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The Lancet goes all Andrew Wakefield again

The Lancet - the medical journal that brought you Andrew Wakefield and the return of mumps, measles and rubella - has a grandly named Commission on Climate Change and Health, which has announced its findings today. We are facing a crisis apparently.

Wake up at the back there.

This is fairly transparent politicking from a group of authors who might best be described as "the usual suspects" - Anthony Costello, Hugh Montgomery and Paul Ekins are all very familiar names round these parts and the lines they recite are familiar ones too. There is absolutely no pretence that the commission's report is anything other than an attempt to influence the political agenda ahead of the Paris conference, just as its previous report was an attempt to influence the result at Copenhagen. Here's the executive summary:

A collaboration between The Lancet and University College London, UK, resulting in the first UCL Lancet Commission report, setting out how climate change over the coming decades could have a disastrous effect on health across the globe. The report examines practical measures that can be taken now and in the short and medium term to control its effects.

Climate change could be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Effects on health of climate change will be felt by most populations in the next decades and put the lives and wellbeing of billions of people at increased risk. During this century, the earth's average surface temperature rises are likely to exceed the safe threshold of 2°C above pre-industrial average temperature.

This report outlines the major threats—both direct and indirect—to global health from climate change through changing patterns of disease, water and food insecurity, vulnerable shelter and human settlements, extreme climatic events, and population migration. Although vector-borne diseases will expand their reach and death tolls, the indirect effects of climate change on water, food security, and extreme climatic events are likely to have the biggest effect on global health.

A new advocacy and public health movement is needed urgently to bring together governments, international agencies, non-governmental organisations, communities, and academics from all disciplines to adapt to the effects of climate change on health.

The press are lapping this up, of course, and all incorporate lots of gory details: 250,000 deaths from global warming in 2030! Refugees! Hunger! Drought! Starvation! Collapsing loaves of bread!

And, as if you didn't know already, the solution lies in government. Lots of government. And lots of taxes on Bad Stuff. And subsidies for Good Stuff. As the Telegraph explains:

The report calls on governments to phase out coal-fired power plants and improve cities to promote healthy, greener lifestyles, making them better places to walk and cycle to cut pollution and obesity. They also recommend insulating more homes and buildings to cut energy use and cold-related deaths and disease.

Politicians should also bring in carbon pricing to push up the price of high carbon goods and services to make people change their behaviour, while reducing the cost of other taxes such as VAT, boosting investment or cutting the price of low-carbon technology.

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  • Response
    I woke up to hear a really crazy “doctor” on the radio this morning. Anyone who thinks cooking on wood is a good idea should be forced to live in an iron-age house in winter. CO2 & modern geological fuel powered farm equipment is undoubtedly leading to record harvests worldwide. industrialisation ...

Reader Comments (49)

A new advocacy and public health movement is needed urgently to bring together governments, international agencies, non-governmental organisations, communities, and academics from all disciplines to adapt to the effects of climate change on health.
In other words, gizza job! - at the tax-payers' expense, of course; well-paid and secure until retirement.

I also note that the 'political target' of 2 Deg C has morphed (pace Costello) into the 'Safe limit', which must not be exceeded.

Jun 23, 2015 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

"Climate change could be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century."

Even were I to sincerely believe in every dot and comma of the Thermogeddonist's absurd creed, the probability that the outcome might really be "the biggest health threat" etcetera is vanishingly small. And I find it hard to imagine that anyone bright enough to get medical qualifications, isn't well aware of that.

But if they want to trash the credibility of 'post modern' medicine along with all the other 'post modern' science, then carry on. But maybe the rest of the medical profession will have something to opine?

Jun 23, 2015 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

The coordination of alarmist claptrap is entertaining. Sort of a Bolshoi Ballet of Big Lies.

Jun 23, 2015 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Lots of 'could' and 'likely'; very short on evidence and facts. Pure scare-mongering propaganda ahead of Paris, lapped up by the BBC.

Jun 23, 2015 at 10:03 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@ Harry Passfield: "In other words, gizza job! - at the tax-payers' expense, of course; well-paid and secure until retirement."

Utter nonsense, until death, on their big fat taxpayer funded pensions, plus any other sideline taxpayer funded handouts they receive for promoting the scare I dare say!

The lancet? Isn't that the publication of dubious merit that published the BMA report a few years ago on the effects of secondhand smoking, in which apparently people were dying "prematurely" in their 70s, 80s, & 90s! Beats me!

Jun 23, 2015 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Could happen...
Will cause...
Should do...

