Annoying Danish bloke

And didn’t Bjorn Lomborg get shouted at for pointing this out, that far more people die in and because of the cold of winter than keel over in heat waves? This is not to go on to say that we should therefore welcome climate change – it’s only to insist that we’ve got to account for the effects of climate change properly. Assume that it happens, we’ll be getting less of this:

The death toll from Britain’s big freeze could rise to more than 2,000, as it emerged the Met Office had warned ministers a month ago about the cold snap.

The number of people who have died in cold homes in the UK might reach 100 per day this winter, a charity warned in an analysis of Office for National Statistics figures.

So, bring on that lovely climate change and fewer people will die because of the weather.

Again, this is not to say that climate change overall is therefore a good thing. It’s to say that the net effect of this specific and particular part of it would be a good thing. And there will obviously be other effects as well. Greenland melting in 2500 AD will put the Great Wen under water, obviously a positive effect again. Flipper will end up boiled in the remains of the last ice floe – a bad effect, one that we’d be willing to spend to prevent. Our task is therefore twofold.

OK, what’s the net effect of all of these various things upon human well being? The reason we use human well being as our marker being, obviously enough, that it’s us humans doing the doing and the deciding so the decision is going to be made by us on what affects us. So, let’s tot up those effects.

Sure, I’m not going to insist that the Stern Review is perfect but it’s at least an attempt at doing this. Willing to take that end result as at least a stab at getting the answer.

Which brings us to our second task. Assume that, as Stern says, the net effect over long periods of time is negative. How much are we willing to spend now to avoid that? Because spending now on climate change rather than other things that we might enjoy is a negative effect upon us, us extant now not those who might exist in the future, a cost. Again, I don’t insist Stern is right in every detail but his basic approach is along the right lines.

The answer is not all that much. Certainly less than we are spending at the moment. Recall, his answer is a carbon tax of $80 a tonne. Something that we in the UK already have – not specifically, but look at the various taxes we do have and we’ve got that and more. Yet we’re still spending more on mad barrages across the Severn and so on. We’re, in a proper analysis, spending too much on climate change.

Fun what you can show by applying the logic being used by ones enemies really, isn’t it? Read that Stern Review properly and we in the UK are done, we’ve solved climate change already and can go home. Why aren’t more people saying this?

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22 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t want to quibble but I am have to anyway. Did those people die because Britain was cold or because Britain was unprepared? There are countries which are much colder than Britain – Russians have to go out and pick up all the dead bodies at the end of winter. But in most of those countries large numbers of people do not die. Switzerland, for instance, I bet, would laugh this cold snap off.

    Britain is not built for extremes of temperature. British people do not know how to behave in extremes of temperature. They are not prepared for it. Thus people die. If Britain was 4 C warmer, people would still die in cold snaps – and in warm spells too. Because British people are not prepared for those and are unlikely to become so any time soon.

    But in general, I agree, cold is worse than warmth. A pity that the world shows precisely no signs of warming at all.

  2. The weakness of the Stern Report is that $80/ton figure relates to a specific degree of climate change. Less realised change, less cost, more greater. So it still has to touch down with the climate scientists & climate science is getting to be a standing joke. What with all the failed over pessimistic predictions & massaged data.
    Two claims is saw in newspapers recently. 1) that the poles are warming quicker than the tropics 2) That climate change will drive more extreme weather. The two claims seem contradictory. Weather depends on the temperature gradients between different areas of the planet. The actual temperatures are irrelevant. You get weather on Titan at minus 100 & weather on Venus at plus 400. Greater the gradient the greater the energy potential. But if the poles are warming more than the tropics, that’s a reduction in the gradient & less energy available to drive weather events.

  3. Tim, the scare is based on cherrypicked manipulated data, computer modelling based on incomplete understanding of a complex and chaotic system whose projections have yet to approximate actual weather, deliberate ignorance of inconvenient historic precedence and a huge dose of politics. We are presently in an interstadial of an Ice Age, the average global is cooler than the Holocene Optimum 8000 years ago or the Minoan and Roman Warm Periods and possibly the Medieval Warm Period. The corruption of science is sishonest, epic and scandalous. I do wish you would take the time to read Steve Goddard, Joanne Nova or Anthony Watts trying to hold the establishment to account

  4. There isn’t any climate change in the UK. Worldwide, nothing much is happening and if it does we can adapt. It is a bandwagon jumped on by many with agendas or utopian visions. Even if it were true the suggested ‘solutions’ are worse than a couple of degrees of warming.

