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« Would you want to let this man near your pension? | Main | Energy and climate priorities »

D is for diesel

In my Twitter feed yesterday came something entirely without precedent: a tweet from Lord Deben. This was something of a shock, as the noble lord has hitherto made it a matter of policy never to address me directly, leaving his followers in the slightly strange position of trying to work out who it is that he is insulting.

I assume that this was an error on his part.

He was responding to a tweet from someone who asked rather alarmingly:

Has blood on hands? claims he ignored warnings in favour of

And as one might expect, he denied everything:

It claims no such thing. Try reading the quote again!

So is this a case of a good man wronged? I have been sent a scan of the Sunday Times article in question and I reproduce here the second paragraph:

About 50,000 people die annually because of air pollution, yet many deaths might have been prevented had ministers heeded a 1993 report handed to the then environment secretary, John Gummer - now Lord Deben - warning that any increase in diesel could have just such a consequence.

I'm struggling to see anything in the article that might be the basis for Lord Deben's suggestion that it wasn't alleging that he bore the blame for the (alleged*) death toll. What can he have meant?

*I am highly suspicious of these figures.

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Reader Comments (50)

And he calls us deniers!

Has he got his memory back, then?

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:07 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

What can he have meant?
Simple answer.
"It wisnae me, sir. A big boy done it 'n' ran away."

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:08 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Got to laugh! A man who repeats and exaggerates alarmist claims based on junk science being accused of something based on similar alarmist junk science.

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterTim65

Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis - destroys the memory.

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

A consequence of all these wild exaggerated claims by the greens is that when they conflict, the person in charge has to guess which one is most likely to come back and bite them in the future. Looks like Deben guessed wrong.

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

You only have to see/smell the cr*p piling out from diesel buses/coaches. I hold my breath whenever I am near one...not often luckily. Of course buses are well subsidised...never seen so many empty or near empty so often. And the electric buses that failed and onto...diesel. More subsidy!

Then there was lead in petrol and kids going looney around the west of London (M4). Arrive the cat converter. One thing about that is the scam of changing cats too early and seen that on BMW (USA) advisories (TIS etc) to franchises. We are being sent cats for exchange/inspection and on test they are not faulty.

The con with the environment starts early and continues through AGW and to CC. Time to drain the Oceans?

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

Ah, he's using 'no such thing' in the politicians' sense of 'exactly that'.

I've noticed this on blogs, sometimes, too - a lofty exhortation to 'read it again' (albeit mostly without the chirpy exclamation mark) being used as a denial of what was clearly said.

I don't know what they hope to achieve - reading something twice is *more* likely to fix it in the mind, thus cementing the impression of diningenuousness. Perhaps he needs to go on one of those courses on delivering the climate catastrophe meme via popular psychology? Because he clearly ain't very good at it.

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Cause funded epidemiologists. The risk-mongers strike again.

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

I thought he gave his young Daughter the beefburger?

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

It burgers belief!

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterThwack!

"Then there was lead in petrol and kids going looney around the west of London (M4)."

You refer, of course, to Windsor Castle?

Jul 27, 2015 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The Sunday Times article says he didn't heed the report giving the warning, whereas the tweeter says he ignored diesel warnings. So Deben is correct. He didn't heed the warning, which doesn't mean he ignored the warnings. That's a politician for you.

Jul 27, 2015 at 11:09 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@Jul 27, 2015 at 11:06 AM | michael hart

Not totally..young hard working mums on the local/national radio (70's/80's)...likely single ones at that. In Central London they are now going looney(?) again.... at pram/buggy height. No need for the M4 this time!

Jul 27, 2015 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

"UK air pollution causes 50,000 early deaths a year"
"Fifty-thousand people a year may be dying prematurely because of air pollution"

"Air pollution in the UK 'killing 50,000 people a year"

Actual report
"Poor air quality reduces the life expectancy of everyone in the UK by an average of seven to eight months and up to 50,000 people a year may die prematurely because of it."

The nuance is a bit lost along the way. It's a bit far from having 'blood on your hands'.

Jul 27, 2015 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

@JamesG I see a contradiction there
" reduces the life expectancy of everyone in the UK "
"50,000 people a year may die prematurely because of it."

Jul 27, 2015 at 11:52 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The BSE episode was supposed to produce a catastrophic nvCJD outbreak in humans running into hundreds of thousands of cases by now. There was no doubt we were assured; the science was robust and accepted by the scientific community.
CAGW is supposed to produce a rake of catastrophes across future generations and we are assured that the science for these prognoses is settled.
Tumultuous promotion accompanies CAGW right now, yet the non existence of a nvCJD epidemic goes unremarked.
Scientists have rather a lot of explaining to do, you would think, but no one seems to ask questions.

