Winter 2021. People die of cold, and this is also technology


Reading the news makes you wonder how people understand the word “technology”, many familiar things seem so commonplace that they have not been considered high technology for a long time. The winter in 2021 was snowy and cold, and in many countries of the world, thermometers are updating records. For the Russian ear, the night temperature of minus 23 degrees Celsius sounds like something familiar, we have seen real frosts. For Scotland, a night with such a temperature is a natural disaster, however, like the freezing temperatures that have been established throughout Britain, the country is not ready for this. It seems to us that warmth in winter is a self-evident thing that all residents of Russia have plus or minus. Perhaps we should thank the Soviet Union for this, which gave its residents equal opportunities, brought light, water and heat into their homes. Not at all, but in cities there has never been an acute problem that people freeze in winter. And this is also a technology that directly depends on the amount of available energy, the cheapness of this energy and the availability of a developed infrastructure. Usually, people in Russia find out that the climate has a negative impact on the economy from some report that lists the cost of a barrel of oil and indicates that weather conditions in Kuwait allow for a completely different cost price.

People have always faced adverse weather conditions, today we have created a more or less comfortable environment around us, which allows us to live even in the Far North. Until he traveled almost the whole world, he believed in absentia that access to heat, water and electricity exists everywhere on our planet, and some poor countries act as exceptions. When immersed in the life of various countries, the realization gradually came that the weather is one of the main enemies for many people, since they cannot survive certain cataclysms. For example, in New York, winter is cold, but at the same time, summer is such that there is often nothing to breathe in the city. In poor areas, this turns into a huge problem, people in the literal sense of the word die of heart attacks, many become disabled. In the 80s, the City Hall of New York conducted research on how negative factors affect the workload of the health care system, what damage to the city’s economy is caused by the summer heat. The conclusions were paradoxical, it turned out that it is easier to buy air conditioners for poor people than to face the need for their treatment, support and subsequent spending on funerals. Many could not accept this point of view, but gradually programs were launched to buy air conditioners for the poor, mortality from the heat began to decline.

Officially, the cause of death from heatstroke is rarely indicated, with coroners preferring other causes, such as heart attack. New York statistics show that the number of deaths from the heat is at least 10-15 times higher than officially reported. Look at the tablet, it turns out that seven deaths in 2017 easily turn into almost a hundred.

Winter 2021. People die of cold, and this is also technology

Officials are proud of the program to help the city’s poor. To participate in it, your income must be small, you will literally be poor. See what poverty is like in New York. Many are stunned by the numbers, people try on this income for their standard of living, including utility bills, food costs, and it seems to them that in America people are raging with fat. Alas, their living expenses are much higher. To live more or less peacefully in New York without frills, you need to earn per person from 200 thousand dollars a year, you will give most of the money to taxes, huddle in a small apartment far from the center, paying for it at horse rates. And constantly save!

And here is the table showing the poverty level (read – poverty) for New York.

Winter 2021. People die of cold, and this is also technology

With an income of 550-600 dollars a week, you will be a beggar in New York, it is impossible to afford something for this money. For such people, as well as those with health problems or age over 65, the city offers free air conditioning. Once every five years, you can ask for help, the cost of the air conditioner is up to $ 800, taking into account the installation, there are various restrictions. Since the start of this program, mortality has declined, technology has allowed people to live longer.

We in Russia do not value basic things so much that we take them for granted. It seems to us that the technologies built by our fathers will last forever and nothing can happen to them. Look at Ukraine, where the legacy of previous generations was gradually destroyed. Market regulation of prices for gas, electricity, lack of developed infrastructure – all this led to a sharp increase in the cost of utilities. At the beginning of 2020, the cost of a communal apartment for a family of three living in an apartment of 50 sq. meters were like that.

Winter 2021. People die of cold, and this is also technology

To assess the contribution of utility bills to expenses, you can see the average salary in each region of the country, for this I will give a link to the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine, look for these data here.

After simple calculations, an understanding arises that many people cannot spend money on heating their houses, as well as apartments, for them it is extremely expensive. It is possible that for this reason, heating points are opened in Ukraine in winter, more than 5000 of them are deployed throughout the country. For example, on January 20, 2021, more than 1 people used the services of such points.

The economy can also be classified as a technology, because it is the managers and officials who determine how people will live or die. The topic of Ukraine, for obvious reasons, is painful for everyone, so let’s look at the situation with the cold on the example of Britain. It seems in absentia that in Britain, as well as in America, the rivers are filled with jelly and the problems look completely different than in our area.

