Climate communications: Healthy people climate shaming asthmatics is surely going to be successful

Climate communications: Healthy people climate shaming asthmatics is surely going to be successful

The NHS is being urged to replace metered-dose inhalers after Cambridge University researchers found they had a carbon footprint 37 times that of dry powdered ones.

Source: Switching to ‘green’ inhalers could reduce carbon footprint by 37-fold | Daily Mail Online

According to the story, medical inhalers produce an estimated 4% (of the NHS greenhouse gas emissions). NHS accounts for an estimated 5.4% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. 4% of 5.4% is 0.2% of UK estimated greenhouse gas emissions.

Not every one can use alternatives. Contrary to claims in the story, here in the U.S. the alternatives I priced were 10x to 15x more expensive. Some people, like myself, have no prescription medication insurance coverage and bear all the costs.

Healthy able-bodied activists climate shaming asthmatics for their use of life saving medication is not a successful propaganda strategy. From a survey of social media, this story has produced a high level of outrage.


Time Magazine wrote “How Asthma Inhalers are Choking the Planet”  which is an 100% false headline, which interestingly, was changed from its original, benign and accurate headline (after I contacted them, they changed this headline again).

Time Magazine is promoting fake news. A future post will look at this in detail but suffice to say:

  1. The title was intended as a clever word play, making fun of “asthmatics” who are “choking”. This is not funny and is remarkably crude and insensitive, on par with middle school behavior. Yes, let’s make fun of asthmatics who cannot breathe, shall we?
  2. The claim of “choking the planet” is unequivocally false. In a U.S. household where one person uses an inhaler every day, inhaler usage results in a CO2 equivalent output of about 1% of the entire home’s annual CO2 equivalent emissions (due to heating, eating, electricity usage, transportation and other activities). Yes, about 1% – and only in those homes where someone uses an inhaler. It is physically impossible for inhaler usage to be “choking the planet”. In fact, if HFA-based inhalers were eliminated tomorrow, there would be no measurable impact on weather or climate.  Time has produced a 100% false headline.
  3. I notified the editor and while I received no response they did change the headline to read “How one commonly used asthma inhaler is damaging the planet” which is technically accurate but remains an exaggeration.

More on this in a future post.


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