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Carbon dioxide emissions linked to mortality

Original post made on Jan 3, 2008

In a groundbreaking study, Stanford University researchers have linked the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide to an increase in mortality.



Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 3, 2008, 10:52 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Can't wait to see the study ... if it weren't for the recent media penchant to promote any story remotely linked to "global warming", this study wouldn't attract any attention. For each 1 degree celsius increase an additional 1000 deaths in the US? I wonder how statistically significant this is given that the US death rate is > 2 million

2004 data: Web Link

i.e. this study is trying to link a cause => effect accounting for <0.05% change in mortality rate.

I am pretty skeptical. I suspect that using accepted "statistical" methods I could show a similar impact on mortality due to a very large number of everyday activities (drinking more than 1 cup of coffee per day, watching TV more than 10 hours per week, working in front of a computer 6 hrs per day, etc.). Of course it is very hard to isolate effect from a single cause at a 0.01% level ... heavy coffee drinkers could be slightly more likely to be overweight, sedentary, have high stress, etc. or some other slight statistical weight on a factor (or interaction between multiple factors) not controlled for in the study that is the real cause (not necessarily coffee drinking).

Hopefully "global warming" hysteria will at least make us focus on the real impending crisis ... rapid depletion of earths' remaining natural resources as the vast majority of the global population strives more successfully than in the past to emerge from third-world living standards.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2008 at 12:50 pm

from the article: ""This is a cause and effect relationship, not just a correlation," Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering, said. His study, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, concludes that upwards of 20,000 air-pollution-related deaths per year globally may be caused by an increase in carbon dioxide emissions."

Please not that the study director went of of his way to qualify that the results were not correlative, but cause and effect - as the deaths are "air-pollution-related".

I expect to see doubters as more and more of thsi kind of work gets done, but in the end, the doubters will join the ranks of hapless cigarette company CEO's who defend their production of poison.

It's not easy to accept information that requires changes in our behavior, but that's what we're facing. We have to adapt to these new realities, and do something to abate their negative influences.


Posted by Joanna, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 3, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Mike, well said. Your analogy of the cigarette companies is a good one. No one wanted to believe it; everyone smoked, and tobacco was a major industry. The sooner we adjust and accept empirical data, the more quickly we can adapt and address the challenge at hand.


Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Mike,

come on, get real... you must be a true believer to accept on face value that a ~0.05% effect can be reliably tied to a single cause. This is in the noise vs other impacts on mortality (cigarette smoking,alcohol,disease, diet, lifestyle, healthcare, genetics), but at least the result fits your belief system. Without being able to see the study, I have to give credit of impartiality to the researcher since the data could no doubt be interpreted in a different manner to produce a much more impressive correlation. We would need to see the actual study methodology to determine how far in or out of the noise statistically.

thanks for the laugh:
"I expect to see doubters as more and more of thsi kind of work gets done, but in the end, the doubters will join the ranks of hapless cigarette company CEO's who defend their production of poison."

I expect to see more-and-more alarmest reporting blowing things out of proportion in the popular press. Based upon this short excerpt, a better title would be
"Study examines possible link between CO2 and increase in mortality rate" ... with explanation of how difficult it is to establish cause and effect relationships from statistical data, some details on the study methodology and the "conclusion" being that only a small possible effect was reported in the study. Assuming its a first of its kind study and the methodology is sound, its still worth taking note.

P.S. I only spent time responding to this article because I knew someone like you would jump out and say "see, the sky is falling". It might be falling indeed, but a 0.05% effect doesn't demonstrate it if you understand the limitations of these kinds of studies.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Dan, I await the results of YOUR study; until then, you're just blowing Co2. Until then, this is what the science says. You don't like that? Then start your very own discipline of science, see how far you get in peer review.


Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 3, 2008 at 1:49 pm

While it is likely that temperature increase could lead to more heat related deaths, it is also likely that it will lead to fewer cold related deaths. The question then swings on whether there is a total increase in weather related deaths.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2008 at 2:12 pm

"While it is likely that temperature increase could lead to more heat related deaths, it is also likely that it will lead to fewer cold related deaths."

After I see your mapping study of cold weather region decreases, I'll happily discuss this variation with you.


Posted by Daniel, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 3, 2008 at 2:38 pm

I spent over three decades in research that included epidemiological
studies. Multiple regression analysis will not establish causality. It is really a guessing game, especially the choice to include and exclude variables to study. Sometimes these type of studies point in the right direction, other times they evaporate as meta-phenomenon.

