We are the richest, safest, best-fed and educated generations of humans to have ever walked the planet. Too few people seem to even grasp this fact, let alone appreciate it.

Nor do many really seem to grasp just how fragile the world we’ve built up through millennia of struggle really is.

Of course, in some ways, modern, industrialised society is incredibly robust. In times of emergency, resources can be flown in in hours. Few of even the poorest people have to worry about starvation (if anything, the opposite is one of the West’s biggest problems). Systems have multiple redundancies.

Still, there are worrying vulnerabilities. For instance, the recent burst of solar activity is a reminder that the Carrington Event, a massive solar storm in 1859, caused havoc with even that era’s rudimentary electrical systems. The chaos such an event would wreak on today’s electronic and digital world could be catastrophic.

But other vulnerabilities are self-inflicted and for the most crazy of reasons. Despite the hysteria of the Climate Cult, no serious climate scientist argues that climate change is an existential threat. Yet, the hysterics have us dismantling the systems of reliable, cheap electricity that’s kept us fed and comfortable for over a century. The lunatic ideological obsession of “Net Zero” is driving electricity prices through the roof, even as reliability collapses.

Already, thousands of people in Britain die every winter because they’ve had to choose between heating or eating.

It could be a lot worse, if the Big Freeze of 1895 came again.

December 1894 was unusually mild. So much so in fact, that it was precisely the sort of balmy winter that would lead to protesters hurling cans of soup at paintings and shrieking headlines. Even chrysanthemums were flowering in Herefordshire at Christmas.

However, it all changed in January 1895 when the cold started. A vast mass of freezing air had locked itself down over Britain, preventing the mild low-pressure cyclones from pushing up across the Atlantic. Within a few days widespread snow up to 10 inches (25 cm) deep but a fleeting thaw made it seem as if the worst was over.

It wasn’t. On January 23rd 1895 the cold was back and with a vengeance. It began with major thunderstorms followed by a howling gale from the northwest that tore off roofs and ripped up trees while dumping a fresh round of snow. By January 25th a train leaving Wick was buried under 25 ft (7.6 m) of snow.

Temperatures plunged across Britain, hitting the high minus-20s in most parts of the country. London was nearly tropical by comparison, dropping to just -2°F (-19°C).

The result was also mass unemployment, a catastrophe at a time when there were no benefits and workers could be laid off at the drop of a hat. Farm labourers were laid off because the land was like concrete. Fishermen obviously couldn’t work and had no income, to say nothing of the fish that no-one could now eat (and at a time when the British fishing industry was enormous).

Glasgow became a city of soup kitchens and starving families with tens of thousands of unemployed men. In order to keep the gas works operating on the Old Kent Road a special team had to be organised to be on duty round the clock smashing the ice on the river so that coal could be brought in […]

The frost penetrated two foot (61 cm) underground shattering water mains in the south and even deeper in the north.

The Serpentine froze so solid that a battalion of soldiers were able to parade on it.

The effect of the cold on the public health was noticeable, especially in the increased mortality among children and old people. The increase in the number of deaths from diseases of the respiratory organs was first notable in the return for the week ending February 2nd, and a month later the weekly number of deaths from these causes was 1,448, or 945 above the average.

That’s more than three times as many deaths than normal from respiratory conditions. There’s no mention of the others who just froze to death.

There’s two takeaways from 1895: firstly, that cold is a far deadlier killer than heat. Secondly, that such a severe cold wave would screw up a “Net Zero” society catastrophically.

It’s not hard to imagine the devastating consequences on the supply food chain as every electric delivery vehicle grinds to a halt, its battery rendered lifeless by the temperatures, to say nothing of the deadened solar farms. Indeed, the wholesale economic devastation that could be caused by compromising the electrical supply is too awful to contemplate. Back in 1895 that simply didn’t matter.

We also have today a vastly greater elderly population, many of whom are totally dependent on medication and support to keep them alive during their 80s and 90s. With so few homes now unable to accommodate open fires, the reliance on electric heating to keep them warm will be exposed as catastrophically vulnerable. As it is, many of the elderly who live on their own already cannot afford to heat their homes even through the recent years of mild winters.

And what would happen to the hospitals? As the sick and elderly piled up outside the doors of A&E the creaking NHS edifice would collapse. The death rates of 1895 would look like a mouse breaking wind in a hurricane by comparison.

The Daily Sceptic

As Professor Ian Plimer says, we must be the first humans in history to be afraid of a warmer climate.

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In the last decade...