The European energy crisis is poised to go from very bad to unimaginably worse. While all eyes are on Ukraine and Russia, Europe’s energy woes are largely self-made, not due to outside forces. Europe has made its own bed, disassembling dispatchable fuel diversity by closing well-operating coal and nuclear power plants. In doing so it has deepened its already troubling reliance on an insecure and volatile natural gas market dominated by Vladimir Putin. Europe is, in fact, more dependent on Russian gas today than it was when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.Meghan O’Sullivan, the director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, toldThe Wall Street Journal, “For the foreseeable future, Europe will remain dependent—and possibly as dependent as ever—on Russian gas.”Europe couldn’t have picked a worse bridge to its idealized energy future, and now European consumers are paying a galling price. In the 4th quarter of 2021, the International Energy Agency reported that average European wholesale electricity prices were more than four times their 2015-2020 average. Households are set to pay an average of 54% more for energy than they did two years ago. These are the prices before potential conflict erupts in Ukraine and an already tight European gas market is turned completely upside down.In the U.K., higher energy prices are poised to push an estimated 2 million additional households into fuel poverty, taking the total to 6 million, the highest level of fuel poverty in more than 25 years. What’s happening in Britain is playing out across the continent. And there’s growing acknowledgement that it didn’t have to be this way.Europe’s renewable and natural gas obsession has paved the way for the loss of an astounding amount of coal and nuclear power capacity. As of March 2021, more than half of Europe’s coal capacity that was operating in 2016 had been retired or been scheduled for retirement by 2030. In the U.K., coal generation met 40% of power demand a decade ago – just a handful of coal plants are left on the grid today. Nuclear retirements and phaseouts – notably the nuclear phaseout in Germany – continue despite consumers drowning under soaring power and gas prices. Germany closed half its remaining nuclear power capacity in 2021 and its remaining three plants are scheduled for retirement this year.Europe has wedged itself between a rock and a hard place. It’s stuck paying exorbitant prices for natural gas, and massive investments made in renewable power have left the E.U. in a continuous boom-bust cycle of weather-driven generation. Unfortunately, some of the coldest weeks are also those with the least wind and daylight.Despite ongoing efforts to push remaining coal capacity aside, coal is playing an essential role in navigating the crisis. As Bloomberg reported just this week, “Coal will play a vital role in helping to keep the lights on in Europe this winter… The latest example of the fuel’s importance came on Monday as U.K.’s usage peaked at its highest level since March to help plug a gap in supplies.”In Germany, coal also showed its importance in November and December, with power generation rising 16% from a year earlier. And in Spain, a coal plant forced into retirement three years ago has been given new life to keep the lights on and reduce gas consumption.There’s no getting around it. Europe’s energy crisis is a failure of policy and a clear case study of the danger of disassembling the stability that comes with fuel diversity in a misguided, rushed and irresponsible approach to the energy transition. The warning for American energy and climate policy is impossible to miss. Whether policymakers learn the right lessons remains to be seen.The American Friends of the GWPF has circulated the information below, announcing that we are organizing speaking events in North America on the subject of Europe’s self-inflicted energy crisis, and related matters in the U.S.Readers interested in organizing one of these events can contact Dr. Peiser as indicated below, or can also contact me via this website.I am greatly honored to be accompanying and supporting Dr. Peiser on this adventure. Also, I’m very much looking forward to meeting many of our friends and supporters.Countries are plunging deeper into an energy crisis, but some governments are still shutting down reactors.As the Fukushima disaster unfolded in Japan in 2011, then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a dramatic decision that delighted her country’s anti-nuclear movement: all reactors would be ditched.What couldn’t have been predicted was that Europe would find itself mired in one of the worst energy crises in its history. A decade later, the continent’s biggest economy has shut down almost all its capacity already. The rest will be switched off at the end of 2022 — at the worst possible time.Wholesale power prices are more than four times what they were at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Governments are having to take emergency action to support domestic and industrial consumers faced with crippling bills, which could rise higher if the tension over Ukraine escalates. The crunch has not only exposed Europe’s supply vulnerabilities, but also the entrenched cultural and political divisions over the nuclear industry and a failure to forge a collective vision.Other regions meanwhile are cracking on. China is moving fast on nuclear to try to clean up its air quality. Its suite of reactors is on track to surpass that of the U.S., the world’s largest, by as soon as the middle of this decade. Russia is moving forward with new stations at home and has more than 20 reactors confirmed or planned for export construction, according to the World Nuclear Association.