COVID-19 has been worse than the coronavirus pandemics of 2012 and 2003 yet the air is cleaner than ever, so a new op-ed claiming that 'virtual' pollution - so small you can't see it without an electron microscope - is the reason SARS-CoV-2 has been so bad comes across as silly, and bordering on deceptive.

Even sillier, they claim that 91 percent of planet earth lives in unsafe air.

It's scientific nonsense - our air quality is better than at any time in the last 100 years - but the authors of the editorial have a fallback; that 91 percent number comes from the World Health Organisation, the same UN bureaucracy that said SARS-CoV-2 could not be transmitted human to human and that the U.S. government was being xenophobic in February of 2020 when officials said travel from China should be halted. The same WHO who let the world's largest bat coronavirus lab, in Wuhan, destroy 22,000 samples so no outside investigators could examine them. The same lab that had been found guilty of selling research animals.

The rest of their opinion piece rests on shoddy epidemiology, the air quality version of weird IARC claims like that bacon is as dangerous for your health as plutonium and smoking. They "correlate" - something that should be banned from any government-study unless the authors agree to watermark it with a giant red EXPLORATORY on each page so large even the anti-science activists writing for Mother Jones can't pretend they missed it. Dust storms, being able to 'detect' coronavirus in particulate matter (none of which they did, they just repeat that others say they did) there is no link too tenuous to include in what they call a review but which is actually about as long as this blog post.

Actual smog, PM10, the pollution that is harmful - barely exists at all in America. Even in Los Angeles, which is geographically optimal to keep pollution in one location, barely hits yellow.

In the 1990s, after air was essentially clean again, is when the pivot to PM2.5 began to occur, no differently than when Greenpeace pivoted from nuclear energy to whales to opposing GMOs - it was needed to keep money coming in. Air quality scaremongers tried to claim such small micron particulate matter was causing deaths but that was shattered by a paper showing that during the 2007 wildfires of 2007, when PM2.5 was up substantially, deaths dropped. Then they were forced to switch to claims about reduced lifespan, a nice non-specific assertion. And worries about people with asthma.

I feel for people with serious asthma. I have had a mild case since I was a child, my father had serious asthma and never went anywhere without an inhaler, but he would scoff at claims that "ambient" air pollution now could be as bad for him as humidity or real pollution. Of course smoke from a wildfire would bother him, so would perfume, but in the case of the wildfire it would be PM10, not PM2.5 virtual pollution, that put him at risk.

The authors double down on their crazy talk by claiming that 3 million people dead - and that is the low figure, if we accept that the claims of a communist dictatorship that China only lost a few thousand despite being the epicenter of the pandemic - saved lives. Because so many people are unemployed and everyone traveled less. How many lives saved? They have no idea, this is all wishful thinking. Such wishful thinking is great for those who got to keep working at high-paying while tens of millions of Americans careen into poverty but that, plus the invariable White Savior posturing that claims people of color are impacted most by pollution you can't detect without a $30,000 device, is downright insulting to them...and the science literate public.