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McKitrick on Air Pollution: The models get ‘more deaths from air pollution than you were death from all causes’

April 10, 2017

By Paul Homewood



Further to today’s comments about deaths from air pollution, it is worth noting what Ross McKittrick had to say on the subject in 2014:



McKitrick on Air Pollution: The models get ‘more deaths from air pollution than you were death from all causes’ – ‘Particulates and soot are at such low levels in the U.S. — levels well below what they were in the 1970s. The health claims at this point are groundless coming from this administration.

I noticed these numbers coming up for Ontario for how many deaths were caused by air pollution. What struck me — was knowing that air pollution levels were very low in Ontario — but they were extremely high in 1960s. So I took the same model and fed in the 1960s air pollution levels into it: How many deaths would you get? I did the calculations and you quickly get more deaths from air pollution than you were death from all causes.

In other words, the streets would have been littered with bodies from air pollution if it was actually that lethal. The problem with all of these models is they are not based on an actual examination of death certificates or looking at what people actually died of — these are just statistical models where people have a spreadsheet and they take in an air pollution level and it pops out a number of deaths. But there are no actual bodies there, it is all just extrapolation.’


Unfortunately the link to the original interview with Sun News is now broken, but what Ross says rings true.

For instance, we know that in the UK emissions of most air pollutants have nosedived since 1990. (The only exception is ammonia, which I understand is agriculture related)




And as WUWT reports, despite similar drops in US air pollution, cases of asthma have actually increased in the same period.


The simple reality is that, since the Year Dot,  people have always died from respiratory diseases and associated problems, regardless of the cause.

To pretend that it has something to do with modern life is ridiculous.




  1. April 10, 2017 10:13 am

    Last week on radio
    \\Tony Frew, respiratory physician at the University of Brighton, told Julia Hartley-Brewer this is merely an example of a “zombie statistic”, meaning “however much you try to kill it it comes back and it’s simply not true.”

    ‘Sadiq Khan’s ‘40,000 pollution deaths a year’ is a zombie statistic and isn’t true, says respiratory physician //

    My notes

  2. April 10, 2017 10:15 am

    O/T Times p2 Nation proves economy can expand while emissions fall.
    “Britain has been the most successful of the G7 group of nations in boosting its economy and cutting climate emissions in the past 25 years, according to a report that suggests it is possible for countries to get richer and cleaner at the same time.”
    Note the cherry picking of G7, 25 years and terms: emissions and growth
    * Bet you didn’t guess it’s from ECIU ! *

    There’s a big editorial section as well

    • April 10, 2017 10:41 am

      Tomo reminds me Ah Yes actual research is credited to OECD
      But most of article is ECIU commentary

      Ah Yes actual research is credited to OECD
      But most of article is ECIU commentary
      No report found on OECD website
      Article ends
      “report was launched to coincide with Mission2020 an initiatice by Cristiana Figueres”
      Twitter has this
      Today @CFigueres launches #Mission2020 campaign to accelerate #ClimateAction. Watch live at 5pm CEST
      (link: #2020DontBeLate

      Stern will be there also

      • April 10, 2017 10:46 am

        Google London HQ 4pm

      • Sheri permalink
        April 10, 2017 12:05 pm

        Cristiana Figueres of “it doesn’t matter if the facts exist, it’s our chance to crush capitalism once and for all” fame?

  3. martinbrumby permalink
    April 10, 2017 10:27 am

    The rise in Ammonia levels is likely the product of the Greenies & the Beeb taking the piss.

    • Joe Public permalink
      April 10, 2017 12:51 pm


  4. Trevor Jones permalink
    April 10, 2017 10:37 am

    Looking at the statistics for percentage of the population with asthma it is interesting to note that London has one of the lowest incidences of asthma in the UK whereas West Wales and the North of Scotland have some of the highest. Must be all the diesel tractors!

    • April 10, 2017 9:57 pm

      partially it is cos urban health is more diagnosed than countryside etc.

  5. April 10, 2017 10:44 am

    I made the “stands to reason, dunnit?!” point yesterday. Air pollution is bad — no arguments from me on that — but the question is how bad?