“I don’t think we’re ever going to see consensus across Europe with regards to the continued running of existing assets, let alone the construction of new ones,” said Peter Osbaldstone, research director for power and renewables at Wood Mackenzie Group Ltd. in the U.K. “It’s such a massive polarizer of opinions that national energy policy is required in strength over a sustained period to support new nuclear investment.”France, Europe’s most prolific nuclear energy producer, is promising an atomic renaissance as its output becomes less reliable. Britain plans to replace aging plants in the quest for cleaner, more reliable energy sources. The Netherlands wants to add more capacity, Poland also is seeking to join the nuclear club, and Finland is starting to produce electricity later this month from its first new plant in four decades.Belgium and Spain, meanwhile, are following Germany’s lead in abandoning nuclear, albeit on different timeframes. Austria rejected it in a referendum in 1978.Nuclear power is seen by its proponents as vital to reaching net-zero targets. Once built, reactors supply low-carbon electricity all the time, unlike intermittent wind or solar.Plants, though, take a decade or more to construct at best and the risk is high of running over time and over budget. Finland’s new Olkiluoto-3 unit is coming on line after a 12-year delay and billions of euros in financial overruns.Then there’s the waste, which stays hazardous for 100,000 years. For those reasons European Union members are still quarreling over whether nuclear even counts as sustainable.Electorates are also split. Polling by YouGov Plc published in December found that Danes, Germans and Italians were far more nuclear-skeptic than the French, British or Spanish.“It comes down to politics,” said Vince Zabielski, partner at New York-based law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, who was a nuclear engineer for 15 years. “Everything political ebbs and flows, but when the lights start going off people have a completely different perspective.”Indeed, there’s a risk of rolling blackouts this winter. Supply concerns plaguing Europe have sent gas and electricity prices to record levels and inflation has ballooned. There’s also mounting tension with Russia over a possible invasion of Ukraine, which could lead to disrupted supplies of gas. All this is strengthening the argument that Europe needs to reduce its dependence on international sources of gas.Europe will need to invest 500 billion euros ($568 billion) in nuclear over the next 30 years to meet growing demand for electricity and achieve its carbon reduction targets, according to Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner. His comments come after the bloc unveiled plans last month to allow certain natural gas and nuclear energy projects to be classified as sustainable investments.4) Russia’s oil weapon may be even more potent than its gas blackmail
Bloomberg, 28 January 2022
Responding to sanctions by cutting crude supplies in a tight market would hurt not just Europe but American consumers as well.
Russian military action in Ukraine could trigger an energy crisis even more serious than the one already hitting Europe. As has been pointed out, should the West hit Russia with severe new sanctions, President Vladimir Putin could cut off natural gas exports, leaving the continent shivering through midwinter. Yet there is another potential weapon of Russia’s that’s been less discussed and might be very effective: An ability to disrupt global oil markets, which would directly hit U.S. consumers.
There’s no doubt that Russia’s influence over natural gas exports to Europe gives Putin reason to believe he might avoid harsh punishment should he invade Ukraine or undertake major efforts to destabilize the Kyiv government. Despite talk from U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration about finding the Europeans supplies from elsewhere, there simply is not enough uncommitted natural gas in the global system that could be redirected to Europe at a reasonable price. Piped natural gas can only flow where existing infrastructure takes it.
There are also constraints on liquified natural gas, which can be more easily redirected with container ships: As of 2020, 60% of this LNG trade was governed by medium- and long -term contracts. Even if Europe was successful in bringing existing spot-market LNG trade its way, it would mean paying extremely high prices in a bidding war with Asian and other customers.
That said, cutting the gas supply has some notable downsides for Putin. First, it would forever damage Russia’s relationship with the Europeans. They would no longer be able to argue, as they have to U.S. officials wringing their hands about their dependence on Russian gas, that Gazprom PSJC, the state-owned behemoth, “has been a reliable supplier for decades.” Even after this particular crisis, there would be no returning to the status quo. As European Union climate chief Frans Timmermans told EU energy and environment ministers last week, “If we really want to stop long-term making Putin very rich, we have to invest in renewables and we need to do it quickly.”
In addition, Europe’s consumption of Russian gas is central to Putin’s own economy. In 2021, Russian natural gas made up nearly 13% of all of Russia’s exports, depositing almost $62 billion in the Kremlin’s coffers. And while Russia has been looking to shift natural gas to other markets, the overwhelming majority of it is transported through pipelines that flow east to west, so redirecting it to thirstier markets like India or China would be very expensive and logistically a near-impossibility in the short and medium term.
Moreover, while Russia’s actions would potentially cause a major spike in natural gas prices, Russian coffers wouldn’t greatly benefit. The inability to redirect most of the gas to other markets means that Russia could only expect to make up through higher prices a modest portion of the revenue lost because of lower sales. Paradoxically, a cutoff of Russian natural gas to Europe could benefit U.S. LNG exporters, by providing new access to consumers on the continent.
Given these potential pitfalls, Russia may find oil markets a more sensible place to retaliate. The global market for oil is extremely tight right now, made apparent by rising oil prices even in the face of an economy feeling the weight of the omicron variant. (Note that the International Monetary Fund has revised its forecast for global economic growth in 2022 downward by 0.5%). Russia could unilaterally drive up global prices if it cut its current oil production of 10 million barrels per day by even a relatively small amount.
An oil-price spike would directly affect the U.S. — and a Biden administration understandably sensitive to gasoline prices. While there no doubt would be a full-court press on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to produce more oil immediately, it is not entirely clear how Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would respond to such entreaties, especially given Biden’s unwillingness to speak with him since taking office.
