Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Undermining 50 years of gains. Wild claims from @wattsupwiththat

Sou | 3:35 AM Go to the first of 25 comments. Add a comment
Anthony Watts is stuck for superlatives. He's still recovering from the demise of the "pause" and his appalling reaction, then the Pope came out and spoke about the moral implications of climate change. Now The Lancet has hit him again. This time with a message about the health impacts of climate change. Anthony responded in the only way he knew how, he wrote a "claim" preface to his headline about the study. Not just any "claim" headline. This time it was a "wild claim". Here is the sum total of Anthony's thoughts on the subject: "Wild Claim: ‘climate change…could wipe out health progress over the past 50 years’". He was otherwise lost for words. (Archived here)

The passage below is from The Lancet report:
The implications of climate change for a global population of 9 billion people threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health. The direct effects of climate change include increased heat stress, floods, drought, and increased frequency of intense storms, with the indirect threatening population health through adverse changes in air pollution, the spread of disease vectors, food insecurity and under-nutrition, displacement, and mental ill health.

By now you've probably read about this article, which was released earlier today. The 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change comprises experts from all around the world. It has released a report that warns that climate change threatens human health, and describes just what that threat comprises. Below is a figure from the report. Click to enlarge it:

Figure 2 The direct and indirect effects of climate change on health and wellbeing There are complex interactions between both causes and effects. Ecological processes, such as impacts on biodiversity and changes in disease vectors, and social dynamics, can amplify these risks. Social responses also ameliorate some risks through adaptive actions.

From the press release at ScienceDaily.com:
The threat to human health from climate change is so great that it could undermine the last fifty years of gains in development and global health, according to a major new Commission, published in The Lancet.

However, the report provides comprehensive new evidence showing that because responses to mitigate and adapt to climate change have direct and indirect health benefits -- from reducing air pollution to improving diet -- concerted global efforts to tackle climate change actually represent one of the greatest opportunities to improve global health this century.

The potentially catastrophic risk to human health posed by climate change has been underestimated, say the authors, and while the technologies and finance required to address the problem can be made available, global political will to implement them is lacking.

You can read the full press release at ScienceDaily.com and the paper at The Lancet. It's open source, but you'll have to register to read it.

The report has good news and bad. The good news is that if we address climate change by cutting CO2 emissions and moving to clean energy sources, then human health will improve. If we don't, then human health will suffer. Yes, we all know all that. It's good that health professionals are getting on board and figuring out how health will be affected and what can be done about it.

From the WUWT comments

As Phil Clarke pointed out in the comments, The Lancet article brought out some of the worst at WUWT. The passage he quoted (warning) is still on display 14 hours later, despite some WUWT-ers complaining rather a lot.  (Sorry Phil - I've got a strong constitution but I couldn't tolerate that comment appearing here.) I guess that Anthony and his mods figure "in for a penny in for a pound" and no longer care what normal, decent people think of them. Here are some of the less obscene denier reactions from WUWT:

Grant talks about leaches (sic) and pariahs:
June 22, 2015 at 6:50 pm
I suppose that everyone needs to make a living even if it’s of the backs of us poor sap tax payers. I normally don’t like to be strident but these people are just leaches off the system and add nothing of value to our society. Poor asses would be on the streets if it wasn’t for the global warming mass psychosis.
They’ve joined the ranks of lawyers as pariahs. I’ve known a lot of lawyers and like them, but they will make work, like these people, if they need to.

Tim, like Anthony Watts, is stuck for words:
June 22, 2015 at 7:01 pm
Idiots. Idiots. Idiots. This drivel is making me sick.

ladylifegrows explains why CO2 is good for the human body:
June 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm
*sigh* and another one bites the dust. Lancet was once a high quality journal.
“Science” is becoming less reliable than religion. Dream up anything you want and because it occurred to you, with a mechanism, this is proof that you are right.
Carbon dioxide is GOOD for the human body because it makes you breathe better. 

hunter says something about grass, I think:
June 22, 2015 at 7:45 pm
That report is badly used bull food. 

indefatigablefrog says it's the world's longest running swindle. He or she enjoys a good conspiracy theory - and a bad one:
June 22, 2015 at 7:48 pm (excerpt)
It’s interesting that the Lancet have taken so willingly to this swindle.
It’s actually an extension of the longest running swindle in the history of the human race.

LarryFine is stuck for words, too.
June 22, 2015 at 8:34 pm
It really is disgusting now. 

