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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For 80 years cholesterol experts said ‘eat less fat’. But where was the evidence?

Depressing. A consensus based on nothing much, still lasted three generations

And it’s not dead yet: Groups like the American Heart Association, UCSF Guidelines, VicHealth, etc are all still advising that people avoid saturated fats, and eat whole grains.

For years, people with the kind of high cholesterol linked to their genes, were told they could lower their cholesterol if they stopped eating things like butter, cream, eggs, cheese, chocolate, and even coconut oil.

A new study looked for evidence to justify that advice and couldn’t find any. They are, of course, not the first –  even in the 1950s John Yudkin was already warning people about the dangers of sugar. But the vested interests and fat-police leapt into gear, and thus and verily a million low-fat products filled the shelves, most of them with added sugar.

How many people did this consensus kill?

People with high cholesterol should eliminate carbs, not saturated fat, study suggests

“For the past 80 years, people with familial hypercholesterolemia have been told to lower their cholesterol with a low saturated fat diet,” said lead author David Diamond, professor and heart disease researcher at the University of South Florida. “Our study showed that a more ‘heart healthy’ diet is one low in sugar, not saturated fat.”

Familial hypercholesterolemia is a genetic disorder that causes people to have cholesterol levels 2-4 times higher than the average person. Organizations, including the American Heart Association, have suggested they avoid eating food from animal sources, such as meat, eggs and cheese, and to avoid coconut oil. An international team of experts on heart disease and diet, including five cardiologists, reviewed dietary guidelines for people with familial hypercholesterolemia. They say they couldn’t find any justification for health experts to recommend a low saturated fat diet.

Diamond and his co-authors say following a low-carb diet is most effective for people at increased risk of heart disease, such as those who are overweight, hypertensive and diabetic. Their findings are consistent with another paper recently published in the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology,” which provided strong evidence that food that raises blood sugar, such as bread, potatoes and sweets, should be minimized, rather than tropical oils and animal-based food.

Sugar (and most carbohydrates) push up blood levels of insulin. It’s an ancient hormone that goes right back through the evolutionary tree all the way to yeast, and in yeast it’s tightly involved with lifespan (for us too). It’s a key signaling molecule, but without combine-harvesters, yeast and all the animals in between, didn’t manage to overdose on carbs.

One day someone will write a book on how that consensus was busted. That would be interesting. Meanwhile hopefully, the cult of the expert will be viewed with even more suspicion.

80 years. Where were all the science communicators?

The paper is freely available in full.

Keep reading  →

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Hottest Day recorded and deleted in Australia was 51.7 C in Bourke in 1909

Do the BOM even care about Australia’s climate?

Craig Kelly, Searching through historic temperature archives. Bureau of Meteorology records, 1909

Craig Kelly in our National Archives yesterday

The hottest day ever recorded in Australia with modern official equipment was Jan 3rd, 1909 in Bourke where the temperature blistered at 51.7C (125F).

Yesterday the Honorable Craig Kelly MP trawled through historic archives looking for temperature records from a century ago to see if he could confirm that it really was 125F in Bourke that day, and whether it was almost that hot in Brewarrina too.  Craig Kelly wants the record restored.

The site at Bourke is one of the oldest in Australia, starting in 1871. It’s also very influential because it was used to estimate the temperatures of vast remote areas around it. By 1909 there was already nearly 40 years of data at Bourke, and the Stevenson Screen had just been replaced so it was almost brand new. There was no airport tarmac either, so in 1909 the site was probably better than most modern sites are today. But the 1909 “hottest ever record” was deleted after an investigation in 1997 by Blair Trewin.  It was written off as an error partly because it was recorded on a Sunday and the observer wasn’t normally at work. Supposedly a dedicated weather nerd wouldn’t pop in on a day off just because it was the hottest day of his lifetime. (Not when there were so many other exciting things to do in Bourke in 1909.)

Trewin argued that other surrrounding towns of Thargominda, Walgett and Coonamble were nearly 7 degrees C cooler than Bourke. But Brewarrina is closer and newspaper reports had the temperature there on that Sunday as 123F.  But the BOM didn’t have official records for Brewarrina til 1911. So Craig Kelly took it up on himself to do the research the million-dollar-a-day BOM couldn’t do, and today he found the official records for Brewarrina, and lo, confirmed that the temperature there was 123F. So two different guys over 100 km apart recorded almost the same temperatures on the same day.

As we reported here in 2014, at Cobar it was 117F, in Goodooga, 123 and  it was 117 at Riverstone. h/t Chris Gillham and Lance Pidgeon.  So Brewarrina was not the only town nearby with extraordinary heat.

Despite the long history of the Bourke weather data, the good people of Bourke only hear about temperature records since the year 2000. Jennifer Marohasy found the son of one of the original weather observers in Bourke, and he’s frustrated that the careful work of his father is as good as forgotten. Mr Cole owns the local radio station but can’t broadcast the records his father observed because the BOM only supplies data to “weatherzone” from the year 2000.