Jul 27, 2015 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Paging Sir David Spiegelhalter .....

Jul 27, 2015 at 12:15 PM | Registered Commentertomo


"The BSE episode was supposed to produce a catastrophic nvCJD outbreak in humans running into hundreds of thousands of cases by now."

Hard to know though, isn't it, when UK beef was off the menu for so long as a result?

As with the Y2K 'bug', steps were taken and it wasn't a major problem, but was that because of the steps or because it wasn't a problem? Robin Guenier, of this parish, says the former and he's in a better position to know than most.

With the beef, I'm not so sure, although Gummer's behaviour does rather suggest it had some side effects. He may have been mad already, of course.

Jul 27, 2015 at 12:27 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

It will be interesting to see the real data, but I am sceptical because when the do gooders did the anti-secondhand smiking campaign, there were claims that people in their 70s & 80s were dying "prematurely" as a result! I wonder what age these 50,000 may be dying prematurely at?

Jul 27, 2015 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Lord Deben like the fake Laureate Mann, attacks anything he thinks is a criticism of him. Since he has no real understanding of the issues nor has any mental capability, this is his only tactic available to him.

At times his daft hand waving explanation is simply not enough!

Just like Mann.

Jul 27, 2015 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered Commentercharmingquark

One of the great ironies of BSE was that it was caused by firms trying to save on energy costs.

They were treating the animal feed at lower temperatures and thus not killing the protein prion that causes BSE.
I bet you it was at the suggestion of MAFF.

Jul 27, 2015 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterottokring

It was not my fault, it were my brain wot done it!!

Jul 27, 2015 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

Is he a serious contender for the throne?

Jul 27, 2015 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered Commentertoorightmate

There are a particular breed of fantasists who only accept the benefits of their pet policies and none of the deficits. Doing the right thing is just a matter of overcoming the nasty side who do all the polluting and consuming and have all the money. Thus countries can be convinced that they need only vote away austerity or ‘debt’ as it used to be called. A popular phrase from warmists is ‘what would happen if we made the world a better place and then discovered we didn’t need to reduce CO2 after all?’ Pretending that CO2 reduction has no down sides and that a low CO2 world might actually be terrible is par for the course for warmists.

So warmists want you to give up - coal, oil, gas, especially fracked gas, nuclear, wind from bird and bat and moorland damaging turbines, hydro that floods new valleys, solar panels and batteries that use damaging chemicals, CCS that leaks, biofuels that turn more land over to fuel and displaces wildlife, tidal power that silts up rivers or damages the environment and everything else not yet tried that might do anything bad, ever. In fact if you could just die quietly, that would be super.

Jul 27, 2015 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Professor Richard Lacey was the expert du jour. He was from Leeds uni' and was THE go-to guy for BSE-scare predictions. Just about every single prediction he made turned out to be complete bullocks.

Jul 27, 2015 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

The numpties are running the asylum and have been since circa the Wilson government 1964 vintage, but when Heath signed us up to the Brussels experience, Britain did as they were told.

Like so many ministers Gummer was way out of his depth, but that is how things are done, bring in the yes man to do the business for the executive, who receive their orders from EU/ UN-ECE - and thus: no appreciation of science is necessary.

There are a lot of things to say here, I shall precis:

i. the car industry, particularly the German bit of the EU car industry have been fiddling and fudging emissions exhausts data since I don't know when. A car under lab' test conditions produces less NO² and particulate exhaust - TPTB in Brussels know this and the Deutsch automobile (umbrella group ACEA) lobby have the Kommissars right where they want them: under their thumb.

ii. Doctors and health and statistics, if one peers more closely at this figure people some are more at risk than others, concerning pulmonary conditions and cardiovascular* problems. Those who are most at risk [Bronchitis, Asthmatics, ageing Emphysema suffers] are susceptible to all sorts of complications - car exhaust fumes and nano particulates [the real killer] are but some factors. Although on the other airwave, if a bloke smokes and he dies of lung cancer, car exhaust fumes are unlikely to be recorded as a primary causal factor of his expiration. Always, there are Statistics and statistics within statistics.