The British introduced the term “fuel poverty” some time ago, which can be translated head-on as “fuel poverty.” This poverty is explained very simply: when the owners of housing (apartment or house) are forced to spend more than 10% of their income on heating it to a comfortable temperature. The initial interpretation caused outrage in society, later it was changed to something else – the costs of heating, which lead to poverty for homeowners, they are faced with the choice of buying food and things or setting a comfortable temperature.

The word “comfort” in British realities sounds like a mockery, since in winter a comfortable temperature is 21 degrees Celsius in a living room, 18 degrees – in those rooms where people are not constantly. In 2005, the World Economic Forum even launched the EPA (Energy Poverty Action) initiative, which is designed to fight fuel poverty.

Official statistics in the UK show that 10% of all households cannot afford adequate heating, in absolute numbers this is about 2.4-2.5 million houses and apartments.

Winter 2021. People die of cold, and this is also technology

Source:, response for 2018

The number of people who live in such cramped conditions is not decreasing year by year. Given the climate change, we can say that their number will only grow. Estimates of the number of deaths from cold in winter in the UK vary greatly, today it is an average of 10 thousand deaths (above statistically expected), in 2001, before the advent of assistance programs, their number was estimated at 50 people annually, for example, such figures can be found here in this job.

The numbers are shocking, but if you think they are far-fetched to the topic of technology, then here’s a cherry that will explain such a long introductory text. In the UK, a law is being considered that will allow companies supplying electricity to homes and apartments to turn it off in an arbitrary manner and based on their need. This will require the replacement of electric meters with smart ones, they will be controlled remotely and will allow any house or apartment to be turned off at the request of the company selling the energy. This includes turning off heating systems, charging electric cars and everything else. The reason is banal: in the UK there is a growing shortage of electricity, and the spread of “clean” energy is too small. Moreover, the boom in electric cars creates additional stress, and therefore companies are forced to distribute energy so as not to create unnecessary stress in one area or another.

The article, which describes this new reality, frightens with calculations and reasoning that this must be done, read this text.

But I am surprised by another aspect of this problem. In the UK, where fuel poverty kills people every year, a law is being introduced that will stimulate an increase in mortality, as the price of energy will rise (this is already happening, and the process cannot be stopped, another increase in tariffs is planned in the spring). It is also worth considering that the global economic crisis is unfolding before our eyes, and it is of such magnitude that all aid programs will be reduced or even curtailed altogether. In the UK, people can receive heating subsidies if the temperature is around zero degrees during the week. But this is little money, and it only helps, but does not correct the situation.

In my opinion, the state should provide equal conditions for everyone, including ensuring the lives of its citizens, by subsidies to energy companies, in other ways, but to solve this problem. The example of Great Britain shows that the European way is to shift problems onto the shoulders of people, they themselves must fight for their own survival. And this is also a technology that will lead to a drop in the number of residents, including the elderly, who are often unable to pay their heating bills. I don’t want to speculate on this topic, but it doesn’t look like a random error, but like a purposeful calculation.

Why is it important for us to know about these “technologies”? The answer is very simple and lies on the surface, we must not allow such European experience to be adopted in our country. There are no prerequisites for this to happen yet, but who knows what will happen tomorrow? Therefore, it makes sense to come up with mechanisms for how the inhabitants of Russia will be protected from such cataclysms and attempts to “optimize” energy consumption in the British way.

Unfortunately, the climate is changing, and very quickly, we are facing very difficult challenges. To appreciate at least some of them, I advise you to pay attention to the book by David Wallace-Wells “Uninhabited Land”. Under one cover are the forecasts of scientists and models of what is already happening and how it will affect the climate. A sobering reading, which for many people changes their minds and attitudes towards how they live in everyday life. But many do not care, which is also logical.

Winter 2021. People die of cold, and this is also technology

Technology should serve people and help us in life. There should be no smart meters that turn off a house or apartment remotely and let us freeze. This is bad technology that is harmful. Create energy networks that can withstand the load, combine different energy sources, make an effort for this. But you can’t even step on the road when technology, albeit indirectly, allows you to manipulate the lives of people, save someone’s life, and literally kill someone. Indeed, in this case, murder is just a press of a button, and the excuse can be that the AI-algorithm turned off the houses of those who were already freezing and could not pay for energy. And the decision will be made not by a person, but by an algorithm, which means there are no guilty ones either. How do you like this world? I do not like him.

Alas, we develop technology, but often we do not progress in terms of our values ​​and what is possible in technology and what should never be allowed. And this is the biggest flaw in our understanding of technology, we have directors and presidents in charge of sales, marketing, PR, but no people responsible for the ethics of products and their impact on the lives of people and the planet. It’s time to get them.

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