Steve Lohr is another with a knee-jerk reaction. I don't think anyone at WUWT took the time to read the paper or consider that it has merit. Deniers huddle close to each other for comfort, knowing there are other people somewhere out there in cyberspace who think that all the world's scientists are "wrong".
June 22, 2015 at 8:16 pm
“Drivel”, “Demented schlock”, all absolutely appropriate. Here we are, reacting to what is so obviously nonsense. Lancet, shame, shame, shame! Like the American car industry, once you lose your credibility, you will never get it back. My son has a saying for it: If you put on the clown face, it’s really hard to get it off. Personally, I have had enough of the clown act. 

RiHo08 jumps from one food fad to another, and probably knows as much about climate science as he or she does about nutrition - zilch.
June 22, 2015 at 9:21 pm (extract)
As we have learned over the last 6 months or so, fat, that is lots of fat in our diets is good. Carbohydrates, particularly those in our crunchy granola diets, are bad. What a reversal in science. For four decades we and our food industry, our Michele Obama supported school lunch programs, have been wrong.

Dixon is driven by emotion rather than reason, which is a feature of climate science deniers.
June 22, 2015 at 9:58 pm
This article infuriates me. Lack of nutrition, contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation remain the biggest health threats to global populations outside the top richest few percent of lucky people. Hard to see how any plausible warming can make them worse, they are already terrible. At least cheap energy could bring to them what advanced economies have enjoyed for the past 75 years or so. And *if* the price we in advanced economies pay is a few extra deaths from heatwaves, it will be nothing to the alleviated suffering. Have any of these quacks been to a third world slum? Even if they haven’t, surely they can envisage the problems based on common sense?

M Seward is getting a bit overwhelmed by all the talk about climate change - and I think meant Paris, not Apris.
June 23, 2015 at 2:42 am
Gee this doom and gloom schtuff is coming thick and fast. Can you imagine what it will be like in the month before Apris?? 

References and further reading

Nick Watts, W Neil Adger, Paolo Agnolucci, Jason Blackstock, Peter Byass, Wenjia Cai, Sarah Chaytor, Tim Colbourn, Mat Collins, Adam Cooper, Peter M Cox, Joanna Depledge, Paul Drummond, Paul Ekins, Victor Galaz, Delia Grace, Hilary Graham, Michael Grubb, Andy Haines, Ian Hamilton, Alasdair Hunter, Xujia Jiang, Moxuan Li, Ilan Kelman, Lu Liang, Melissa Lott, Robert Lowe, Yong Luo, Georgina Mace, Mark Maslin, Maria Nilsson, Tadj Oreszczyn, Steve Pye, Tara Quinn, My Svensdotter, Sergey Venevsky, Koko Warner, Bing Xu, Jun Yang, Yongyuan Yin, Chaoqing Yu, Qiang Zhang, Peng Gong, Hugh Montgomery, Anthony Costello. Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health. The Lancet, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60854-6 (open source, reg req'd)

Climate change threatens to undermine the last half century of health gains - press release at ScienceDaily.com

Tackling climate change will reap benefits for human health - Roz Pidcock at The Carbon Brief


  1. Says ladylifegrows:
    " *sigh* and another one bites the dust. Lancet was once a high quality journal."

    Another major journal added to the vast list of institutions and scientists comprising the conspiracy to trick her(?). It never occurs to deniers that there might be the tiniest thing wrong with the notion that the whole rational world keeps lining up against them.
    Adam R.

  2. The WUWT article and comments are equally appalling. But I do wonder if the majority of people in the western world are any better. Because even if they accept the science, they continue to live their planet destroying slob lifestyles in the knowledge that they are participating in ecocide.

  3. There's been some amusing sniping at Lief Svalgaard on WUWT re sunspots. I've weighed in and defended him.
    Apparently it's OK to alter historical SS records ... well according to some (AW included).
    BTW: I'm not 100% but I've been getting a lot of adware/redirection type viruses lately and the only place I've been to more often is WUWT.
    I knew it was a bad habit - but it is such a source of fun.

  4. It is the equivalent of the passengers in an airliner telling the flight crew what to do. Bert

  5. Sou, *that* comment has been snipped now at WUWT.

    1. Good. It took a day or more plus multiple complaints. Still, better late than never. Would have been better still if it had never been there in the first place.

  6. Scottish sceptic thinks it's all rather fishy...

    "I woke up to very much the same carp!! And wrote this as a response:"

    1. Oh really now? If you think that's something to carp about, you should visit the thread just below this one, where they're trouting out all kinds of nonsense. For the birds, they are.

    2. And ATheoK points out a serious error by an earlier poster,

      “Europe did not grow corn till long after corn was brought to Spain inn the 1490s.”