The original handwritten log books were tossed in the trash and it’s only thanks to non-BOM dedication that they were rescued and saved from the dumpster.

If the day wasn’t digitized, does it exist?

Craig Kelly also uncovered the data for Whitecliffs, another town of the far outback in NSW. There in 1939 an observer recorded the second hottest Australian day (of the last 120 years) at 51.1°C (124°F).

That too is not officially acknowledged even though it was recorded in a Stevenson Screen.  And the reason, Craig Kelly tells me, is because it hasn’t been digitized yet. Figure that! The greatest crisis is coming to destroy life on Earth but the BOM can’t find time to write up our old history. They get hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds and tell us the trends and records are accurate to a tenth of a degree, but they haven’t even bothered to manually go and fish out and type in the most extreme days as reported in newspapers all over the country.

Jennifer Marohasy, Craig Kelly and I all want to know — When with the BOM correct the record?

Map Bourke, Brewarrina, NSW

Brewarrina is the closest town to Bourke in outback NSW.

See the hand-written raw data in the photos as written up and explained by Jennifer Marohasy.

______________________________________________________

Guest post by Jennifer Marohasy

Hottest Day Ever in Australia Confirmed: Bourke 51.7°C, 3rd January 1909

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology deleted what was long regarded as the hottest day ever recorded in Australia – Bourke’s 125°F (51.7°C) on the 3rd January 1909. This record* was deleted, falsely claiming that this was likely some sort of ‘observational error’, as no other official weather stations recorded high temperatures on that day.

However, Craig Kelly MP has visited the Australian National Archive at Chester Hill in western Sydney to view very old meteorological observation books. It has taken Mr Kelly MP some months to track down this historical evidence. Through access to the archived book for the weather station at Brewarrina, which is the nearest official weather station to Bourke, it can now be confirmed that a temperature of 50.6°C (123°F) was recorded at Brewarrina for Sunday 3rd January 1909. This totally contradicts claims from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology that only Bourke recorded an extraordinarily hot temperature on that day.

 

Brewarrina, Hottest Day in Australia, Bureau of Meteorology, historic archive. NSW

Brewarrina, Hottest Day in Australia, Bureau of Meteorology, historic archive. NSW

Just today, Friday 10th July 2020, Mr Kelly MP obtained access to this record for Brewarrina, the closest official weather station to the official weather station at Bourke.

He has photographed the relevant page from the observations book, and it shows 123°F was recorded at 9am on the morning of Monday 4th January 1909 – published here for the first time. This was the highest temperature in the previous 24 hours and corroborates what must now be recognised as the hottest day ever recorded in Australia of 51.7°C (125°F) degrees at Bourke on the afternoon of Sunday 3rd January 1909.

 

Bourke, Hottest Day in Australia, Historic Archive.

 

Bourke, Hottest Day in Australia, Ever, 1909.

Australia’s hottest day ever was recorded at Bourke in 1909

That the Bureau of Meteorology denies these record hot days is a travesty. Is it because these records contradict their belief in catastrophic human-caused global warming?

The temperature of 50.6°C (123°F) recorded back in 1909 which is more than 100 years ago, photographed by Mr Kelly today at the National Archives in Chester Hill, is almost equivalent to the current official hottest day ever for Australia of 50.7 degrees Celsius at Oodnadatta on 2nd January 1960. These are in fact only the fourth and third hottest days recorded in Australia, respectively.

Not only has Mr Kelly MP tracked-down the meteorological observations book for Brewarrina, but over the last week he has also uncovered that 51.1°C (124°F) was recorded at White Cliffs for Wednesday 11th January 1939. This is the second hottest ever!

The evidence, a photograph from the relevant page of the White Cliff’s meteorological observations book, is published here for the first time.

White Cliffs, NSW. Hottest Day in Australia, 1939. Bureau of Meteorology.

White Cliffs, NSW. Hottest Day in Australia, 1939. Bureau of Meteorology.

Until the efforts of Mr Kelly MP, this second hottest-ever record was hidden in undigitised archives.

It is only through the persistence of Mr Kelly to know the temperatures at all the official weather stations in the vicinity of Bourke that this and other hot days have been discovered.

If we are to be honest to our history, then the record hot day at Bourke of 51.7°C (125°F) must be re-instated, and further the very hot 50.6°C (123°F) recorded for Brewarrina on the same day must be entered into the official databases.

Also, the temperature of 51.1°C (124°F) recorded at White Cliffs on 12th January 1939 must be recognised as the second hottest ever.

For these temperatures to be denied by the Bureau because they occurred in the past, before catastrophic human-caused global warming is thought to have come into effect, is absurd.

At a time in world history when Australians are raising concerns about the Chinese communist party removing books from Libraries in Hong Kong, we should be equally concerned with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology removing temperature records from our history.

