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Telegraph Repeats Fake “40000 Deaths Caused By Air Pollution” Claim

February 2, 2018

By Paul Homewood


The Telegraph likes to present short videos, apparently for people who can’t be bothered to read a proper article.

Often, these videos are extremely short and very simplistic.

The other day, they ran this piece, which lasted all of 1 min 49 secs, about Britain’s supposed toxic air pollution.

I was astounded to see this scandalously fake caption:




As we know, the most that has been argued is that there are around 40,000 premature deaths as a result of air pollution. But many may be no more than a week or two premature.

Even Greenpeace had to withdraw their similar claim last year.

In any event, the studies on which these numbers are based have been called into question as flawed.

For some reason though, the Telegraph did not mention the really salient facts. Such as the fact that emissions of air pollutants have been rapidly declining in the last two decades.



Or that levels of air pollution in the UK are extremely low by international standards:



No doubt this piece was written, as is usually the case, by some silly little journalist, fresh out of college, who believes everything he is told and has not learnt how to check out the real facts.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    February 2, 2018 2:32 pm

    “Somewhere between 30-40% of the particle pollution in our cities is coming from wood burning at home” – @DrGaryFuller #newsnight

    Then there’s the particulates from brakes & tyres – EVs & public transport are not blame-free.

  2. February 2, 2018 3:15 pm

    The journalist should have lived in Sheffield/Rotherham in the 50s before the Clean Air Act. Then he would have known what air pollution was really like.

    • Simon from Ashby permalink
      February 2, 2018 3:17 pm

      You used to be able to smell Sheffield as you drove past on the M1

    • catweazle666 permalink
      February 2, 2018 10:29 pm

      I experienced the last proper smog in Manchester in winter 1965 IIRC.

      Standing under an orange street lamp you couldn’t actually see the lamp itself, the whole world was just a sort of muddy orangey-brown, it took me around two hours to walk back from the pub, a walk that generally took around ten minutes and at one point involved going along a canal towpath and over a footbridge in the back end of Eccles.

      The whole city was closed down for three days.

    • February 2, 2018 10:30 pm

      Cardiff was bad in the good old days (1950s & 60s) until the 1968 clean air act.

  3. Tony Budd permalink
    February 2, 2018 3:23 pm

    Yes – those of us who lived in or near London in the 40s, 50s and 60s know what real air pollution was. When fog was described as “Can’t see your hand in front of your face” that was almost literally true: beyond about 3 feet (1 yard) everything was completely shrouded, and beyond 5 yards – nothing. Now fog is any mist that reduces visibility below 1km (or about 1,100 yards in old money).

  4. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 2, 2018 3:52 pm

    Another line from the “Project Fear” school of fake news.
    Apart from the points well-made by all above, there is the fact that over half of the PM2.5 in southern UK actually comes from EU (France mainly), and the UK, being an island, has a naturally high sea spray effect.

    The unwillingness (or inability) of journalists to question the drivel that they print is rapidly reducing their credibility world-wide. Newspapers for me are now mainly for sport, crosswords and puzzles, I get my news on the internet (carefully).

    • John Palmer permalink
      February 2, 2018 4:13 pm

      Quite so….

  5. Sam Duncan permalink
    February 2, 2018 4:15 pm

    “The Telegraph likes to present short videos, apparently for people who can’t be bothered to read a proper article.”

    I’m beginning to think I’m the only person on the planet who finds it easier, quicker, and less bothersome to read text.

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      February 2, 2018 11:57 pm

      There are at least 2 of us.

    • Russ Wood permalink
      February 3, 2018 10:01 am

      And trying to find out on the ‘Web how to do something computerish and complicated, in a set of instructions, one ends up having to wade through dozens of ‘YouTubes’ (which manage to explain nothing) before finding simple text descriptions.

      • dave permalink
        February 4, 2018 9:39 am

        “…simple text descriptions.”

        Reading an old pamphlet for the tenth time while sitting on…

        At last! I get it!

        On the general subject of what the MSM does – and how poorly it does it – this is exemplified by something recently from a lawyers’ website.

        The Telegraph ran a scare article about a technical point in taxation of landlords known as the “BICT issue.” A Tax Barrister writes about this article:

        “I actually spoke to the accountant and solicitor quoted in the Telegraph article. They admitted to me they knew very little about BICT [Point 1*] and had been misquoted by the newspaper [Point 2**]…The Mail ran a copy-cat article [Point 3***]…”

        * Journalists have no idea WHO to talk to.

