Thursday, 28 May 2009


RISKY BUSINESS…the corrupted links between science, political economics, councils and big business… issue 1

Risk assessment has been turned into a sort of “abstract art” of cost benefit analysis and prediction of health and mortality. At its heart is an immoral equation : if you don’t know the names and addresses of the 4,400 people that died in London last year from air pollution, you aren’t guilty of anything. Epidemiology as an excuse for gross negligence. Profit before people.

The air pollution world is in a bit of a fix, at the moment, because the UK is going to be prosecuted for VERY BAD AIR INDEED…..London’s first and foremost. Pretty soon it will be possible for a private citizen to start a prosecution, all by themselves.

Here are some examples of how government has used science to muddy the waters:

Mortality is an important part of working out cost-benefits. In England this is done by COMEAP…it says that a 10 point rise causes a 6% increase in deaths.
That’s a bit odd, because the Americans, using the same figures say it could be as high as 17%.Other, modern, international figures come up with 19% or 20% increase. 6% or 20%....that makes a big difference to the cost benefit sums.
Pollution modelling a lot of it is done by computer now, not from real monitors in the street. DEFRA have chosen a programme (CMAQ, with the made-sorgam particle model) which European research has shown undercounts severe pollution by 50%.So you can pretend you have reduced pollution at a stroke.
Hiding the problem:In its recent guidance on air pollution to councils DEFRA has produced a document ,on page A3-27 of which, is advice on how to hide chimney emissions on computer models.. Grids of 50 metres square show dense concentrations of pollutants in certain areas. 200 metre grids make these disappear. Hide or show?...what do you think they will do?
The big LAEI…..these days the government doesn’t want to measure pollution in the real world…but in its fairyland world of computerised emission inventories, where the numbers are falling. It’s all a bit embarrassing really, because they haven’t shut the real world down yet. King’s college scientists show there has not been any fall in emissions for the last 10 years, what’s more, there may well have been a rise. Heatwave years are very bad, just like we are about to have.

The trouble is the government have a whip hand on the grants that keep scientists in work. Industry often decides what work it will fund or not. The Incinerator Industry has no intention of funding any real research, because it knows what will be found….just the same as in the rest of the world. The government want things covered up…it wants to talk about work done by ”independent “ scientists…when that is an opinion on original work done long ago, not an original piece of new work. There will be new incinerators, new waste streams and new problems.

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