If global warming is indeed the greatest moral issue of our time, then every Australian regardless of their politics and their opinion on greenhouse gases and renewable energies, must be honest to history and these truths.

Keep reading  →

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Tweet mining in the Cancel Culture era

Skeptics have been living with “cancel culture” for years, but now, suddenly, nearly the whole Western world is.

Inside Cancel-Culture whole people and even statues are sliced out of public debate because of one breach of some optional movable rule. No matter how many years of experience or how great their achievements, one single “mistake” in the game of virtue signalling in any area means all their opinions on every topic are deemed unworthy.

Obviously, those that can’t persuade seek to cancel instead.

Here’s the brilliant Remy from late last year mocking journalists with twitter trawling fixations.

Imagine what would happen if an anchorman could say what they really thought?

“Toss him in a well and see if he floats”

PS: It’s good to see a few grown-ups like JK Rowling speaking up to end the cancel culture toxicity. It’s a shame they had to toss crumbs to the TDS crocodile. (People are looting and pillaging, but Trump‘s a “threat to Democracy”?) But otherwise they fight the good fight for free speech.

“We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences.”

And so we do.

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Thursday Open Thread

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Watching the Three Gorges Dam

Eyes are still on the Three Gorges Dam as a rare flooding event spreads across Asia. Bridges that have stood for 500 years have succumbed.

Pity the poor people of Wuhan, the flood waters released from the Three Gorges Dam have arrived. That dam and all upstream dams have opened the flood gates, and cities as far downstream as Wuhan are flooding.

According to the South China Morning Post, 19,380,000 people have been affected by flooding across China as of July 3rd. Chriss Street says “a record 16.8 inches falling between Sunday and Monday morning, and inflows running at 40 acre-feet per second after, CMA on July 4 issued an 80-percent risk of thundershowers for each of the next 11 days.”

Check out the brief shot of the flood in a supermarket.

 

Apparently the dam is so large and heavy it even ranks in discussions of seismic potential – namely that some people are concerned the weight of the water may trigger earthquakes.

The “word on the street” according to Gravitasis that Chinese people are wondering if the flooding water released from  is convenient for the CCP government to wash away evidence from the Wu flu outbreak.

Watch the Gravitas vid (at the link) from 1:30 (before that it’s a revision of the virus).

For disaster flood porn trawl through Twitter Three Gorges Dam. It’s an unbelievable amount of water.

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Some offer shame and division, Trump offers heroes and unity

Some can inspire others to do great things. Others inspire people to wreck statues.

The NY Times called his speech an effort to “sow division” to “exploit race”.The Washington Post said it’s dark and divisive. The National Review said the reaction was unhinged.  A guy called Roger Kimball argues the Mt Rushmore Speech was the moment Donald Trump won reelection.

So, if you haven’t already, read it yourself, extracts below, or watch it.

President Trump at the 2020 Salute to America

July 4th 2020

“We want free and open debate, not speech codes or cancel culture”— Donald Trump

 Greatest nation on Earth:

Two hundred and forty-four years ago in Philadelphia, the 56 signers of our Declaration of Independence pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to boldly proclaim this eternal truth: that we are all made equal by God.  (Applause.)

Thanks to the courage of those patriots of July 4th, 1776, the American Republic stands today as the greatest, most exceptional, and most virtuous nation in the history of the world.

Our workers, our factories have revolutionized industries and lifted millions into prosperity.  Our artists, architects, and engineers have inspired the globe with transcendent works of beauty.  American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles, and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the Earth.  We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing.  (Applause.)

“The radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of Social Justice,” he said. “But in truth, it would demolish both justice and society. It would transform justice into an instrument of division and vengeance, and it would turn our free and inclusive society into a place of repression, domination, and exclusion.” That is as good as anything Friedrich Hayek said about that portmanteau instrument of intimidation and meritless virtue signaling.

We will not allow anyone to divide our citizens by race or color:

Keep reading  →

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Victoria in lockdown again. Border Wars suddenly vanish as hypocrite NSW leaders close state finally

The whole of Melbourne is now in a six week lockdown again, but thankfully, most of regional Victoria isn’t.  The freedom in regional Victoria is solely due to a “ring” around Melbourne.

Not only is the second peak  bigger than the first one, but it’s all community spread this time. Fully 191 new cases of Covid19 were announced in Victoria today. Ominously, only 37 so far can be traced (so far), which means this is not just about spot testing in the nine high rise towers that are now locked down. So , no indoor sport, no gyms, or concerts, museums or zoos can open. No more dining in restaurants and given the disturbing number associated with schools, the start of Term 3 has been delayed by a week for years 1 – 10, and possibly longer. But fishing, boating, golf, and surfing are OK. It’s good to see the quarantines are evolving, recognising the minimal benefit of stopping dispersed outdoor activity.

