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Latest report on pollution validates my Reason #4 for not supporting the status quo.

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Red Deer Advocate has a story detailing a report about our poor air quality being from human activities and needs government, industry and individual co-operation.
Anyone who has been following my blogs or reading my letters to the editor will know this is what I have been talking about for years. It also validates my reason #4 on why I cannot support the status quo blogged on Today Ville .com.
# 4 reason I cannot support the status quo is our air quality. We have the poorest air quality in Alberta and Alberta has the poorest air quality in Canada. Riverside Drive monitors have been in “requires immediate attention” range for years.
The report reads; “Red Deer air quality has exceeded national standards for fine particulate matter for three consecutive reporting periods — 2009-11, 2010-12, 2011-13.”
How long do we wait after the alarms go off, 5,6,7,8 years? The alarms started going off in 2009 and we watched, debated and waited for 8 years. I know we put up “Idle free zones” at schools etc. but we could have done more.
Part of the report talks about emmissions. Does it make any sense then to compartmentalize the city. All industries in the Northwest part of city, all high schools in the east/southeast extreme edges of the city, all new facilities built on the south side of the river creating a commuting city.
A blog I wrote in January, followed by CBC news from 2015 and a statement made by the Environment Minister.
My blog from January:
There are provincial quality standards for the air we breathe. Since 2010 our air quality has been in the “Requires Immediate Attention” category. The air in Riverside Park is the worst area in Red Deer. I have been writing about it for years.
A report came out, telling us to breathe easy, because downtown Edmonton is a little bit worse and downtown Calgary is worse yet. So Riverside Park is okay because it is only the 3rd worse in Alberta. Fort MacMurray was worse during the forest fires, but as a whole the oilsands city is better than Red Deer.
So, everyone relax, the air is worse in the concrete jungle in our 2 large cities, why worry? Lethbridge, has about the same population, and cleaner air, but we are better than Jasper Avenue by a point.
We can always console ourselves with comparing our air with Toronto.
How can we be so smug by comparing us to a high density area like downtown Calgary. If we wanted to live in an asphalt jungle with poor air, we would move there. If the air quality was better than all of Calgary or all of Edmonton, they would have reported it, but they didn’t. They found 2 areas, high density, high traffic areas that have poorer air and declared; we are not the worse. Let us celebrate.
Leduc has cleaner air, Airdrie has cleaner air, Nisku has cleaner air, and Lethbridge has cleaner air. Standards tell us, and have been for years, that “immediate action required” and I do not think that looking for pockets of poorer air is what they meant.
I guess I will have to be happy, that downtown Calgary and Edmonton have worse air than Red Deer. I am just giddy, not.
Compare apples with apples, and oranges with oranges. We know when we are being sold a line. By the way, the alarms are still going off. Remember” REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ATTENTION”.

“CBC NEWS” SEPTEMBER 9 2015
Alberta on track to have worst air quality in Canada
Red Deer has worst pollution in province, while 4 other regions close to exceeding national standards

