Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Excess Winter Deaths - then and now

Elsewhere on the internet Mark Wadsworth ponders checking old news stories for predictions about climate change.

Intrigued, I went back to the BBC in 2000 and found this promising fewer winter deaths, so I nipped over to the Office of National Statistics and rung up the Excess winter mortality stats. These are defined as:-
the difference between the number of deaths during the four winter months (December to March) and the average number of deaths during the preceding autumn (August to November) and the following summer (April to July)
So there's been a sweeping decline since the 1950's

So aye, there's a bit of decline, and the cold snap killer winters are taking fewer lives each year. I reckon that's technology and legislation rather than the winters getting less severe, central heating and winter fuel allowance, that sort of thing.

But in the context of the BBC story, we can have fun with statistics. If you take just the data for the 1990's, the trend seems to be increasing deaths.

And for the 2000's, even we only look at the last decade, whilst the numbers are a thousands below the 1990's the trend is also an increase.

Anyhoo, more snow is forecast for the next few days here in 2010. The stat to look out for in news stories, in a couple of months time, after the powers that be have done the paperwork, is that this winter 2009/10 will buck the trend having highest level of winter deaths since 1975/76 (58,100 deaths) or possibly 1969/70 (67,790 deaths).

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