For people overseas, the Australian style of lockdown permits people to move for work if they can’t stay home, and to shop for essentials and to exercise.  Jobs are considered essential, but people are encouraged to work from home if they can.

UPDATE: There will be immense pain for businesses who only just set themselves up again, or workers who just got back to work. Hopefully we can find a way to share that burden fairly. Commiserations to all.

Victoria is testing over 20,000 people a day, and around 0.5% of all tests are positive. In comparison, in Arizona test positivity is more like 25%.

Victorian outbreak, Coronavirus

How fast the coronavirus can get out of hand. Victoria, Australia. (Click to enlarge). Graph, Guardian, Vic Health.

The Border Wars in Australia are suddenly over

Finally, borders are treated like the bargain option they should be. Both Scott Morrison and Glady Berijiklian (NSW Premier) had been demanding borders reopen all over the country, repeatedly saying there was no medical case for closing borders. That was until the Victorian outbreak suddenly grew to be larger than their own state’s last weekend, and then closed borders suddenly became very appealing.

Yesterday Dan Andrews (the Victorian Premier, in need of all the help he can get) was happy to provide cover for the hypocrisy of the other two NSW based leaders. He was the one who announced the border closure. But he’s not imposing or enforcing the state borders. NSW is.

The West Australian

…after a phone call between Mr Andrews, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, …it was agreed the Victorian border with NSW would be closed as of [Tuesday] night.

“That closure will be enforced on the New South Wales side, so as not to be a drain on resources that are very much focused on fighting the virus right now across our State,” Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews confirmed the border closure was a “joint decision” and wouldn’t comment on who first raised it.

Closing borders should be the first and cheapest solution to stop or slow any infectious virus. Only a small part of the economy in most places depends on interstate holiday and conference travellers. Most of the economy can continue without them as long as there is no local spread and thus no local restrictions. But the freedom within the borders is only as good as the strength of “wall”. (And suddenly all the Australian leaders are nervously tightening their slightly leaky borders). Victoria is the reminder that only a strong border stands between any Australian town and this virus.

In a household lockdown the border is the fence around each house. It’s obviously (and always was) that national, state and regional borders are a bargain — no matter how expensive they are — rather than trying to do household lockdowns.

Clive Palmer (the coal mining sellout to Al Gore in 2014) is taking WA to the high court to get the state to open borders, and Scott Morrison and the Federal Government officially supported him, which looks fairly comical now.

Mark McGowan Premier of WA says: “It does not make sense for the federal government to be supporting a border closure between NSW and Victoria but on the other hand challenging Western Australia’s border in the High Court of Australia.

Only a week ago Scott Morrison was saying Queenslanders are the “biggest losers” from border closures, and was accusing Qld and SA Premiers of “lacking perspective” over their decision to close borders with Victoria.

Scott Morrison, June 18th: …they [borders] should never have been closed in the first place.

He used the magical absence-of-evidence argument. Who noticed the dodge?

 “That was never the medical expert advice that was given to National Cabinet. States have gone their own way,” he said.

Hopefully Morrison will now recognise the value of borders and stop pretending there is any medical excuse not to enforce them. For months now he’s been saying we’re keeping the international borders closed due to medical advice but demanded state borders were open for the same reason.

How many international leaders will be watching this and learning?

Some US states could stop the coming trainwreck if they just copied Australia. How many people in regional USA could lead normal safe lives if the big cities were ring-fenced? Why is the US still allowing viruses to fly in and fly around when they don’t have to?

Australian state borders include at least two “twin” cities which straddle a border. In this case, while most of regional Victoria is fine and free, the twin cities of Albury Wodonga have suspect cases (NSW) and new cases (Vic). Seems like it would be wise to lock and test those two pronto.

Greg Sheridan on the Victorian Government’s Four Big Mistakes:

 The Victorian government made four stupid mistakes, even as it imposed the toughest lockdown regime in Australia.

First, it didn’t supervise the quarantine hotels properly. It chose to use untrained security guards without even the most elementary common sense of having them supervised by police officers, soldiers or prison guards.

Second, it made no serious effort to stop the Black Lives Matter mass demonstrations, unlike other governments.

Third, Victoria was not as energetic in contact tracing as other jurisdictions.

And fourth, a state government that prides itself on its multicultural credentials was not effective in communicating the social-distancing message to several ethnic and religious minorities whose generally perfectly innocent cultural practices were prone to spreading the virus.

As I said, the BLM rallies may or may not have spread the virus, but they blew away the community compliance with isolation and restrictions. At least the other states in Australia tried to stop the rallies. In Victoria, Andrews just fined the leaders, but everyone else knew it was fine. How much did the BLM rallies matter? We don’t know.

___________________________

Shelves being cleared out in some Melbourne stores. Can’t hurt to stock up wherever you are. 

For the record, two weeks ago I started restocking supplies even though there is no community spread here in WA. It’s better to keep the back ups, just in case. If bad news comes, we won’t contribute to the rush. If it doesn’t, I’m buying things we’ll use anyhow.

