How Do Air Pollution Alerts Affect Public Health Use?

Effects of an air pollution personal alert system on health service usage in a high-risk general population: a quasi-experimental study using linked data (7 page pdf, R A Lyons, S E Rodgers, S Thomas, R Bailey, H Brunt, D Thayer, J Bidmead, B A Evans, P Harold, M Hooper, H Snooks, J Epidemiol Community Health,  May 23, 2016)

Today we review an analysis of the reaction of an “intervention”  group of patients with air pollution- related illnesses (cardio-respiratory and COPD) to alerts produced by the UK’s airAware alert system over a two year period, as measured by visits to hospital emergency departments, compared to a control group which were not similarly afflicted. Results indicate a doubling of emergency admissions and four times the number of respiratory conditions for the intervention group compared to the control group. The authors conclude that some health interventions or alerts beyond a certain distribution level are harmful in terms of health service utilisation.


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How do Special Interests Hold Back Progress on Climate Change?

Dislocated interests and climate change (5 page pdf, Steven J Davis and Noah Diffenbaugh, Environmental Research Letters, May 31, 2016)

Today we review a very pertinent analysis of costs and benefits as applied to climate impacts and national (and corporate) interests and how the concentration of short term, local benefits is separated in time and space with longer term impacts. As a concluding sentence in the article reads: “the most problematic dislocations of interests are where benefits are concentrated in time, space, and parties”. Often too, the profits from fossil fuels accrue to corporations in developed countries while the impacts fall mainly on developing countries and governments. Attempts to recover these costs get bogged down in a lack of international mechanisms to deal with them either through the World Trade Organization, World Bank or the International Framework on Climate Change and climate agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 or the Paris Agreement of 2015 – all of which point to the need for a greater definition and recognition of these special needs in addressing climate change.

special interests and cl ch

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2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

How Does the Wording of a Poll Affect Response to Risks from Climate Change?

The impacts of political cues and practical information on climate change decisions  (11 page pdf, Gabrielle Wong-Parodi and Baruch Fischhoff, Environmental Research Letters, Feb. 26, 2015)

Also discussed here: ‘Global Warming’’ or ‘‘Climate Change’’? Whether The Planet Is Warming Depends on Question Wording (10 Page pdf, Jonathon P. Schuldt, Sara H. Konrath & Norbert Schwarz, Public Opinion Quarterly, Feb. 21, 2011)

And here: Surging Seas Risk Finder (Sea level rise analysis, Climate Central)

Today we review research into the effectiveness of calls to the public for action on climate change and how this is influenced by how the threat is labeled: climate change or global warming. Participants were given a situation where they were to buy a house on a coastal city in southeaster USA, Savanna, which is vulnerable to flooding. They were asked to consider the elevation of the site as well as a second independent factor, climate change and given a Risk Finder tool to quantify the risk from flooding. Earlier polls concluded that 7% more people believe in “climate change” than “global warming”, probably because the latter is more easily refuted using local cold spells. More Democrats than Republicans are believers in the sense that they saw a greater risk from climate impacts. Posing a prior question as to their climate belief tended to neutralize the response compared with not posing it beforehand, suggesting that the flooding issue could be addressed on factual grounds without involving political motivation. The authors conclude by suggesting that polls “focus on facts that people need, while avoiding terms that divide them”.

savanna flood zone

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What does the Pope have to Say about Climate Change?

Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ Of The Holy Father Francis On Care For Our Common Home (184 page pdf, Vatican, Jun. 18, 2015)

Also discussed here: Eight things we learned from the Pope’s climate change encyclical (The Guardian, Jun. 18, 2015)

And here: Civil Society Reactions: Papal Encyclical for Climate Action (Climate Action Network, Jun. 18, 2015)

And here: The Pope’s Memo on Climate Change Is a Mind-Blower (Wired, Jun. 18, 2015)

And here: What Does the Pope’s Climate Encyclical Mean? (Aaron Huertas, Union of Concerned Scientists, Jun. 18, 2015)

And here: Can Pope Francis’s ‘street cred’ shift the climate change debate? (Erin Obourn, CBC, Jun. 20, 2015)


Today we review the “Encyclical Letter” which sets the stage for nations to gather at Paris in December 2015 to meet the challenges of climate change and prescribe global solutions that reduce impacts. The Pope’s comprehensive and (surprisingly) well informed statement recognizes that oil and gas consumption by technology is the main cause of anthropogenic climate change and that impacts unfairly hit the developing world which has had little if no role in causing them but now have difficulty in dealing with them. The need to go beyond technological solutions is underlined as well as the need to communicate both social and environmental concerns in addition to economic challenges which many see as the main or only worry.


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Why (most) Politicians Do Not Act on Climate Change?

How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate [Kindle Edition] (120 pages, Andrew Hoffman, Mar. 11, 2015)

Also discussed here: Social sciences are best hope for ending debates over climate change (Andy Hoffman, The Conversation, Apr. 2, 2015)

Today we review an enlightened book by Professor Andy Hoffman which looks beyond the scientific evidence for climate change as a basis for policy to the socio-economic and cultural interests that must be satisfied before substantive action meet with public approval – even though, parenthetically, it appears that the public is far ahead of their political masters on the solutions which mainly revolve around a form of carbon tax (or carbon “dividend” as the new terminology dubs it). Hoffman contrasts the way scientists think and propose solutions to the way that social scientists deal with similar challenges. He also recognizes debates where extremes are debated that affect a few instead of main issues affecting the majority with exaggerated positions taken to defend each side- which is true not only of the climate debate (top – down imposed tax vs. freedom from government control) but also the abortion debate (life vs. choice), neither of which involve the factual or scientific sides of the arguments. Addressing climate change requires significant change to the physical infrastructure and institutions and lifestyles that support carbon fuels. Unless these interests are addressed, little progress on policy is possible.

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 ...

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Can Climate Clubs and Community-Based Initiatives overcome International Free-Riding to Reduce Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

How Idealism, Expressed in Concrete Steps, Can Fight Climate Change (Robert J. Shiller, New York Times, Mar. 29, 2015)

Also discussed here: A Polycentric Approach for Coping with Climate Change (56 page pdf, Elinor Ostrom, Policy Research Working Paper 5095, Background Paper to the 2010 World Development Report, The World Bank, Oct. 2009)

And here: Climate Clubs: Designing a Mechanism to Overcome Free-Riding in International Climate Policy (51 min webcast video, American Economic Association Presidential Address, William Nordhaus, Jan. 4, 2015)

Today we review two ideas that will overcome the last of four key aspects of climate change: climate science (mature and known), costs to reduce emissions (known), economic instruments to implement policy (carbon tax, cap and trade, known), system to prevent international free-riding (zero progress). Free-riding avoids the costs of implementing change while benefiting international from the actions of the few nations who do take action at cost to themselves. Little global leadership is seen in the failed attempts to reduce global GHG emissions and even when countries pledge to reduce emissions, dropping out of that pledge brought no penalties or sanctions to the partner that exits- as seen by the decision of the Canadian government to drop out of its Kyoto Protocol commitment in 2011.

Two proposals are now on the table and involve starting at the community level or small group of participating countries and then expanding these as progress is made. Climate Clubs is a top-down treaty with penalties for non-participants (such as tariffs for imports into climate club regions) which can lead to high participation with high abatement The Community approach, introduced at the 2009 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen (notably the world’s first carbon neutral capital), is based on action at the individual or community level where benefits can be more clearly seen and costs are less than through changes at the national or international level. Both avoid the problem of free-riding. cycling for cl ch To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

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