Moreover, even if Saudi Arabia did respond by increasing its production, this move could virtually tap out any existing spare capacity — the ability to bring more oil to market quickly — in the global system. And markets get jittery when spare capacity shrinks or disappears; although exact numbers are unknown, the International Energy Agency and others believe that the world’s spare capacity is dwindling in face of limited investment. At a certain point, tapping into existing spare capacity could drive prices up as much as it brings them down.
Finally, depending on how much Moscow curtailed its oil production and the reaction of other producers, Russia might even find a move to curtail global oil supplies to be revenue-neutral. Given the inelasticity of demand for oil, a sudden sharp move reducing supply could drive prices up to a level at which Russia brings in more money from lower exports.
Of course, just as with cutting off natural gas to Europe, tampering with oil markets would not be without costs for Russia. As Dan Yergin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Prize: The Epic Quest For Oil, Money & Power,” reminded me, “One needs to remember that Russia makes a lot more money from its oil exports than from gas.” A spike in oil prices would displease China, straining Beijing’s support for Russian efforts to rewrite the rules of the international order, beginning with the European security architecture.
Playing the oil card could also cause a significant rift between Russia and Saudi Arabia — although it would be little surprise to the Gulf states, who remember Russia’s hasty and ill-conceived withdrawal from the OPEC+ agreement in March 2020, just as Covid began to gut global demand for oil. For these reasons, Russia might well disguise a retaliation-through-oil strategy, claiming an explosion on a pipeline or an environmental disaster. Russia has allegedly curtailed its oil exports under dubious circumstances in the past.
Curtailing its natural gas flows to Europe remains Russia’s most obvious leverage in avoiding harsher sanctions. But Putin has no doubt considered his options as they relate to oil as well. Western policy-makers need to focus on reacting quickly to either contingency or both. This means increasing use of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, coordinating with allies and other consumer nations about what to do if and when Russia acts, and convincing Saudi Arabia that the world needs it to play its longstanding role of calming markets during global conflicts.
5) Growing fast, India’s fossil fuel use grows, with coal leads the packPress Trust of India, 31 January 2022
Despite India’s climate commitments, the 2021-22 Economic Survey reveals that fossil fuel-based energy still outpaces the year-on-year growth of any other energy source in the country.
“Between 2020-21 and 2019-20, the maximum rise in electricity generation was recorded in diesel-based thermal energy for utilities (electricity distribution companies),” the survey that was released on January 31 ahead of the Budget said. However, new captive power plants for industries tend to be based on renewable sources.
Thermal sources of energy account for the largest— 61.42 percent— share of total installed capacity in utilities followed by renewable energy with 24.7 percent and hydro at 12.09 percent.
Although diesel accounts for a small portion of the thermal power mix, utilities increased the use of diesel in months when generation from cleaner sources like hydropower, renewables and natural gas dipped.
Coal is the most important and abundant fossil fuel in India and accounts for 55 percent of the country’s energy needs, the survey said.
Despite the Modi government’s continued incentives for solar and wind power, the demand for coal is expected to remain robust in the range of 1.3-1.5 billion tonnes by 2030, the survey said.
“The opening up of coal mining to the private sector is the most ambitious reform the industry has seen so far and will bring efficiency and competition in coal production, attract investments and best-in-class technology, and help create more jobs in the coal sector,” it said.
So far, 28 coal mines have been auctioned. Of these, 27 have been auctioned to private companies and the auction process for 88 is underway, the survey said.
The government, however, has launched several measures to be taken by the coal and lignite-producing public sector units to reduce their carbon footprint, the survey said.
6) Welcome to Net Zero: Homes face up to £35,000 bill to go green
Daily Mail, 1 February 2022
One in three homes in Britain will require an electricity upgrade in order to install a heat pump, a major power company has warned amid claims households could be charged up to £15,000 for the switchover.
Energy firms predict millions of homes will require a change to their electricity supply because of a big rise in demand due to heat pumps and electric car chargers if these become more widespread in the future.
Western Power Distribution, which manages the network across the Midlands, South West and South Wales, has warned that providing sufficient electricity to homes is one of the ‘biggest challenges’ for installing heat pumps.
Most properties with gas central heating run off a ‘single phase’ supply with one fuse – with UK Power Networks offering a free upgrade to change a main fuse from 30 or 60amps to 80 or 100amps for a bigger supply.
However some homeowners are being charged up to £15,000 to switch to a ‘three phase’ supply which involves three 100amp fuses giving 70kVA of power and is necessary for those with very large electricity requirements.
This change is often done when installing ground or air source heat pumps or converting a house into flats so each one has its own electricity meter – and UKPN says the majority of people pay £3,500 to £6,000 for the work.
But these costs come on top of installing heat pumps – with ground source pumps priced at £11,000 to £20,000 depending on the loop, and air source pumps at £5,000 to £12,000, based on the home’s size and its insulation.
This means that the most expensive scenario of changing the property to ground source heat pumps, which are a Government-backed low carbon alternative to gas boilers, would be that they cost homeowners up to £35,000.
Heat pumps use electricity to generate heat from air, ground or water – with the technology also potentially needing changes to the property such as bigger radiators, because they heat homes differently to a gas boiler.
