So climate alarmists want a rapid, mandatory shift from fossil fuels—chiefly coal and natural gas—to wind and solar to save us all from catastrophic global warming. What comes with that?
The people of England and Wales have found out, and it isn’t pretty.
Over a decade ago, the United Kingdom began a rigorous policy of shutting down coal-fired power plants and replacing them with wind farms and solar arrays to feed its electricity grid. The direct result was skyrocketing electric rates across the country.
The indirect result was rising rates of “fuel poverty” (also called “energy poverty”), defined as when a household must spend 10 percent or more of its income simply on home heating. That doesn’t include lights, refrigerator, washer and dryer, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, television, computer, or anything else–just home heating, just in the months when it’s required.
And the result of increased fuel poverty was increased “excess winter deaths” (EWD).
Don’t misunderstand. EWDs are normal—they’re the excess deaths that occur in winter months compared with the rest of the year simply because colder weather weakens people’s immune systems, so people already vulnerable (the elderly, those with life-threatening chronic diseases, etc.) are more likely to die in cold than in warm weather. Ordinary EWDs like these usually shorten someone’s life only by days or weeks.
But fuel poverty-driven EWDs are different. They’re excess winter deaths that wouldn’t have occurred except that those who die couldn’t afford to heat their homes. Had they been able to, they might have lived for years longer. So an EWD caused by fuel poverty can rob someone of years of life.
And that’s what’s been happening all over England and Wales. Last winter saw an estimated 40,000 EWDs, the most since 1999–2000 (48,440) and topping the flu-induced spike of 2008–9 (36,450).
In each of the last five winters, England and Wales recorded an average of about 27,860 EWDs. Research by the World Health Organization concludes that from 30 to 40 percent of EWDs in Europe and Great Britain over that period are attributable to fuel poverty. If that is so, then fuel poverty caused an average of 8,358 to 11,144 deaths in each of those winters in England and Wales alone.
How many fuel poverty-caused EWDs would similar energy cost increases have caused in the United States, with a population over five-and-a-half times larger? An average of from 46,000 to 61,000 per year. (This doesn’t adjust for the fact that much of the United States experiences much colder winters than Great Britain.)
So here’s a thought for America’s federal and state lawmakers. Next time a lobbyist for the wind or solar industry demands more subsidies and an increase in the mandated share of electricity generated by wind and solar, lawmakers should respond, like the clerk at the drive-up window, “And did you want an extra 61,000 deaths with that?”
Except that the excess EWDs are automatic, no substitutes permitted. This isn’t Burger King. You can’t have it your way.
Featured image courtesy of ClimateJusticeCollective, Creative Commons, used by permission.