    Once again the eco-fanatics go for the super-simplistic answer through the heartstrings without bothering with anything as inconvenient as facts.

  6. David Ashton permalink
    April 10, 2017 11:22 am

    Regarding asthma, A couple of years back I saw a colour coded map of the UK indicating incidences of asthma by region. East Anglia had the highest incidence, which suggests the cause is agriculture, maybe pollen related.

    • April 10, 2017 11:48 am

      Question: how often is “asthma” in reality “hay fever”? From my youth (not yesterday!) we ordinary humans have tended to play fast and loose with medical terms because we didn’t know any better.

      Yet again the enviro-activists have managed to make themselves heard, peddling their nonsense. There is a pretty close correlation between the decrease in air pollution and smoking and the increase in (genuine) cases of asthma over the last half-century but still they try to blame childhood asthma on air pollution. The sad, and dangerous, thing is that what is really the cause of this and other ailments gets lost in environmental politics.

      Ridley has a relevant article in The Times this morning, paywalled unfortunately. I’ll try to do a précis later today.

      • Sheri permalink
        April 10, 2017 12:15 pm

        When ever looking at diseases, you must take into account the changing diagnostic criteria (which gave an explosion of autism accompanied by millions in funding) over time. What was “mild asthma” and not treated is treated now and most certainly counted. People used to outgrow asthma (my husband did) but now they do not. Same for ADD. Diseases are lifetimes long. Why? I have no idea, but I am sure the diagnostic criteria has a lot do with it.

        Also, is COPD included in the stats? This is a huge number, at least in the USA, verified by the number of people dragging oxygen bottles around. Did it always exists but had no publicity because there were drug ads years ago? Who knows? Medical stats, even if you are trying to be accurate, are notoriously inaccurate due to changes over time in definitions, drugs and diagnoses.

        I think the major reason for all of this is people love to be sick. They proudly announce their COPD or ADD or autism. I’m surprised there are not t-shirts for all of these (or are there?). People are proud to be broken and defective. Means they never have to do anything. You can collect a check.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        April 10, 2017 12:39 pm

        Changing environment is also very important. When I grew up we started with an open fire that was then fitted with a gas fire. No central heating or double glazing. Anti-bacterial this and that didn’t exist. Now children grow up in sealed heated homes. Increases in the instances of asthma related to this changing environment would make interesting reading.

      • HotScot permalink
        April 10, 2017 1:16 pm

        @Mike Jackson

        Re: Matt Ridley. No need for the précis, just search for his blog, sign up for his emails and get his latest articles in your mailbox.

        I like Matt, a pragmatic, intelligent man.

      • April 10, 2017 3:05 pm

        Asthma is only 2 sentences & traces back 2001 New Scientist article
        “In the study area in south-western Ethiopia, around five percent of people have asthma in the city of Jimma, but only half a percent in the surrounding rural districts.
        The team found that infestation with two kinds of intestinal parasite, hookworm and the large roundworm Ascaris, both DECREASE a person’s risk of asthma. A heavy hookworm burden lowers risk by around two-thirds. Another common parasite type, Tricuris or whipworm, offers no protection.

        Previous studies have connected intestinal parasites with immune response related to asthma”
        Ridley explains that no other factor including air pollution could explain the change.

        His Times articles always appear on his blog the following week.

  7. April 10, 2017 11:33 am

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    First they demonised CO2 from petrol cars and now they are demonising diesel with an equivalent lack of supporting evidence. At what point will “they” listen to the actual science. This must demonstrate, as if we needed any more proof, that we lack high calibre scientists and engineers in parliament.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 10, 2017 12:42 pm

      Not just that but MPs with a grain of intelligence would also help. Interesting comment from Martin Bell – the former BBC reporter who became an independent MP – that MPs often voted for something they opposed and against something they supported courtesy of the whips. So much for parliament holding the executive to account.

      • April 10, 2017 9:26 pm

        No wonder trust in politics is so low.

    • HotScot permalink
      April 10, 2017 1:28 pm


      Sadly, facts and science have little place in the environmental debate, which is why the alarmists had so much success, they took the political route to prosecute their cause.

      Sceptics need to get smarter. We need to become more political to overcome their political shenanigans.

