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



Death, disease, coming in 2050 says model of model

“Half a million deaths by 2050!”

The Lancet study in a nutshell:  Take climate models that don’t work, and guesstimate what might happen to agriculture because of the climate we probably won’t get. Then use those guesses of food production in 2050 to fantasize what that means for human mortality. After all, we don’t know how many people are killed today by “4% less fruit and vege and 0.7% less meat”, but we can estimate what that dietary change will do in 2050 after a medical revolution, 35 years of plant breeding and agricultural changes. Not to mention a few more rounds of global food fads and phases of Vegan, Paleo, Atkins, and 5:2 Fasting.  (But how did they factor in the mortality effect from another 2,000 episodes of MasterChef?)

Seriously, CO2 has increased crop yields, and will continue to do so until we hit 1000ppm (or maybe 2000). Around the planet, plants grow in warm places, and shrivel up and die in cold ones. So do people. Cold kills 20 times as many people as heat does. It must take a lot of modeling to calculate “more deaths” from two good outcomes.

Look at where fruit grows. In a warmer world, the [...]

Global Warming to destroy sea-food as well

It’s a disaster for fish and chip shops. Children won’t know what a sea-food restaurant is.

Our oceans are warming by 0.005 °C per year (if you believe a thermometer system with a 0.5 °C error). But fish that cope with five degrees of natural variation will apparently be devastated by an average rise of five thousands of a degree per year. Who knew?

Earth’s oceans vary from 0 – 30° C. Warm and cold currents wander, eddy currents swirl. Very little of the ocean’s surface is actually at the exact “average” temperature. In any one spot, temperatures can be a full five degrees above or below average (as in this NOAA graph, below).

The sea surface temperature varies by up to five degrees from average every day

Humans may well be changing global fish stocks, but why toss in the unscientific advertising for “climate change”? As for the acidification scare, ocean pH changes on a daily basis, and hundreds of studies show that marine life might even benefit from a slight increase in “acidification”.


Seafood supply altered by climate change

The global supply of seafood is set to change substantially and many people will not [...]

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.


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 [...]

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 [...]

Very small trial appears to reverse Alzheimers symptoms

I like to keep an eye on research on keeping our brains intact (even if it’s not far past the leeches-and-arsenic stage). Here is a tiny trial showing a bit of promise. After years of testing drugs on Alzheimer plaques without much luck, as far as I can tell, this study had the radical idea of doing a bit of everything that had seemed to delay Alzheimers — like exercise, dumping the carbs, mini-fasts, fish oil, meditation and things like that. Unlike the drug trials, this one actually seemed to work and surprisingly for as many as 9 out of 10 patients (there were only ten patients, that’s not a ratio). It’s quite neat that it did work. It has lots of potential (though not much in the way of profits for big-pharma). However it was only six months long. It may not be slowing the plaques, but then if it restores functional memory, that’s  rather the point (though I worry those plaques are coming back later).

Nonetheless, if you like the idea of saving  your brain. Worth reading the list below, just so you know and pass it on to those with an interest. Anything that helps, especially when [...]

The fat police won’t be happy about this…

Remember the experts who said we should drink skim milk? A new large study suggests that full fat milk is healthier. So much for that consensus about saturated fat. There have been signs things were amiss. A few studies recently have shown that milk, yogurt and cheese consumption were associated with a lower incidence of Diabetes Type 2. Dairy didn’t seem to make the heart attacks more likely either. Hmm. So this new study of 26,000 women looked at high fat versus low fat dairy products. Over 14 years the highest consumption (which is 8, crikey, portions of full fat dairy a day) is associated with … a 23% reduction in risk compared to the low fat dairy consumers. Time to eat more Brie? Maybe, maybe not.

I won’t be taking up 8 portions of full fat dairy myself –  the 23% figure is not seismic, is based on a modeled estimate (so is open to debate). I suspect it’s not the fat content that is the most important thing here, but something else entirely. The “displacement effect” confounds this sort of  study. It might not be that dairy fat is so helpful, just that it is less bad that [...]

CO2 emissions in last 50 years made us $3.5 Trillion wealthier

Millions of people are alive today because the net emissions of carbon dioxide have increased. These extra emissions have provided essential fertilization for crops around the world. Craig Idso has released a new report calculating that the extra value that the rise in CO2 has produced from 1961 – 2011 is equivalent to $3.5 trillion dollars cumulatively. Currently the extra CO2 is worth $160 billion dollars annually. Big-biccies. Projecting forwards, increasing CO2 levels could be worth an extra $9.8 trillion on crop production between now and 2050. Virtually every economic analysis to date does not include the agricultural gains. There are also benefits in health, as warmer winters reduce mortality by more than hotter summers increase deaths. The real economic question then, is “Can we afford to slow CO2 emissions at all?”

While there are negative externalities projected by some climate modelers, their models are unvalidated, proven wrong, and based on unsupported assumptions about clouds and humidity. Compare that to the agricultural gains, which are not just demonstrated in laboratory greenhouses, but confirmed in the field, and with global satellite estimates of increased biomass.

Obviously, the only sensible thing to do at this point is continue our emissions of [...]