Friday, July 9, 2010

Living proof that you can't legislate against stupidity....

Professor David Shearman has been at it again. When not busy doing secretarial things over at Doctors for the Environment, he can be found publishing books calling for the end of democracy as a solution to impending climate doom. Seriously, is this the guy you want to perform a rectal exam on you?
He also has his own website, the address of which is his own name with the designation .org. Cute. If you listen closely, you can almost feel the hysteria.
Anyway, he's managed to publish a poorly disguised propaganda piece / self-advertorial over at The Australian calling for the end of coal power due to its alleged deleterious health effects in first world nations. He doesn't actually cite anything, just some "studies" that apparently show that coal particulate is bad for you, but then gets confused between pollution in the form of particulate matter and "pollution" in the form of carbon dioxide that, yawn, will kill us all via climate (but forgets to mention the offshoot of bigger tomatoes). He does a particularly poor job of seperating out the sources and impact of coal pollution, and manages to generate a big cloud of poorly thought out hysteria. For example:
The health burden of coal in Australia is estimated conservatively at $2.6 billion a year. There are also economic losses due to land pollution and degradation and the open mining of good agricultural land in the face of the projected world food crisis.
The main health impact of coal is caused through climate change. The World Health Organisation ranks climate change as one of the greatest threats to public health.
Morbidity and mortality are increasing in the developing world as the effects of climate change take hold of the environment. As the world's fourth largest producer of hard coal and the world's biggest exporter, from which we garner $20bn each year, our contribution to this pollution is far greater than our culpability as the world's greatest domestic per capita producer of greenhouse emissions.

Etc. Etc.
Im not sure exactly what Dr. David lectured in to make him an emeritus professor of medicine, but I somehow think it wasn't epidemiology or public health, at least not in the conventional sense, and begs the question of why he is no longer a professor?
For starters, yes, coal fire particulate is definitely bad for you, but it is particularly bad for you if you are burning it in your loungeroom, which is what people without central, coal-powered (or nuclear) electricity plants do. A quick read through the WHO publication "The health effects of indoor air pollution in developing countries" may prove informative for him. If he doesn't have the time, or finds that reading about babies dying of pulmonary disease or women with premature cataracts makes him go soft, I could probably sum up the entire booklet with just one of their diagrams:

Oh, look. Electricity is better for you. Who'd have thunk it.
I would also hazard a guess that his emeritus status didn't stem from a career in health economics, either. To wit:
Renewable energy industries create more jobs than coalmining; they are generally safer and much healthier for workers and communities. They will offer sustainable economic development in an area where Australia already trails other developed nations. The federal government's proposed resource super-profits tax -- now recast and rebadged as the minerals resource rent tax -- will aid this transition.

Ha ha ha. Thats hysterical in the freaking funny sense. Just ask Spain or New Zealand how their green jobs and their ETS are working out for them.
Once upon a time we had religion for guys like this to feel bad about. Instead of worrying about saving the planet from a trace gas that is, frankly, the least of our worries right now, he would have been wearing a hair shirt in a cave somewhere. Unfortunately, if he gets his way, he'll have all of us doing just that.

1 comment:

  1. Wally The WalrusJuly 22, 2010 at 6:31 AM

    Ohhh these idiots make my blood boil.

    Health effects of coal in Australia... Pfft. As if the wide brown land is a microcosm.

    Here's a wee factoid: If you shut down ALL industry in Oz, stopped EVERY car from driving and KILLED all the people and animals to prevent the CO2 emissions from the lot of them, then China, on its very little own, will have ADDED that amount of CO2 in 9 months. Yes, 9. And added, by building new power stations and airports and such like.

    And by the way, we share the planet and atmosphere. So cutting emissions in Oz when others are adding is the utlimate in futile gestures.

    what a bunch of F!@#$wits.

    And your point about air pollution and the hang -wringing our kids are taught "oh dear things have never been so bad". Bollocks. Ask somebody who remembers about the time and money spent cleaning soot off the buildings in central London, and much of the rest of Europe. That was caused by coal burning in fireplaces, not not by coal burning in power stations or anywhere much else. Take a trip to Coalbrookedale and read about what the birth of the Industrial Revolution was really like. Modern coal power stations (at least in the west) have air quality standards like you would not believe, and scrubbers, and precipitators and all sorts of yummy technology to clean up the crap.

    In fact, we've actually never had it so good. And these morons want us to go bad to the dark ages. Bog off, I say.


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