Homes require different supply levels based on the property size, the number of residents and the appliances used – with electricians normally able to assess how much power is needed based on the equipment being run.
The trickiest homes to upgrade are those running on ‘looped’ supplies where they are connected to nearby properties, which means neighbouring gardens and driveways may have to be dug up to ‘de-loop’ the cables.
Heat pumps will also likely increase the amount of electricity the UK requires, with most of it currently produced by burning fossil fuels – mainly natural gas (around 41 per cent) which is imported from Norway and Russia.
Gas also comes through underwater pipelines from Belgium and the Netherlands. Renewable sources including wind power are used to produce around 30 per cent, with coal at 13 per cent and nuclear power at 11 per cent.
In a business plan issued last month, which was referenced in a report in the Daily Telegraph today, WPD said: ‘The biggest challenges when providing power for heat pumps will be linked to domestic properties. We anticipate that this will lead to the need for service upgrades for around a third of all heat pump installations.’
The report said that WPD – which covers around a third of British homes – was working with housing association Pobl and zero carbon property firm Sero on a new-build estate of 235 homes at Tonyrefail in South Wales.
Ground source heat pumps use pipes buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground, which can then heat radiators, warm air heating systems and hot water.
They circulate a mixture of water and antifreeze around a ground loop pipe. Heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid and then passes through a heat exchanger.
Installation costs between £11,000 to £20,000 depending on the length of the loop, and running costs will depend on the size of the home and its insulation.
7) Energy bills will rise by £600 a year for 22MILLION households in AprilThe Sun, 30 January 2022
ENERGY bills will rise by £600 a year for a record 22million households in April.
The new price cap, which is set to rocket from £1,277 to £1,900 for an average household, will be confirmed on February 7.
When it was last reviewed in October last year it protected 11million households — but that number has now doubled to 22million.
That is because millions of households have come off cheap fixed tariffs or have been moved to more expensive deals with new suppliers after their previous firm went bust.
They now face paying almost double for gas and electricity compared to August last year, while wholesale gas prices soar to historic levels.
The average fixed tariff was £984 between October and December last year, according to Energyhelpline.com.
This means many households will now have to find an extra £76 a month.
Experts predict energy bills will rise again in October to over £2,000 a year.
Dr Craig Lowrey, from Cornwall Insight, said: “It is looking increasingly likely the summer default tariff cap will increase around 50 per cent to approximately £1,900 for the typical user, adding more than £600 extra on the average yearly bill.
“Assuming there is no change in the delivery of the cap, we forecast winter prices are likely to increase even more to in excess of £2,000.”
8) Dominic Lawson: If the Tories really want to ‘level up’ they should ditch their Green mania
Daily Mail, 31 January 2022
The net-zero carbon agenda — the Government’s quixotic and grandiose attempt to take control of global climate change — never ceases to cause mundane but exasperating problems for the man and woman in the street.
Or, to be more specific, on the road.
As part of its plan to get us to use bicycles (like the Chinese when they were too poor to afford a car), changes in the Highway Code have been introduced that encourage cyclists to use the centre of the road — even where there are existing cycle lanes — when there is ‘slow-moving traffic’.
The consequence is obvious. On Saturday (the day the changes came into force), Steve Bulley, the vice president of the Dorchester Chamber for Business, found himself — along with who knows how many other drivers — stuck for eight miles behind a group of cyclists.
There will be countless more incidents like this. Obviously not all cyclists will gloat about their newly sanctioned supremacy, as that lot did.
But such incidents show the perverseness of this aspect of the ‘green agenda’: traffic jams not only mean that more fuel is used for the journey, but the fumes released by idling cars are hardly healthy for any pedestrians in the vicinity.
Boris Johnson, however, is not just a keen cyclist himself (or was before becoming Prime Minister, when his favoured mode of transport was ruled out on security grounds) but, partly under the influence of his absolutely eco-fabulous wife Carrie, has become obsessed with the ‘green agenda’.
When his close ally in the Cabinet, Lord (David) Frost, resigned last month, the former chief Brexit negotiator gave as one of his reasons ‘the staggering cost’ of the Government’s net-zero mission.
Frost later endorsed a newspaper column which had argued that Johnson should ‘reset’ his Prime Ministership by ensuring an ‘immediate exit’ from Downing Street of advisers described as ‘green fanatics’.
It is hard to see the PM showing Carrie — mother of his two latest children — the door. And his third wife can’t be sacked from an advisory job, which, officially at least, she doesn’t have.
But the net-zero agenda (or as the Prime Minister puts it, with characteristically optimistic hyperbole, the ‘Green Industrial Revolution’) is creating consequences much more dire than being held up for miles by cyclists newly accorded the status of kings of the road.
Most obviously, we are seeing it in the cost-of-living crisis, when our electricity bills are subject to an increment of about 25 per cent, funding what are called ‘environmental and social costs’.
This is more properly described as a green tax, paying for such bizarre ‘renewable energy’ boondoggles as the conversion of the giant Drax power station to the burning of wood chips.
These are imported from as far afield as Brazil and Louisiana, and — in order to make this viable — Drax has received billions of pounds in subsidies (from you and me, via our electricity bills).
