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The Lancet’s Duplicitous Climate Report

December 20, 2019
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By Paul Homewood

 

 The Lancet has published its latest annual report on health and climate change, which inevitably orders us to stop using fossil fuels or the kids will get it!

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https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)32596-6/fulltext#seccestitle70

It is the usual load of overhyped rubbish of the sort we have seen in previous years.

The Executive Summary contains a number of questionable claims and statements, which seriously undermine the reports integrity and reliability:

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For a start, it claims that a child born today will experience a world that is more
than four degrees warmer than the pre-industrial average.

Really? A temperature rise of three degrees in 50 years or so? Even the highly discredited climate models don’t regard this as realistic. For the Lancet report to state this as a bald fact calls into question the objectivity of its contents.

Food yields

The report then goes on to talk about downward trends in global yield potential since 1960.

This assertion is based solely on a single theory about crop growth duration:

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This may be a wonderful theory, but surely there are many other factors to be taken into account.

For instance, longer crop growth cycles must surely increase the risk of bad weather at the start or end of the growing season. For instance, late frosts in spring, or cold wet days in late summer/ early autumn. Certainly there were very real concerns about the impact of global cooling on harvest back in the 1970s.

Warmer climates also mean that farmers can optimise their growing seasons, often sowing two lots of seeds a year.

Then there is also the undoubted benefit of carbon dioxide greening.

This obsession with one single theory also totally ignores the presumption that society will inevitable react to such circumstances. Given that mankind will have decades to adjust to a slight rise in temperatures, surely farmers and governments will readily adapt to such change? For instance, if hotter summers really are such a disaster, farmers will simply plant their seeds a couple of weeks earlier. Or plant something else?

We know for a fact how far agricultural practices have advanced in the last fifty years. Why do we have so little confidence in the ability of future generations to do the same? After all, fifty years is a hell of a long time.

In short, to make such a definitive and highly charged claim on a matter of deep significance, based on just one unsubstantiated theory is scandalous. To present is as “fact” is even worse.

Yet nowhere in the Lancet report, as far as I can see, is there are any recognition of the fact that actual cereal yields have rocketed since 1960:

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http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#compare

There may be many reasons for this, but there is little doubt that a war on fossil fuels would put much of this at risk.

 

Health impacts

Lancet then proceeds to list all sorts of ways in which health is already being impacted by climate change, including disease transmission, air pollution, extreme weather (which apparently will affect women more- yes, that’s got me and all!), wildfires, heatwaves and goodness knows what else.

Yet tucked away in Fig 5 is the dirty little secret, that mortality rates from climate related causes have been plummeting since 1990:

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Figure 5: Global trends in all-cause mortality and mortality from selected causes as estimated by the Global Burden of Disease 2017 study52 for the 1990–2017 period, by WHO region

The only exception has been dengue fever, principally in SE Asia. The fact that the increase is concentrated in one geographical region must immediately raise the suspicion that this has nothing to do with climate, and instead is down to local factors.

As real experts on vector borne diseases have repeatedly made clear, the principal reasons for the recent increased incidence of dengue are demographic and societal, such population growth, urbanisation, lack of proper mosquito control, increased air traffic, and the discontinuation of eradication programmes in the 1970s.

Urbanisation is a particularly important factor. Not only does urban crowding along with the inevitable poor quality water and sewage systems, create ideal conditions for increased transmission of mosquito-borne diseases in tropical urban centres. Urbanisation also provides ideal breeding grounds for the mosquitos, because the larva thrive in rubbish dumps full of plastics, tyres and such.

So, despite all of the report’s claims of climate change’s impact on health, it is evident that people around the world are not only living longer on average, but mortality rates due to the very same climate related factors hyped by the Lancet are also falling.

 

It is worth taking a closer look at some of the specific claims in the report:

 

1) Air pollution

It quotes total air pollution deaths of 7 million a year, but nowhere does it mention that millions die from indoor air pollution.

Neither do they mention that levels of air pollution have been in freefall in recent decades in the West. What countries like China and India do is their decision alone, and has nothing to do with The Lancet. But as their economies develop, it is likely that they will improve their air quality in the same way western nations have.

