Statistics

Lancet Says 1 in 6 Worldwide Deaths by Pollution: 67% More Than Coronadoom

You’ve seen the headline, “World Ends: Favored Victims Hardest Hit,” and you’ve laughed. The Noble Victims differ, slightly, by country. There is no class of being nobler or respected or reverenced than the Victim. That’s what gives the joke it zing.

Here’s another version of the joke: “Pollution Kills 1 in 6 in the World: Most Prevalent Among Minorities and the Marginalised.”

Marginalised isn’t an exact synonym of Victim here, but the joke is no less funny for that. And for appearing in the peer-reviewed review paper, “The Lancet Commission on pollution and health.”

Incidentally, the laughter is amplified when you recall that whites are a minority in the world. Tell that to whoever reads this paper and watch them take delight in the humor.

Today I’ll say only a few words about this paper. The size of the paper makes it difficult to do anything else. The paper itself has a dozen or three authors, and runs to fifty one shiny pages. It cites a large number of papers.

Here’s paper number 1: Rockstrom J, Steffen W, Noone K, et al. A safe operating space for humanity. Nature 2009; 461: 472–75.

Safe space?

And here’s number 418: Duflo E, Greenstone M, Pande R, Ryan N. Truth-telling by third-party auditors and the response of polluting firms: experimental evidence from India. Q J Econ 2013; 128: 1499–545.

Truth-telling?

Add up all the authors in those citations and you get a number somewhere between one and two thousand. Add up the authors cited by each of the 418 papers gives, I don’t know, something with five figures. Minimum.

The number of total pages? At, say, 20 per, with supplementary material, which is now common, is ten to the three. At least.

All this effort, with a combined number of years of labor (you figure out how many), to say these three little words: pollution is bad.

Well, and so it is. Who is “for” pollution? Who stands and says, and is cheered for saying, “What we need is more pollution!” How often have you read, “Ackshually, pollution is good for you”?

So pollution is bad. Yes, but how bad is it? (You will have recognized the form of our next joke.) Bad enough to cause (the Lancet’s very word) “16% of all deaths worldwide.” That (for our math-challenged readers) is 1 in 6.

Coronadoom is killing, some say, counting generously, 1 in 10.

Therefore, pollution is killing at least 67% more people than the very doom itself. And nary a headline!

Two quick asides: (1) Where are they keeping all the pollution-croaked bodies? (2) There must necessarily always be a leading cause of death, so there will always be something to become excited about.

Another similarity to the doom itself: the aching desire to call a death a pollution death. Since you never hear of somebody dying from, say, air pollution, it must be that our blizzard of authors are ascribing these deaths statistically. Which is to say, by models. And wee p-values.

The range of “studies” cited in the review is too broad to detail how this ascription happens everywhere. But we’ve seen more than a few examples over the years, which looms large in many. One instance is cited by the Lancet on the first page of their review: “Large prospective, multi-year epidemiological studies, beginning with the studies by Pope and colleagues in Utah and the Harvard Six-Cities study, have showed that pollution is associated with a much wider range of diseases, particularly noncommunicable diseases, than was previously recognised.”

The epidemiologist fallacy occurs when a scientist says “X causes Y” but where X is never measured and where the cause is “confirmed” by wee p-value. Laugh if you want, but this one is no joke. Epidemiology as a subject would almost disappear without this device.

If the research on pollution runs to hersteria and gross over-certainty, you won’t hear any support from me for oligarch-run mega corporations whose only reason for existence is profit, companies which are responsible for most of the real pollution the world.

Naturally, our Lancet authors and citations are keen on these businesses, too. And on you, dear reader. They not only want to “raise global awareness of the importance of pollution”, but they want to involve “Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, UN agencies, Future Earth, the Planetary Health Alliance, and major non-governmental organisations concerned with the wellbeing of the Earth’s environment.”

These are Experts and they believe that no one knows more than they on this subject. They therefore, and quite naturally, must be put in charge of its regulation and rules. This is the urge toward the Expertocracy we have often discussed.

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Categories: Statistics

11 replies »

  1. “Pollution” — there’s a smoky blast from the past. Pollution was a big fear-porn campaign way back in the late 60s–early 70s. We were all supposed to die. Was superceded by… what crisis was next?… ah yes, disco. We’re all gonna die of disco. They can’t even think up original fear porn campaigns these days so they dust off “Pollution”?! Well, okay, “Monkeypox” is pretty funny. But “pollution” is old and boring and will get no fear-porn traction now. And really, a little smokestack is nothing beside the giant, festering flood of spiritual, intellectual, and moral pollution spewing from the Empire of Victims’ foul orifeces.

  2. Who is “for” pollution? Who stands and says, and is cheered for saying, “What we need is more pollution!” How often have you read, “Ackshually, pollution is good for you”?

    Don’t forget the confusion that came out of Obama calling CO2 a pollutant in 2009!

    Are you sure that the above paragraph is nonsense?

  3. Briggs ==> Thanks for covering this — it all went bad with the horrible, nonsensical Six Cities Study…..

  4. The Lancet isn’t that the publication that maligned hydroxychloroquine in
    service to the Pfizer EUA and had to withdraw the most bogus clinical study in history?
    Now it’s pollution aimed directly at fossil fuels the only thing that makes modern life
    possible and that once banned will kill millions. What a surprise but then they are British
    home of Malthus and child labor, they’ve killed almost a billion people since 1066.
    They did it with a nod and a wink and their beloved mewling catatonic accent. They’re
    the ones ginning up all the winning in Ukraine,

  5. Yep. Before I found wmbriggs, I found junkscience.com. It was reading there that I first wondered “Where are the body bags”. I have seen body bags on television for smoking and other things, but I realized that I really needed to look INSIDE the body bags. There is a whole gigantic bit of hot air in there.

  6. Two things: 1. Dose and route of administration make the medicine, or the poison; so you need to state the necessary and sufficient conditions also when talking about these things, which the PTB never seem to do, and 2. from my youngster chemistry days: The solution to pollution is dilution, which refers to number 1.

  7. Who is “for” polution?

    Well, not me, but I’ll admit a bleak, smoggy day in southern California once in a great while can make me nostalgic for the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s–a true golden era of air pollution.

  8. I wonder why God chose the colours of gorgeous and quiet blues for the skies for much of the time, and why the clouds are most often white, and why skies and clouds forecasting storms and rain are colored many different grays, and why sunrises and sunsets are so often glorious pinks, golds, oranges, greens, and more??
    Not looking for scientific explanations … just being thankful for such a wonderful Father for us and to us all!

    God bless, C-Marie

  9. Pollution comes from the far right.

    Their toxic-speech is clogging up the arteries of the interweb and literally suffocating the truth!

    They diffuse hatred like chimneys produce smoke; poisoning our airways and raining down acid and sulfur on the poor, naked and vulnerable!

    They must be stopped!

    We need filters!

    Scrubbers!

    Masking!

    Whatever it takes!

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