      Relying on the science is fruitless as most people fall asleep after the second paragraph of a scientific paper. On the other hand, they will avidly read the Guardian paper and gobble up all the distorted information written therein.

      Nor can Trump be relied upon, almost within his first 100 days, he has reversed his position on Syria, who’s to say his attitudes on CAGW won’t be reversed equally as fast?

      • April 10, 2017 9:25 pm

        I agree. It may be a coincidence but many more scientists are sticking their heads above the parapet to provide alternative theories. Trump may not live up to expectations but even a single term of “balanced” debate will make a fundamental difference. I do my bit as much as I can but there are only so many dinner conversations one can ruin. At the end of the day it is more likely to be greater public awareness of the costs that will swing the debate decisively.

      • HotScot permalink
        April 11, 2017 12:15 am


        “but there are only so many dinner conversations one can ruin”

        Have you and I not been in the same boat once too often?

        However, when repressing my natural over exuberance for the sceptic side of the debate, I now find that simply sowing the seed of doubt, by benign questioning of the alarmists position, does the trick.

        The point is rarely acknowledged, but frequently recognised.

        In other words, I no longer preach or lecture, I simply continue to ask really awkward questions, not confrontationally but in an inquiring manner, and provoke a debate in the company, rather than an argument amongst two opposing factions.

        It’s interesting to note that, over months and years, many ‘alarmists’ have sought me out for ‘for a chat on the quiet’.

  8. Jack Broughton permalink
    April 10, 2017 12:44 pm

    The signs have been around for a while that many of the old advocates of saving the world from AGW have moved across to saving us all from pollution.

    The UK has long had a sensible approach to reducing pollution based on BATNEEC (Best available technology not entailing excessive costs). The intent is to replace this with Saving thousands of lives……

    The statistical basis for the so-called longevity issue is all about strangling statistics until they give an acceptable result (i.e. generate fear). The proponents use so-called meta-analysis of data, which means multiplying uncertainty repeatedly but ignoring the errors to provide figures on increased mortality rates or shorter life-spans. When you examine the data in the WHO report and its sources, much of the particulate pollution in London (the only place that seems to matter) is from Europe, less of the NOx, So spending vast amounts on reduction has limited benefits (if any).

    The WHO calculated the reduction in life expectancy reduction for a child born today: this worked out at a few months: with no allowance for other advances in health care, but this is not scary enough so they focus on the vague value of extra deaths caused as this is scary because it is not understandable to the layman, measurable or even understood by the medical profession!

    All reminds me of the old Tom Lehrer song, Pollution.

  9. not banned yet permalink
    April 10, 2017 12:57 pm

    Original McKitrick article here:

    Air pollution death toll claims just blowing smoke
    Apr 07, 2011

  10. HotScot permalink
    April 10, 2017 1:42 pm

    Here’s an interesting little snippet. I have no idea of how scientific it is:

    Low emission diesel cars: A simple fact

    The next time someone tries to tell you that cars are the root of all pollution evil, here’s a tasty nugget to counter with. It would take 42 million Euro 6 diesel cars – almost four times the number on the roads – to generate the same nitrogen oxides as one UK coal-fired power station.

    I believe there are 6 or so functioning coal fired power stations in the UK

    So 42M x 6 = 252M cars.

  11. Athelstan permalink
    April 10, 2017 2:13 pm

    As has been said, statistics are always misleading, dependent on the who and the what ‘they’ wish to ‘say’.

    Wheels within wheels,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and your behaviours are causing the end of the world so cough UP!

    Using a morally lily white argument, one that is difficult to counter and that is the battering ram to force through a policy – whatever it be and with the green lobby – it’s a very well used tactic and in the meantime councils can augment their public sector pensions liability with infectious if not contagious zeal and ain’t it the beauty of it?

    We know this sort of statistical manipulation works two and fro, say if a hospital wanted to ‘massage’ some figures say for patients dying of secondary post op’ complications due to infections caught on the site and what a hospital pathologist, a coroner reports as ’cause of death’ sometimes is at variance with the facts, more specifically MRSA, C diff and a few others. Though, not least through staff not feeding and adequately caring for patients – but all those statistics have been neatly covered up, to wit: the NHS is a passed master.