The report also ignores the massive technological improvements that have done so much to clean the air, such as clean burning coal and gas power stations, and low emission cars.

 

2) Extreme weather

According to the report:

Later in life, families and livelihoods are put at risk from increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather conditions.

But there is no evidence offered that extreme weather is on the increase. Their claim is based on the EM-DAT data from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. But as we already know, the Centre itself admits many disasters were not recorded in their database in the past, making long term trends meaningless.

 

3) Wildfires

It is claimed that more people are now exposed to wildfires than in the period 2001-14.

It is simply absurd to pretend that the climate has changed so much in just a decade. There will of course be demographic factors at play here, increasing population, migration, clearing of land for agriculture and so on.

But the bottom line is that the global area burnt in wildfires has actually declined in recent decades.

4) Heatwaves

They inevitably make a big play about the effect of heatwaves on health, yet ignore the fact that many more people die from cold weather.

Some might argue this is a startling omission, given the fact that The Lancet itself published a study in 2015, which showed that deaths from cold weather far exceeded those from hot, even in tropical areas such as Thailand.

 

5) The effect of heat on labour productivity

They claim that:

In 2018, 133·6 billion potential work hours were lost globally, 45 billion more
than the 2000 baseline.

Needless to say, these are not measured numbers, but the product of modelling that do not necessarily reflect reality.

The first thing to note is that the most heavily populated places on earth tend to be the very places they have highlighted. And there is a very good reason for that – hot climates are more productive.

But the Lancet study also misses something extremely important. Humans adapt. Moreover, technological improvements now make manual far less demanding than it used to be. For instance, mechanisation reduces both workload and effort. Better irrigation systems remove the need to carry water by hand. Seed development, pestkillers, fertilisation and so on all improve human productivity.

In short, workers don’t have to work as many hours to produce the same amount as they would have done in the past. That means they can rest at the hottest times of the day.

According to the report’s map, India is worst affected:

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Yet if we look at the value of agricultural output (at constant prices), we find that it has been shooting upwards in India, particularly since 2000, the period The Lancet say has seen massive loss of labour productivity:

chart

 http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#compare

 

The Lancet long ago sold its soul to climate alarmism, so none of this comes as any surprise.

But the real tragedy is that there are so many health problems out there in the real world, which can only be solved by lifting third world countries out of poverty.

The Lancet’s obsession with climate change will, I suspect, simply make things worse.

44 Comments
  1. December 20, 2019 2:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

  2. December 20, 2019 2:53 pm

    The problem with our elites and their publications such as Lancet is their loss of common sense and embracement of anxiety. Even a brief look at actual reality shows that there is nothing to fear. If Lancet were a patient any competent doctor would diagnose it was suffering from anxiety or even depression.

    • Adrian, East Anglia permalink
      December 20, 2019 6:19 pm

      In other words, The Lancet is exhibiting the very definition of an ‘existential crisis’!!!

  3. jack broughton permalink
    December 20, 2019 2:58 pm

    I’ve written a number of letters to Lancet but they do not even respond. Their climate committee is entirely green-activists and they follow the BBC line that the science is proven and cannot be debated.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      December 20, 2019 10:24 pm

      The science may be “proven” but these ridiculous scare stories are not. Many have in fact been debunked before.

      Thd sinplecand undeniable truth is that the world today is the best it has ever been. Poverty is at an all time low, longevity at an all time high. Child, infant and maternal mortality at all time low, wealth at an all time high. Many diseases have vanished or nearly vanished. Food production is at an all time high with yields at record levels.

      To present the opposite is to lie. To present possible future events as facts is to lie.

  4. December 20, 2019 3:02 pm

    Well done Paul for pulling all this information together. Have you thought of sending it as a letter to the Lancet?

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      December 20, 2019 8:50 pm

      If he does, Phillip, he could remind them that the first rule of the medical profession, whom they represent in some way, is: ‘first, do no harm’.

      They might reflect on the fact that climate change is not a one-way street: cold brings greater harm – and that scepticism, which doctors need to keep in their toolkit, is something that will help prevent harm.