        ** Journalists have no idea what their sources actually SAY, or they
        do not care.

        *** “Paste and Copy PLAGIARISM” rules.

  6. February 2, 2018 4:32 pm

    Less air pollution … more sunshine … a little warmer.

  7. dave permalink
    February 2, 2018 4:40 pm

    The MSM is – literally – incorrigible. I liken it to flesh-eating bacteria in hospitals.

  8. February 2, 2018 5:15 pm

    Curiously the same organ published this piece just nine months ago:

    Daily Telegraph 17/04/17

    Is our air worse than in the Fifties?

    Michael Fitzpatrick GP

    As somebody who groped his way to school through winter smogs in Sheffield in the Fifties and Sixties, I have always been sceptical about the claims of environmental campaigners that air pollution in British cities is now reaching critical levels of toxicity. I recall playing football on pitches where neither goal was visible from the halfway line. No doubt any therapeutic benefits were outweighed by the damage to our youthful lungs.

    Yet recent headlines proclaim that our children are being exposed to illegal levels of toxic air, and London mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a public health emergency. He quotes epidemiological studies claiming 9,000 Londoners are dying prematurely each year due to poor air quality. Estimates of national fatalities have increased from 40,000 to 60,000 per year.

    It is worth recalling that the Great Smog of December 1952, widely regarded as an environmental catastrophe, killed only 4,000 people in London. Can it really be true that air pollution is now killing more than twice that number every year in the capital, and 10 to 15 times as many nationwide?

    Well, no. On closer inspection, it turns out that these are not actual deaths, but estimates, produced by mathematical modelling, of the number of premature deaths that can be attributed to air pollution. The figures are derived from calculations of the “years of life” lost across the whole population resulting from the increased risks associated with particular pollutants. According to Cambridge risk statistician Prof David Spiegelhalter, another way of presenting the same data would be to state that the average loss of life expectancy over the whole adult population is… three days.

    It is true that the character of air pollution has changed. Whereas we inhaled soot and sulphur oxides as the by-products of burning coal, our children are now inhaling particulates and nitrogen oxides, partly because of the last Labour government’s “green” incentives to persuade us all to switch to diesel-fuelled cars.

    However, levels of particulates and nitrogen oxides have been falling steadily for decades – they are now about a quarter of what they were in 1970. It is also worth noting that air pollution in London is about one eighth of that in Delhi, a quarter of that in Beijing, and lower than that in Paris.

    In the words of Brighton respiratory physician Prof Anthony Frew, who served on the original Royal College of Physicians’ working party on air pollution, the claim of 9,000 deaths in London is a “zombie statistic – however much you try to kill it, it comes back and it’s simply not true”.

    • Mack permalink
      February 2, 2018 5:46 pm

      Well spotted Phillip. I think Dr Fitzpatrick rather adroitly puts a stake straight through the heart of this particular claim. Next!

  9. Bloke down the pub permalink
    February 2, 2018 5:15 pm

    Not to be left out, the BBC have today been re-hashing ‘all the Polie Bears are going to starve‘ stories.

  10. donald penman permalink
    February 2, 2018 8:48 pm

    I wonder how many more cold related deaths will occur if these forecasts for next week turn out to be correct and also note the forecast for a sudden stratospheric warming in the middle of February.

  11. Oh Dear permalink
    February 2, 2018 11:49 pm

    And, of the particulates, only 14% are caused by road transport. So scrapping all the diesels will not make a massive difference.

  12. Paddy permalink
    February 3, 2018 7:51 am

    No doubt this piece was by “Silly Jilly” Ambrose.

  13. Chris, Leeds permalink
    February 3, 2018 10:12 am

    The 40-60,000 total of pollution deaths would mean between 8-12% of ALL deaths in the UK each year. This must be nonsense. Given what air quality was like in the 1940s, 50s and 60s relative to today this would imply that practically everyone was dying of air pollution, which we know was not the case. Yet more computer modelling nonsense.

  14. Gamecock permalink
    February 3, 2018 12:51 pm

    The Gamecock Test: They are lying, unless they can provide a list of the names of the people who died.

  15. February 3, 2018 5:22 pm

    40,000 seems to be a go-to number.

    A few years ago, you posted an article by US Climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer, which said that likely some 40,000 in Europe had died during a cold winter due to the high heating costs imposed by the Green edicts.

    Are they just picking this up to call Spencer into question? Or do they actually think that much?

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