Wednesday, October 23, 2019

NHS boss announces air pollution 'emergency' as major study shows our dirty air is killing us

For years Greenies and some medical researchers have been trying to prove that air pollution is bad for you.  You would think that that would be a slam dunk -- and at some level air pollution probably is bad for you -- but is it dangerous at the levels we encounter in the worst areas of Western cities?

It isn't.  There are normally one or two studies every year that claim to prove a relatioship between pollution and health and I regularly review them. See here. Without fail, the studies are full of holes.  They do not show what they purport to show.  They omit major methodological precautions that would have protected them from false conclusions and as a result leave their reported effects attributable to other things than pollution.

I find this bemusing.  Is there no researcher out there who is capable of doing a defensible study of the topic?  I suspect that there is and that there have been.  What presumably happens when a good study is done is that the desired effect is not found.  Pollution is found not to be dangerous.  To avoid antagonizing their colleagues, however, those studies are never submitted for publication.  The old bias agist "negative results" comes into play.  Only those studies which purport to show the desired correlation are submitted for publication.  But they are --demonstrably -- the poorly done ones.

So I was initially  rather impressed by the report below:  a study of real people in a real setting: no artificial laboratory rubbish or dubious sampling.

I was soon disappointed.  The pollution statistics looked sound but what about disease incidence?  Where did the statistics on that come from?  Rather hilariously, they had no direct figures for that at all.  We read:

"To match higher pollution days with their impact on public health, the researchers used previous studies which have already highlighted this link, such as expert Committees reports"

We do not yet have details of what those previous reports were but in the light of chronic failures in previous studies already noted one is hardly brimming with confidence that their findings were sound. Once again, the authors have built their castle on sand

So what the heck is going on? Why is it so hard to prove the obvious?

My academic background is in psychology but I twice taught in university departments that also included sociology and anthropology.  And I have always taken an interest in anthropology anyhow. And I think we now have to turn to anthropology to understand what is going on.

And it's rather simple. From our evolutionry past to poor societies in the world today, people have relied heavily on wood fires for heating and cooking.   Even in London today they still do.  A London example below:

But most woodburners are more like this;

And as you soon find out if you regress to the past that Greenies want for all of us, those fires put out SOOT, which is the very stuff that Greenies also say is bad for us

To stop beating around the bush: Humankind has spent maybe a million years huddled around open fires so has evolved to tolerate heavy levels of particulate pollution -- far higher levels than one would normally encounter in modern Western society.  If we do get a load of particulate pollution, we just cough it up. Fine-particle air pollution is NOT bad for us

So a whole tradition of research exists only because of heavily compartmentalized thinking.

The boss of the NHS has declared an air pollution "emergency" as a major study today shows it causes hundreds of heart attacks and strokes every year.

Simon Stevens says we must act now to avoid so many "avoidable deaths" after figures reveal days of high air pollution trigger an extra 124 cardiac arrests, 231 stroke admissions and 193 hospitalisations for asthma across nine major UK cities each year.

Health charities today warn the figures could be just the “tip of the iceberg”, as often those suffering asthma attacks do not go to hospital.

The research by King’s College London, which is due to be published next month, is believed to be the first of its kind to analyse the impact of air pollution on health across different UK regions in this way.

In response to the findings Mr Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “As these new figures show, air pollution is now causing thousands of strokes, cardiac arrests and asthma attacks, so it’s clear that the climate emergency is in fact also a health emergency.

“Since these avoidable deaths are happening now - not in 2025 or 2050 - together we need to act now. For the NHS that is going to mean further comprehensive action building on the reduction of our carbon footprint of one fifth in the past decade.

“So our NHS energy use, supply chain, building adaptations and our transport will all need to change substantially.”

The new figures, released in partnership with UK100 a network of local government leaders, show the immediate, short-term impact of air pollution on the public.

Previous estimates have shown the long-term impact of air pollution cause up to 36,000 deaths every year.

Days where air pollution is more prominent typically occurs on hot, sunny days with little wind, because air pollution stays concentrated and closer to the ground

The nine cities analysed were London, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton.

The risk of having a cardiac arrest on the street or in your home is 2.2 percent higher in London on high air pollution days, than lower air pollution days.

This equates to 87 more people on average suffering cardiac arrest each year, while 74 children are admitted to hospital for asthma, and 144 adults are admitted for strokes.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “London’s lethal air is a public health crisis - it leads to thousands of premature deaths in the capital every year, as well as stunting the development of young lungs and increasing cases of respiratory illness."

In Birmingham, the risk of cardiac arrest is 2.3 percent higher on high pollution days, equating to an extra 12 people per year on average. In Manchester, the risk of cardiac arrest is 2.4 percent higher on high pollution days.