    3. "Corn" merely means the dominant grain crop - so in England, "corn" before (and after 1490's) usually referred to wheat, but oats in Scotland. Its use to refer to maize probably came about because maize was the dominant grain crop in the Americas.

      The British "Corn Laws" regulated any grain crop, showing that the definition of corn to mean other cereals than maize was current in the 19th century.

      To avoid ambiguity, "maize" should be used instead of "corn," assuming that is the cereal crop meant.

    4. MSW, it's great to see someone after my own pedantic heart!

      It helps to know that "corn" derives from linguistic roots for "seed" or "grain", and it is in this sense that I always try to read it, except in obviously American contexts.

      Of course it makes me grit my teeth when I see the tautology "grains of corn"...

    5. Any reader of 19th century English literature has likely been thrown by references to 'waving fields of corn'; I could never work out how characters could just stroll through it admiring the sweeping view! (I'm Australian.) Took a while to figure out that corn = wheat, as well as corn = sweetcorn = maize...

      It's all just grass seed, folks! It's not always easy to remember that.

    6. I think we're all scarred Bill. For me it started young with Enid Blyton and then later with British traditional folk songs.

      It was a relief to finally crack an encyclopaedia and figure out what was acually being said...

    7. When I was a child, Australia was still mostly influenced by the British, so corn = wheat and maize=corn (US). When Australia became Americanised it became confusing, given that corn suddenly meant maize and sometimes people even ate the stuff (ie sweetcorn). :D

    8. My granddaughter calls sweetcorn yellow peas, thus opening a whole new area for confusion.

  7. ah yes....bought to you by the same people who 'discovered' the MMR/Autism link. And wasn't that a boon for child-kind?

    Still, it's saying the things we want to hear so let's all, as usual, accept it as Gospel.

    1. Only in your apparently twisted worldview was the Lancet responsible for the MMR/autism link, Alan. It was Andrew Wakefield's shoddy and conflict-of-interest driven research that was to blame. There's a very good explanation of the whole affair here:


      If anything, you could blame the peer review process for failing to spot the problems in Wakefield's original Lancet paper. But that's hardly the fault of the Lancet, as Wakefield wasn't being honest. It was largely through the tireless efforts of investigative journalist Brian Deer that the whole sordid tale was eventually unravelled.

    2. metzomagic, good response. Let us not forget that Deer found real, verifiable evidence of Wakefield's dishonesty, with a paper trail that made him look very guilty indeed. Let us not also forget the climate change denier journalists who made a whole mountain out of a couple of comments in 5000 emails. If climate change was a fraud, why haven't all those journalists who claim to be looking found a smoking gun? Can't be doing their jobs well.

    3. Yes. And the same people who diss the Lancet for one or two bad papers out of thousands top quality papers over decades, and ignore all the medical advances published there that have probably saved countless lives, will not bat an eye while their favourite denier blogs makes one wacky and wildly wrong claim after another, several times a day - with no consistency and not a scrap of science to back them up.



    4. Perhaps Alan is trying to be ironic. Its the Wakefields of climate science that the fanboys over at WUWT worship. The papers the Wutters accept (and which don't get Anthony's 'claim' treatment) are frequently debunked within days of publishing. Editors have resigned over some of them.

    5. "... for failing to spot the problems in Wakefield's original Lancet paper. "

      What problems were there in the paper? From what I remember it was a fairly straightforward description of something he did. That is, analyse DNA samples from the bowel from children with autism and who had the MMR vaccine(?) and detecting vaccine DNA. Publishing the paper may have been part of a bigger problem but I do not think there were any specific issues with the paper.

      Willing to be corrected if I am wrong.

    6. The disease test results reported in the paper were falsified and changed from their actual findings during the clinical trials. It is not the method in question (setting aside the pediatric ethics violations), it is that the paper was simply fraudulent.

    7. The best place to go to for the true jaw dropping story of Wakefield's fraudulent paper is Brian Deer's own site. He did brilliant research to uncover the sorry saga. Ironically, he also uncovered wrongdoings by the pharmaceutical industry yet still gets called a pharma shill.


    8. To add to Alexander's comment and rebut metzomagic's comment, the peer review process could not have found the problems in the paper, because the problems were in the falsified records. In addition, Wakefield significantly overinflated the results of the paper in press releases and interviews. Add the Conflict of Interest of Wakefield himself and of the recruited patients (read: their parents), and you have loads of problems that amount to wholesale fraudulent research that no peer review will be able to detect.

  8. I had a look at the Deer report and it is not the same paper I remember reading (several years ago).

    However I think the point I was making is, as Marco says, that peer review would not have been easily able to pick up the problems. So that is not the issue.


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