__________________________

Vic Health Information for Victorians

Australian coronavirus pandemic, Wikipedia

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Tuesday Open Thread

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Stop making sense. Forget science and become emotional

 

Rebecca Huntley,

Stop making sense….

Rebecca Huntley proffers reassurance to the faithful fans of man-made weather. Why make sense when you can just weep your way through national energy policy?

Stop making sense: why it’s time to get emotional about climate change

Rebecca Huntley, The Guardian

It’s a soothing piece of public self-therapy, offering forgiveness to those, like her, that struggle to make sense in the first place. Having lost the debate on climate science, and being reduced to petty namecalling, Huntley’s job, apparently, is to distort what people think science is.

The science behind climate change has been proven correct to the highest degree of certainty the scientific method allows.

Why stop there? Climate change has been proven beyond the highest degree of certainty allowed. It’s gone right off the scale and into the supernatural. It’s a place where 16 year old sages prophesy the future and tell the world to stop floods with windmills.

If you weren’t confused about the definition of climate change, Huntley is here to make sure you are:

But climate change is more than just the science. It’s a social phenomenon

The last thing a prophetic cult needs is accurate language. People might spot how contradictory the arguments are.

Is she a social scientist or a God?

Then again, I’m a social scientist. I study people. I deal mostly in feelings, not facts. A joke I like to tell about myself during speeches is that I’m an expert in the opinions of people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

And we’d like to see her say that to Richard Lindzen or Roy Spencer.

How does she know all those skeptics don’t know what they are talking about?

Huntley is living the Dunning-Kruger-confirmation-dream:

Have a look at the must-watch 2018 Ted Talk by the meteorologist J Marshall Shepherd, on three kinds of bias that shape your worldview. The first, and probably the most obvious, is confirmation bias, namely that we zero in on evidence that supports what we already believe.

We can’t wait to hear Huntley describe the core scientific arguments of leading skeptics. Could we send her a pop-quiz?

Confirmation bias is even more pronounced in a world where we can use our social media to filter out information we don’t want to absorb and where we follow influencers who reinforce our existing beliefs.

Case in point, see @RebeccaHuntley2 on twitter. Good luck finding a counter message in between retweets of Labor election ads. Look who’s filtering their information?

The second bias is called Dunning-Kruger, which describes our human tendency to think we know more than we do as well as to underestimate what we don’t know. Again, I see this happen in focus groups all the time, when participants with no scientific credentials or training pick apart the science of climate change.

Perhaps like the social scientists who think that opinion polls of climate modelers are more important than 3,000 ocean buoys, 6,000 boreholes, and 28 million weather balloons, not to mention 800,000 years  of ice cores, and 30 years of satellites?

The third and final bias is cognitive dissonance. When people encounter actions or ideas they cannot reconcile psychologically with their own beliefs, they experience discomfort. They then try to resolve their discomfort by arguing away the new evidence.

Rebecca Hunter believes climate change has been proven correct to the highest degree of certainty. Her cognitive dissonance is so large, she’s argued away the entire science debate.

• This is an edited extract from How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference, by Rebecca Huntley (Murdoch Books, $32.99)

It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to play “expert” and convince the struggling believers that they don’t even need to pretend to be scientific anymore.

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Weekend Unthreaded

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Hydroxycholoroquine *may* save half the people who were going to die of Covid

 Good news on the HCQ front

The Henry Ford HCQ study is by no means decisive, but with death rates seemingly halved (sorta, maybe, kinda) — it does show how crazy it is to ban hydroxychloroquine. It also shows it’s low risk, and with all the conflicting studies out there, that there are a lot of ways to stuff things up.

With 10 million cases around the world it seems a bit incongruous that it’s taken so many months to get a trial this basic done with 2,000 patients. When the world only had 10,000 patients in January we already knew that the three drugs that were “fairly effective” were  Remdesivir, Chloroquine and Ritonavir. As far back as February 13, the South Koreans were already recommending hydroxychloroquine and telling us the anti-virals should be “started as soon as possible.” They warned that after ten days, doctors “do not have to start antivirals”. South Korea was the experiment that worked — but we ignored it.

Speaking of slow research, the UK hydroxychloroquine trial that was stopped has restarted again as of three days ago.  This is a trial to see if HCQ can prevent coronavirus in 40,000 healthcare workers.

Perhaps half were saved?

Of those enrolled in the trial, 87% of the people who got hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) survived. This was a lot better than the survival rate of those with neither HCQ nor Azithromycin which was 74%.  Possibly half of those who died in the latter group might have been saved had they got HCQ. But, the study was not  randomized, so we really don’t  know.