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says the province is on track to have the worst air quality in Canada, and vows the government will put measures in place to reduce emissions from industry and vehicles.
“The time to act is long overdue,” Phillips said.
“We have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect the health of Albertans.”
Phillips made the remarks after seeing the results of the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards report, which show the Red Deer region has exceeded national standards. Four other regions — Lower Athabasca, Upper Athabasca, North Saskatchewan and South Saskatchewan — are close to exceeding national standards.
Phillips said there is no immediate health risk for people living in central Alberta.
“These results are concerning,” Phillips said in a news release. “We can’t keep going down the same path and expecting a different result. Our government has a responsibility to protect the health of Albertans by ensuring air pollution from all sources is addressed.”
The province will initiate an “action plan” to deal with poor air quality in the Red Deer area, a move she said is required under the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards.
The government said a scientific study looking into the cause of the air pollutants is currently underway, and people living in the Red Deer area, industry stakeholders and the provincial energy regulator will be consulted. That plan is expected to be complete by the end of September and will take Red Deer’s geography and air patterns into consideration.
As part of the plan, Phillips said the government will:
Review technology that could be used to reduce emissions.
Review whether polluters in Alberta are meeting national standards.
Look at other ways to reduce emissions, for example, ways to curb vehicle emissions.
The Pembina Institute, non-profit think tank focused on clean energy, was quick to follow up with its own statement about the air quality results, saying the report shows the need for a provincewide pollution reduction strategy.
“This new report adds to the mounting evidence that Alberta needs to reduce air pollution across the province. Measures that will produce more rapid results are also needed in the numerous regional hot spots identified by the report,” said Chris Severson-Baker, Alberta’s regional director at the Pembina Institute.
“The report shows that, unless emissions are cut, most of the province risks exceeding the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter. This places an unacceptable burden on people’s health and on the environment,” he said.
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment has also weighed in on the report, saying it is “dismayed, but not surprised” by the findings.
“This calls into question the pervasive belief that the clear blue skies of Alberta foster clean air, safe from the pollutants better known from smoggier climes,” said Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room doctor and member of the association.
Phillips blamed the previous Tory government for contributing to the rising pollution levels, saying the PCs resisted meaningful action on climate change.
Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards are national standards for particulate matter and ozone exposure. This is the first year of annual reporting by all provinces and territories.
The Alberta government is now working on a climate change policy to take to the United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris this fall.

Shall we continue to debate? Let the province do something? Revisit this issue in 2021 election? Should we look at it starting with planning? Could we start by building a high school or a new recreation centre north of the river? Could we look at putting some industrial parks south of the river? Could we look at planning for less commuting? Can we start with small steps instead of waiting? I hope so.

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Environment

Bjorn Lomborg shows how social media censors forgot to include the facts in their fact check

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From lomborg.com

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. The Copenhagen Consensus Center is a think-tank that researches the smartest ways to do good. For this work, Lomborg was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. His numerous books include “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet”, “The Skeptical Environmentalist”, “Cool It”, “How to Spend $75 Billion to Make the World a Better Place”, “The Nobel Laureates’ Guide to the Smartest Targets for the World 2016-2030” and “Prioritizing Development: A Cost Benefit Analysis of the UN’s SDGs”.

The heresy of heat and cold deaths

A group of campaign researchers try hilariously, ineptly — and depressingly —to suppress facts

TL;DR. A blog, claiming to check facts, does not like that I cite this fact: the rising temperatures in the past two decades have caused more heat deaths, but at the same time avoided even more cold deaths. Since this inconvenient fact is true, they ignore to check it.  Instead, they fabricate an absurd quote, which is contradicted in the very article they claim to ‘fact-check’.

166,000 avoided deaths

Cold deaths vastly outweigh heat deaths. This is common knowledge in the academic literature and for instance the Lancet finds that each year, almost 600,000 people die globally from heat but 4.5 million from cold.

Moreover, when the researchers include increasing temperatures of 0.26°C/decade (0.47°F/decade), they find heat deaths increase, but cold deaths decrease more than twice as much:

Or here from the article:

The total impact of more than 116,000 more heat deaths each year and almost 283,000 fewer cold deaths year is that by now, the temperature rise since 2000 means that for temperature-related mortality we are seeing 166,000 fewer deaths each year.

Climate Feedback

However, this is obviously heretical information, so the self-appointed blog, Climate Feedback, wants it purged. Now, if they were just green campaigning academics writing on the internet, that might not matter much. But unfortunately, this group has gained the opportunity to censor information on Facebook, so I have to spend some time showing you their inept, often hilarious, and mostly nefarious arguments. The group regularly makes these sorts of bad-faith arguments, and apparently appealing their Facebook inditements simply goes back to the same group. It is rarely swayed by any argument.