Meanwhile, the Government has been doing its best to block or frustrate non-‘renewable’ energy production projects that would not only be inherently profitable, requiring no subsidy from the taxpayer, but where the resources lie securely in this country.
Thus, Shell, despairing at the hostile political environment, has abandoned its plans to develop the Cambo oil field, one of the last great untapped reservoirs under the North Sea.
And by introducing a rule that onshore gas exploration by the method known as fracking should be put in abeyance if it causes an earth tremor of more than 0.5 on the Richter scale, the development of potentially vast amounts of gas (identified by the British Geological Survey) has been effectively cancelled by government decree.
The same geological formations have been developed in the U.S. to such an effect that gas prices there are about a third of those in the European market — which means that U.S. industry has a significantly lower cost base than ours.
As a letter signed by 49 geo-scientists pointed out, the 0.5 tremor limit was ‘not just so low as to threaten the potential of a shale gas industry in the UK’, it is ‘far below the levels set for comparable industries in the UK, such as quarrying’.
Or, as the then shale gas commissioner, Natasha Engel, said when resigning in despair: ‘A perfectly viable industry is being wasted because of a government policy driven by environmental lobbying rather than science and a desire to see UK industry flourish.’
The one person most delighted by this perverse policy? Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, whose greatest weapon is Russia’s increasing grip, via its vast gas reserves, on European energy supply.
This is why the Kremlin’s English-language media network, RT, had been engaging in poisonous scaremongering about the allegedly fatal consequences of UK shale gas production.
Max Keiser, of RT’s Kaiser Report, claimed that ‘frackers are the moral equivalent of paedophiles’ because fracking ‘is giving British children cancer’.
As the then secretary general of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, observed in 2014: ‘Russia engaged actively with environmental organisations working against shale gas, to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.’
Russia, of course, has no intention of joining the rush to ‘net-zero’. And neither do the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China.
Given that the UK is responsible for barely one per cent of global CO2 emissions, this puts into perspective the hubristic claims of ‘global climate leadership’ on the part of the Johnson administration.
As if to make this even more painfully clear, last week the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, alarmed by the domestic political consequences of rocketing energy prices, declared that Beijing’s ‘climate policies’ must not interfere with ‘normal daily lives’, adding that ‘we must ensure energy security [and] industrial supply chain security’.
Perhaps more surprisingly (at least to the naïve), it was revealed last week that President Joe Biden had issued more oil and gas drilling permits in his first year of office than had Donald ‘Drill Baby, Drill’ Trump in his own inaugural year as President.
Despite its claims to be committed to the ‘battle against climate change’, the Biden administration has so far approved more than 3,500 permits for oil and gas drilling on public land, compared with fewer than 2,700 permits granted by the Trump administration in its first 12 months.
Meanwhile, it is the same areas — given their greater dependence on manufacturing — that will be hardest-hit by the Government’s high-cost ‘clean’ energy programme.Last year, the think-tank UK Onward published a report, signed by two former ministers (one Labour, one Tory), pointing out that, though they were not against the overall plan, the result of this government policy would be that ‘the industrial and manufacturing heartlands in the Midlands and the North are far more likely to experience economic disruption during the net-zero transition than the South-East and London.’
They added: ‘Many of these places were worst-hit from the deindustrialisation of the 1980s and the 1990s, [which] reinforces the problem.’
In other words, the net-zero policy runs exactly counter to the so-called ‘levelling up’ agenda.
And this Pushmi-Pullyu approach (with apologies to the late Hugh Lofting, inventor of the fictional creature with heads at each end of its body) has the potential to tear the Government — and the country — apart. It will not be a pretty sight.
9) Climate change saved over half a million people in England and Wales aloneNebelspalter, 1 February 2022
By Alex Reichmuth
If climate change has saved half a million lives in England and Wales alone in the last two decades, it can be deduced that it must be many millions in temperate countries.
British authorities estimate that over 550,000 fewer people have died than could be expected in the last 20 years due to higher temperatures – in England and Wales alone. Global warming is becoming a blessing in temperate zones.
Anyone who relies on media reports must come to the conclusion that countless people are dying because of climate change. “More and more heat deaths due to the climate crisis in Germany,” headlined the “Spiegel.” The magazine “Geo” wrote: Without rigid measures to protect the climate, “an additional 83 million people could die by the end of the century.” A study involving the University of Bern also made headlines last year, according to which 37 percent of heat-related deaths can be attributed to man-made global warming.
Such reports often only focus on a small section of the effects of global warming. For example, people fail to appreciate that fewer cold-related deaths are to be expected as temperatures rise, or that people are generally very adept at adapting to changing climatic conditions.
The British Office for National Statistics (ONS) has now come to interesting results in a report that was published a few days ago. The ONS analysed how climate-related mortality developed in England and Wales between 2001 and 2020. It recorded all deaths whose cause showed a temperature dependency. In particular, these are respiratory diseases and infections, which become more important in the cold, as well as cardiovascular problems and heart attacks, which become more frequent in the heat (see here).