Consider that those who got both HCQ and Azithromycin had a lower survival rate (80%) than for HCQ alone. This could be because of some extra risk with azithromycin, some bad interaction with both drugs in combination, or most likely, it was because the doctors gave both drugs to the sickest patients. Indeed, a lot more of the dual treatment patients spent time in the ICU (37%) compared to those in the “neither med” group (15%) and  those treated with HCQ alone (20%). This is the problem with a non-randomized study. We don’t know if the doctors choice of who-to-treat skewed the results. It’s possible the combination of both could have been the best of all.

In comparison, in a randomized trial of the $3,000 remdesivir drug, there was a mortality rate of 8.0%  (treated) versus 11.6% (untreated). Grein et al., 2020. So the HCQ was used on sicker patients with a higher mortality rate, but loosely seemed to have more effect. Given the bargain price of HCQ, long history, mass supplies, and known potential against SARS-1, we wonder why it hasn’t had a proper randomized trial too.

Finally some good coronavirus news for the Trump team. This result will help encourage people to sign up to trials and give doctors back some confidence to use it.

No heart related side effects

One thing it does show is that there were no heart-related side effects, which means it can be low risk and low cost, if done properly. Doctors already know how to screen people who are at risk, which is hardly a surprise given that doctors write 5 million prescriptions for this each year in the US and have done for decades. So let’s get cracking and use it.

Indeed, this shifts the ethical battle — is it fair not to treat patients?

Steroids muddy the result

Keep reading  →

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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 addition to a possible new virus outbreak from the swine flu, and also expected locusts.

The Epoch Times is outspokenly anti-communist, connected with the Falun Gong and is banned inside China.

 The Crossroads Youtube channel belongs to The Epoch Times.

The Taiwan News is running with it:

Earthquake sparks fears of landslides above Three Gorges Dam

Chinese seismologist predicts earthquake above Three Gorges Dam, warns of ‘catastrophe’

#ThreeGorgesDam

Photo China, three gorges dam flood. 2020

Flooding in China (video below)

That is a lot of water.

Photo China, three gorges dam flood. 2020

Flooding in China  (video below)

Check out the twitter feed at  #ThreeGorgesDam 

There some astonishing footage.

Watch those videos at this link if you can‘t see them here  (I don’t think they work on firefox).

  …

Obviously we hope the communist engineering works out ok and remember that things on Twitter are unverified, and could be a photo of a different flood.

 

UPDATE: Best short summary  of  dubious building standards and risk, from KHL comment #12

A Chinese hydrologist who helped do the feasibility study on 3 Gorges has several issues with the dam and its possibility of collapse. The left bank was examined by wester experts who said the dam wasn’t up to standards. Not enough rebar, substandard concrete. It’s important to realized that this dan was designed in the 1980s and built from 1992 to 2009, a time when Chinas technical prowess was not yet developed. The containment reservoir isn’t large enough. Initially they claimed the dam was built for a 10000 year flood, then a 1000 year flood, then a 100 and finally said that the dam couldn’t be relied upon to control flooding. In addition, the spillways are improperly designed to that when they’re open they cause flooding down river at least 5 times faster than before there was a dam. In addition, the dam had never run all the turbine at once probably because of the fear of massive flooding down river. Yesterday was the first time they all ran at once. Also yesterday there was a 4.5 earthquake near the dam, which raised the risk of landslides. And we’ve still got another month of this to go.

The concrete is shifting accord to Weinlow because the large concrete blocks are not anchored to the bedrock. Shortly after the dam was opened in 2009 cracks started forming in the concrete. A concrete expert was brought in and said they were minor superficial cracks.

Many YouTube videos have been pulled down, when their Chinese masters snap their fingers, American social media and mainstream media jump to their feet. Ask why the issue of the 3 Gorges structural integrity is not being addressed by any western media. If this dam collapses it will be the single greatest disaster in recorded history. There are 66 nuclear powers down stream from the dam and there 400-600 million people there as well as a number of major cities. Think about that.

UPDATE: The shape of the dam is alleged by some to show wobbles and movements we don’t expect in concrete walls . CCP says the wall has only moved a few mm and it’s normal. Current Google Earth Satelite image does not show the warping. Fake photo?

There are strangely few tweets about this topic, given the potential gravity of it. A few forex traders and others are talking of ways to benefit. The odd video is leaking out of China. How strong is the censorship?

 

In China, the rainfall in metres,
Not the usual centimetres,
Could force debris and mud,
In a Biblical flood,
Through dams in billions of litres.

–Ruairi

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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

Photo, Koala eating young gum leaves.

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 koalas now than there were 250 years ago.

He describes how koalas have been booming and busting for two centuries. Before the first fleet arrived, koalas were so rare that the new settlers didn’t even see one for fifteen years! But after the indigenous cool burns programs stopped, dense forests grew which were choc-full of tender new shoots that koalas love to eat. So koala populations would flourish and boom right up until a fire wiped them out. In other areas farmers cleared land, but the “paddock” trees would get sick and resprout continuously, which also worked out pretty well for koalas. So koalas boomed in the valleys too. Sooner or later a drought would come and the valley koalas would starve and get sick themselves.

