When the Daily Telegraph’s Review section previewed Wednesday’s edition of Channel 4’s Dispatches – Britain’s Forgotten Pensioners it expressed scepticism at some of the statistics in the forthcoming programme:
Some of the figures quoted (such as that 45 people died every day last winter – more than 4,000 deaths – as a result of being unable to heat their homes) seemed inconceivable enough to invite referral to Radio 4’s More or Less for further analysis.
This extraordinary and troubling figure of 4,000 deaths comes from a study by National Energy Action. Three days before the above quote hit readers’ doormats, Bob Ward, Chair of London Climate Change Partnership, told Dr. David Bull on his TalkTV show that the temperature “astonishingly went above 40 degrees last summer and it killed 2,000 people”.
There is no readily available statistical basis for them but if one were to take these two figures at face value, then an admittedly over-simplistic conclusion might be that winter cold kills twice as many people as summer heat. While it appears that Western civilisation is being put into reverse gear to prevent global temperature rises, what is being done about the former?
The Telegraph’s incredulity at the concept of people dying of cold is comparatively recent. In February 2015, it reported: ‘Winter death toll “to exceed 40,000”‘. Dame Sally Davies, then the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, wrote in the Cold Weather Plan for England 2014-15:
Excess deaths are not just deaths of those who would have died anyway in the next few weeks or months due to illness or old age. There is strong evidence some of these deaths are indeed ‘extra’ and are related to cold temperatures, living in cold homes as well as infectious diseases such as influenza.