Dr Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at Asthma UK, said: "Toxic air is a scourge on the nation's health and this study shines a light on the devastating effects it can have on people with asthma, causing hundreds to be seriously ill and need hospital treatment.

“These figures may be just the tip of the iceberg as many people with asthma don't go to hospital when they have an asthma attack and try to manage it themselves and this research only focuses on people in major cities in England.

"We urgently need the Government to commit to a stronger Environment Bill with legally binding enforceable targets for clean air, based on World Health Organisation recommendations.”

To measure air pollution levels the researchers used data from the UK monitoring body, the Automatic Urban and Rural Network (AURN), which is published by Defra.

Data from Airbase, the European air quality database maintained by the EEA, was also used in the report.

They classed higher pollution days as those which fell in the top quarter of the annual average range.

To match higher pollution days with their impact on public health, the researchers used previous studies which have already highlighted this link, such as expert Committees reports, NHS statistics and studies from the World Health Organisation.

The number of additional patients suffering health impacts in each of the nine cities was calculated by mapping the rates of health impacts from previous studies onto the population size of the cities, and then quantifying this impact rate with the number of high pollution days.

Dr Heather Walton, from King’s College, said: “This wider range of impacts on our health provides additional evidence of the important need for further action to reduce air pollution.”

A Defra spokesperson said:  “We are taking urgent action to improve air quality and tackle pollution so people can live longer healthier lives.

“Our landmark Environment Bill will set ambitious, legally-binding targets to reduce fine particulate matter and increase local powers to address key sources of air pollution.

“We are already working hard to reduce transport emissions and are investing £3.5 billion to clean up our air, while our Clean Air Strategy has been praised by the WHO as an ‘example for the rest of the world to follow.”


Another dissenter purged

This is like the old Soviet Union. Whether Dr Crockford is correct in her assessment of polar bears is beside the point. Academics are allowed to have different opinions from their peers. I am particularly concerned about the anonymous admission half way down about getting "deniers" sacked.

Global warming campaigners have done an effective job at convincing the media and much of the world that polar bears are dying out.

It’s not true.

In fact, thanks to a hunting ban, polar bears are a major conservation success story.  Their population ballooned from around 5,000 in the 1960s to (depending on whose estimate) from 22,000 to over 30,000 today.  Today the North is loaded with fat, happy, fecund bears (sorry seals).

It appears that telling the truth about polar bears made Dr. Susan Crockford, a respected, published Canadian zoologist, the victim of an Polar bear expert purged 2ideological purge.  First she was removed from the University of Victoria’s speakers bureau, and then not renewed to her position as an adjunct professor.

“The loss of adjunct status,” Crockford wrote, “will primarily prevent me from continuing scientific research on speciation and domestication mechanisms in evolution: without an academic affiliation I will be unable to secure research funds or academic collaborations.”

But this woman of science is fearless.

“What a lack of academic affiliation has not done, and cannot do,” Crockford continued, “is stop me from investigating and commenting on the failures and inconsistencies of science that I see in published polar bear research papers and reflected in public statements made by polar bear specialists.  I am still a former adjunct professor and I will not be silenced.”

Free speech is anathema to the Left.

They don’t fear false or misleading information, that’s their stock in trade.  They fear the facts that prove them wrong.  They are prepared to wreak great harm on any who dare utter them.  They know they can’t silence Susan Crockford, but know also that harming her creates an atmosphere of fear that most others lack the courage to confront.

Warming campaigners are actively hunting scalps.  Take a look at this shocking anonymous admission from one of them that CFACT’s friend Russell Cook found, on of all places, CFACT’s own coPolar bear expert purged 1mment forum!

“You will be pleased to know that in the past two years I successfully had two deniers fired (forced resignations) from their university positions.  One was a prolific WUWT contributor.  I discovered a nice twist to the freedom of speech tale.  You can say almost anything except yell fire in a crowded room and are free to make a fool of oneself but can’t invoke one’s pedigree to do so i.e. you can state your doctorate or disciplines, but not your college, professional body memberships and imply they agree.  So that’s how I’ve been knocking them off by going to their employer, professional registration, professional memberships or their alma mater.  I have three scalps lined up now — infant stage But they will collapse like dominoes.”

Think of the malice and lack of respect and concern for others these people exhibit!  Academic freedom and the ability of all of us to participate in public discussion is truly under assault.

What would happen if our nasty commenters methods were applied equally to everyone?  How often do you read misleading and outright false pronouncements from climate campaigners in the press?  Do they not cite their academic and professional affiliations in their bios?