The above is the template for all studies and press releases by Greens.

Jun 23, 2015 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

They seem content to condemn the third and developing worlds to enduring squalor.
Are they in breach of the hippocratic oath?

Jun 23, 2015 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Funny how the BBC didn’t get round to mentioning the UN / IPCC connection, although even The Guardian did, when they ran this on Today this morning:

The report was produced by the Lancet/UCL commission on health and climate change, a collaboration of dozens of experts from around the world, and is backed by Margaret Chan, head of the UN World Health Organisation.

Now if this was a story that GWPF or an oil company could be associated with in any way ….

And it’s well worth listening to Mishal Husain lobbing helpful questions to a rather hyper Prof. Costello at about 1:22:40 here:

Might the Bishop consider preserving this gem as another update?

Jun 23, 2015 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterTonyN

Did Professor Roy Meadow help with the statistics?

Jun 23, 2015 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterrotationalfinestructure

Didn't that morph into the hypocritic oath?

Jun 23, 2015 at 10:41 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It would be interesting to know who is behind the curtain instructing all these organisations, which know nothing about "climate change", to ramp up the propaganda ahead of Paris, and what rewards are being offered.

Jun 23, 2015 at 10:46 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I think the Lancet could more usefully be employed in sorting out the problems that exist in the GP and general NHS, such as the pathetic bureaucracy that infects most parts. How can there be evidence that a 2 degree rise in global temperatures will be dangerous anyway? I would expect a lower death rate, increased crop yields, well assuming reasonable CO2 levels. What's to worry about?

Jun 23, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

There's another 8 comments over on last 2 pages of unthreaded , where osseo pointed out the key claim "Lancet report summarised as suggesting possibility of 4 degrees warming in 15 years !"
- Well this 4 degrees in 15 years is full on Lalaland ..come-on (Sir) Richard Betts ..stops circling the wagons and tell your own side to get back to credibility.
If the medical doom is based on that 4 degree claim ..then it's basically worthless.
- I heard one of the writers Hugh Montgomery in Scientologist cult mode on Radio 5 last night, whereas Costello has been doing the breakfast media sofas today.
Alex is promising a transcript from Today later.

Jun 23, 2015 at 11:36 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

About three billion people rely on open-fire cooking and heating. Breathing in the smoke from those fires causes respiratory illnesses, which sometimes lead to death. Problems are particularly serious for children under five, who are more vulnerable and tend to be near their mothers while their mothers are cooking. The World Health Organization estimates that the total number of deaths per year due to open-fire cooking and heating is over four million.

Jun 23, 2015 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterDouglas J. Keenan

stewgreen: the key claim "Lancet report summarised as suggesting possibility of 4 degrees warming in 15 years !"
- Well this 4 degrees in 15 years is full on Lalaland ..

Thanks Stew. I heard 4 degrees, then as I wrote it on my blog article I thought it was just too ridiculous and thought I ought to play safe as it was just possible I misheard.

Apparently not!

It really is crackpot delusion of the worst kind.

Jun 23, 2015 at 11:57 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Yes : yet Hugh last night on the radio emphasised something like 'we have to end coal power ..the particulates are particularly harmful', yet my thought was a coal power station with the proper filters is way better than open fires.

Jun 23, 2015 at 11:59 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Phillip Bratby: "Didn't that morph into the hypocritic oath?"

You beat me to it! However, somehow I have this image of a reginald perrin hippo wearing a white coat as in

The Hippo crackpot oath.

Jun 23, 2015 at 12:01 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

to make people change their behaviour,...

No matter what rhetoric and scary language they use to try to rationalize their actions, the truth always comes out.

Jun 23, 2015 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil R

To be fair to the Lancet, they (apparently) say '50 years'. When I heard it at 7.30, I assumed (like Mike) I'd misheard. So I listened again at 8 and 8.30 (with the subtitles on) and it was '15 years' each time. What struck me was that intelligent presenters (and producers) were too ignorant to realise that this was obvious nonsense.

Jun 23, 2015 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

even 4C in 50 years is ridiculous's way outside IPCC projections isn't it Richard B ?

Jun 23, 2015 at 12:24 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Well how else can you justify grants ? Lets be reasonable. Pinky porkies are the best earners.

Jun 23, 2015 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterferdinand

I think this household has reached 'Climate Saturation Point'. "Himself" didn't duck when hearing the words "climate change" on the news this morning! (He's used to me throwing whatever's to hand at the TV)

Jun 23, 2015 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered Commentermeltemian

To be really fair to The Lancet, it should be pointed out that millions die of avoidable disease now, and diverting money into the salaries and pensions of a select few, so they can dream up solutions to imaginary problems, will really make them feel more important, as millions continue to die.