Professor Jacobsen must know that he will have a huge challenge to his published results. I wish him the best, but I wouldn't bet on him.


Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2008 at 3:08 pm

>Dan, I await the results of YOUR study; until then, you're just blowing Co2. Until then, this is what the science says. You don't like that? Then start your very own discipline of science, see how far you get in peer review.

What's your background in science and how much do you know about performing studies like this? How many peer reviewed papers have you had published? I've been through the peer-review process enough during PhD research to know not to have blind faith in "the science", especially when its filtered through reporting by non-scientists. If you had any background in science, you'd have a better appreciation of the difference between healthy skepticism and religious belief.
And, my original point remains. Irrespective of the merits of the particular study methodology used here (of which no relevant details are given), the conclusion as stated in this summary is that the impact of warming by a couple of degrees on mortality rates in the US is insignificant statistically. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the impact is significantly greater than the < 0.1% stated, but its pretty hard to predict consequences of environmental changes on mortality... maybe 2-3 degrees warmer could facilitate a virulent human virus/disease to spread, or maybe we as humans can actually better adapt to live in a warmer climate. I don't think "the science" would be willing to say the answer is known, although "the religion" is ready with say the case is proved (and attack anyone who doesn't "believe").


Posted by joan, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 3, 2008 at 3:38 pm



This is another example of researchers linking their work to the fad of global warming so they get funded, however weak the link.

Meanwhile Russian scientist warn of the coming global cooling and discover the advantages of increased CO2
see Web Link

I can hear the giant sucking sound as investment dollars are withdrawn from the global warming bubble, remember the south sea bubble?


Posted by NoMoreBreadAndCircuses, a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2008 at 3:46 pm

It appears from the article that the "researchers" presumed at the outset that carbon dioxide causes the temperature changes responsible for global warming, although this is hardly a scientifically established fact. The "study" then links increases in temperature to increases in air pollution and therefore the death rate, an already well established connection.
So what exactly do we have here? Not much it seems. It looks like a case of agenda driven, garbage-in-garbage-out science. The kind that is all too prevalent today, taylor made to sucker the unscientifically trained mind.


Posted by Warming is for Real, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 3, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Here's a song title:

"Where Have All the Alternate Studies Gone? Gone, Gone, Waaaanting....

keep whining folks, I await your studies on this matter.

Of course, there's no note of the sheer *weight* of unrelated, scientifically sound studies that DO show warming, and our role in same.

Some people, even the occasional PHD, never learn.


Posted by positive thinker, a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Hey Mr. Warming
Look at the bright side.
If CO2 causes global warming and more air pollution that raises the
mortality rate, just think how the planet is healing itself!
There will fewer people around to contribute to the CO2 load. Thus
global warming is self limiting. The wisdom of nature is so awesome!


Posted by Warming is for Real, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Positive thinker. You may be the first person to show the non-survival value of positive thinking.


Posted by Sober Observer, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 3, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Humor, irony and sound science - all lost on Mr. Warming.


Posted by Warming is for Real, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 3, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Sober, is your sig a sign of a temporary condition? I'm afraid that high wit may be getting past you. Get it? :)

Whew! it's getting hot in here///


Posted by ILikeItHot, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 3, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Joan:
"Meanwhile Russian scientist warn of the coming global cooling and discover the advantages of increased CO2"

Wow, the GW Deniers have been reduced to citing the work of Communists - giving an ironic new meaning to the phrase "Cold War." What's the next accusation - GW scientists are secretly part of al-Qaeda?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2008 at 2:09 am

What is the effect of denying a population the benefits of the energy for which the CO2 is a byproduct? How many people would die this winter if they could not heat their homes? How many people could survive without the food that only mechanised production can supply? So we let 99 percent of the people die to save 1000 lives a year? How can the same university that brings us the Medical Center and Silicon Valley also bring this idiocy?


Posted by C02-Is-A-Natural-Gas, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2008 at 11:50 am

Human mortality is linked to any number of things. For instance, a number of studies have linked increased daily death counts in cities which have spikes in the micron-level particulate matter (originating from soot that comes from diesel engines, and wind-blown matter that is sucked up from desert areas and blown into urban areas):

Web Link

> Particulate matter and daily mortality and hospital admissions
> in the west midlands conurbation of the United Kingdom:
> associations with fine and coarse particles, black smoke and
> sulphate

One thousand additional deaths per year (out of 2.6M) would seem to be most tenuous to prove as linked to C02 emissions, remembering that the temperature change for the past century has been less than 1 degree (C).