iii. I think Gummer is a fraud, an exaggerated jumped up, primed as a clockwork automaton set to tick and bang the drum for the green blob but that's all he is. Yes, he is paid to mouth of things and about which he evidently has no clear understanding. in some ways therefore he is a dangerous twerp but would he have been listened to - if he had put up a loud and vociferous protest back in the day circa 1993???? Nope, he would have been quietly moved (booted out) on and the next ninny enviro-minister would have been installed, to promulgate this twattish EU wide instigated and non voluntary policy.........................DIESEL cars as saviours of the poley bears, mankind, the planet, the universe and in no particular order. Yer see, there are powers and machinations going on and money CORPORATE PROFIT is the prime mover - forget all that crap about saving the planet, BMW, Audi, Mercedes wanted to shift their wunderbar diesel cars, the tigers still drive the tanks in the EU - ken what I mean?

vi. One has to laugh with a bitter sneer and blackly at that, Global warbling.......This whole shebang from start to finish is a vast fraud, have these shills and experts never heard of the law of unintended consequences....biofuels cause the poor to starve, feed in tariffs make the rich - richer! Bird mincers manufactured in filthy polluted China...... how green/solar panels number of windmills has your valley? - oh dear look another dead bat............... Diesel fumes might off you tomorrow but hey - MAN! LORD DEBO SAID: ITS SO GREEN!

God Strewth, all they ever had was computer models and now one way or another they're killing us [blackouts in winter will].......when one starts to meddle in, affecting certain outcomes and making up myths to counter other tales of the downright made up - you end up where we are now - FUBAR. Britain is FUBAR: thanks in small part to clowns like Debo, it's time to go mate it really is.

*hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction

Jul 27, 2015 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Lord Deben's recollection of the past indicates he has passed his "has been" date, however he still values his own wallet packing skills.

Jul 27, 2015 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Get a sense of proportion here - just what's a few thousand extra stiffs compared to the idea of a prostitute wearing a red bra.

I mean, "who do I get in touch with?"

Jul 27, 2015 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

We just "did" the particulate scare recently ...Ah where was it ?..ah yes there was a good report in WUWT, where I commented on July 1st

- I adapted a calculation from David Spiegelhalter to examine the difference between UK's cleanest/dirstiest cities. So a guy in Aberdeen theoretically lives about 0.61 *1.1 = 0.7 years longer than a guy in Nottingham.
- That Nottingham/Aberdeen difference is about 1 cigarette per day.

Jul 27, 2015 at 2:53 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I looked at this 50000 figure a few years ago. It meant people died prematurely due to it but that could range from a couple of minutes to a couple of Years. so it was a statistical exercise. It could be argued that pollution is the price to pay for living in the best age in the history of mankind but that when we can reduce pollution without disrupting the world we should do so


Jul 27, 2015 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyb

Jul 27, 2015 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan

iii. The best description of this profoundly unpleasant man that I've seen for some time !

Jul 27, 2015 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Constable

"About 50,000 people die annually because of air pollution"

Habeas corpus.

With 50,000 dead, they should be able to produce ONE death certificate stating it as the cause of death.

Don't hold your breath . . . unless a bus is going by.

Jul 27, 2015 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

"a prostitute wearing a red bra"

That's pretty much what I would expect - it's when peers of the realm start wearing them that I start looking for the sanity clause...

(Cue Groucho Marx as Waldorf T Flywheel: "Don't he know there ain't no sanity clause?")

Athelstan +1

Jul 27, 2015 at 4:12 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Re: ""Poor air quality reduces the life expectancy of everyone in the UK by an average of seven to eight months and up to 50,000 people a year may die prematurely because of it."

Let's do a rough calculation to see if this 50,000 figure is feasible. My calculations are approximate.

Google tells me that the the UK population is 64.1 million and the average UK lifespan is 81.5 years.

Deaths per year WITH this reduction in lifespan (ie now) = 64.1/81.5 million = 786,503.07
Deaths per year WITHOUT this 7.5 month reduction in lifespan = 64.1/82.15 million = 780,517.50

Difference (extra deaths per year) = 5,986

So I don't believe the 50k figure.

Jul 27, 2015 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete Austin

jamesp/capell, what surprised me most was that he was reportedly only using a rolled-up £5 note.
Perhaps he keeps a special-occasion note with a picture of Florence Nightingale on it.

Jul 27, 2015 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"Difference (extra deaths per year) = 5,986"

If they can't give you the names of the deceased, they are lying.

Jul 27, 2015 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

Chill, guys-- diesel injectors can be modified to improve hot air quality by burning gummerol dispersed in polar bear fat .

