The real climate and health crisis
By Paul Driessen
Climate policies promoted and imposed by Team Biden and Democrats are based on junk science, headline-grabbing scare stories, and computer models that create far-fetched “scenarios” asserting that fossil fuel use and emissions will cause Earth to warm by 4 degrees C (7 F) over the next 80 years, and cause Arctic warming that will bring colder winters.
Those dire predictions are used to justify more taxpayer-funded “research,” like a recent Columbia University “mortality cost of carbon” study that claims 83 million people (the population of Germany) “could be killed” this century by those rising planetary temperatures. Therefore we must take “immediate action” to “transform” our energy and economic systems, and replace oil, gas and coal with (millions of) wind turbines and (billions of) solar panels and backup batteries.
These policies are lethal for people and planet They would require mining on scales unprecedented in human history, much of it by slave and child laborers, and nearly all using fossil fuels – bringing massive habitat and wildlife losses, air and water pollution, and horrific human health and safety problems.
But since most of the mining, ore processing and manufacturing will occur in other countries, far from the USA, politicians and climateers can say this “alternative energy” is “clean and green.”
Worse, climate policies cause widespread “energy poverty” – energy prices rising above families’ ability to stay adequately warm (or cool) at reasonable cost, given their incomes. That means peopledie.
Modern housing and energy systems enable people to adapt to and survive even extreme heat and cold – even in Antarctica, which recently had the coldest winter temperatures ever recorded: -61ᵒ C (-78ᵒ F). However, adaptation and survival become nigh impossible when government policies make it hard to heat or cool homes properly amid joblessness, inflation and soaring oil, natural gas, coal and electricity prices.
Indeed, it is often on the coldest and hottest days and nights, when heating or cooling are most essential, that winds blow at inadequate speeds to turn turbine blades and/or the sun shines with inadequate intensity on solar panels, to generate electricity. This (and wind and solar variability in general) results in recurrent blackouts and necessitates “backup” energy: coal, natural gas, diesel, hydroelectric or expensive battery systems, which significantly increase energy costs and worsen energy poverty, illness and death.
Proposed Biden/Democrat Green New Deal policies would require that still perfectly good natural gas furnaces, water heaters, ovens and stoves be replaced with costly heat pumps and electric appliances, powered by expensive, unreliable, weather-dependent wind and solar systems. They would necessitate installing charging stations for electric cars, upgrading home and neighborhood electrical systems to 220 volts, and having pricey battery “power walls” for backup power during increasingly frequent blackouts.
All this would cost trillions of dollars, with families and small businesses bearing the brunt.
Contrary to faulty global warming “research,” far more people die in cold weather than in hot summers. In the United States and Canada, cold causes 45 times more deaths per year than heat: 113,000 from cold versus 2,500 from heat. Worldwide, with air conditioning far less available in already hot countries than in the United States, some 1,700,000 people die annually from cold versus 300,000 from heat.
A 2014 Public Health England University College of London Institute of Health Equity report underscores how energy poverty severely, disproportionately and inequitably affects poor, elderly, fixed-income and minority families – resulting in numerous, needless illnesses, health problems and deaths.
Cold homes cause or exacerbate risks of asthma, bronchitis, flu, cardiovascular disease and other adverse health conditions. Cold temperatures also increase depression, anxiety and other mental health problems, intensifying medical and physical issues. Young children, older people, those with preexisting health conditions and other vulnerable groups are especially susceptible to hypothermia, illness and death.
The Health Equity Institute calculated that one-tenth of all “excess winter deaths” in England and Wales are directly attributable to fuel poverty, and 21% of excess winter deaths are attributable to the coldest 25% of homes. Between 1990 and 2014, researchers estimated, 30,000 to 40,000 people died each year who would not have perished if their homes hadn’t been so cold. US studies reach similar conclusions.
Adjusting for population, but not for colder winter temperatures in much of the USA (versus England and Wales), this is equivalent to some 170,000 to 230,000 excess winter deathsper year in the United States.
In 2019, 344,000 German families had their electricity cut off because they couldn’t pay their power bills.
Still worse, coal, oil, natural gas, electricity and home heating costs have skyrocketed since those English, US and German reports were prepared – because of shortsighted, climate-obsessed, callous policies.
Global demand for gas and coal surged as the world recovered from Covid – but Britain and Europe banned fracking for gas in their enormous shale deposits, Germany is shutting down its nuclear plants, Russia is playing politics with gas deliveries, and UK and EU wind turbines generated far less electricity in 2021 (way below their supposed, “nameplate capacity”) due to unfavorable winds.
No wonder 65% of United Kingdom renters are struggling this year to pay their energy bills, 25% of Scots live in energy poverty, and 400,000 more UK households are on the brink of losing their gas and electricity provider before Christmas. Europe's energy costs hit new records, and millions of UK households face 70% rise in energy bills. Excess winter death tolls will also likely set new records.
That’s happening in America too, as the Biden Administration stymies leasing, drilling, fracking and pipelines, and sends gasoline and food prices rocketing upward, amid the highest inflation rate in 39 years.
Climate policies will also exacerbate health risks in hospitals. At 13¢ per kilowatt-hour (average US business rate today) a 650,000-square-foot hospital building would pay about $2.5 million annually for electricity. At 27¢ per kWh (Britain’s pre-October average), the annual cost jumps to $5.2 million; at 39¢ per kWh (Germany’s earlier average), to $7.5 million! Those soaring costs would bring chillier conditions, employee layoffs, higher medical bills, reduced patient care, and more deaths.
Consider too that one-third of American families already had difficulty six years ago adequately heating and cooling their homes, and one-fifth of U.S. households had to reduce or forego food, medicine and other necessities to pay their energy bills. Even before COVID, low-income, Black, Hispanic and Native American families were spending a greater portion of their incomes on energy than average households.
Impacts on hard-pressed working families and people on fixed incomes would be just as harmful and disproportionate, as they too spend a greater portion of their limited incomes on energy.
Job destruction, energy poverty, illness and deaths would increase dramatically under anti-fossil-fuel policies mandated and imposed by the Biden Administration and fellow Democrats – in the name of fairness, equity and “climate justice.”
Those policies would also make America’s energy, economy, national security and foreign policy increasingly dependent on China – already the world’s biggest coal user and greenhouse gas emitter – in an increasingly dangerous world. That’s because China controls most of the metals and minerals required by “green” energy and modern transportation, communication and defense technologies.
This is The Real Climate Crisis. The ecological destruction and human death tolls should shock all of us.
They aren’t due to climate changes that are mostly natural, weather events that are no more frequent or extreme than over the previous century, or manmade global warming that exists almost solely in computer models that rely on junk-science greenhouse-gas hypotheses. The real climate crisis is due to policies that are being rammed through on the basis of false premises, fear-mongering and intolerance for fossil fuels.
Congress, courts, states and voters must act now, to reverse the damage that climate and “green” energy policies are having on our economy, jobs, health, well-being, wildlife and environment.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, environment, climate and human rights issues.