The Lancet, not likely to prick their own protective bubble of pus.

Jun 23, 2015 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Hey DramaGreens how is "Operation Desperation 2015" going ?

Jun 23, 2015 at 12:46 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

When reported on BBC Breakfast (rather disinterestedly) it had morphed into 'scientists say' (therefore we'd better all listen); the temperature rise was going to be 'four degrees' (oh, yeah) in 'ten to fifteen years' (blimey).....

Seemed like an old report being recycled (as you say, probably in the run-up to Paris)...

Jun 23, 2015 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

"After only 0·85°C warming, many anticipated threats have already become real-world impacts. Table 1 summarises the evidence attributing climate change to specific extreme weather events, outlining the role that climate change is playing in the present day (2013). It demonstrates increasing certainty that climate change significantly alters the probability of extreme weather, most often in directions that have dangerous health consequences."

From said Table 1:
"Heat - Long-duration heatwaves during the summer and prevailing warmth for annual conditions are becoming increasingly likely because of a warming planet"
"Cold - Prolonged cold waves have become much less likely than they were previously, such that the probability of reoccurrence of the 2013 severely cold winter in the UK might have fallen by 30 times because of global warming"
"Heavy precipitation and flood - Extreme precipitation events were found to have been much less influenced by human-induced climate change than extreme temperature events"
"Drought - Droughts are highly complex meteorological events and research groups have analysed different factors that affect droughts, such as sea surface temperature, heat, or precipitation"
"Storms - No clear evidence of human influence was shown for any of the four very intense storms examined"

Jun 23, 2015 at 12:51 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

stewgreen, Dr B's not listening he wants us to move on to what we do about it. I suggest hand signals... well finger signals at least.

Jun 23, 2015 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Here's a transcript of Dr. Hugh Montgomery on BBC Radio 5 Live earlier (h/t stewgreen):

Jun 23, 2015 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Yeah, surprisingly enough, there's no mention of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse, a behind the curve aren't they?

Costello, Montgomery, Ekins whatever, whosoever - always the same bottom line - "BY ALL THE GODS, YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR EVIL WAYS!"

But then, the likes of Costello, Montgomery, Ekins can go on merrily zapping the 120" TV screen, going off road in the 4x4, jetting off to conferences galore, continue to use every household gizmo appliance - including 3 gas heaters for the patio, lunch on Kobe beef, sip imported mineral water from New Zealand and gulp wine by the gallon from Chile and have 4 foreign holidays p/a.

Forsooth, all that 'change your lives' bit is for the mugs - ain't it?

Jun 23, 2015 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

This report is great news!

Firstly forget uncertainty and the IPCC, this group can work out that 0.0046 % of the global population will die due to the effects of Climate Change. Never before have we had such accuracy in predictions.
Secondly, hey folks I do not want to get blazeh about human suffering but this is eminently survivable so cancel the next $10 trillion of spending on preventing climate change!

Jun 23, 2015 at 1:51 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"Politicians should also bring in carbon pricing to push up the price of high carbon goods and services to make people change their behaviour, while reducing the cost of other taxes such as VAT, boosting investment or cutting the price of low-carbon technology".

Hang on...what will they be able to p*ss up against the wall? Surely not real p*ss

The BBC should place disclaimers at the front of these programs..seriously! As RT does with Max Keiser on the Keiser Report. Its a publicly funded Broadcaster and out of control.

Jun 23, 2015 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

At least one referee advised Lancet against publishing this paper.

Jun 23, 2015 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Here's a transcript of the Anthony Costello interview on this morning's Today programme:

Mishal Husain: Is that proven? That tackling climate change would help with depression and anxiety?

Anthony Costello: Cycling certainly would...

Jun 23, 2015 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

The controversial BBC is entitled to present the "sciency part" without any counter-comments, though they would be justified when it comes to climate-related predictions, but it is POLITICS to elevate this non-problem to the top of the agenda, and to advocate certain actions as a result, so there must be a duty on the controversial BBC to present counter opinions, which they are very adept at doing against things the politburo don't approve of, such as fracking.

Jun 23, 2015 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

I wonder why Lancet doesn't warn Montrealers, and other Canadians, that their annual pilgrimage to Florida involves a temperature change of >3C which could be fatal.