They never test the claim

Climate Feedback seemingly wants to test my central claim from the Lancet article that global warming now saves 166,000 people each year, from my oped in New York Post:

But notice what is happening right after the quote “Global warming saves 166,000 lives each year”. They append it with something that is not in the New York Post. You have to read much further to realize that they are actually trying — and failing — to paste in an entirely separate Facebook post, which addressed a different scientific article.

It turns out, Climate Feedback never addresses the 166,000 people saved in their main text. “166” only occurs three times in the article: twice stating my claim and once after their main text in a diatribe by an ocean-physics professor, complete with personal insults. In it, the professor doesn’t contest the 166,000 avoided deaths. Instead, he falsely claims that I am presenting the 166,000 as the overall mortality impact of climate change, which is absurd: anyone reading my piece understand that I’m talking about the impact of temperature-related mortality.

Perhaps most tellingly, Climate Feedback has asked one of the co-authors of the 166,000 Lancet study (as they also very proudly declare in their text). And this professor, Antonio Gasparrini, does not only not challenge but doesn’t even discuss my analysis of the 166,000 avoided deaths.

Climate Feedback not only doesn’t present any reasonable argument against the 166,000 avoided deaths. It has actually asked one of the main authors of the study to comment and they have nothing.

In conclusion, Climate Feedback simply has no good arguments against the 166,000 people saved, and yet they pillory my work publicly in an attempt to censor data they deem inconvenient. . That academics play along in this charade of an inquisition dressed up ‘fact-check’ is despicable.

Rest of Climate Feedback’s claim is ludicrously wrong

So, beyond the claim of 166,000, Climate Feedback is alleging that I say the following: “those claiming that climate change is causing heat-related deaths are wrong because they ignore that the population is growing and becoming older.”

This is a fabricated quote. I never say this. Climate Feedback has simply made up a false statement, dressing it as a quote of mine, even though I never claimed anything like this. This is incredibly deceptive: it is ludicrous to insist that I should argue that it is wrong to claim “climate change is causing heat-related deaths.” I simply do not argue that “climate change is not causing heat-related deaths”

Up above I exactly argued that climate change causes more heat deaths. My graph shows that climate change causes more heat deaths.

And I even point out exactly that the temperature increases cause heat deaths in my New York Post piece:

“As temperatures have increased over the past two decades, that has caused an extra 116,000 heat deaths each year.” Sorry, Climate Feedback, but the rest of your claim is straight-out, full-on stupid.

Evaluation of Climate Feedback’s review

So Climate Feedback is simply wrong in asserting that I somehow say climate change is not causing heat-related deaths — because I do say that, even in my New York Post article:

Climate Feedback doesn’t show anywhere in their main text how the 166,000 avoided deaths are wrong. They even ask one of the main authors of the study, and that professor says nothing.

Conclusion

Climate Feedback’s deceptive hit job is long on innuendo and bad arguments (see a few, further examples below). But the proof really is in the pudding.

They make two central arguments. First, that my claim of “Global warming saves 166,000 lives each year” is incorrect. Yet, they never address this in their main text. And while they get information from one of the main authors of the Lancet study that is the basis for the 166,000 lives saved, they get no criticism of the argument.

Second, they assert that I somehow say that it is wrong to claim climate change is causing more heat-related deaths, which is just ludicrous because I make that very point, even in my New York Post article:

Verdict: Climate Feedback is fundamentally wrong in both their two main claims.

Additional point: It really shouldn’t be necessary to say, but you can’t make a ‘fact-check’ page, write page after page of diatribe, ignore the first main point and bungle the other main point, and then hope at the end nobody notices, and call my arguments wrong. Or, at least, you shouldn’t be able to get away with such nonsense.

