Return to Website

Number Watch Web Forum

This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

Number Watch Web Forum
Start a New Topic 
Author
Comment
View Entire Thread
Re: Study: Ship emissions cause 60,000 deaths a year

My response to the "60,000 deaths" sort of paper is to say "What are their names?". If you don't know them all, just tell me one or two. No? Well let's worry about killers where we know the exact numbers and names of avoidable victims. When we've done that, we can get onto shipping emissions and whatever. Unless this whole paper is a front for Luddism, of course. If it IS true, we'll just whip the nuc plants out of all those old subs and bolt them in bulk carriers, no smoke then. Or is it international trade that you are really aiming at? Well, why didn't you say so then.

Yes JMW, this story has a whiff to it.

Re: Study: Ship emissions cause 60,000 deaths a year (Ratty Numbers)

I agree JMW and Adrian,

Their is both a 'rat' and a 'whiff' in the numbers, it is classic obfuscation. I ran their numbers against real world statistics, here is what happened:-

World population = 6.5 Billion
World average life expectancy = 60 years
World deaths due to Cardiopulmonary/Lung cancer = 49% (WHO)
Claimed 'Premature' Deaths due to shipping = 60,000 p.anum

So, 6.5b./60 = (1.083x 10_8) x .49 = 53,000,000, and 60,000/ 53m = 0.001!
One in one thousand deaths for the world could be premature, very big deal! They say up to 25% increase, but 25% of 0.1% is still only 0.125%.

Other numbers of interest:- At sea, around 70% of shipping emissions fall out directly into the sea. Only 30% get entrained in the atmosphere. Undersea volcanic activity and related emissions have never been measured and never modelled. Best estimates by marine scientists put them at between 100 to 200 times land volcanic emissions!

And one thing that really bug's me is the continuous abuse of the Gas Laws. They use the Centigrade scale for temperature, when even a reasonably bright 12 year old understands the reason for using the Kelvin scale. What we get is, and this is the real con', they take -18 C and call that the earth's blackbody temp., then add the average temp. 12 C = 30 C. So when they talk about a 1 C rise in earth's temp, it becomes an increase of 3.3% over bb, or even 8.5% over ambient! Now if 3.3% was true it would be catastrophic, it isn't, because the 'gas laws' state that all temperature calculations Must be based on absolute zero, which is -273 K. Now in the kelvin scale the earth's ambient temp. is 285 K, if we warm by 1 K (1 C), then the increase 1/285 = 0.0035 or
0.35%, one order of magnitude lower! Of course, climate scientists know this but they will not bite the hand that feeds them!

We do have a plague of 'rats'.

David

Re: Study: Ship emissions cause 60,000 deaths a year

Well,
I guess it is part of a well ordered campaign.
First the propaganda and then some plan of action from a seemingly un-related quarter.
If I can track this article down (it appears on a subscriber site which costs $2000 plus a year)I could get details but what are they needed for, this is just the headline grabber:
"The US branch of the environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has started a campaign to ban the use of residual product as bunker fuel. ..."
Ironic is that another scientist wants to use rockets or shells to shoot sulphur into the atmosphere as part of a plan to combat global warming.
In a recent report (from APi specialists) it is reported that switching from Residual fuels to distillate fuels would require some time (around 2020 we might get there) for the refiners to invest in the necessary plant. Of course, residual fuel costs $430 a ton and is a refinery waste. Distillate, at current prices, is around $750 a ton (which can, even so still contain sulphur) so what a desulphurised distillate fuel would cost is anyone's guess. Oh yes, and because residual fuel is refinery waste there is very little energy cost associated with producing it, but to swicth to distillates would require reprocessing the residuals and this would increase the energy consumption and increase CO2 emissions significantly.
Sulphur was once 2/3 natural and 1/3 from fossil fuels; 30% was land based use and 3% marine use and not all the marine use sulphur returns near human habitat. Now sure, we have reduced the land based fossil fuels sulphur but we must be approaching a point of diminishing returns.
ALso, taking out the sulphur just reduces global chilling (which these same people claim is masking the full effects of global warming) and hence the prof that wants to shoot sulphur up into the atmosphere.
The arguments about high and low level sulphur are a bit specious. In fact marine fuel SOX does retunr close to the point of emission. That is why the MARPOL Treaty establishes SECAs (Sulphur Emission Control Areas, the Baltic, North Sea and English Channel to Start) where low sulphur fuel is burnt.
So the impact on humans is limited, being limited and will be further limited without banning residual fuels.
Of course, high altitude sulphur may remain for longer but it still comes back to earth some time to be renewed by further natural activity. Low altitude sulphur and particulates are said to interact with clouds and, as we know, water vapour and clouds are a very important factor in warming/cooling.
Besides, the fact is that we are dealing with marine (residual fuel)fuel that accounts for 1-2% of the atmospheric sulphur and thus if that is 60,000 deaths, then the overall numbers are 300,000 to 600,000 from all sulphur.