      Unfortunately, the editors of the Lancet have sold their souls to the CC devil. What price, doing harm?

      • RICHARD JARMAN permalink
        December 21, 2019 9:12 am

        A doctor should practice evidence based medicine – the same obviously seems not to apply here – second opinion please

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 21, 2019 9:57 am

      I think you will find that they are wilfully ignorant and are not interested in being better informed. The creeping cancer of leftism has made the elite believe they are never wrong and so need no guidance from outside the bubble.

  5. Jason permalink
    December 20, 2019 3:17 pm

    You’re far too kind to The Lancet. The 4 degee tosh is an outright lie because it gives the impression this is what a newborn will experience today…..lrt alone the fact that it’s an exaggeration of predictions that are themselves based on flawed and biassed computer modelling. Outrageous stuff.

  6. Dave Ward permalink
    December 20, 2019 3:31 pm

    “Which apparently will affect women more”

    All they need to do is “Identify” as men, and this particular problem will be solved…

    • Joe Public permalink
      December 20, 2019 6:47 pm

      +1

  7. john cooknell permalink
    December 20, 2019 3:48 pm

    There are two types of scientific garbage, ordinary and official. This comes in the official class.

    • Jason permalink
      December 20, 2019 7:42 pm

      Don’t exaggerate. It’s not scientific garbage.

      Just garbage.

      • dave permalink
        December 21, 2019 10:09 am

        Doctors are not scientists. At best,they are users of science.

        Their training is just thirty years of blindly “lapping it up.”

        I have a niece who is 34, and she is still having to take examinations, before she can be given the official seal of approval as “specialty trained.” She just failed an exam, and is revising for a re-take.

        The LAST thing on her mind is questioning whether anything in the cramming text is actually wrong or stupid.

        The other thing about doctors is that they form a conscious mafia.
        At University, “the medics” stop talking to other students within a month of starting their studies. Their life-long contempt for non-medics is immense.

        Occasionally, one of them becomes uneasy about the “we are Gods” rubbish. The doctor-daughter of a neighbour did become “sick of it all” – and resigned to become a Chartered Accountant!

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      December 22, 2019 1:28 pm

      ‘Official’? I read that as offal. Works for me.

  8. Broadlands permalink
    December 20, 2019 4:01 pm

    I tried to find some evidence to support their deep concerns. But of course it all goes back to the many dire predictions, the forecasts of climate models. That’s it. A climate catastrophe is expected to be imminent. It is expected to affect not just children…Everyone is vulnerable.

    Solution? Lower your carbon fuel emissions ASAP! Problem is expected to be solved? Everything is expected except the truth?

  9. December 20, 2019 4:30 pm

    Looks like the overall death rate is highest in Europe. Rather misleading, simply reflecting that other regions have faster growing populations. Life expectancy would be a better variable to show.

    Any measures to reduce CO2 emissions aren’t going to reduce any of the problems they list. Meanwhile, development and increased wealth would save, potentially, hundreds of thousands from things like TB.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      December 20, 2019 10:26 pm

      And that Europe has an aging population. When the old make up a larger percentage of your population, your death rate will be higher.

      Its utterly dishonest to not adjust for demographics. Or just ignorant.

  10. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 20, 2019 5:48 pm

    I do not know what it will take to rid our institutions of Lysenkoists. A starting point has to be finding politicians willing to cite debunks of their nonsense, rather than parrotting it instead.

    • Steve permalink
      December 20, 2019 9:37 pm

      At least the USSR experience of false science was not enough to affect the whole world. When our medical establishment is taken over by unscientific dumbos it is seriously worrying. Fortunately, most of our doctors are more sensible. How many of other professions respect their political professional institutions?

  11. Pancho Plail permalink
    December 20, 2019 6:03 pm

    Well, who to believe? I have just read Matt Ridley’s piece in the Spectator and then I see this from the Lancet. Ridley points to improvements in almost all the metrics used for the well-being of the human race over his lifetime, showing that people all across the globe are better off in all respects, and then we get this, frankly, garbage from the Lancet which supposedly represents a profession that is dedicated to caring.