Donna Laframboise covered Dr. Crockford’s situation at Financial Post:

“Jeffrey Foss, a former chair of UVic’s philosophy department, says Crockford has been punished for speaking her own mind about matters of fact, which means she has been denied academic freedom and free speech. ‘I’m beginning to lose faith and hope in the university system,’ he says.”

Dr. Crockford said:

“It appears certain to me that the Anthropology Department bowed to pressure from the administration, who themselves bowed to pressure from outside the university community, in an attempt to stifle my legitimate scientific criticisms of polar bear conservation issues. This kind of bullying has been happening far too often at universities, even in Canada.”

The idea that climate pressure groups can demand unprecedented control over our economies, freedoms and personal lives, and obtain this without open public debate is monstrous.

Governments, universities, professional associations, the media and all institutions must be made aware of the dirty, destructive trick being played in the name of global warming.

We must insist on unfettered scientific discussion and the right of researchers like Dr. Susan Crockford, and each and every one of us, to speak without fear.


Swing Voters Hold a More Reasonable View on Climate Change Than the Debate Would Lead You to Believe

We’ve been conditioned to see the debate over climate change as a battle over extremes. On one hand, there are those who dismiss the notion of climate change outright. These people believe that it’s junk science or a hoax. On the other side of the argument are the climate activists who tell us the sky is falling and that we must act now to reverse the damage – actions that usually include draconian governmental policy.

Here’s the thing: both sides of this debate can’t rightly claim majority status. In an era of heated rhetoric, many people see climate change as an important but not urgent issue or at least don’t buy into the vitriol and hyperbole from either side.

(Full disclosure: I see differences in the climate, but I’m skeptical that manmade climate change is such a drastic issue or that we can really do that much about it. At the same time, I believe we should pursue free-market innovations that help us take care of the environment.)

It turns out that swing voters occupy a middle ground between the climate hoaxers and the environmental alarmists. Axios has detailed a series of focus groups that reveal how swing voters view the climate change debate. Amy Harder reports about the findings:

The participants were asked the following fill-in-the-blank exercise: Climate change is a ____. Of the more than 2 dozen responses, most (14) chose words that somehow described climate change as a problem, with “concern” being the most common word.

* Just 4 people chose words that made it clear they roundly dismissed climate change as a problem at all (like Trump), with one Obama-Trump voter calling it a joke and another saying it was “scientifically unproven.”

* Nobody described climate change as an emergency.

* Other words mentioned: “big issue,” “addressable issue” and “something scary.”

Harder draws these conclusions:

* Scientists are increasingly sounding the alarm about the mostly negative, and at times catastrophic, impacts that climate change is already having and is likely to have in the decades to come.

* But to people who are worried about paying big health care bills or losing their jobs in a matter of months due to a slowing economy, any problem playing out over decades will inevitably not rise to the top. Or, if it does make it to the top, it doesn’t stay there long.

At the end of the day, while the rhetoric over climate change has heated up to the extreme on both sides of the debate, swing voters – and arguably plenty of others among us – hold a more reasonable view on the issue.

It may behoove politicians of all stripes to remember that not everyone sees climate change either as a hoax or a hair-on-fire emergency. And politicians could benefit from remembering that, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, government isn’t the solution to solving environmental issues.


Desperation Grows: ’Exxon Knew’ Activists Publish ‘Report’ Ahead Of NY Trial

Exxon Knew protestersA group of activist researchers, known for their biased studies and their collusion with attorneys general and municipality leaders to target energy companies, released a new study that rehashes an old and debunked argument: that fossil fuel companies knowingly misled Americans about climate change.

The timing of the report comes as a desperate attempt to gain attention during the NY AG’s trial against ExxonMobil, a case that now deals with accounting practices and stands as wholly separate from the “Exxon Knew” campaign.

Potentially in recognition of the trial’s diminished prospects for their radical anti-energy campaign, researchers Naomi Oreskes, Geoffrey Supran and Ed Maibach are nevertheless using the trial as an opportunity to dust off their threadbare and false arguments.

New Name, Same Debunked Argument

The newly released report, “America Misled,” provides little new information and builds on a study from Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran in which the authors, making continuous references to their own prior work, analyzed a small, cherry-picked sampling of advertorials published by Mobil and later ExxonMobil in an attempt to conclude that ExxonMobil promoted a public position on climate change contradictory to its own internal documents.

In “America Misled,” the authors write that “Science denial continues unabated—in the last decade, content analysis of online misinformation has found the prevalence of science denial has been on the increase.”

Despite this claim, the authors only examine four internal company documents from 1977-1998 and a single ExxonMobil advertorial from 2000.

The paper does not mention that it is extrapolating ExxonMobil positions from separate Exxon internal documents (Exxon and Mobil did not merge until 1998).