The ONS notes that the average temperatures during the period studied were higher than they used to be. From 1991 to 2020 it was 0.9 degrees warmer than from 1961 to 1990. From the prevailing temperatures, the office estimated how many deaths were recorded each year due to cold or heat.
Annually 27,755 fewer fatalities
The result: while in 2001 there were still 993 climate-related deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, in 2019 there were only 771. (In 2020 it was slightly more with 830 due to the pandemic). Overall, according to the ONS, 555,103 fewer people died in England and Wales from 2001 to 2020 due to cold or heat. That’s an average of 27,755 per year.
The strong decrease in climate-related deaths is also due to better adaptation to temperature extremes and better health care.
What is remarkable is that the increase in warm days during the months of June to September led to a total of 1,643 additional heat-related deaths. However, this number lags behind the decrease in deaths due to fewer cold days by orders of magnitude. This finding also contradicts the assertion that has been made time and again that the number of heat deaths is increasing faster than the number of cold deaths is decreasing.
In short, global warming has saved well over half a million lives. However, the strong decrease in climate-related deaths is not only due to higher temperatures, but also, according to the ONS, to better adaptation to temperature extremes, better health care and “improvements in socio-economic circumstances”.
People are getting better and better at protecting themselves
At the same time, the ONS warns that the trend towards fewer climate-related deaths could reverse in the coming decades if the UK is increasingly hit by extreme heat. However, there are several studies that show that even heat-related deaths have tended to decrease in recent years – despite rising temperatures. In concrete terms, people are becoming better and better at protecting themselves from heat waves, for example with insulating construction, planning more green spaces or using air conditioning more often.
If climate change has saved half a million lives in England and Wales alone in the last two decades, it can be deduced that it must be many millions in temperate countries. The effect that cold-related deaths are falling more than heat-related deaths is likely to also play a role in other European countries, in America and in large parts of Asia. Higher crop yields are also expected in these climate zones due to rising temperatures, so overall climate change should prove to be a boon.
10) A billion dollar barrier against the UN
Flat White, Spectator Australia, 30 January 2022
How long are Australian politicians going to let the UN direct domestic policy and when is there going to be an investigation into the use of ‘climate change’ to appropriate billions of public money every year?
At a time when Australian businesses and families are Covid-broke, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has casually dropped a billion dollars to keep the United Nations away from the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s only the start of Morrison’s spending spree, with funding for the reef set to jump to $3 billion in the latest set of election promises designed to make inner-city Liberals swoon (or snorkel).
This figure comes on top of several billion from Queensland and ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s random $444 million dollar donation that caused a scandal during the dying days of his leadership in 2018. How much money has Australia spent on the reef? Who knows, but at this point it’s fair to expect gold-plated fish and diamond-encrusted coral.
When a Prime Minister gets into difficulty, they siphon money into the Great Barrier Reef because it is seen as the safest political cause in town. Everyone loves the reef. The greenies. The woke. Labor (who were promising their own cash frenzy until they were out-spent by Morrison). Die-hard Liberal voters. Even China – who keeps buying up our paradise islands before pouring concrete all over them.
Someone else loves the reef too – Unesco. Well, more accurately, they love the idea of ripping control of the reef away from Australia or using it as a pawn in an international game of climate blackmail.
The Australian government suspects that China was instrumental – not only in causing the so-called ‘environmental disaster of climate change’ that led to the potential ‘danger’ listing – but also, as the Chair of the World Heritage Committee, in chaperoning the ridiculous recommendation.
Why is a country with over 43 per cent of its rivers so badly polluted that they’re not fit for human contact (let alone consumption) calling the shots on Australia’s pristine marine park? Politics. If Morrison had a few vertebrae handy in his spine he would have told the climate cult to clean up the marauding communist before pointing the finger at Australia.
After all, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world and it has been doing just fine under the guardianship of Australia without ‘help’ from foreign entities.
It made the Unesco World Heritage list in 1981 along with its extensive surrounding marine park containing over a thousand islands and atolls. This official classification imposed restrictions and responsibilities on Australia in regards to preserving the Great Barrier Reef, with the state of Queensland being the primary entity responsible.
Considering most of these amounted to ‘don’t destroy it’, Australia has been happy to use the acknowledgement as a major tourist bonus.
The problem with unelected international bureaucracies is that they have nothing better to do than sit around plotting ways to micro-manage things that don’t belong to them.
In this case, they have added a classification to their World Heritage list called ‘in danger’ that is bandied around as a threat to misbehaving nations. Unesco and its nest of scientists, researchers, and diplomats launched a climate war against Australia in 2021, demanding that the Great Barrier Reef have its classification changed to ‘in danger’. The recommendation had nothing to do with Australia’s exemplary record of custodianship, but rather it admits to being the first case of ‘climate heating’ endangering the status of a world heritage site.
‘The facts are the facts and the science is the science. The committee supported the science but did not support the ‘in danger’ listing,’ said Dr Fanny Douvere, head of Unesco’s marine program. It was an outcome followed by vague threats from other members to keep up the pressure next year.
These threats result in taxpayer cash being waved in front of climate grifters until they go quiet again.