  12. Joe Public permalink
    December 20, 2019 6:06 pm

    It hardly matters what happens to plant yields, if effective affordable energy isn’t available for them to be harvested in a *timely & swift* manner.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      December 20, 2019 6:20 pm

      Now imagine that picture if all the combines (and the tractors carting the grain away) were electric, and could only work for 4 hours, followed by a similar time recharging. Always assuming the field had a substantial 3 phase HV power line close by…

      • Broadlands permalink
        December 20, 2019 7:05 pm

        Dave…That’s precisely what would happen if the climate alarmists insist on lowering carbon fuel (petrol/gasoline) emissions ASAP. The difference, of course, There are no PV combines and tractors ready for sale globally. Not even very many electric vehicles of any kind. Sooner or later, they might realize that…but I’m not optimistic. There is too much to lose by admitting it.

      • Malcolm Skipper permalink
        December 20, 2019 8:22 pm

        In the Middle Ages an acre was the area an ox could plough in a day. In reality it was only half a day because the ox needed to graze for half a day to restore its energy. ‘Electric harvesters’ – really ‘medieval’!

      • Gerry, England permalink
        December 21, 2019 9:56 am

        They will have a diesel generator on standby….

  13. Luc Ozade permalink
    December 20, 2019 7:31 pm

    Nice work, Paul.

    It’s a disgrace that a previously well-respected medical journal should have allowed itself to be taken over by a bunch of lying, gullible, alarmists.

  14. john cooknell permalink
    December 20, 2019 8:30 pm

    In an incredible story of human adaptation, the aggregate global risk of mortality to extreme weather declined by over two orders of magnitude over the past century.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2452292918301449

    Click to access goklany.pdf

    https://ourworldindata.org/natural-disasters#number-of-deaths-from-natural-disasters

    So the Lancet article is totally flawed, just concentrates on one disease, provides no proof that this one disease is enhanced by climate emergency, disruption, flood, drought or something, then formulates amazing conclusions (they just made it up) written by total idiots, reviewed by even greater idiots. Knighthoods and Nobel prizes guaranteed!

  15. Athelstan. permalink
    December 20, 2019 9:23 pm

    Blooming blazes, when did so called medics become advocates and lying advocates at that!

    Whom do they employ to pen this utter rot?

    Good Lord, it’s straight out of the anals (yes an A missing there) septic science/ gween pi**. For printing it under the lancet title is a slack minded disgrace, someone should cut it out and cauterize the wound – the detritus needs chucking away.

    Once again Paul, with a lancet you filleted them, and in the same moment – smacking their fat useless, lazy backsides.

  16. buxtond permalink
    December 20, 2019 10:08 pm

    I was born in Tinsley Surounded by Steel works, Forges and a plethora of other workshops, that was true pollution. We played out, went to school and all through the War. Now 86 I know just what that is like but few if any can have the experinces that we had. But, we did have several Grammar Schools, 2 Intermediate Schools and a Technical colledge, all excellent in their own way. I find the things today puzzeling, our parents worked hard, something that the modern man would find beyond him, Steel furnaces are hot, as are Rolling Mills, but we had fun, I went to a Grammar School although my Father was only a timekeeper but could pay but then Free Education started and got an excellent start in life, but after that the intake at Schools deteralated due to the free Places!

  17. Steve permalink
    December 20, 2019 10:21 pm

    The Lancet needs to be lanced and the puss let out and washed away.

  18. mikewaite permalink
    December 20, 2019 10:49 pm

    The tone of present and future Lancet papers and reports is likely to be heavily influenced by the appointment of Christiana Figueres to an advisory board. To quote from Wiki:
    -“in November 2019 became Chair of the High Level Advisory Board of the Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change.[48]”-
    The board includes such other notables as Helen Clark and Prof Brian Hoskins of the Grantham Institute .
    Prior to her appointment Lancet had published to major papers : one of which showed that moderate exposures to cold produced more fatalities than moderate exposur to heat . The second compared the change in fatalities from cold compared to those from heat on a global scale and found that even with RCP8.5 predictions (which are unlikely anyway) the benefit of greater warmth exceeded the harm except in some tropical areas.
    I doubt if Lancet would be permitted to publish such papers again.
    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)62114-0/fulltext
    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(17)30156-0/fulltext
    I would not argue that the results have not been questioned, but am suggesting that they were once able to be published, but may not be in the future thanks to the presence of an advisory board totally dominated by climate alarmists.