Of course, if CO2 comes from fossil fuel use, and there is an increase in crease in particulate matter which can be linked to these emissions, then there is likely to be an increase in the daily deaths linked to particulate matter.

It will be interesting to see if the proof of these increased deaths will be on the death certificates (in other words doctors will be willing to see the death as related to C02, or if the increase in deaths will be only "statistically" linked.)

Thinking about this on a century-time line, there will be over 250M people who will die over the next 100 years. According to this study, there might be an additional 60,000 who might die prematurely based on CO2 emissions (which somehow increase the temperature).

Somehow, this study doesn't seem like it's going to raise a lot of interest.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2008 at 12:28 pm

The only sure corelation is between doom saying and grant receiving. For shame!


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 4, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Walter, I have seen your posts on a variety of subjects and have always appreciated the level of rational intelligent thought you bring to the table.
It is also a relief to see that there are so many others in our commmunity who have not fallen for the great man-made global warming hoax.
It is to you, the level headed sound thinkers, that I make this appeal.
Our lawmakers need to hear from you.
They need to know that they will ill serve the people by catering to global warming hysteria.
They must not pass legislation based on faulty assumptions, sound-bite science, half-baked theories or the pressure to do something/anything now just to show that they "care".
The "unforseen consequences" of such shortsighted legislation usually causes the greatest harm to those with the least resources: the poor, the elderly, the disabled etc.
Please make your voices heard.
Otherwise, the squeakiest -and the most unstable wheel will continue to get all the grease.
And we will all suffer for it.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Jan 4, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Walter, I have seen your posts on a variety of subjects and have always appreciated the level of rational intelligent thought you bring to the table.
It is also a relief to see that there are so many others in our commmunity who have not fallen for the great man-made global warming hoax.
It is to you, the level headed sound thinkers, that I make this appeal.
Our lawmakers need to hear from you.
They need to know that they will ill serve the people by catering to global warming hysteria.
They must not pass legislation based on faulty assumptions, sound-bite science, half-baked theories or the pressure to do something/anything now just to show that they "care".
The "unforseen consequences" of such shortsighted legislation usually causes the greatest harm to those with the least resources: the poor, the elderly, the disabled etc.
Please make your voices heard.
Otherwise, the squeakiest -and the most unstable wheel will continue to get all the grease.
And we will all suffer for it.


Posted by perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2008 at 11:39 am

Walter:RIGHT ON!!You are absolutely right.

The starting presumption of this entire study was that people are spitting out enough CO2 to affect the global climate..which is a false assumption designed to get grant money..and it succeeded.

Human CO2 production is less than 3% of all the "greenhouse" gases in our climate..so, I find this "study" falsely based, and even more so falsely concluded. The false conclusion is that humans can spit out so much more CO2 that we can actually cause an increase in global temperature.

In the meantime, I wonder when the "earth is freezing" alarmism will start again. Isn't it about time for that to cycle back?


Posted by Warming is for Real, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 5, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Perhaps you might have a chat with the *thousands* of scientists that have peer reviewed the studies that make the warming claims. I await your detailed refutation of those studies, based on repeatable results, with the same weight that those studies have put forward.


Posted by C02-Is-A-Natural-Gas, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2008 at 12:19 pm

> I wonder when the "earth is freezing" alarmism will
> start again. Isn't it about time for that to cycle back?

A Russian scientist made that prediction about 18 months ago:
---
Web Link

Russian scientist predicts global cooling

Published: Aug. 25, 2006 at 9:25 PM

MOSCOW, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A Russian scientist predicts a period of global cooling in coming decades, followed by a warmer interval.

Khabibullo Abdusamatov expects a repeat of the period known as the Little Ice Age. During the 16th century, the Baltic Sea froze so hard that hotels were built on the ice for people crossing the sea in coaches.

The Little Ice Age is believed to have contributed to the end of the Norse colony in Greenland, which was founded during an interval of much warmer weather.

Abdusamatov and his colleagues at the Russian Academy of Sciences astronomical observatory said the prediction is based on measurement of solar emissions, Novosti reported. They expect the cooling to begin within a few years and to reach its peak between 2055 and 2060.

"The Kyoto initiatives to save the planet from the greenhouse effect should be put off until better times," he said. "The global temperature maximum has been reached on Earth, and Earth's global temperature will decline to a climatic minimum even without the Kyoto protocol."
---


Posted by perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Dear Warming:

Perhaps you would like to read every scientific study done on climate change and realize that a small minority attribute any climate change to humans...