Part of the Prime Minister’s campaign to rescue the reef from Unesco’s ‘climate change’ fear-mongering included – of course – flying over a dozen global ambassadors from Canberra to Cairns for a snorkelling trip while Australia’s Environment Minister was flown over to Europe on an RAAF jet to tour Budapest, Paris, Oman, the Maldives, Madrid, and Sarajevo.
Is this strange behaviour for a group of people that keep saying that air travel is literally destroying the world’s reefs? Of course not. Climate change only happens when peasants fly cattle class.
The billion dollar spend is hardly surprising news given Morrison’s announcement has come ahead of the February 2022 deadline for Australia’s reef progress report. Instead of telling Unesco to go and jump in the ocean, Scott Morrison drafted an expansion to the already expensive Reef 2050 plan.
‘We are backing the health of the reef and the economic future of tourism operators, hospitality providers and Queensland communities that are at the heart of the reef economy. This is already the best-managed reef in the world and today we take our commitment to a new level. Funding will support scientists, farmers and traditional owners, backing in [the] very latest marine science while building-resilience and reducing threats from pollution in our oceans and predators such as the crown of thorns starfish.’
The Prime Minister left out the bit about this whole project being cobbled together under duress.
Albanese isn’t keen to see Australia put on the list either.‘That’s what we’re determined to do: make sure that it’s never ever put on that list. The way to do that is take the big action that we will take by joining the world in climate policy, once again, not being a pariah sitting in the naughty corner with Saudi Arabia and Brazil and a couple of other countries.’
If the United Nations want to help Australia out, they could always punish China, Japan, and other European nations that cruise around Australia, fishing and whaling its rich waters after emptying their own. They might even kindly ask North Korea to keep their poorly aimed missiles away from the reef.
The only person disappointed by the decision to rescue Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from the clutches of the UN is New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean, who tweeted sadly in July last year, ‘Political lobbying does not change the science #greatbarrierreef.’ Poor thing. Maybe it’s because he wasn’t included in the Prime Minister’s ‘snorkel diplomacy’?
It’s an indictment on the UN that it’s not enough for Australians to be the best environmental custodians in the world – we have to pay bribes to the international green mafia every year. Why don’t they turn their attention on China and ask Xi Jinping why he’s terraformed over a dozen paradise islands in the South China Sea into weapons bases…? What about the spread of toxic rare earth mines carving open national parks in the third world?
How long are Australian politicians going to let the UN direct domestic policy and when is there going to be an investigation into the use of ‘climate change’ to appropriate billions of public money every year?Environmental extortion is not a sustainable future.
11) Soylent Green: why hasn’t society collapsed yet?Patrick Whittle, Spiked, 30 January 2022
The sci-fi classic was inspired by environmental predictions that have signally failed to materialise.
‘Soylent Green is people!’
That is the anguished final cry of police detective Frank Thorn in legendary ecological thriller Soylent Green. Set in a decaying future world, ravaged by pollution, global warming, resource depletion and overpopulation, the plot follows Thorn (played by Charlton Heston) as he makes a sickening discovery: that a new wonder food, the eponymous Soylent Green, is actually human flesh.
The film was made in the early 1970s, when the twin fears of rapidly rising populations and temperatures were first coming to the boil, and it was set far enough in the future for all manner of fanciful predictions to be made. So when exactly did the filmmakers imagine environmental collapse would reduce us all to this state of barbarism? According to the Hollywood blockbuster, starving humans would be resorting to cannibalism in the year… 2022. Yes, we’ve already arrived.
Of course, Soylent Green was sci-fi fantasy, not a scientific forecast of the future. Yet this isn’t how the progressive press has been commemorating the film this year. According to a recent Washington Post feature, ‘Soylent Green envisioned the world in 2022. It got a lot right.’ Apparently, the movie was most right about today’s ‘climate catastrophe’. Another review draws the same conclusion: ‘The most 2022-resonant notes in the film are connected to the way it shows a catastrophic collapse of a society that’s choked out nature… when the threats we currently face due to the climate crisis feel real within the confines of the movie.’
Really? What planet do these writers live on? Certainly, we have got a serious pandemic and political problems aplenty to contend with. But where on Earth is society collapsing due to catastrophic climate change?‘Madagascar!’, environmentalist George Monbiot recently proclaimed in the Guardian. According to Monbiot, ‘The famine harrowing Madagascar at the moment is the first… likely to have been caused by the climate emergency. It will not be the last.’ Ironically, Monbiot’s confident claims came two weeks after the Guardian had itself reported that ‘Poverty, not climate breakdown, caused Madagascar’s food crisis’.
A great number of people seem convinced that in 2022, civilisation is coming apart at the seams thanks to climate change, despite having to look quite far afield to find much evidence of this. As awful as hurricanes, wildfires and famines in faraway places may be, they do not presage global societal collapse. Nevertheless, the dystopian nightmare of the kind portrayed in Soylent Green is talked of by environmentalists as a realistic consequence of climate change. We are, as one newspaper put it during the COP26 climate talks, ‘still on the road to hell’.
