Rushing to judgment causes red faces

I bet some political parties and their spokespeople are feeling just a little bit sheepish today after they rushed out press releases trying to capitalise on a report on air pollution from WHO that has since been withdrawn.

The World Health Organisation has removed data from its website that suggested New Zealand cities’ air quality was poorer than any major city in Australia and that Auckland’s air pollution was on a par with Tokyo’s.

In a compilation of air quality data from 1100 cities in 91 countries, reporting concentrations of health damaging “PM10” particles WHO published 2009 data it said was sourced from the Ministry of Environment which suggested air quality in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington breached its safety guidelines.

That, however was challenged by Environment Minister Nick Smith and his ministry.

The data has been replaced by 2010 numbers which showed all New Zealand main centres within the WHO safety guidelines of no more than 20 micrograms of PM10 particles per cubic metre of air with the exception of Dunedin which had been the only compliant New Zealand city according to the previous figures.

…Coordinator at WHO’s department of health and the environment Carlos Dora told Radio NZ the mistake was down to human error when the data was entered into its database.

“We’ve already been in touch with the Ministry of the Environment and different people in New Zealand because they spotted correctly there was a mistake. We have already corrected the database we presented already our apologies.”

Gareth Hughes should now feel more than a little bit stupid for his press release of Tuesday:

“More people in Auckland are dying from air pollution than in road crashes,” said Green Party transport spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“This survey comes soon after a report to the Auckland Council estimated more than 700 premature deaths a year result from air pollution, should serve as a wake-up call.

“If these deaths happened all at once it would be recognised as a national tragedy and would be the subject of an official inquiry.

“Air pollution costs our health system, it’s bad for our people and it’s bad for the economy.”

Rather emotive and based on an erroneous and now withdrawn report. Phil Twyford and Charles Chauvel can likewise feel a bit silly:

A report showing air pollution in Auckland is double that of Sydney’s and on a par with Tokyo’s is another blot on National’s ever-expanding not very environmental copybook, Labour’s Environment spokesperson Charles Chauvel says.

World Health Organisation data out today reveals New Zealand cities trail all major Australian cities in terms of air quality, with Auckland the worst.

“Our largest city is just now getting a glimpse of the real cost of Steven Joyce’s anti-rail, more roads-at-all-cost policies – increased air pollution,” Charles Chauvel said.

“What’s particularly disgraceful is that the WHO report comes just two months after Auckland City Council reported that dirty air accounts for more than 700 deaths each year.

“Diluted air quality standards, minimum vehicle emission standards, and a relentless push for more cars is a disastrous combination.

“That’s a terrible public policy failure for National. As another MP observed recently, and rightly, Steven Joyce is the Colossus of Roads, and that will be his legacy,” Charles Chauvel said.

Well maybe it is a terrible failure, but I reckon the failure is on their part for relying on dodgy states from WHO. I wonder fo they will now retract their silly press releases.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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