    • dennisambler permalink
      December 21, 2019 5:45 pm

      You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. I hadn’t realised she was there. Socialist organisations always like to use terms like “High Level”, it is a common phrase for UN panels and committees.

      Figueres gained a degree in Anthropology, she is still studying and experimenting on our species and belief systems. She has spent most of her career in climate finance, for a time with Lord Stern of the Grantham Institute. She also lays claim to having been trained by Al gore to deliver his Convenient Untruths documentary.

      Helen Clark is a former PM of New Zealand and former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.

      Hoskins is a founding Director of the Grantham Institute and has been on the Climate Change Committee for over ten years. He was on one of the panels that exonerated the CRU after Climategate.

      One of the references quoted for the paper is Allen and Forster.

      Allen is a long time litigation seeking scientist, inventor of the Carbon Budget and attributor in chief for climate reparation. Forster has recently joined the Climate Change Committee. He is at Leeds University which has close links with Grantham. These activist scientists keep infiltrating journals and controlling the output.

  19. December 21, 2019 1:25 am

    “For the Lancet report to state this as a bald fact calls into question the objectivity of its contents”

    This seems to be the pattern and the standard methodology of climate fearology as seen for example in all those super scary youtube videos made by the bald guy.

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/12/16/global-warming-melting-greenland/

  20. Yippiy permalink
    December 21, 2019 6:13 am

    Re: Food Yields and the comment “Change in crop growth is used as a proxy for yield potential…..A reduction in crop growth means the crop matures too quickly with lower seed growth”
    Surely crops mature at a quicker rate now, due mainly to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; a more robust seed may no longer be required, due to these improved growing conditions.Your graphs of crop production really smash their quirky thoughts on Food Yields.

    With an advisory board with such notoriety, why bother following Lancet in future?

  21. Wellers permalink
    December 21, 2019 7:08 am

    The general public will find it difficult to believe the ever more absurd claims of such medical research and may apply their scepticism to other fields. No wonder the uptake of vaccines is declining with such blatantly lying charlatans being given a platform.

  22. Coeur de Lion permalink
    December 21, 2019 8:14 am

    Btw I have just heard the BBC complain that there was nothing in the Queen’s Speech about climate change. Is this true?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 21, 2019 10:02 am

      It doesn’t matter to the BBC if it is true or not, they and the other green slimies are intent on trying to embarrass Johnson on climate ahead of next year’s COP which the lying oaf stupidly agreed to hold in Glasgow.

    • dave permalink
      December 21, 2019 10:30 am

      “Is this true?”

      Unfortunately, No!

      Vide Para.13:

      https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/queens-speech-december-2019

      The actual phrase “climate change” is not used, but that is not consoling.

      • dave permalink
        December 21, 2019 10:45 am

        Whoops!

        “…tackling climate change…” IS in there.

        My eyes glazed over.

        Summary of speech.

        BRINO followed by “Spend Spend Spend!” until we hit the buffers again.

        Oh Frabjious Joy!

  23. JerryC permalink
    December 22, 2019 3:01 am

    More fake news. People have never been less vulnerable to weather related calamities, thanks to the wonders of fossil fuels.

  24. Harry Passfield permalink
    December 22, 2019 1:31 pm

    Late comment, but the Lancet should be reminded of, among other things, helicobacter and thalidomide. Neither were glorious events in the medical profession.

  25. Dr D Weston Allen permalink
    December 22, 2019 8:34 pm

    The Lancet actually published a letter from Professor Tim Florin and myself criticising their 2018 Countdown Report on 1 June, six months after we submitted it and followed by a long defensive ad hominem author’s reply. The subeditor promised to print our response to that dreadful reply by Watts et al, but was overruled by the editor. Complaints to the Lancet’s Ombudsman achieved nothing. The Lancet and its authors, making a nice living out of perpetuating climate alarm, threw objectivity and scientific rigour out the window long ago.

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