Darwin (AGW) Awards vs. The Tragedy Of Cold-Related Deaths

(note: I wrote most of the below last night…as it happens, Indur M. Goklany has just published a blog on similar topics, “Winter kills: Excess Deaths in the Winter Months” on WUWT)

Tragic as it is, the death at the age of 70 of Canon Hereward Cooke on Dec 15 in Copenhagen after having cycled in a snowstorm is the stuff of a Darwin Award. One might even be forgiven if thinking of it as foretold by the near-misses of failed Polar kayaker Lewis Pugh in September 2008, and of the cold and starving Catlin Survey team almost stranded in atrocious Arctic weather in April 2009.

Is this a way to confirm Timpanogos/Ed Darrell‘s suggestion that “you guys cheer at train wrecks and hit-and-run auto-pedestrian accidents, too“? I think not (even if I should thank Ed for comparing the lesser Milliband and Gordon Brown to train wrecks and hit-and-run accidents). There is something enormously serious about climate-related deaths. Compared to that, the misadventures of True (AGW) Believers getting themselves and others in trouble for almost no reason at all, well, those become laughable indeed.

Remember the infamous 2003 Summer Heatwave in Europe? Wikipedia claims it killed “more than 37,451” people (the Earth Policy Institute sums up a toll of  “more than 52,000“) across the Continent.  Now take “excess winter mortality” in England and Wales alone, and despair: according to the Office for National Statistics, in 2008/2009 the number of additional deaths “compared with the average for the non-winter period” was 36,700.

One can only imagine a grand total of excess winter deaths for the whole of Europe in the hundreds of thousands. And that happens every single year, whilst the 2003 Heatwave is just an exceptional event that caused for example a total of 2,139 excess deaths in England and Wales.

Notably, in England and Wales even the 2003/2004 winter saw more than 20,000 excess deaths compared to a non-winter period that included…the August 2003 heatwave.

Excess winter mortality, England and Wales, 1999/2000 to 2008/2009
Excess winter mortality, England and Wales, 1999/2000 to 2008/2009 (original from the UK "Office for National Statistics")

Given the way things are shaping up at the moment, the 2009/2010 numbers will likely be in the 30,000-40,000 range too…I am perfectly sure if we had tens of thousands of excess deaths during a hot summer in the UK, even the rocks would be yelling out about the perils of Global Warming. But since those people are dying because of the cold, one might have to guess it must be alright..