Jurskis recommends we use koala rescue funds to start doing better forest management with cool burns so the megafires don’t incinerate the next oversupply of koalas. It’s a man-made cycle of pain and suffering.

You’d think The Guardian and The ABC would be able to give us a more rounded view, especially since they covered the boom stories and the Koala Wars.  Here’s the ABC in 2002:

Scientists say the only solution to this crisis is to begin culling Koalas. Against the scientists are people who believe we need to be creating more habitats or the koalas. The Australian Koala Foundation are planting wildlife corridors to link koala habitats. But the scientists say this is just going to feed the problem – wherever the koalas have been introduced they thrive and eventually destroy their habitat.

Last year gave up sterilizing them to stop the plague on Kangaroo Island:

Koala and kangaroo culling considered as numbers become ‘overabundant’

  A report from a parliamentary inquiry has recommended the state’s environment minister make an immediate decision to declare koalas, western grey kangaroos, long-nosed fur seals and little corellas overabundant in some areas. The committee heard that sterilisation of the Kangaroo Island koala population had had little success.“Population numbers on the Island continue to rise and their impacts are threatening its biodiversity,” the report says. — The Guardian, 12th July 2019

This year, plagues in Victoria too:

Blue gum plantations in south west Victoria fuelling huge koala populations

Eucalyptus trees provide the main food source for koalas, so it’s no surprise huge numbers of them are gravitating to the vast blue gum plantations in south west Victoria. So much so that landowners nearby are reporting koala populations are growing to “plague proportions”. New research shows the skyrocketing koala populations are becoming unsustainable and damaging vegetation. — ABC February 2020

Koalas on Kangaroo Island went from zero to plague proportions in just 60 years

From a blog called ConvictCreations, we get a colorful history of how South Australia dealt with the dilemma of culling cute koalas:

Koalas were introduced to Kangaroo Island in the 1930s. By the 1990s, their populations had reached almost 14,000. Although they were the jewel in the Kangaroo Island’s ecotourism crown, some scientists believed they had no right to be on the island. According to David Paton, an environmental scientist from the University of Adelaide, there was a hierarchy of animals rights on Kangaroo Island, and the koalas’ rights were close to the bottom. In his own words:

“You are going to cause major problems for other species — other species that are endemic to the island. Those things have a right, a greater right, to be here than koalas.”

As a compromise between the environmental scientists that wanted to kill them and the tourism operators that wanted to conserve them, between 1997 and 2005, the South Australian government paid for the sterilisation of 3,400 adult koalas and relocated a further 1,000 to the mainland. Each sterilisation cost around $140. Needless to say, the remaining koalas kept breeding and environmental scientists kept asking for more money to manage the koala problem and run public “education campaigns” about the problem. For whatever reason, the government then decided there wasn’t a problem and ceased funding. Mysteriously, the koalas then developed a disease which dropped their populations by half.

 They’ve survived megafires, drought and disease. Jurskis uses the term “irrupting” which means a sudden increase in an animal population.

Bushfires and Koalas: It’s Not That Simple

Vic Jurskis, Quadrant, 27th Feb, 2020

Before Australia’s fire regime changed, koalas were naturally rare because they eat tender, juicy and nutritious new leaves which are a rare commodity in healthy, mature eucalypt forests. Europeans didn’t see a live koala until 15 years after they arrived in Australia. The Sydney Gazette of August 21, 1803, reported that “its food consists solely of gum leaves, in the choice of which it is excessively nice”. This was common knowledge for more than a century.

In total, there were 20 megafires in 200 years. Koalas are still there in unnaturally high densities. There is an average of one koala per three hectares anywhere that monkey gums, blue gums or yellow stringybarks grow.

… koalas irrupted in the dense young forests that grew up after the demise of the Yowenjerre people. Koalas have persisted for 150 years despite heavy clearing and repeated megafires. The experts claim that clearing and hunting caused extreme declines and loss of genetic diversity in Victoria’s koalas.  However, the South Gippsland population is supposed to be “of high conservation significance” as a population retaining its naturally diverse gene pool.

The $3 million being handed out by Minister Ley would better be spent reintroducing mild fire to areas burnt at high intensities, before the scrub bounces back. This was the recommendation of traditional burning expert Victor Steffensen at the Koala Inquiry on December 9 (p. 27).

While-ever our leaders continue to take advice from green academics and bureaucrats, emergency services generalissimos and misguided children, instead of people who know and love the land, our future will get progressively sadder and badder.