Jul 27, 2015 at 8:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

If you ignore everything Gummer has ever said, and ever will say, you won't be missing out.

Jul 27, 2015 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

A German post doctoral researcher told me about the diesel particulates problem in 1976. He said at the time that getting a lung full of diesel smoke was equivalent to smoking twenty cigarettes. The real problem is not the black smoke you see, but the smallest 0.01% which screens allow through and that do the most damage.

Jul 27, 2015 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered Commentersrga

A German post doctoral researcher told me about the diesel particulates problem in 1976. He said at the time that getting a lung full of diesel smoke was equivalent to smoking twenty cigarettes. The real problem is not the black smoke you see, but the smallest 0.01% which screens allow through and that do the most damage.

Jul 27, 2015 at 9:12 PM | Unregistered Commentersrga

Why don't we all go round wearing scuba gear? That ought to do it.

Maybe a trial of people who wear scuba gear with a control group who just live life normally. Maybe Lord Deben could do his bit for science and wear the scuba gear for the rest of his life.

Once the diesel particulates are gone they will discover the air is full of other particulates such as those stirred up by vacuuming at home. How many die of Dyson poisoning?

Jul 27, 2015 at 10:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Check out this comparison of diesel emissions funneled directly (no filters!) into a small room. Someone also smoked 2 cigarettes in that room after the values returned to baseline. Which was worse?

(Three different sizes of particles (PM1, PM2.5, AND PM10) were measured concurrently.)

Video is a bit long at 7 minutes but the main stuff occurs in the first 3-4 minutes.

Jul 28, 2015 at 12:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterLance Wallace

. How many die of Dyson poisoning?

The risk is primarily to those who only began reading him after he turned 90.

Jul 28, 2015 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Jul 27, 2015 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete Austin

There may be something in the thrust of your observation, but people are being born and that has an impact on your figure/calculation. Also, if you make it into retirement (65/66), one is likely to live longer than to 81, and the premature death probably impacts most upon the older population group (ie., post 70).

Interestingly according to the ONS, "There were 499,331 deaths registered in England and Wales in 2012, compared with 484,367 in 2011 (a rise of 3.1%)." and "The population of England and Wales was estimated to be 56,567,800 in mid-2012, with the population of England being 53,493,700 and the population of Wales being 3,074,100."

Jul 28, 2015 at 4:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

50,000 dead from diesel???!! My, my, well I can play the "extrapolate" game too. In 2011, 135 million people were admitted to ERs in the U.S. Let's be cautious and say they only 10% were life threatening, and they only saved 10% we have 1.35 million people saved. Now fossil fuels make up 4/5 of the U.S. energy consumption, this leads us to 4/5 of all ERs are fossil fueled, therefore fossil fuels saved over 1 million people a YEAR in just the US of A!!! See how easy that was? Flipping green blob idiots.
Sources: CDC, United States Dept. of Energy, 2011

Jul 28, 2015 at 4:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterTRE

I wonder if barbecuing or gardening, particular organic gardening exposes people to more particulates than normal people just sat around watching TV,
CTTOI isn't that the point about cycling that it exands your life thru fitness but decreases it through increased particulate exposure ?

Jul 28, 2015 at 8:39 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Notwithstanding that pollution is supposedly getting worse but life expectancy continues to increase by 3 months per year.

However soot and dust in London is surely from the buses but they can be converted to run on propane relatively easily - or even ammonia apparently - for less than the cost of the of either the EU the fines or Boris's pollution control measures.

Jul 28, 2015 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Diesel particulate ain't killin' nobody.

Jul 28, 2015 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterGamecock

lefty scum is constantly raining misinformation over our heads.

And they NEVER get accountable for it.

Time to make EVERY charity and institute quango coming out with a statement that gets DEBUNKED, to pay a fine and impose a reorganisation (CEO: OUT, as well as all the command chain to the eventual miscreant, miscreant included at a minimum)

That would be just that would be fair..Institutes and charities from hell ! BBC to make a series on it, lol.

Jul 28, 2015 at 1:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

stewgreen, pollen, plant and soil particulates are something not to be sneezed at (pun intended).

Tucson, AZ is famous for allergies. Allegedly caused by plants brought by humans, or at least made worse. E.g.

Of course the rural idyll never was as idyllic as is fondly imagined, but I've oft read that good geographical information on various rural particulates is simply not available for agencies such as the EPA. In some circumstances they may be making (possibly) ridiculous regulations that nature herself will simply not adhere to. But that doesn't stop them winging it, and guessing.

Jul 28, 2015 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

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