JoNova

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


Handbooks


Advertising


Australian Speakers Agency



GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



Archives

Books

Japan: The precautionary principle killed more people than the Fukushima nuclear disaster

The panicked closure of nuclear power in Japan pushed electricity prices up. The UN agrees that no people died from radiation in the Fukushima event, but the frenzied over-evacuation killed up to 2,000 people. After that, higher electricity prices led to at least 1280 extra deaths in the 21 largest cities. That translates into 4,500 deaths if the mortality rate was similar across the rest of the country.

Japan nuclear shutdown did ‘more harm than good’, study finds

World Nuclear News

Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident, by Matthew Neidell, Shinsuke Uchida and Marcella Veronesi. A discussion paper by the Germany-based IZA Institute of Labor Economics.

“Our estimated increase in mortality from higher electricity prices significantly outweighs the mortality from the accident itself, suggesting the decision to cease nuclear production caused more harm than good.”

The authors calculated that these higher electricity prices resulted in at least an additional 1280 deaths during 2011-2014. This is higher than a previously documented estimate of 1232 deaths which occurred as a result of the evacuation after the accident, they say.

“Since our data [on mortality related to higher [...]

Older adults can still improve memory with high intensity exercise

Image profvideos

Just 4 sets of four-minute-long bursts of intense exercise was all it took for sedentary people aged 60 -88 to get an improvement in memory scores of up to 30%.

They worked out three times a week for 3 months, and the short sharp sets were better than 50 minutes of moderate exercise. Five hundred million years of evolution will do that — hone organisms to adapt to common stressors. And even if don’t need to outrun lions very often now, we still carry the genes that did.

This won’t surprise people who’ve been reading medical research papers.  High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) appears to be good for fat loss, anxiety, depression, improves blood vessel function, may slow Parkinsons, and colon cancer, is quicker, can restore glucose uptake in diabetic muscles in just two weeks.

Obviously the 30% memory boost mostly happens to people who start out sedentary. There may not be such spectacular gains for people who are already semi fit. But it only took 12 weeks.

Researchers at McMaster University who examine the impact of exercise on the brain have found that high-intensity workouts improve memory in older adults.

Researchers [...]

Air conditioning reduces indoor air pollution — give me cheap electrons

Just another way cheaper electricity saves lives.

Photo by Photo by noodle kimm on Unsplash

It turns out hotter rooms have higher indoor pollution. Levels of formaldehyde are lower in the morning and rise with the temperature. Air conditioning in hot summers, keeps the temperature down and will reduce the amount of formaldehyde and other pollutants from out-gassing from furniture and gypsum walls.  Obviously those who can’t afford to run the air conditioner and who live in warmer rooms in summer will be exposed to more pollution.

Though the worst situation was in 1970s homes with radiant heaters installed on gypsum sheets. In that case, people who can’t afford to heat may avoid some fumes.

Opening windows will clear out the indoor pollution, but houses are increasingly being designed to stop draughts to be more energy efficient.

The message: get rich or open windows when it’s nice outside, move those bar heaters off the walls, and buy peace lilies, bamboo palms, and dracaenas.

Researchers uncover indoor pollution hazards

By Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

PULLMAN, Wash – When most people think about air pollution, they think of summertime haze, traffic or smokestack exhaust, wintertime inversions, [...]

Climate disasters are less costly, less deadly, and corporate warnings are just $1T of hot air

Hitting the presses today, the vacuous news that lots of companies picked huge numbers out of the air using broken models to guess hyperbolic climate losses coming in the next five years, counter to all the trends for the last hundred years which show declining losses on a GDP basis. The world got warmer but the disasters got less nasty. Less bushfire, less cyclones, less tornadoes, less death per capita. The trends are all good. The only thing that’s up is the number of panic merchants.

World’s biggest firms foresee $1 trillion climate cost hit

LONDON (Reuters) – More than 200 of the world’s largest listed companies forecast that climate change could cost them a combined total of almost $1 trillion, with much of the pain due in the next five years, according to a report published on Tuesday.

So hundreds of companies have offered the climate world a free hit for PR by making a guess. They fall into two kinds of companies –The badgered and harried and the profiteers. See below for examples.  Firstly, here’s the only chart that matters.

Global Weather losses are down:

If CO2 causes climate events we need more of it. The [...]

We need to protect our health system from Climate-change-doctors

Doctors are at it again trying to scare people about “climate change”. But all around the world, in every study in every city humans die more from the cold than they do from the heat (and by six to 20 times more). That’s thousands of lives and it happens every single year. Don’t these doctors know anything?

Attributable fraction of deaths: Heat, cold and temperature variability together resulted in 42,414 deaths during the study period, accounting for about 6.0% of all deaths. Most of attributable deaths were due to cold (61.4%), and noticeably, contribution from temperature variability [TV] (28.0%) was greater than that from heat (10.6%). Cheng et al.

The awful truth that incompetent self-serving doctors forgot to mention was that cooler room temperatures allow viruses to survive longer, which is just one of many reasons the Flu Season is always worse in winter.

Break my heart, if “climate change” is real the only thing the docs have to worry about is whether they’ll earn less money in winter.

Here’s the headline:

 Health system needs to be protected from climate change: doctors

Here’s the real news: The health system needs to be protected from climate-change-doctors. We can’t afford [...]

Climate change bad: causes “longer growing seasons” but blamed for allergies

It’s a disaster: More plants, more crops, more flowers!

Between 1995 and 2011, fewer freeze-free days meant 11 to 27 days added to pollen season for most of the United States, research shows. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which does an annual survey of allergy season, noticed that it’s been growing each year.

It’s a spurious correlation: quick, build a wind farm!

The number of allergy sufferers has grown, research shows. One in 10 Americans struggled with hay fever in 1970, and 3 in 10 did by 2000. Asthma, which can be made worse by exposure to pollen, has become more common too, with higher rates among kids, low-income households and African Americans.

Warming cycles have always happened, and when times are good, plants have to ramp up the competition — it’s in their genes. Allergy cycles, we can bet, probably didn’t happen so often to paleolithic people who didn’t have access to Ventolin-trees or Epipen-plants.

Could it be that what causes asthma is not more pollen, but changes to breastfeeding, pollution, glyconutrients, diets, antihistamines, histamines, Vitamin D, parasites, cleaning,  baby wipes, cesarean sections, less farming, less farm dust, less dirt, and adding preservatives, antacids and antibiotics and other [...]

Despite record heat, six times as many people die of cold in Australia not heat

Australia has had the hottest temperatures for a thousand years (according to some). We’ve “shattered records” yet even so, at the peak of this hot era — six times as many Australians were felled by cold weather. Lord help us when the next ice-age comes.

A study on Australian deaths from 2000-2009 found that heat, cold, and temperature variability killed 42,000 people which was about 6% of all deaths. Of those temperature related deaths 60% were due to the cold. 28% were due to sudden changes in temperature. A mere 10% were due to heat.

Greenhouse gases should help prevent 90% of those deaths (they reduce temperature variability too). Looks like we need to burn more coal. For the sake of the vulnerable and needy.

When are our government and our government broadcaster going to start dealing with real problems, not fake ones?

 

Attributable fraction of deaths: Heat, cold and temperature variability together resulted in 42,414 deaths during the study period, accounting for about 6.0% of all deaths. Most of attributable deaths were due to cold (61.4%), and noticeably, contribution from temperature variability (28.0%) was greater than that from heat (10.6%).

 

Don’t assume we just got lucky. [...]

Airconditioners save 20,000 lives in USA each year

Over the last century there was a remarkable decline in deaths due to hot days and heatwaves. (Not that the media seem keen to say so). Mortality on a hot day declined by fully 75% in the decades after 1960 when air conditioners started to be rolled out.

In the words of the authors from this 2016 study, the people of the US have largely adapted in ways that protect them from extreme heat.  The kind of hot days they are talking about happen on average 20 days a year in the US.

There has not been a similar reduction in deaths from cold snaps.

First, we document a remarkable decline in the mortality effect of temperature extremes: The impact of days with a mean temperature exceeding 80°F (26.6C) has declined by about 75 percent over the course of the twentieth century in the United States, with almost the entire decline occurring after 1960. The result is that there are about 20,000 fewer fatalities annually than if the pre-1960 impacts of mortality still prevailed.

We achieved a lot of things in the 20th century, but when Barreca went through the statistics, it wasn’t the introduction of electricity that [...]

Climate change is coming for your kids — Who knew children are more likely to die in floods, droughts, heatwaves?

Hear Ye!

To all the world’s recalcitrant, absent, and neglectful parents, paediatricians have arrived to tell you to give your kids a drink during a heatwave, pack food to last through droughts, and that you really need global unaccountable committees to look after your kids. Presumably their junkets meetings will be paid for by you.

Kids are “underprioritized”? (So what do they think 2 billion parents are doing?) Children are highly vulnerable to health risks of a changing climate

“…researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Irving Medical Center set out some specific challenges associated with the impacts of climate change on the world’s 2.3 billion children and suggest ways to address their under-prioritized needs.“

Researchers discovered children have “anatomic, cognitive, immunologic, and psychologic differences” which put them at more risk than adults. OK. They’ve noticed kids are small and inexperienced. Ambitiously, they apply this to 2.3 billion children, pretty much all of them here on Earth. That’s your kids, mine, “under prioritized”. Hmm.

The finding that children are vulnerable will shock all the parents who assumed their kids would survive the next flood, malaria, and dengue outbreak without any help. What will [...]

As it got hotter in Spain, less people died. Thank air conditioning and electricity.

Cheap energy might save more lives than expensive “climate-changey” energy?

Researchers looked at 47 major cities in Spain, from 1980 to 2015 and checked 554,491 deaths. Even though temperatures have risen, less people are dying of heat in Spain. Apparently human ingenuity, energy and air conditioners were more than able to keep up with climate change. The population is older but less vulnerable to heat now than it was forty years ago.

Air conditioners rose from 5% of the population to 35% during the study period.

Oh the dilemma — to save lives, should we build more windmills to try to change the global climate or aim to get 100% of households access to an air conditioner?

Welcome to the dire threat of climate change:

The relative risk of death fell as temperatures rose (According to the model used). See the caption below.

From the Discussion in the paper:

The temporal evolution of heat-related mortality risks here found is, in general, consistent with those reported by previous studies in some other countries [12–15], which provide evidence for a decrease in vulnerability to climate warming despite the ageing of societies. For example, in Spain, the proportion of people [...]

Deadly winter kills 20,000 more British than usual — if only CO2 caused more warming

The world has record high CO2 levels, which supposedly warms us in winter but apparently not as well as cheap electricity does. As the long winter is set to drag on, Brits are being advised to heat one room as well as they can and live there. This is “progress”…

48,000 Brits dead after worst winter in 42 years

After a brief mild spell, temperatures are set to dip again in April after the chilliest March in 21 years.

It is estimated that 20,275 Brits more than average died between December 1 and March

That includes nearly 5,000 Brits under the age of 65 whose lives may have been cut short.

According to the Office of National Statistics, one in 10 cold weather deaths are among under-65s, one in 10 among 65-75s and eight in 10 among over-75s.

The Department of Health also said cold conditions worsen winter killers including flu, chest diseases, heart attacks, strokes and dementia.

It doesn’t matter where you live — more people die in winter than summer all over the world. It’s not outdoor temperatures that matter — it’s the indoor climate that kills.

Save the world, [...]

Last winter 9,000 more British pensioners died than usual — how many were due to high heating costs?

Higher electricity costs mean more people turn off their heaters

There’s a big freeze coming to Britain with minus 12C temperatures possible in the next three weeks.

Last year in winter in England there was a remarkable 40% rise in winter deaths

David Archibald emails that last year was a mild winter for Brits, but the death toll rose from the normal 25,000 excess to 34,000 people. Remembering that it’s moderate cold that kills far more people than extreme temperatures. The UK government advises rooms be heated to at least 18C. (I’ve been in a Canberra house where the temperature fell to 11C indoors, and that was in May.) Despite all the newspaper headlines about outside temperatures, the big killer is indoors.

The big killer is indoor temperature and moderately cold, not extremes.

Campaigners demand urgent cuts to power bill after number of winter deaths among the elderly rise by 40%

Pensioner groups are demanding urgent measures to cut the cost of heat and light after official figures revealed a surge in deaths last winter. There were some 34,300 so-called ‘excess’ deaths during the cold months, according to new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). [...]

Low Fat consensus was wrong: High carb diets increase death rates

How many people have died prematurely because they swapped their fats for carbohydrates?

More fat meant less death (left). More carbs (right) meant the opposite (at least above 60%). (Click to see the full table of Figure 1 results).

New research published in the Lancet shows that low fat diets could increase your risk of death.

Specifically, those who are in the top fifth of carbohydrate-eaters are also about 28% more likely to die than the fifth eating the lowest amount. This is a correlation (only), but the PURE* study was tracking the thing that matters most — all-cause mortality –  and they followed the diets of 135,000 people in 18 countries for 5 – 9 years.  Loosely, if people avoided high carbohydrate diets, they were less likely to die.

The graph flattens off below “60% carbs” (that’s a percentage of total calories). However, the mortality numbers keep improving for the highest fat intakes which rather skewers 40 years of headlines. I’m guessing that some people who kept carbs below 60% ate more protein instead, which, judging by the “fat” graph, wasn’t as useful.

The McMaster University team announced this quiet bomb, slightly obscured, in a press release [...]

Forget extreme temperatures: Nothing kills as many people as moderate cold

Some are scoffing at the idea that rising heating costs will kill people. But check out the number-one temperature-killer in 74 million deaths across 13 countries. It’s not the extremes that we need to worry about, the deadly phrase is “mildly suboptimal temperatures”. Look at the blue finger of death in the graph below, starkly showing how irrelevant “extreme heat”, or any other ambient temperature zone, is.

Do you need an excuse to turn the heater on in winter? Low ambient room temperatures will thicken your blood.

Moderate cold accounted for as many as 6.6% of all deaths. Extreme temperatures (either cold or hot) were responsible for only 0·86%.

Join the dots — will we save more lives by:

a) making homes cold now in the hope that lower “carbon” emissions will,

b) mean less deaths from heat in 90 years time despite people probably having better access to heaters and air conditioners?

Would you sacrifice ten years of your life…

Note the big killer “moderate cold”  |  Click to enlarge

Cold is more likely to kill you in Sydney than in Sweden

Check out the curves below. As a percentage of the population, there [...]

Wind turbine manufacturer admits liability for noise damage. If word gets out…

These are Enercon wind turbines in Germany, Lower Saxony. Image: Philip May

This could be a watershed — if word gets out that turbine manufacturers will not even contest claims of noise damage, there could be many more claims around the world. There are rumors these cases are often settled out of court with confidentiality agreements, but who would know?

In an update to the Irish court case we discussed last month, the latest news confirms that the wind turbine manufacturer has admitted liability without contesting it. The court will be deciding damages in April. As I deduced at the time, the wind industry was using desperate wordsmithing to minimize attention on the story. The news item related to it even disappeared from the Irish Examiner.  The turbine industry must be hoping no one notices this story.

Stop These Things has an update:

Wind company admits nuisance damage to neighbours Irish Farmers Journal Paul Mooney 5 January 2017

High Court to determine compensation for seven families in April hearing.

[...]