Not that anyone is interested but Norway's largest newspaper Aftenposten now claims they have independent confirmation that Rossi's 1 MW commercial LENR (cold fusion) plant exists and is working well. It is ~halfway through a one year trial.

Jun 23, 2015 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdrian Ashfield

I sincerely hope no members of this Lancet Commission are ever allowed to get anywhere near actual real human patients.

Jun 23, 2015 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The only sane response to this report: WALOOB! (What a load of old Bollocks)

Jun 23, 2015 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterYertizz


I see your WALOOB and raise you a WOMBAT (Waste Of Money, Brains And Time).

Prof Tol
And I wonder who that could have been :-)

Jun 23, 2015 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan Blanchard

Thanks Alex for the transcripts. Encouraging to see BBC presenters starting to question these silly claims.

Jun 23, 2015 at 3:38 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

By my rough calculation over seven billion people living roughly 70 or so years must die at a rate of 10 million per year. So we should tremble in our boots and destroy the industrial economy based on their imaginary calculations and pretend science that say 2.5% of those deaths will be dued to global warming in 2030. This may take a bit of convinving given the other 97.5% of deaths due to "benign" issues such as malnutirion, indoor air polution, lack of access to basic medical and preventive care, conflict, road trauma, political corruption....

Jun 23, 2015 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy Pattullo

Oops, my math is too simple. That would be 100 million deaths per year and one quarter of one percent imagined to be due to global warming by 2030. Well that put's it in perspective. Now I need more coffee evidently.

Jun 23, 2015 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy Pattullo

My guessing stick said it was 0.0046666 % hehe

Jun 23, 2015 at 4:12 PM | Registered CommenterDung

4°C in 15 years time? That's not a realistic prediction. No paper worth publishing can be based on that.

Still this may well save lives. Wakefield got struck off for baking junk science.

Stopping the authors of this paper from practising can only be good for their patients.

Jun 23, 2015 at 5:17 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

M Courtney, maybe it was the considered opinion of their patients, that these Medics stop practitioning on the general public. So they became World Health Experts instead.

Spin Doctoring Politics, carries no financial liabilities, when you condemn millions to death, through incompetence.

Jun 23, 2015 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Don't forget the Lancet's estimate of excess deaths in Iraq. Supposedly peer reviewed but none of the peers said, "Don't be stupid."

I never trust anything from the Lancet nowadays.

Jun 23, 2015 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Nottingham

Ah the World Health Organisation that was more concerned with politics than the unfolding Ebola crisis.

This tells you all you need to know about these numpties and there idiot fan club (Anthony Costello, Hugh Montgomery and Paul Ekins )

Jun 23, 2015 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Didn't have much time, read some parts about spreading malaria (wrong) and schistosomiasis (questionable) and the conclusions which contains mainly calls for more funding for climate related health research. And for this, they had to go on and on, so long. Lanceto Si.

Jun 24, 2015 at 1:10 AM | Registered Commentershub

Bish writes:

There is absolutely no pretence that the commission's report is anything other than an attempt to influence the political agenda ahead of the Paris conference, just as its previous report was an attempt to influence the result at Copenhagen.

Well, on the bright side (hah!) let it not be said that the powers that be at The Lancet have failed to cotton on to the merits of "recycling".

While it is most unfortunate that Editor in Chief, Richard Horton has evidently failed to practice what he once preached - well, at least once upon a Muir Russell report time - it seems to me that in this latest and greatest from The Lancet one finds yet another instance of that which the IPCC (and its ever-increasing ranks of officially designated NGO cheerleaders) has shown itself to be equally guilty:

Next chorus, next verse
A little bit louder and a whole lot worse

Jun 24, 2015 at 9:13 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Their theory should be easy to prove with evidence.
Firstly I think we can all say that any change in Climate there may changes in human health, whether the changes are caused naturally or by CO2.
#2 BUT the first caveat is humans are remarkably adaptive so it is a big leap to say changes will certainly be negative.
#3 Skeptics basically say, "there will be positives and we can't say that they will be outweighed by negatives"
#4 The Lancet alarmists case seems to be - if more CO2 is emitted it will bring human lifespan down to what it was 50 years ago in 1965.
Lets look : Since in CO2 has been emitted at a massive rate in the last 50 years then according to their belief their should have already been a negative effect, after all temp has risen. So it seems to me what they are saying something like "now human lifespan is 76 but it would be 80 if there was no man made CO2"
Now if they can provide evidence for a decrease in the past that might help justify their claim for the future decline
... I bet they haven't done that.

Jun 24, 2015 at 10:34 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

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