The origins of environmentalism’s dystopian mindset can be traced back to the doom-mongering about overpopulation of the 1960s, and in particular biologist Paul Ehrlich’s influential 1968 bestseller, The Population Bomb. In this bible of over-the-top catastrophism, Ehrlich described the inevitable ‘mass starvation’ we faced on ‘a dying planet’ that Soylent Green so graphically passed on to a wider popular audience. Over five decades later, and the picture painted in Ehrlich’s miserabilist book still colours the thinking of the mainstream environmentalist movement, where it seems as if nothing positive is possible for the future, only hardship, suffering and death.
Yet although a lot has changed in the past 50 years, society hasn’t collapsed in the way that Ehrlich predicted (and as most environmental alarmists still predict it will). Instead, for most people in most places, things are now measurably better. From the massive plunges in child mortality and extreme poverty to the steep upswings in health, education and life expectancy, human flourishing has increased not diminished over the long decades since the Population Bomb first hit the shelves and Soylent Green first hit our screens. And as for fears that a growing population would struggle to cope with scarce resources, the world is actually hundreds of times more abundant today than it was in the 1970s. Even the alarmist BBC, when not issuing dire warnings that it’s ‘foetal-position time’, occasionally remembers to report the many reasons why the world is actually improving.
All of these gains are happening despite the human population doubling since the early 1970s, from under four billion people then to nearly eight billion now. Contrary to the grim vision of ever-increasing starvation and malnutrition set out in The Population Bomb and Soylent Green, it is obesity, diabetes and other ‘diseases of affluence’ that are spreading around the globe.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we now live in a panglossian ‘best of all possible worlds’. Food insecurity remains a very real threat for many millions of the world’s people. But as today’s famine hotspots in Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and indeed Madagascar clearly show, this is due to politics not environmental collapse.
None of this is to say that climate change is not a serious problem. But the environmental apocalypse has been predicted in the past and has clearly failed to materialise. It is also darkly ironic that those who bought into Soylent Green’s far-fetched tales of imminent ecological collapse half a century ago are now grandparents to teenagers similarly convinced the world will end within their lifetime. What’s less amusing, is that a debilitating ‘climate depression’ is spreading among the young (that is, among those not yet aware that, according to environmental campaigners, the end is always nigh, always has been and always will be).
The actual course of history, in contrast to the green doom-mongering, shows the power of human ingenuity and innovation. Instead of ‘hundreds of millions of people’ starving to death in the 1970s, as Ehrlich predicted, before ‘an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity’ by the 1980s, we got the technological marvel of the agricultural Green Revolution, which allowed us to feed the world’s expanding population. (Despite Ehlich’s predictions being spectacularly wrong, he still insists that the ‘collapse of civilisation is a near certainty within decades’.)
It’s worth noting how Ehrlich (and the makers of Soylent Green) assumed human beings would simply descend into barbarism and despair when faced with environmental challenges. Contrast this with the practical actions, from exactly the same era as the Population Bomb, of industrialist and movie mogul Arthur Rank. Rank, too, was concerned about overpopulation and starvation, but his solution wasn’t simply to wail and moan. Rather, he began to search for a new source of plentiful food. The result was Quorn, a mycoprotein made from fungus that has since become a favourite of vegetarians.
While fungal mycoprotein isn’t quite the saviour food that Rank hoped, there are plenty of other up-and-coming innovations that could be. Modern biotechnology especially has the potential to revolutionise food production once again, at the same time as reducing its environmental impact and carbon emissions. Yet who is most opposed to such Earth-saving technology? The very environmentalists who shout most loudly for immediate solutions to the ‘climate crisis’. You couldn’t make this up. Greens’ opposition to nuclear power, the most efficient carbon-neutral power source we currently have, is similarly counterproductive.
It goes without saying that a world without the threat of climate change and the environmental harms it threatens is one worth striving for. It’s also one that’s possible – just that it is more likely to come from innovation and ingenuity rather than from the activism of eco-alarmists.
Eco-catastrophism has led nowhere except to the impotent apathy of today’s climate-depressed children (and along the way to the hideous repression of China’s one-child policy and the mass coercive sterilisation of millions in India and elsewhere in Asia).
There are more positive paths to saving the planet. The polarised either/or of climate catastrophism vs climate-change denial are not the only options. From the skeptical environmentalism of economist Bjorn Lomborg and the rational optimism of science writer Matt Ridley to the eco-pragmatism of counterculture icon Stewart Brand, other more reasonable and realistic alternatives can readily be found.
In discussing the role of modern genetic biotech, for example, Brand enthuses about how the ‘conservation story could shift from negative to positive, from constant whining and guilt-tripping to high fives and new excitement’. (Paul Ehrlich, not surprisingly, is a biotech nay-sayer.)
Half a century of history has repeatedly shown the environmentalist movement’s worst predictions to be far off the mark. That doesn’t mean, of course, that things must inevitably continue to improve. As the shocking unexpectedness of Covid illustrates, the future is hard to predict. In another 50 years time, in 2072, the world might well be a whole lot worse. But here’s one thing you can bet your bottom dollar on – that eco-catastrophism won’t make it any better.