In the run-up to international climate change talks in Paris, and with pressure from the Pope to help “smoke out” Congress on “climate change denial,” the press celebrates a study purporting to show 3 million premature deaths per year globally from air pollution.
The most important component of pollution is said to be small particulates—smoke and dust, along with ozone. Cutting CO2 emissions would incidentally cut down on these particulates (PM2.5s) and allegedly postpone 3 million deaths from stroke, heart attack, chronic obstructive lung disease, acute lower respiratory infection, and lung cancer. The study was published in the Sep 17 issue of the prestigious British journal Nature.
Complicated mathematical models are used to extrapolate conclusions from small epidemiologic studies to the entire globe, notes Physicians for Civil Defense. They assume that all particles are equally deadly, no matter their composition, and that tiny exposures over time can be as bad as or worse than a big exposure all at once. They ignore other possible explanations for different rates of diseases in different locations.
The relative risks they calculate, of less than 2.0, are so low that most epidemiologists would disregard them. Moreover, promoters of draconian controls ignore a large body of evidence that contradicts these selected studies, states Physicians for Civil Defense president Jane M. Orient, M.D.
An inconvenient fact is that life expectancy in Shanghai (82.5 years), where one often can’t see through the densely polluted air, is greater than in any U.S. city of similar size.
To put the amounts in perspective, a “risky” level of PM2.5s may be less than 50 micrograms per cubic meter, which is on the order of one-ten-thousandth the amount of CO2 in air. It is 50 millionths of a gram dispersed in a thousand liters of air.
Many thousands of scientists could easily debunk the fallacy in demonizing miniscule amounts of tiny particles as a pretext for cutting off our access to affordable energy supplies. However, a new Inquisition is underway against dissidents from alarmist “climate change” orthodoxy. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and 20 climatologists suggested subjecting “climate change scoffers” to investigation and possible imprisonment under racketeering (RICO) laws.
“The ‘premature’ deaths allegedly prevented by drastic reductions in use of coal and transportation fuels are imaginary,” said Dr. Orient. “Deaths and poverty from energy starvation would be real, and worst in the poor countries the Pope claims to care so much about.”
“The best possible risk: benefit ratio is much worse than for picking up pennies in the path of a speeding steamroller,” she estimated.
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