Vic Jurskis, a veteran forester and fire expert, is the author of the just-published The Great Koala Scam: green propaganda, junk science, government waste & cruelty to animalsIt can be ordered here

Inquiry into Koala Populations, Parliament House, NSW, December 9th, 2019 [PDF]

Vic Jurskis explained the situation late last year to the NSW Parliament. From page 7 onwards:

I am one of very few who have studied natural koalas. They live in large home ranges with thousands of trees, so you do not see them. Healthy old trees mostly have poor, hard, dry leaves that cannot sustain koalas. They move long distances to find fresh browse. Explorers did not see them in the valleys because they were not there. John Gould wrote that they could rarely be detected, even with the help of Aborigines. After settlers cleared paddocks, sowed pastures and disrupted Aboriginal burning, koalas erupted because dense young forests with millions of new shoots grew up in the foothills. Paddock trees got sick and started turning over new shoots all the time, so koalas invaded the valleys. The fur industry was a response.

In the Federation drought, trees were not able to keep reshooting, so koalas suffered starvation and chlamydiosis. They died out in the valleys but they survived in the forests. After World War II, timber cutters got chainsaws and tractors. Intensive harvesting created dense young forests and koalas bred up again. Then we stopped burning and grazing and locked up most of the forests. Trees got sick again; now koalas and scrub are erupting through declining forests—both regrowth and old growth. The dense population in the Pilliga crashed again in the millennium drought, whereas low-density populations continued to erupt.

Nearly everything you have read or heard about koalas, including NSW Koala Strategy, is wrong because it is based on denial of history and unwitting studies of unsustainably dense populations. NGOs and national parks service rely on misinformation to support fundraising, political campaigns and land grabs. The Senate inquiry swallowed it whole. When Mr Singh, who is now the member for Coffs Harbour, called it out, AAP FactCheck said his statement was false. They quoted the ridiculous Senate report and World Wildlife Fund report about millions of koalas in 1788.

You have got my ecological history. It was submitted, refereed and accepted as a review—the only reasonably comprehensive review of koalas that has ever been published. After they announced its imminent publication, CSIRO rebadged it as an opinion piece, implying a low standard. When I challenged AAP, they used this to deny the facts. But I am here today to share the facts with you. As I wrote in my submission in July, denial of history leads us to set up reserves of dying trees and scrub for unsustainable populations. Then they face lingering death in droughts or incineration in megafires. You have got five photos of a koala that I saw crossing the highway south of Eden Wednesday before last, where Dr Lunney says they are extinct. I will use them to illustrate the problem with koalas and fires. Thank you.

Here’s the nub of it:

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE: You are very critical of the NSW Koala Strategy. What is wrong with it, in your view?

Mr JURSKIS: It aims to stabilise and then increase populations, when there are already too many koalas because of the unhealthy, chronically declining forest. That is the same reason why we are having uncontrollable wildfires: It is because of the structure of the forest. As Victor Steffensen says, it is upside-down country: It is thinning on top and thick underneath. I would like to refer to those photos that you have got. For example, the first photo—if you have a look at the ground you can see it is all litter and dead wood. There is no grass or herbs or anything. That is where all the biodiversity is in a healthy forest: It is in the ground layer and the small animals that rely on that layer. It is not there; it has been choked out by scrub.

So you have got litter on the ground, and it is continuous with scrub in the middle and it is continuous with the thinning canopy on the top. You get a fire in that, it is uncontrollable because in severe conditions you get fire storms and ember showers that can be tens of kilometres in front of the fire front. That is why fires are uncontrollable. The only thing that is unprecedented about these fires we are having at the moment is the amount of fuel in the bush. It is right through Australia; there is three-dimensionally continuous fuel and declining trees wherever you go because we no longer use mild burning. In fact, in New South Wales it is illegal to manage the bush properly by burning it frequently and mildly. It is against the regulations to do it properly.

One MP has trouble grasping how rare koalas were:

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Thursday Open Thread

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

Child Labor in Congo mining.

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 and llama herders to migrate and abandon ancestral settlements. It has also contributed to environment degradation, landscape damage and soil contamination, groundwater depletion and pollution.

The UN’s answer, of course, is not to slow the transition, but to project out three shades of hope. They hope people will find some other deposits of cobalt and lithium. They hope people will figure out how to recycle them, and they hope someone will design some batteries that use other materials.

In the meantime, though, little black lives in The Congo matter slightly less than an undetectable temperature change.

Children mining cobalt in slave-like conditions

ABC News

Former child labourer Yannick from Kolwezi, a city of more than 500,000 people in the south of the DRC, dropped out of school and went into full-time work at the age of seven.   “People died in the mine, and you could suffocate when you are deep in the mine,” he said. “When it rained, it created a lot of landslides.

As Thomas Williams says at Breitbart –  we’re only talking about one hundred thousanth of a degree C:

For his part, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said that in 2018, electric cars saved 40 million tons of CO2 worldwide, sufficient to reduce global temperatures by a mere 0.000018°C — or a little more than a hundred-thousandth of a degree Celsius — by the end of the century.

“If you think you can save the climate with electric cars, you’re completely wrong,” Birol said.

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