Wednesday, March 25, 2009

EPA's CO2 policy: Zero Integrity, Anti-Science

At her confirmation hearing to be the new director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson said her first task would be to restore scientific and legal integrity to the office. Then she did the opposite. She quickly directed EPA staff to prepare the paperwork for a finding that carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health and safety and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The paperwork she sent to President Obama on March 23, 2009 will enable him to fulfill a campaign promise, but it is an incredibly dishonest and anti-scientific excuse on which to base the process. It is not possible that scientists in EPA could be so ignorant of basic facts about carbon dioxide, human emissions, and the lack of correlation between the earth's climate and carbon dioxide levels. (See my earlier 3-part series, Global Warming, Global Myth.) No, the EPA here cannot be acting from innocent ignorance. It must be deliberate dishonesty.

In the past I have written about EPA's lies and misconduct and called for elimination of the agency, which has a long history of scientific malpractice. The General Accounting Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the Office of the Inspector General have all been severely critical of EPA's policies and procedures on a variety of issues. EPA violated its own risk assessment guidelines and debased scientific standards regarding secondhand smoke. It was found guilty of violating six federal statutes for using harassment and intimidation to try to compel employee support for its policy on secondhand smoke. It has fraudulently misrepresented the findings of other scientists in order to make it appear they supported conclusions EPA favored. A dozen career employees of EPA wrote a letter to the Washington Times “risking our careers rather than choosing to remain silent” about “egregious misconduct” at EPA. Internal documents available under the Freedom of Information Act show that EPA exaggerated claims and promulgated unwarranted policies. EPA has gone against the advice of its own Science Advisory Board (see, for example, its history of action on particulates.) EPA fraudulently manufactured fake “scientific” studies in order to support its views on sulfur dioxide (see my book MAKERS AND TAKERS for fuller explanation of this.) It instituted a “scientific McCarthyism” to blackball Dr. Edward Krug for exposing the falseness of EPA's position on acid rain. It massively deceived the public about DDT, asbestos, dioxin, MTBE and ethanol with policies detrimental to human health and safety and wasting vast sums of money. Its stand on asbestos led to substituting a less effective material in “O” rings in the Challenger space shuttle—leading to the fiery deaths of all the astronauts on board. And its policy resulted in the substitution of spray-on insulation with less durability and a far lower fire-rating than asbestos in building the World Trade Center; this resulted in the early collapse of the structure and killed far more people than would have been the case with asbestos in place. EPA has put snail darters, desert sand flies, and kangaroo rats ahead of the rights of people with its endangered species policies. It has funneled taxpayer money to lobby groups that support political action on measures—even unscientific ones—that EPA wants to promote. So perhaps it's not surprising that it now supports a finding that carbon dioxide is dangerous to human health—without which there would be no basis for regulation.

The lies here are not just about carbon dioxide and climate. There is also the huge lie that a warmer climate is a health hazard. Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels cannot harm human health directly; the alleged danger is from global warming. But global warming would be a net benefit to human health—which means EPA has no legitimate authority to regulate it.

An array of studies over more than twenty years demonstrates that warm climate is beneficial while cold climate is detrimental to human health. In 1998, Thomas Gale Moore's “Health and Amenity Effects of Global Warming” estimated a temperature increase of 2.5 degrees Celsius would cause a decrease of 40,000 deaths per year from respiratory and circulatory disease, based on U.S. Mortality Statistics.

In 1997, “Cold Exposure and Winter Mortality from Ischemic Heart Disease, Cerebrovascular Diseases, Respiratory Diseases and all Causes in Warm & Cold Regions of Europe” (Keatinge, Donaldson, et al) explained the mechanisms of serious illness from cold: hemoconcentration increases blood viscosity and accounts for half of all excess cold-related mortality. In 2000 “Heart Related Mortality in Warm and Cold Regions of Europe: Observational Study” examined mortality as a function of mean daily temperature in Athens, Greece; London, England; and Helsinki, Finland. These two studies provide the most comprehensive evidence that mortality decreases as temperature increases, over most of the current climate range of Europe. The data shows U.S. mortality from cardiac, vascular, and respiratory disease in winter is seven times greater than in summer; in Europe, nine to ten times greater. Data from the 1997 study indicate an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 fewer deaths in the U.S. per year from a 1 degree C temperature rise.

In 2007 Deschenes and Moretti presented a comprehensive study of all-cause mortality as a function of the day of the year. Maximum mortality occurs in January, and the minimum is in the warmest months of July and August.

In 2008 the U.K. Department of Health released “Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2008”, an update of reports from 2001/2002. It showed that there was no increase in heat-related deaths 1971-2002 despite warmer summers. And cold-related mortality fell by more than a third in all regions.

So, in light of the foregoing, how could EPA scientists conclude that global warming, from increases in carbon dioxide, is a danger to human health? Easy...if you are a lackey willing to contrive a phony excuse to keep your job and “justify” an unscientific policy that will bring more power and money to the agency and please the boss. And, of course, you have to have zero integrity. Which is not a problem in EPA.

Historically, there have been governments notorious for falsifying science to advance their political agendas. It is disappointing, and frightening, to see it happening in the United States.


Ben said...

I wonder how the EPA will regulate natural CO2 emissions, such as from volcanos, oceans, forests, wild fires, plants, human respiration.

Ben said...

... and how will they establish a standard for CO2 in the air or a permissible level of emissions.

Unknown said...

Thanks Ed! Its not like there isn't enough injustices going on in Washington already. Now you got me all worked up over the EPA. I have never been so worried about the future of this great nation.