Re: Study: Ship emissions cause 60,000 deaths a year

Well, I obviously don't have the gift of the big lie....
if 60,000 deaths are due to marine sulphur, then I guess if that is 1-2% of the atmospheric sulphur I should say that atmospheric sulphur kills 50 to 100 times as many altogether.
That is, 3-6 million.
That's better. Deaths in the millions.
So I guess I ought to draft a headline that says "By burning refinery waste products for over 50 years, the marine industry has condemned to death many millions of people around the world. Refinery wastes, called "residual fuels", are rich in sulphur and this enters the atmosphere as Sulphur oxides along with other particulates and greenhouse gases. Over the last around 30 years it is estimated that atmospheric sulphur pollution has possibly been responsible for as many as a 180million lives (sorry, "deaths").
How can i claim this? didn't i read that high altitude sulphur stays up longer? If so, and volcanic activity has been going on since the earth was formed, we would have an atmosphere of virtually nothing but sulphur. So, as they say in the small print of all those outlandish financial offers, what goes up must be coming down.
Seems fair to me.

FoE gets in on the act.

http://www.foe.org/
This call for a ban on residual fuels for shipping has been made by the Friends of the Earth and been condemned, naturally, by the industry as emotive, inaccurate and with dubious statistics.
It says:
"The dirty fuel that was spilled literally comes from the bottom of the barrel when oil is refined and is more than 1,000 times dirtier than the diesel fuel used in trucks and buses."
This is an amplification for the claim on a European Greenie site that said it was 500 times dirtier, but was 500 or 1000 times to a believer even if they ae both wrong and deliberately misleading? (marine transport is actually far less polluting than land transport even if the fuel is dirtier simply because it is so very much more efficient).
They then go on to say:
"This bunker fuel -- which powers many cruise and cargo ships -- pollutes the air, threatens human health, and causes global warming."
Actually, they have not yet linked to the "60,000 deaths a year" but give them time.
Causes global warming: well, even if we allowed that CO2 did cause global warming the API report shows that switching to "cleaner fuels" would actually increase the CO2 burden because of the energy required at the refinery to produce it. One would think that in this era of "waste not" and recycling, they ought to be glad that the marine industry can make use of refinery wastes, especially as they are so efficient doing so.
But of course, the marine industry is an easy target.

An interesting UK report

This took some finding:
http://www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk/comeap/statementsreports/longtermeffectsmort2007.pdf
Looking at the data on PM2.5, the fateful emissions causing 60,000 deaths, it suggests that based on a life time dose that at 30micrograms/m3 as the current top end level of exposure, an increase of a similar amount carries a risk factor of 1.18 for all causes and somewhat more for lung cancer at 1.46.
Hmm.
SO if we reduce it by exactly the amount equivalent to the actual exposure levels will we see a similar improvement? But in which case, a risk factor of 1.18 must be a fearful number.... though I must confess that in this web site I am lead to believe it is a trifling amount.
I can see it will take me some time to get my head round all this.
e

Impartiality?

The same authors of the "60,000 deaths" report are also authors of another report: "Emissions from ships". This is in the October 31st Science Magazine; a subscriber only service, but the report is referenced in ScienceDaily ((http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/11/971104062708.htm) who imply they conducted an interview and they say comment:
"worldwide ship nitrogen emissions are equal to nearly half of the total emissions from the United States, 42 percent of nitrogen emissions from North America, 74 percent of emissions from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Europe and 190 percent of those from Germany. They are equal to 100 percent of nitrogen emissions from U.S. mobile sources and 87 percent of nitrogen emissions from U.S. stationary sources."

They add that "ship sulfur emissions equal 43 percent of total sulfur emissions from the United States, 35 percent of sulfur emissions from North America, 53 percent of emissions from OECD Europe and 178 percent of those from Germany. Most of the continental sulfur emissions are from stationary sources."

Hm. The use of "rankings" is as nifty a piece of misrepresentation as the chart axis dodge.
We could analyse this for NOX as we did for Sulphur.
The principle is easy: pick the "Evil USA" as the benchmark and then select the best way to relate your bad news to their emissions data.
So; sulfur: shipping emits as much as the US cars.
43% of the US total from fuels. but still only 3% of the atmospheric total.

What is really worrying is the journalistic confusion between scientific papers, reports, articles and straightforward speculation. If it is a scientist, and assessment is the same as damming evidence or unequivocal proof. If a scientist admits a belief in God then presumably that is proof that God exists.

What is of concern is the apparent lack of scientific objectivity in the way in which "scientists" present their "conclusions". I note the differences in the way Corbett et al represnt their "assessment" and talk about actual "deaths" rather than changes in mortality rates and in this latest example, the use of rankings in such a way as tot totally distort interpretation.