    Then, a patient with pulmonary complications, has been subject to many and much pollution during a life time, who can say whether diesel car fumes have been the likeliest causation of said patient’s demise? Moreover, is medical science so advanced that it can say with certainty – what killed a particular patient? More usually is the case, is it not that, a ‘catch all’ – an umbrella term is used, ie, ‘death was from complications’ due to’ and with such and such – etc and then the dodgy statisticians can do their work, in all of its black arts.

    There are so many variables…………………… BUT!

    It is, very difficult not to surmise that, the ‘air pollution palaver’ is an utterly politically motivated ‘crusade’ and neither is it done for any altruistic benefit.

    Other than murder and by his/hers own hand, Human beings do die from just one single cause [maybe?] and then also from multiple factors, inclusive of lifestyle and any multitude of ‘outrageously fired slings and arrows’.

    Add to the mixer and be prepared…………..

    There are EU policy documents that state and openly that all fossil fuel powered vehicular traffic – ie individual car use – must cease after 2050 – emissions regulation, the drive against diesel car owners – the vehicle and direction is mapped, the nth degree is clear.

  12. NeilC permalink
    April 10, 2017 2:56 pm

    How come life expectancy has gone from age 40 in 1841 to 80 by 2011

    Typical scare mongering without any facts, once again.

    • HotScot permalink
      April 10, 2017 3:15 pm

      To a great degree, by reducing child mortality. Its not that we’re living much longer, we’re just not dying much earlier. If that makes sense 🙂

      • April 10, 2017 3:31 pm

        Right. Another example of the misuse of statistics (maybe deliberate; maybe not).
        If you could survive to majority there was a fair chance that you would live to a ripe old age.

        Admittedly, “ripe” used to mean about 75 and now means about 10 years older but the average lifespan of 40 included those who died soon after childbirth, and their mothers, mainly because doctors were coming straight from dealing with cadavers to assist at births.

        The biggest drop in infant mortality followed a determined effort to get those doctors and their filthy hands out of the maternity wards, at least until they had learned to wash!

      • dearieme permalink
        April 10, 2017 5:24 pm

        But life expectancy at 65 has increased too.

      • April 10, 2017 5:45 pm

        Statistics again, dearieme. The longer you have been beating the odds the greater the (statistical) chances that you will continue to do so. If you survive the first five years you are on course for a long life and the longer you live the longer the numbers tell you you will live.
        Theoretically if you live to 125 you should be immortal because no-one has ever died at a greater age than that!

      • HotScot permalink
        April 10, 2017 11:48 pm

        @Mike Jackson

        I would argue that the biggest drop in infant mortality followed a determined effort to get those doctors [and nurses, and pharmacists, and anaesthetists, and lab technicians, and trolley attendants, and patients etc] and their filthy hands out of the maternity wards, at least until they had learned to wash!

        And is hand borne infection confined to maternity units?

  13. Jack Broughton permalink
    April 10, 2017 5:15 pm

    When you manage to get through the medi-babble and statistical gymnastics, the main conclusion of the great studies that are regularly referred to is that if all the NOX and PM2.5 could be removed in London the longevity of people born today would increase by 9 – 16 months (the small print notes the considerable uncertainty in these numbers). The values of increased mortality rates etc. allow far more frightening headlines, (particularly, as they have no true meaning other than a statistical index).

    Investment in the NHS and reducing obesity would achieve a large multiple of what total NOx and PM2.5 removal could achieve at a fraction of the cost: but there are no invisible taxation opportunities in that line…… am I becoming cynical?

    The speculation about health and mortality risk will no doubt soon be at the 97 % of pollution experts agree that….. and the science will thus be proven. Been there before???

  14. April 10, 2017 5:34 pm

    ‘But there are no actual bodies there, it is all just extrapolation.’

    So fake news based on computer models. Heard it before somewhere?

  15. April 11, 2017 10:33 pm

    The models get ‘more deaths from air pollution than you were death from all causes’

    Makes no sense.

    Perhaps he said this – The models get ‘more deaths from air pollution than from all possible causes’

    The headline is word salad, too…


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