Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Media Suck Up Another Phony "Study" By Enviros

In their never-ending campaign to stop progress and dial back the human race, environmentalists have long had the construction industry in their sights. Now they're backing it with science ... well, enviro-science.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS, which also stands for Un-Conscious Scientists) recently issued a "study" that "finds" that air pollution from construction vehicles is killing more than 1,100 Californians each year, sending similar numbers to the hospital, and sickening hundreds of thousands more -- all at a cost of $9 billion per year.

Oh. My. Gosh. How could this happen? Thousands are dying! Billions are lost!

Of course, the whole thing is a howling lie.

The Reason Foundation has decimated the study in a paper, Burying Evidence, that points out that scientists have been unable to kill lab animals with construction exhaust, no matter how hard they've tried, and (quoting now from the report):
  • Laboratory studies indicate that current, historically low levels of air pollution are at worst a minor factor in people’s health. ... Laboratory studies with human volunteers, including asthmatics, have not found harm from PM2.5 [the sort of particulate emissions construction vehicles emit] even at concentrations a few times greater than the highest real-world levels. This is true even for components of PM, such as diesel soot, that would be expected to have the highest toxicity. UCS does not mention or include any of this evidence in its report.

  • Instead, UCS bases its health claims on the results from a much weaker type of study design called an "observational" epidemiology study. Observational studies work with non-randomly selected subjects and non-randomly assigned pollution exposures and then use statistical techniques to try to remove the biases inherent in non-random data. Unfortunately, a range of evidence shows that observational studies are unreliable and tend to create an appearance of risk where no risk in fact exists. ... Furthermore, even with their inherent biases, many observational studies have not found any harm associated with air pollution, yet UCS omits this contrary evidence from its analysis as well.

  • UCS assumes that NOx emissions from construction equipment increase ozone, but in fact NOx emissions reduce ozone. A range of air pollution research has shown that when the ratio of VOC to NOx in air is relatively low—a condition typical in California’s metropolitan areas—reducing NOx increases ozone, and vice versa. The key evidence is that total NOx levels decline substantially on weekends, mainly due to reductions in the use of diesel trucks and construction equipment, but ozone levels rise.

  • UCS exaggerates Californians’ exposure to air pollution. For example, UCS claims "more than 90 percent of Californians live in areas that do not comply with the federal ozone standard." The real percentage is only one-third of what UCS claims. UCS generated its exaggerated value by counting "clean" areas as "dirty." For example, even though 99 percent of people in San Diego County live in areas that comply with the federal 8-hour ozone standard, UCS counts all 3 million San Diegans as living in an area that violates the standard. Thus, in addition to exaggerating the harm from any given level of air pollution, UCS also exaggerates the air pollution levels themselves.
This is all so typical of the sensationalist tendencies of environmentalist science, from global warming to endangered species to industrial "toxins." Yet they receive a green light from the fauning media and frequently they exert undue and unwarranted influence on regulators and legislators.

They will respond to the Reason study, no doubt, by pointing out that the Reason Foundation receives funding from this industry or that, so its findings are not just suspect but damnable.

As if its own finances weren't damnable. According to Activist Cash, UCS's biggest contributors include:
  • The environmentally radical MacArthur Foundation, which have given UCS more than $5 million.
  • The suspiciously named Energy Foundation, which is really a part of the Trust for Public Lands, which has given more than $3.8 million.
  • The Blue Moon Fund, which funds nothing but environmentalists causes, including $3.6 million to UCS.
  • They dispicable Joyce Foundation, in which the heiress of timber, building and sawmill industries uses her inherited (not earned) money to put timber, building and sawmill industries out of business. $3 million.
  • Of course the ubiquitous Pew Charitable Trust is there, giving $3 million. This money, by the way, was originally earned by the founder of Sun Oil Company.
  • And in a sweet irony, there's the Ford Foundation, created from the wealth of the man who did more than anyone to bring the internal combustion engine to America. $1.6 million.
All these funders have a radical environmentalist agenda and would cut their funding in a heartbeat if UCS issued a sound and scientific study that said this or that pollution really wasn't all that bad. With $12 million coming in annually from these foundations, UCS is completely sold out and biased; pay no attention to their criticism of groups with oil and industry funding.

As for the "science" in their name, here again is Activist Cash:
The Union of Concerned Scientists was born out of a protest against the war in Vietnam. In 1969, a group of 48 faculty members at MIT -- the original “union” -- sponsored a one-day work stoppage of scientific research. A conference that coincided with the strike included appearances from such notables as Noam Chomsky (who is now recognized as a leader of the 21st Century “hate-America left”); Eric Mann, who led the 1960s terrorist Weather Underground; and Jonathan Kabat, who argued: “We want capitalism to come to an end.”

Later that year, when the founding document of the Union of Concerned Scientists was formalized, the United States’ relationship with the Soviet Union was featured even more prominently than environmental issues. Three of the five propositions in the founding document concern political questions of the Cold War -- a topic about which even the brightest physicists and biologists can claim no particular expertise.

UCS continues to involve itself in issues where scientific credentials carry little weight. For example, the group opposes urban sprawl, disputes a war in Iraq, and supports abortion. While these positions may be perfectly legitimate in themselves, they are hardly the product of “rigorous scientific analysis.”

Do you see any of this in the media coverage that clings to any UCS release like soot on a chimney? Of course not; you see the opposite, like this editorial in the Riverside (CA) Press Enterprise:
California ignores the hazards of pollution from construction equipment at residents' peril. The state has clamped down on diesel pollution from big rigs and buses; it is time to add bulldozers, backhoes, excavators and other off-road machinery to the regulatory list.

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report Tuesday that puts the health effects of diesel-powered construction equipment into stark terms. The document shows why the state Air Resources Board's plans to limit such pollution deserve public support.

The study estimates that diesel exhaust from construction equipment costs California $9.1 billion a year in health-care expenses. The pollution causes more than 1,100 premature deaths annually - more than 700 in Southern California alone. Not surprisingly, cities from the fast-growing Inland counties rank high on the list of places at risk.
Not a bit of journalistic skepticism is evidenced in this editorial, or in any of the other 16 hits Nexis found for me. Just drooling, groveling, unquestioning acceptance of lies. Let industry issue a report and you won't see any of this. In fact, you'll see nothing. The media won't run it because in their view, the report is biased.

The grand enviro-media conspiracy continues to function just fine, thank you.

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