What follows this “content analysis” are charts that use strawman arguments to present the side of “climate deniers,” attempting to connect these arguments with the single ExxonMobil advertorial presented.

It’s a cute exercise, cleverly designed to boil their debunked arguments down to simple, easily digested chunks of text with accompanying, colorful graphics. Left undisclosed is who funded and produced the slick paper.

Biased Scholars Seek Attention
Although the authors of the report claim to “offer insights of more than a decade of peer-reviewed research,” their past scholarly work as well as their advocacy and direct coordination with politicians, including the New York attorney general, raises questions about the credibility of their work as well as their ability to produce unbiased scholarship.

Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran have worked with each other in the past to produce biased scholarship which they claimed proved that ExxonMobil misled the public about climate change.

In fact, their research was biased, did not follow the best research practices and received criticism from other academics.

It’s unsurprising that this report, published in 2017, was not objective—Oreskes and Supran received partial funding from the Rockefeller Family Fund, a philanthropy that has repeatedly financed media outlets, other non-profits and activists who advocate for climate liability litigation.

Yet issues with the report went further than the bias of the funding source.

The report, which claimed to use ExxonMobil advertorials to demonstrate that the company held different internal views on climate change than it publicized, concluded that ExxonMobil’s internal documents and research “published from 1977 to 2014, were in line with the scientific thinking of the time,” yet the company’s public communications tended to sow doubt about the existence of climate change 80 percent of the time.

Yet, as EID reported at the time of the report’s publication, their sample size was not only small—comprised of only 36 “advertorials” published in the New York Times between 1989 and 2004, they also were not accounting for the fact that Exxon and Mobil were two separate companies that didn’t merge until 1999—a full decade into the years that comprised their puny sample size.

When broken down, only 11 of the advertorials examined by the researchers were published by ExxonMobil. Mobil—an entirely different company—had published the rest. But wait, there’s more:

“If Mobil and ExxonMobil were publishing these advertorials every Thursday for 15 years, why did the researchers only look at 36 of them? The authors claim that’s the number of advertorials published during the time frame that discuss global warming or climate change. But they didn’t pull these documents by themselves—they relied on a Greenpeace-run website called PolluterWatch to do that for them.”

Oreskes and Supran’s bias was inherent in the structure of their survey—they used a paltry sample size, selected by a biased third-party, to conduct academic research.

But their study’s methodology was also poorly constructed and received criticism from other academics.

Kimberly Neuendorf, a professor of communication at Cleveland State University with more than 40 years of experience with quantitative content analysis research, reviewed the Supran/Oreskes study.

Her published rebuttal found serious flaws and called the data analysis “unreliable, invalid, biased, not generalizable, and not replicable.”

Neuendorf was also critical about the study’s application of a method called “consensus measurement,” which she said was only used by a small group of researchers and was “not a standard, time-honored research technique.”

She wrote that because “the investigators using consensus measurement seem to be a relatively small group, with inter-citation and self-citation notable … [consensus measurement] has the potential to create an ‘echo chamber’ of reinforcing ideas, without critique and correction.”

The newly released report makes a similar error, with the authors self-citing more than a third of the time.


Great Barrier Reef has 'vibrant future', authority agrees

They are walking back their Greenie gloom

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has supported Environment Minister Sussan Ley's appraisal that the reef is "good" and has "a vibrant future". A Senate estimates committee hearing on Monday heard a downgrading of the reef condition from poor to very poor was a long-term forecast based on no action being taken on climate change.

GBRMPA chief executive Joshua Thomas said the out-look report was an assessment of the likely condition of the reef if a series of issues were not addressed. These included reducing global greenhouse gas emissions along with improving reef water quality, better marine park compliance, controlling crown of thorns starfish and reducing marine debris.

"The reef is a vast estate and many areas remain vibrant and ecologically robust," he said. "It continuo to be an extraordinary experience for visitors to the region, supporting beautiful corals and abundant marine life."

After her first visit to the reef as minister, Ms Ley said: "It gives me great heart and hope that the future of this magnificent part of the world is a good one." She said at the time the reef
was not dead, was not dying and not even on life support.

"Today we saw coral that was struggling but we also saw coral that was coming back, that was growing, that was vibrant"

Mr Thomas said Ms Ley had been "referring to the fact there are many areas, of the reef that remain vibrant and worth visiting and we support that statement". "It is also true that the reef over the past five years has been subjected to unprecedented changes, including those bleaching events in 2016-177 he added.

The authority's chief scientist, David Wachenfeld, told Senate estimates the outlook report was evidence-based. He said the downgrade from poor to very poor was the long-term outlook for the reef that was largely a consideration of the impacts of climate change on current green-house gas emissions trajectories.

From "the Australian" of 22 Oct., 2019


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