    Check up your Lomborg. He says ( IIRC) that the total of predicted warming this century is the equivalent of moving 200 miles nearer to the equator. SFW?

  5. Maybe an analogy would help. A guy’s trying to work out whether he can afford a new car. So he works out he needs $80/month. But he’s basing the price of the car on a conversation he overheard between two blokes down the pub & he dosn’t know whether they were talking about an economy hatch or a 4X4 chelsea tractor. There’s nothing wrong with his calculations, they’re just not relevant to anything.

  6. Andrew M: heatwaves hasten the deaths of those with illhealth particularly cardiovascular, after a rise in death rate during a heatwave there is a compensatory fall off. With a cold snap there is an excess of deaths which reverts to normal after the cold weather ie people are dying during cold weather who would otherwise have lived.

  7. UK weather has changed in the last 20 years, its definitely gotten milder – less extremes of heat and cold. Despite the recent Beast from the East, cold weather in winter in far less common, we can often go through the entire winter with hardly a real cold snap or snow in sight. And the summers have definitely become cooler and damper. The long hot drought summers of the 70s, 80s and early 90s have long gone. I can think of one summer in the last decade that had a prolonged hot dry spell in it (2013). There have also been some incredibly wet summers: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2017 were all very wet summers.

    The main driver of this is not climate change, but the natural sea surface temperature oscillation of the North Atlantic. When the NA is cool at the surface it promotes high pressure systems which block the jet stream and produce prolonged periods of hot weather in summer and cool weather in winter. And when the NA is warm at the surface this allows the jet stream to flow directly across the UK, bringing in low pressure systems which then dump heir moisture on us. And the North Atlantic was in a long term cool phase from about 1960 to about 1995, since when its been in a warm phase. Thus accounting for the hotter summers and cooler winters in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and also the switch to wetter and milder conditions since 1995. Eventually this will switch back again, probably within the next decade or so, and we will revert to older weather patterns again.

  8. Each bureaucrat trying to divine whether this-or-that death was “due to” a weather event is a wasted career. He is not measuring anything but assembling statistics to support government’s next sales pitch.

  9. To echo what Ljh said.
    There are always people hanging around at death’s door: cold snap, heatwave, or any other stress, and they will pop their clogs. Which means fewer to breathe their last in the weeks that follow. It all averages out over a few months.

  10. Tim I’m glad to see that you quoted climate realist Bjorn Lomborg. As a devout follower of the Global Warming religion he thinks that we’re all going to fry like chickens, but the way we’re going about stopping that is futile.

    You also quoted the Stern Review. As an economist you will understand discount rates. If Stern had chosen a more realistic discount rate the social cost of carbon would have been far lower and could even have been negative. If you actually read the report plus the mountain of analysis surrounding it, you will find that warming, if it sticks to the timescale programmed into the models, will be nett positive for the next forty or fifty years. It’s a benefit for heaven’s sake, not only directly for the planet but for all the developing countries that need to spew a certain amount of CO2 to catch up with the prosperous North Atlantic countries.

    • Stern’s work on the relevant discount rate for very long-term use is quite interesting; I agree with his premise (we are all basically clothed apes and so tend to live in the here and now, our time horizon is therefore too limited and we discount things far in the future by too much). I don’t have an issue with his solution of using a lower discount rate to take this effect into account either.

      The issue that I do have is that global warming is net beneficial; so we shouldn’t be doing anything about it anyway. Ice Ages are a crap time to be alive for pretty much all flora and fauna: if some alien race came along and said that they could use this special zap gun, get us out of the current ice age, and return the planet to a more usual temperature; then we would be stupid not to take them up on their offer!

  11. ”..it emerged the Met Office had warned ministers a month ago about the cold snap.”
    Now I wonder why ministers ignored the Met ‘Barbecue Summer’ Office on that one? “Boy” and “Wolf” spring to mind.

  12. Assuming that, as Stern says, the net effect over long periods of time is negative is wrong. Correct is “we don’t know what the future holds”.

    How much are we willing to spend now to avoid that? As he is wrong – nothing.

    If Global Warming does happen and have consequences in 50 or 100 years time; adapt then using technology then available which we don’t have now and don’t know what advances will be invented/developed.

    Politicians use the scaremongering to increase their control, enrich their friends and increase taxes.

    Punishing mankind now for what might or might not happen in the future is insane