Two examples of the inadequate arguments in the rest of Climatefeedback

Lomborg doesn’t have a time machine

Climate Feedback asks professor Gasparrini, co-author of the Lancet study above. He doesn’t cover anything on the 166,000 deaths avoided. Instead, his text entirely discusses a 2016 WSJ article where I used his 2015-article but he criticizes me for not citing his 2017 article:

The reason I didn’t cite his 2017-article is of course that I didn’t have access to a time machine when I wrote my article in 2016.

Indeed, I have corresponded with Professor Gasparrini several times later about his 2017-article. And yes, his 2017-study indeed shows that at very high emissions, additional heat deaths will likely outweigh avoided cold deaths towards the end of the century. But his study also shows that all regions see additional heat deaths vastly exceeded by extra avoided cold deaths from the 1990s to the 2010s — the exact point I’ve made here.

Serious academics take into account population growth and aging

In a refreshing comment, Climate Feedback asks Philip Staddon, Principal Lecturer in Environment and Sustainability from the University of Gloucestershire to chime in. He says, that I’m wrong to criticize the lack of standardization from population growth and aging, because clearly “all serious academic research already takes account of population growth, demographics and ageing”:

I, of course, entirely agree with Staddon, that all serious academic research should do that. But the research that I have criticized has exactly not done so, resulting in unsupported claims. So, for instance, in the Facebook post that Climate Feedback discusses, I show how CNN believes that a study shows a 74% increase caused by the climate crisis:

This is based on not adjusting for population and age, and is actually from the press release of the paper (and in table S6 in the paper).

Likewise, Staddon might have noticed that a very high-profile editorial in the world’s top medical journals made that very amateurish mistake. They argue that temperature increases over the past 20 years have increased deaths among people 65 and older:

But they cite numbers that are not adjusted for age or population — indeed the world’s population of people above age 65 has increased almost as much:

I absolutely agree with Principal Lecturer Philip Staddon on the necessity of making sure that good arguments in the public sphere are adjusted for population and aging before blaming climate. Unfortunately, they often aren’t

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COVID-19

Ethics prof at one of Canada’s oldest universities on temporary paid leave for stance against forced vaccinations

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Huron University in London, Ontario, was incorporated way back in 1863 as one of the founding colleges of Western University.  Western is one of the largest universities in Canada.

On the University’s website under academic objectives, Huron University strongly encourages “critical thinking through excellent teaching and research”.  But it appears critical thinking may have landed a university ethics professor in a career ending dilemma. Dr. Julie Ponesse has been teaching Ethics at Huron for 20 years.  Dr. Ponesse says the University of Western Ontario has barred her from campus and put her on temporary paid leave for taking an ethical stance against the University’s vaccine policy.

Here is the first measure of that policy as highlighted on the University website.

  • Mandatory Vaccination on Campus: Huron and its affiliate partners are implementing a vaccination policy which will require proof of vaccination or have an exemption in order to come on campus, including living in residence. Those with an exemption must be tested for COVID-19 twice weekly. There is no testing option for those who choose not to be vaccinated. Those without proof of vaccination or an exemption will not be permitted on campus.

Professor Ponesse says just a few days before the school year began, she was mandated by her employers to take the vaccine immediately.  As an Ethics educator she decided it was her job to teach her students it’s ethically wrong to force people to take a vaccine.  Instead of lining up for the jab, Dr. Ponesse went to her office and recorded a video which has now been seen across Canada tens of thousands of times.  At the end of the video a statement appears indicating Professor Julie Ponesse was dismissed by her employers on September 7.

The video is being shared and commented on by Canadians from coast to coast, in various social media platforms.  It’s a fascinating discussion on ethics in a terribly confusing and controversial time, by an experienced ethics professor who has courageously put her ethics ahead of her career.

The video has been taken down by both Facebook and Twitter for statements Ponesse makes about the effectiveness of vaccines.  This video was reloaded to Facebook.  Supporters of Dr. Ponesse have also posted it to Instagram.  We’ve posted two links in case one is taken down yet again.

 

 

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