Don't mix up the issues..climate change happens, whether warming or cooling, the debate is weather ( yuk yuk) or not we actually affect it..so far, barring a nuclear winter, the answer is a growing and resounding "no, we don't".

Doesn't mean we give up trying to live cleaner and cleaner for all the proven benefits that brings, but it DOES mean that the "global warming" bat is increasingly smaller and can't be used to bludgeon us into handing over our liberties and monies for silly reasons.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2008 at 8:25 pm

"Perhaps you might have a chat with the *thousands* of scientists that have peer reviewed the studies that make the warming claims."
I would love the opportunity to ask them why they allowed correction factors orders of magnitude larger than the modeled change to go unchallenged. I would then ask them what percentage of their own grants relied on continued flogging the warming horse. Just line the reviewers up. You buy.


Posted by Warming is for Real, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 7, 2008 at 12:28 am

Ask away, Walter. That's your right. btw, how many order of magnitude correction factors have been made? Not many. You're battling the weight of evidence because you see conspiracy where there is none. This is a familiar pattern.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 7, 2008 at 4:25 am

Peer reviews, like judicial lifetime appointments, are neither a guarantee of obectivity nor a validation of methodology. Apparently breaking someone's rice bowl is just as gauche in academia as it was in Mandarin China, and the politicalization of journals, like the radicalization of Lancet, has brought the whole journal peer review into question.


Posted by perspective., a resident of Midtown
on Jan 7, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Again, just because most scientific studies are peer reviewed does not mean that most scientific studies conclude that humans contribute to climate change.

In fact, it is precisely the opposite. The vast majority of studies do NOT attribute change to human activity...climate change is a natural and complicated cycle.

Now that the world has had its..ahem...Gore-asm by giving that silly "Peace Prize", can we get back to simply being as clean as possible without the silly "we are all going to die so hand over your money" alarmism? It just isn 't going to work, and in fact does the opposite. That really stupid ad which says "Global warming, it is a choice," then goes on to try to guilt us all into "changing our lightbulbs to save the planet for the good of our children", then asks for money really just makes me want to go back home and change all my lightbulbs back to the old ones!

Let's go back to the reasoning that was provable and which we actually saw work in the last 30 years..where LA air is breathable, Michigan waters can grow fish, Lousiana swamps are supporting life, midwest rivers have trout once again, we have more trees in our nation than were here when Europeans first landed..THESE are the actual and provable reasons for cleaning ourselves up.

And we did it all WITHOUT the UN, WITHOUT giving up our liberties, WITHOUT raising taxes to pay.


Posted by JustSayNoToHysteria, a resident of another community
on Jan 7, 2008 at 4:55 pm

The Palo Alto city council should stop wasting time and money on their silly efforts to curb CO2 production.
Too bad they can't tell real science from the junk variety.
The above so-called study is a perfect example of the latter.
The real question is; can we survive the effects of all the hot air generated by the global warming hysterics and the peddlers of fraudulent science?


Posted by Warming is for Real, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 7, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Justsayno, and perspective...THere are always a few holdouts when things change - I think we call them 'dinosaurs'


Posted by perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 7, 2008 at 8:49 pm

To warming is real: Again, nobody is saying it isn't for real, the question is how much do humans control or contribute to climate change.

Your signature tells me you don't understand the point we are making. Dinosaurs were wiped out by factors completely beyond their control. Barring a nuclear winter, which is the power we unfortunately DO have to affect climate, if climate wipes us out, it will be from some catastrophic event over which we have no control either. So, you are right, in that sense we are all dinosaurs.


Posted by Warming is for Real, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Jan 7, 2008 at 9:19 pm

perspective: tragically, there are those who choose to remain ignorant of certain facts - even more tragically, there may be a propensity in some to remain ignorant in the face of the facts. This is the case with those who continue to oppose the realities of global warming. Thank goodness they're in the minority


Posted by AnObserver, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 8, 2008 at 11:34 am

Mr. Warming,
Tragically, it seems that thinking, discerning people will always be in the minority.
The rest prefer the lemming mentality.
However, it appears from this thread and others where the warming topic surfaces, that there are a healthy number of rational and educated skeptics out there.
No, we won't be joining you as you rush for that great man-made global warming cliff -no matter how much you kick and spit.
Perhaps we may even turn the tide of this insanity.


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