Exposing The American Lung Association's Questionable 2019 Air Quality Report
Based on my understanding of the most current facts, The American Lung Association has done a questionable job of representing the state of the air for the United States, in its latest report.
Standards of Integrity for Charitable Organizations
Before explaining why I have come to the previously stated conclusion, I want to point out the formal expectations of a charitable organization.
According to The American Lung Association (ALA) website:
- As a Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance Accredited Charity, the American Lung Association values financial accountability and is committed to transparency with our donors and the general public.
According to the BBB Standards For Charity Accountability - Truthful Materials statement, the organization must:
- Have solicitations and informational materials, distributed by any means, that are accurate, truthful and not misleading, both in whole and in part.
State of the Air 2019 is a 167-page document, whose opening summary attempts to set the tone of a study about the health effects of increased pollution caused by current changes in the climate. On page 4, we find the following:
- The “State of the Air” 2019 report adds to the evidence that a changing climate is making it harder to protect human health. The three years covered in this report ranked as the hottest years on record globally. High ozone days and spikes in particle pollution zoomed, putting millions more people at risk and adding challenges to the work cities are doing across the nation to clean up.
This claim about evidence is unfounded. The American Lung Association focuses on a mere three years of data, within a span of thirty-seven years of data collected by The Environmental Protection Agency that clearly shows huge reductions in both ozone pollution and particle pollution for the United States.
The minimum number of years of data required to even begin speculating about climate effects would be thirty years. Clearly, on the scale of time required to discuss climate, there have been monumental reductions in pollution across the board in the United States.
The proper perspective on this scale, then, is that air quality in the United States has improved remarkably during a period of supposed alarming climate change. The American Lung Association, thus, does not even consider the correct time frame to discuss a climate connection, let alone provide any evidence of a causal connection between the current climate and pollution.
Adding insult to injury, The American Lung Association erroneously exaggerates a global warming trend of less than one degree, in an attempt to causally relate temperature to pollution in the United States. The so called warmest years on record differ by mere tenths of a whole degree, thus making any claim of increasing temperature invalid, by way of this statistically insignificant amount.
If ALA researchers cite an insignificant increase in temperature, then how can they cite increased temperature as a cause of increased pollution? They cannot. Doing so suggests negligence in gathering information correctly. If ALA researchers obscure a period of 37 years of drastic decreases in pollution, then how can they properly represent a period of three years (within this 37 years), where a small pollution spike might have occurred? They cannot. Doing so suggests lack of sufficient care, at best, and willful disregard of facts, at worst.
37 Years of Dramatically Improving Air Quality in the United States
100 Years Of Remarkably Stable Global Temperatures
Emotional Appeal vs Rational Assessment
Continuing on page 4 of the ALA report, we read the following:
- More must be done to address climate change and to protect communities from the growing risks to public health.
This statement is an appeal that does not follow from any of the research presented in the rest of the report. The statement simply appears to be inserted into the flow of information about effects of pollution on human health.
While information on pollution seems well researched, a statement of appeal does not summarize any information relating pollution to today's climate. The statement is merely an emotional plea, scientifically disconnected from the facts, pointed out previously.
On page 5 of the ALA report, we find:
- The “State of the Air” 2019 report shows, again, that climate change makes it harder to protect human health.
This is another unsupported statement, presented as a fact. Again, the three-year period of the report does not constitute a period over which a discussion of climate is even possible. Environmental Protection Agency data over a 37-year period from 1980-2017 shows decisively large decreases in all forms of pollution for the United States. The American Lung Association misrepresents this fact.
Next, we find:
- While most of the nation has much cleaner air quality than even a decade ago, too many cities suffered increased ozone from the increased temperature and continued high particle pollution from wildfires driven by changing rain patterns.
This statement certainly mentions a significant improvement in air quality from a decade ago, but then it immediately downplays the fact with a judgment that casts it aside, again, as if a long-term trend encompassing the short-term trend means nothing.
Emotions about the short-term trend improperly replace science, which plainly shows these emotions to be shortsighted.
Continuing on page 5:
- As climate change continues, cleaning up these pollutants will become ever more challenging. Climate change poses many threats to human health, including worsened air quality and extreme weather events. The nation must work to reduce emissions that worsen climate.
Once again, these statements are about climate, while the study encompasses a mere three-year period, which, therefore, disqualifies it as a study about climate.
ALA researchers ignore 37 years, in order to focus only on three, where they can manipulate language in a way to make the short-term emotional experience overpower the long-term real effect. This is not factual research. Rather, this suggests something else, driven by motives other than seeking the truth.
Why do ALA researchers neglect considering health effects over the 37-year period of impressive air-quality improvement in the United States?
Why do ALA researchers speculate on worsened air quality, when the long-term trend plainly shows incredibly improved air?
Why do ALA researchers speak of extreme weather events, when real-world data shows decreasing or zero trends in all forms of extreme weather?
And if ALA researchers regard carbon dioxide as a pollutant, then why do they neglect to mention that, between 2005 and 2017, US carbon dioxide emissions fell by 12.4% on an absolute basis and by 19.9% on a per capita basis?
The emergence of such questions suggest a lack of diligence, a biased mindset, a political agenda, or a combination of all three, on the part of the American Lung Association.
The American Lung Association's State of the Air 2019 deceptively sprinkles the phrase, "climate change", into a plethora of otherwise useful information about air quality and human health, displaying not even an elementary understanding of the time frame over which discussions about climate take place.
On this particular occasion, therefore, The American Lung Association falters in upholding standards of integrity for a charitable group that claims to produce sound, ethical reports in the interest of human well-being.
This organization appears to have fashioned its report to endorse the highly controversial issue of human-caused climate change, which makes the report come across more as a contrived, political manifesto than a genuine, public-health resource.