. That most of XR went home with a bit of rain… I wonder if all the heating went on, the clothes dryer was utilised, maybe some hot, meaty takeaway for the drive home?
It is technology that has allowed for us to literally function, season to season, without change. Get to work, school the kiddies, plenty to eat, warmth to protect our health.

On the frontier (pick anyone of them you like), winter was make or break time. The smart farmer had done the work, crunched the numbers for what would be needed to survive, the bad farmer didn’t… and died of cold or starvation. Or kept losing children or wives to hunger/cold.

Last year, in Summer, in Australia, there is a burden on the electricity grid with the air conditioning. Because South Australia had gone full Commando with the renewables (with a little help from an extension cord running to Victoria for some coal fired baseload power), the fear was an electricity shortage. One of the suggested solutions was for the government to pay poor people to not participate in cooling their homes. (Places like South Australia… more stinking than a climate activist’s armpit… guess who would suffer? The old, the frail, children… who actually die in Australia from heat stroke.)

You couldn’t script it. Seriously.

H McLean

15th October 2019 at 11:17 am

Where I live in Canberra the summers are very hot (40+c) and very dry. A few months ago I had a reverse cycle air conditioning unit fitted. For heating it is far more efficient than the gas heater I had previously but where I really expect it to shine is the coming summer where the tyranny of oppressive heat will be banished for good. Today was 27c and it’s only halfway through spring. It’s par for the course.

I’d be fully prepared to stand in front of my house with a shotgun (if I had one) if any of these Extinction Rebellion cultists get any ideas about taking my air-con away.

bf bf

15th October 2019 at 9:03 am

The problem is…..the Emperor does NOT have “new cloths”…..but those who want to keep getting (“new cloths”) lucrative research grants will not confess the truth. Those that do not want to look foolish for having previously claimed “the Emperor has “new cloths” continue to claim it as true.

The millions who have not personally laid eyes on the Emperor and his “new cloths” trust that the “experts” are correct about the new cloths situation. Those that use the information available (that is free for all to “see” including the “experts”) and can clearly appreciate that the Emperor does indeed NOT have “new cloths” are derided as dangerous “new cloths deniers”.

The most effect way of controlling (and tax milking) a population is by FEAR !
The latest “global warming” scare was proceeded by:-
“The war on terror”
“The war on drugs”
“The millennium bug”
“Global Cooling / new ice age”
“Global starvation”
“Global energy crisis”
“Reds under the beds”
etc etc

Get yourself informed of the real truth and not what the “new cloths” zealots say it is.

Andrew Leonard

15th October 2019 at 9:51 am

The fear hasn’t worked on climate change.
The IPCC era is coming to an end – it failed.
Greta Thunberg is the rhetorical bridge to the new era.

H McLean

15th October 2019 at 11:01 am

I’ve been watching Tony Heller on YouTube for several months and the light he shines on the climate change debate is incredible. NASA and NOAA have been ‘changing’ the historical data to suit their ‘models’ under the guise of ‘correcting’ faulty data collection methods, leading to their professing that the very hot first half of the 20th century simply didn’t happen.

Tony’s genius is that he researches historical records and newspaper articles of the time highlighting how people wrote about extreme weather they experienced at the time. Climate change ‘scientists’ may claim there was no warming but the public record firmly shows the heat we’re experiencing now is not anything new. 1934 was particularly horrendous, and not just in the USA where the popular excuse for the dust bowl was ‘poor farming methods’. There was a global drought in 1934 and global extreme heat throughout much of the 1930s. Yet the people who drive the man-made climate change ideology pretend nothing unusual happened.

Of course, climate change cultists refuse to countenance any evidence showing they’ve been conned. They always claim ‘he’s lying’ or he’s ‘funded by the Kochs’. Their wilful intransigence is sadly all too predictable.

Jerry Owen

15th October 2019 at 8:40 am

There is a government policy being introduced in the next few years that means houses will be built with no gas supply, heating will apparently come from ‘green sources’ including poles inserted into the ground to draw up heat. I wonder if the sums have been done to work out just how much heat from what sized area is needed from the ground to heat one home, would there be enough heat to say heat a modern estate of several hundred homes ?
If there is no sun for several days to make the additional solar roof panels effective ( not that they ever are in reality ) will this heat source suffice ?

Trudi Hauxwell

15th October 2019 at 10:51 am

Not to mention how far you would have to drill down to access geo-thermal energy. Anyone who’s been caving will tell you it gets a lot colder below ground before it gets warmer.

Stephen J

15th October 2019 at 8:38 am

How sensible Rob, has anyone from XR asked to borrow your brain, their one seems to only have a single semi-functioning brain cell that keeps flickering on and off?

Dominic Straiton

15th October 2019 at 8:22 am

“renewables” are ruinously expensive and include millions of trees shipped across the Atlantic and burnt at the Drax power station so the government can pretend were going “green”. What a complete waste of time, money and 40000 mainly old peoples lives as carbon levels follow heat not the other way around.

Jane 70

15th October 2019 at 6:55 am

The UK’s seasonal variations, while notable in some areas such as east Anglia and the north east of Scotland and parts of, say, Yorkshire, are minuscule compared with Russia, Mongolia and the northern US.

As to the winter fuel payment, it is granted ,tax free,to everyone over a certain age, regardless of income and assets ; so many wealthy pensioners benefit, while the working poor face constant worry and the awful ‘ heat, or eat’.

Mike Ellwood

15th October 2019 at 9:37 pm

But better off pensioners pay more tax, and effectively pay for their winter fuel allowance that way. I don’t consider myself a “wealthy pensioner” but I get state pension and an occupational pension, both of which are taxed at source via PAYE, and I “pay for” my winter fuel allowance many times over with the income tax I pay (not to mention VAT and the many other taxes most of us pay).

I don’t particularly like the WFA allowance system. I’d prefer to see lower fuel costs and better, fairer pensions. However, if you are going to have a WFA, it’s more efficient to give it to everyone of the appropriate age and then tax it away via PAYE for those who don’t need it, than to try to set up a system whereby only people below a certain income level get it. IMHO.

Of course there are some people who are clever enough not to pay tax (or not much) even though they should, and the system doesn’t cope with them. But that’s a problem that needs solving in any case, regardless of whether you have a WFA system.

Some better off pensioners that I know give away their WFA to charity, but I don’t see it the same way that they do. And by the way, you don’t get it automatically; you have to have claimed it in the first place (as my better off friends must have done…). And yes, I claimed it too, but the way I see it, I’m legally entitled to it, and I feel that I have indeed paid for it many times over in taxation, both now and in past years, and will do in future years. If I hadn’t claimed it, more fool me.

Ian Wilson

15th October 2019 at 6:23 am

The real winter scandal is the outrageous cost of gas and electricity for the old and poor – “fuel poverty” anyone? Stupid, pointless and expensive renewables just mean higher and higher bills. That is not a price worth paying.

fret slider

15th October 2019 at 3:45 pm

[The real winter scandal is the outrageous cost of gas and electricity for the old and poor – “fuel poverty” anyone? Stupid, pointless and expensive renewables just mean higher and higher bills. That is not a price worth paying.]

Fuel poverty (and mortality rates) will go up and up:

[Central heating boilers ‘put climate change goals at risk’
By Roger Harrabin]

Humanity, as the greens have it, is the greatest threat to humanity

Thomas Billings

18th October 2019 at 4:43 am

Things are so much worse than you can even imagine.

Martin Bishop

15th October 2019 at 1:03 am

It’s difficult to put the climate panic into perspective when you don’t say specifically what the climate panic is relative to the winters we already know. I don’t need you to describe winter for me, as I know how my gas and electricity bills change. I have fully functioning skin cells with temperature sensing capability. It’s like saying let’s put this virus panic in perspective, we all get a common cold but our bodies adapt. Oh look, ebola just turned up, well nay mind, it’ll be allreet Neville, tha jiblets are dissolvin to mush, but you’ll adapt, cos s’just like a bad cold lad.

Jerry Owen

15th October 2019 at 8:17 am

Can you put the’ climate panic’ into perspective for us ?

Martin Bishop

15th October 2019 at 10:18 am

Nope, but I’d expect someone who’s appointed themselves an authority on why the climate panic is overblown to be able to. How do you decide if the cure is worse than the symptoms if you don’t state the symptoms?

Jerry Owen

15th October 2019 at 12:00 pm

Martin Bishop
Could you answer my question as to why you misconstrued the author on another thread about advertising , you seem to have ignored that one ?

fret slider

15th October 2019 at 3:36 pm

Take XR

A doomsday cult making ludicrous [Ehrlichian] claims based on beliefs.

There is no climate emergency, say 500 experts in letter to the United Nations –

The MSM and Spiked haven’t mentioned that and they won’t, it doesn’t follow the narrative.

Martin Bishop

15th October 2019 at 6:36 pm

The fact that you state with certainty you know I’m doing it deliberately, means you clearly have telepathy and don’t need me to explain the broader context of my comment. When you accuse me of doing something deliberately, the dialogue is over.

Jerry Owen

16th October 2019 at 3:11 pm

Martin Bishop
I smell cowardice in your post , you are unable to answer so you make up an excuse to run away ..cluck cluck !

Ven Oods

17th October 2019 at 11:18 am

You leave our Neville’s jiblets (giblets?) out of it, Mr Bishop!
(But, if anyone could shrug off Ebola, it’d be those plucky Yorkshire folk.)

Claire D

17th October 2019 at 5:02 pm

. . . it’s giblets.

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