JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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In China severe floods, mud, hail, raise concerns about the Three Gorges Dam

 Something to watch

Spare a thought for people living in China. There have been 31 days of rain, leading to mass flooding, mudslides, a few minor earthquakes, and some ominous warnings like in #Chongqing city, where people have been told they need to be “above the third floor” and to prepare for floods that might reach 193m (presumably “elevation” not depth of water). There is chatter on social media ( and a few news outlets) wondering if the ThreeGorgesDam is about to break.  The chatter has been building for a week and it’s so serious that Chinese government have officially said it’s nonsense. Despite the awesome potential of a failure (or even a serious flood) there is surprisingly small discussion in the media or even on Twitter. Almost like the CCP doesn’t want it discussed?

In the last hours the normal inflow data for the dam has stopped being publicly updated. “Just a glitch”.

As Kate says at SmallDeadAnimals. It’s probably nothing.

The Epoch Times: Floods in China reach biblical proportions

Rains have lasted over 30 days and are continuing. And many other disasters are hitting at once including tornadoes, hailstorms, torrents, mudslides, and earthquakes — in [...]

Koalas extinct? Hardly. “Nearly everything you have read or heard about koalas is wrong”

Since Europeans arrived Koalas have been booming and busting

The calls were out this week saying that koalas will be extinct in New South Wales in 30 years. But they didn’t mention that Koalas thrive and multiply so fast that in the right conditions scientists talk of ‘plagues’. On Kangaroo Island last year, there were so many koalas, the South Australian government has been trying to sterilize or relocate thousands of them over the last twenty years.  Periodically scientists even discuss whether we have to cull them (the horror!).

They’ve survived twenty megafires in 200 years. They can recover. Ponder that Koalas were only introduced to Kangaroo Island in the 1930′s but by the 1990′s there were 14,000 of them and even though they are considered a tourism asset they are also considered a problem and pest too.

“Nearly everything you have read or heard about koalas, is wrong” — Vic Jurskis

Koalas favorite snack  |      Photo by pen_ash

Vic Jurskis is a veteran forester and fire expert who studied them for years. He’s written The Great Koala Scam, Green propaganda, junk science government waste and cruelty.

Jurskis estimates that thanks to European settlers there are more [...]

Thursday Open Thread

EVen the UN is warning about the environmental damage Electric Vehicles will cause

Child Labor in Congo mining. Photo Julian Herneis

Welcome to the Clean Green Future. Demand for rechargeable car batteries is predicted to rise 700% in the next four years. But even at current levels, children are already dying in mines in the Congo, and farmers in Chile are being forced off their land.

The UN is now slightly “concerned” about a car battery boom which it helped create.

…a new report from UNCTAD, warns that the raw materials used in electric car batteries, are highly concentrated in a small number of countries, which raises a number of concerns.

…two-thirds of all cobalt production happens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), about 20 per cent of cobalt supplied from the DRC comes from artisanal mines, where human rights abuses have been reported, and up to 40,000 children work in extremely dangerous conditions in the mines for meagre income.

And in Chile, lithium mining uses nearly 65% of the water in the country’s Salar de Atamaca region, one of the driest desert areas in the world, to pump out brines from drilled wells. This has forced local quinoa farmers [...]

Cheap ways to starve a virus: Masks reduce spread by 70%, Distance by 80%

One good thing about Coronavirus is that people are suddenly paying attention to all the cheap easy ways to slow viruses. Hopefully we will get a bit better at preventing other respiratory infections too. 

As I’ve mentioned before, masks stop as much as 75% of influenza, and now we know the number is similar with Coronavirus. If any drug was this effective, it would be hailed as a Gamechanging Breakthrough (!).

Indeed, just yesterday Anthony Fauci said he’d settle for 70%, 75% effective vaccine, but masks are here already. And we don’t have to wear them forever, just til we starve the virus, set up border checks, and get the cases to zero. Then we wait for a long term solution. 2020 is going to be the year of the mask.

With Coronavirus cases ramping up again all over the world, people like Mike Pence, and Australia’s Health Minister are talking about them. If we add Vitamin D at 5c a dose (which can reduce the spread of influenza by 40%) perhaps some states could avoid a repeat mass lockdown?

Given the cost in deaths and dollars of the spread of this virus, it would be cheaper to give [...]