Just in time for the December meeting of world leaders in Kyoto, Japan where a treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may be signed, a Kangaroo Court of junk scientists predicts that 8 million people will die during 2000 to 2020 from particulate matter air pollution associated with fossil fuel, unless the world limits greenhouse gas emissions to levels advocated by European nations.
The claim is based on two studies, both of which are classic examples of junk science:
- Pope III CA, Thun MJ, Namboodiri MM, Dockery DW, Evans JS. Particulate air pollution as a predictor of mortality in a prospective study of US adults. Am J Resp Crit Care Med 1996, 151:66974; and
- Woodruff TJ, Grillo J, Schoendorf KC. The relationship between selected causes of post neonatal infant mortality and particulate air pollution in the United States. Environ Health Perspect 1997; 105: 60812.
The Pope study claimed that particulate matter air pollution increases adult mortality by 17 percent. Click here for a critique.
The Woodruff study claimed that particulate matter air pollution increases infant mortality by 4 percent. Click here for a critique.
Neither study is capable of associating particulate matter air pollution with such small increases in mortality. But since when has lack of evidence been important to a Kangaroo Court!
Finally, this study is further proof of a disturbing trend among science journals: the publishing studies of studies so as to have maximum public relations impact. Already this year, we have seen the publication of:
- A silicone breast implant study immediately before the commencement of a major trial;
- A secondhand smoke study immediately before the commencement of a major trial; and
- A study linking outdoor air pollution with SIDS right before EPA made its decision on proposed air pollution standards.
One can only wonder about the curious timing of this study published right before the climate treaty meeting. Or is wondering even necessary?
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