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Epidemiology: VW diesels to kill 59 people but fixing them will avert 130 deaths

The "dieselgate" scandal, stirred up by the US EPA, ambulance-chasing lawyers and the complicit media is bringing a lot of misinformed people out of the woodwork; as activists and "experts" in the relevant fields.

A satirical column of mine at The Consternation lays out one potential consequence of vindictive and egregious lawfare and punishment by process: That companies will simply abandon a country when the authorities act arbitrarily and seek extreme punishment to make up for "injury" that is imaginary.

Some of you may be familiar with TheRegister; a web "journal" that deals with matters I.T. and frequently ventures blindly into peripheral technologies in which it seems to have no depth of expertise. TheRegister published an article speculating the VW would be fitting catalytic convertors to fix the non-compliant cars; which is known to be far from the truth for most of the vehicles manufactured; Volkswagen having already announced that only firmware updates will be needed for the 2-litre engines. I jumped onto the long end of that lever to introduce some facts and a link to the satirical article.

A correspondent calling himself "PriusPete" said "MIT attributes 59 premature deaths in the US from the illegal extra emissions from VW/Audi diesel cars." … which at the very least reveals a lack of a sense of proportion.

I dug up the paper which is freely available (for once) and found that the 59 premature deaths were, as suspected, the result of consulting with the ubiquitous digital deity, after offering it the traditional assumptions and models. Unlike the presstitutes and professional bedwetters, I read the entire abstract and perused the remainder of the paper; the abstract stating that "For the current fleet, we estimate that a return to compliance for all affected vehicles by the end of 2016 will avert ∼130 early deaths"

All hail Volkswagen; the giver of life!

Perhaps to the EPA's annoyance, the MIT pundits' conclusions also stated: "Finally, we note that while the 18 September 2015 EPA letter to VW cites ozone exposure resulting from the excess NOx emissions as a concern, we find that 87% of deaths are due to fine particulate matter exposure, with 13% due to ozone."

N.B. You know that you're dealing with post-normal epidemiology when a confidence interval of 95% is deemed sufficient to make decisions affecting hundreds of millions of people and tens of billions of dollars in retribution against a major industry.

Despite the well-cited, factual argument, a substantial number of conversation participants did not appreciate my response.

Facts do not change passionate beliefs.

Re: Epidemiology: VW diesels to kill 59 people but fixing them will avert 130 deaths

Ah! the fondness these days to talk about "deaths" as if the victims had had a whiff of cyanide rather than an earlier death.
At least they say "premature death" but sadly do not say by how much.... 10 years or 10 minutes?
And in studies they are usually confined to talking about all causes death due to life time exposures.
Fortuitously, the majority are easily persuaded/conned into adhering to the activist line.

There is a quotation that comes to mind :

"He that complies against his will

Is of his own opinion still

Which he may adhere to, yet disown,

For reasons to himself best known"

This is the way it is quoted in the 1600s and it suggests that once someone has made their mind up one way or another they will not readily change their minds. There will be people sitting on the 50ft thick ice sheet covering the site of London (whenever that happens as presumably it must at some time) who will still be banging on about CO2 and AGW ..... and how "global shilling is masking the true extent of global warming"

I am trying to find my source for this warming Vs chilling comment but there does seem to be a lot of concern about the missing warming.... like the dark matter conundrum, the warmists, rather than admit that AGW isn't happening or that their models are wrong seem intent on clinging to theory but finding excuses such that the Atlantic is rather unfairly acting as a heat sink or that the sun might, after all, have a role to play.

The Register

There appears to have been a pretty significant change at The Register in the last few months. The editor Lewis Page got the boot I believe in November 2015. Lewis Page could be regarded as one of the UK's most prominent AGW sceptic and anti-Green journalists. The rumours are that The Register has dropped its anti-Green position, rather unusual in the IT magazine world, that it has held for many years in favour of a more Green-friendly position that is more acceptable to the many Green-leaning IT advertisers. Another anti-Green columnist working at The Register, Tim Worstall, also got the boot.

The Bishop Hill blog has noted the change in behaviour of The Register in this recent blog post called "What's up with El Reg?":

The blog post notes that The Register re-published an article taken from "The Conversation" magazine (Bernd's "The Consternation" name is I would guess based on "The Conversation"), written by two academics from Bristol University (the UK's most Green-leaning university) called "The last time Earth was this hot hippos lived in Britain (that’s 130,000 years ago)":


You certainly wouldn't get an article like that appearing in The Register when Lewis Page was around.

Re: The Register

Bernd's "The Consternation" name is I would guess based on "The Conversation"

Unashamedly. With no apologies.

Perhaps Worstall, et al can start their own webzine. It's hard to make a living any way.

Re: Epidemiology: VW diesels to kill 59 people but fixing them will avert 130 deaths

Steven Milloy of produced a response to the MIT paper a few months ago which is probably worth adding to this thread: