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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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.

[...]

Your car causes salmonella and other funny global warmy stories

It’s another warmy story:

Worst year in NSW for Salmonella, E.Coli as global temperatures increase

NSW recorded its worst figures in at least five years for diseases caused by food poisoning and mosquito bites, as doctors warn climate change is looming as a public health emergency.

Statistics released last week show 2016 was the worst year on record for diseases including legionnaires’ disease, salmonellosis, listeriosis, E. coli and dengue fever, which flourish in warmer conditions.

–Harriet Alexander, Sydney Morning Herald

More scary than 4000 cases of salmonella is the state of intellectual rigor among medico-unions:

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians [RACP] has released a position paper that described climate change as a “global public health emergency”.

The RACP called for a national climate and health strategy and reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.

With reasoning like that, they could make a lot more people very sick. Are they advocating we use solar panels to stop salmonella?

There has hardly been any warming in the last 20 years anyhow. And if we are doing cosmic epidemiology, so far global warming seems to come with longer lifespans, health, wealth, food, [...]

Humans live from -50C to +40C, but two more degrees will kill us. Panic now.

Humans can adapt to live in locations where the monthly average is over 40°C, and as low as -50°C. That’s a 90°C range. The world has warmed by 0.9°C in 100 years (or less, depending on adjustments). This warming was so dangerous that global population only expanded from 1.7 to 7 billion.

Now, if the IPCC are right, we might heat up by another half a degree by 2100 — shifting those extremes from -49°C up to 41°C.

Prof. Andy Pitman, one of Australia’s leading climate scientists, responds to this risk with all the usual careful analysis we’ve come to expect from mainstream climate experts. Here’s another “children won’t know what snow is” type of Global Panic quote:

“I expect by 2050 … people just don’t go outside,”

– Professor Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at UNSW.

So that’s the end of golf, surfing, and picnics then. Somewhat confusingly, he also said (in the same interview) that we won’t necessarily notice that extra warmth: “… because humans acclimatise to heat quite quickly”. This is what 95% certainty looks like in 2015, ladies and gentlemen — abject panic and [...]

Chocolate is the fountain of youth, eat blocks, live long, be slim

We have found the holy grail and it is chocolate. Lo, “Eating 100 g of chocolate daily linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk”. One hundred grams a day! That’s about a quarter of the average adult woman’s total daily calorie intake. (About one sixth for a man).

So much for the 99% certain consensus that chocolate was junk food.

ScienceDaily:

Eating up to 100 g of chocolate every day is linked to lowered heart disease and stroke risk. The calculations showed that compared with those who ate no chocolate higher intake was linked to an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 25% lower risk of associated death.

They base their findings on almost 21,000 adults taking part in the EPIC-Norfolk study…

Around one in five (20%) participants said they did not eat any chocolate, but among the others, daily consumption averaged 7 g, with some eating up to 100 g.

Chocolate was associated with younger age… (we want some of that, right?)

Higher levels of consumption were associated with younger age and lower weight (BMI), waist: hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins, diabetes and more regular [...]

Does global warming make your baby smaller? 800 years from now babies may weigh 17g less!

A new study uses a  ‘high resolution air temperature estimation model’ to figure out (guess) the daily air temperature pregnant women in Massachusetts might have been exposed to during their pregnancy. A whopping increase of 8.5C in the last three months was associated with a 17 gram drop in birth weight. Given that global temperatures have risen by about 1 C in the last 100 years, at the current rate, that amount of warming will arrive in 850 years. Then if this correlation has any causal role, the average 3kg baby will weigh about 0.5% less. Scared yet?

Since the researchers are talking about outdoor temperatures, I’m guessing this study will especially concern pregnant women who will be homeless, or without electricity in the year 2850. Obviously the solution is cheap coal powered air conditioners

 

. Why risk it?*

The Daily Mail  h/t Colin

Is climate change affecting birth weights? Exposure to warmer weather during pregnancy leads to smaller babies, study claims Researchers uncovered a link between air temperature and birth weight Found exposure to high air temperature during pregnancy increases the risk of lower birth weight and can cause premature birth An increase of 8.5 °C (47.3°F) in the last [...]

Cholesterol — how the web and books are years ahead of “Consensus”

Consensus — slowing real science for decades

There is a surprising amount of interest in the cholesterol story of Matt Ridley’s in The Times and The Australian last week. Surprising to me anyway, because 15 years ago the other benevolent side of cholesterol was pretty clear online.  Fifteen years is not a long time in human civilization, but it’s a long time in a human life. And in the case of the war on cholesterol, it’s been running for 40 years. How many people died sooner than they would have, because they followed expert advice?

Finally the official consensus on cholesterol is admitting defeat:

“Any day now, the US government will officially accept the advice to drop cholesterol from its list of “nutrients of concern” altogether. It wants also to “de-emphasise” saturated fat, given “the lack of evidence connecting it with cardiovascular disease”. “

In the late 1990′s it was widely known online (among health zealots) that our livers are mostly in charge of our cholesterol levels, not what’s on our dinner plates. Something like 80% of the cholesterol in our blood came from our own livers, not the food we eat.  Way back then, it was also known [...]

Study on 74 million deaths: Cold weather kills 20 times more than heat does.

Of seventy four million deaths (that is quite some study) 7.7% of all deaths could be blamed on “non-optimal” temperatures according to Gasparrini et al in the Lancet. But look closely, and 7.3% of deaths were due to the cold and only 0.4% were due to the heat.

This may be part of the reason people retire to Florida, and not so much to Barrow, Alaska.

The biggest killers were not the heat waves that score the headlines, but the moderate cold. Winter kills. (Time to ban winter?)

Cold weather kills far more people than hot weather

Cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather, according to an international study analyzing over 74 million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries. The findings, published in The Lancet, also reveal that deaths due to moderately hot or cold weather substantially exceed those resulting from extreme heat waves or cold spells.

“It’s often assumed that extreme weather causes the majority of deaths, with most previous research focusing on the effects of extreme heat waves,” says lead author Dr Antonio Gasparrini from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK. “Our findings, from [...]

Hypothesis contradicted? Fatter people get *less* dementia

Researchers were sure fatter people would get more dementia, so they studied two million middle-aged people for nearly a decade but were “baffled to find the exact opposite. Their sample included 45,000 cases of dementia and the obese were 30 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with it.

This contradicts previous studies and was not at all what the researchers expected, so they analyzed the data every which way they could think of but can’t explain the results. Need I say “experts” and “consensuses”?

Scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said they were baffled by the results as previous studies have shown that being overweight raises the risk. –Telegraph

Risk factors such as alcohol and smoking made little difference to the results, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.  — Mirror

Dr Qizilbash said the findings held despite attempts to adjust for other causes of dementia and the tendency of obese people to die earlier. “We did a lot of analysis to see if we could explain it but just seems to persist. We couldn’t get rid of it so we’re left with this apparent protective effect,” he said. [...]