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

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Advertising

micropace


GoldNerds

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



Archives

Books

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). [...]

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 [...]

Obama spends $8m to research climate change *indoors*

How will that 1mm sea level rise affect your office?

MRCTV

Apparently, no one can escape the dangers of climate change. Even when you are indoors, safe from the “extreme weather events” and flooding that we are told are the result of increases in the Earth’s temperature.

The Obama Administration has awarded $8 Million in government grants to nine universities to study the impact that climate change has on indoor air quality. The EPA defends the move by claiming that climate change’s effects on indoor air pollutants that lead to asthma, as well as mold and mildew, aren’t well understood. However, as with everything negative that occurs in the world, the Obama Administration is assuming that global warming probably has something to do with it.

Not only is the climate impact on asthma not well understood, asthma isn’t understood either. So lets ask a climate model that doesn’t work to figure out future rates of a condition we don’t know the exact cause of during imaginary weather that probably won’t happen.

Really the main effect of anthropogenic climate change is not on our lungs, it’s on our wallets.

I predict man-made-climate-change means the weather will stay the [...]

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 [...]

Lost knowledge — 10th Century cure for MRSA “Superbug”

If the “leech” doctors circa 1000AD were able to treat superbugs that modern doctors struggle with, I wonder what other knowledge has come and gone and had to be rediscovered?

How many lives have been lost because information was not there when they needed it?

Image: © The British Library Board (Royal 12 D xvii)

Judith Curry posted a link this week to a story about a medieval recipe for an “eyesalve” that rather surprised researchers when it worked against the ghastly MRSA superbug, which is resistant to almost all modern antibiotics.

The book is one of the earliest known medical texts, called Bald’s Leechbook. The recipe called for garlic, onion, wine, and bile from a cow. It was very specific — the mix had to be brewed in brass and then left for nine days. The researchers at the University of Nottingham followed it closely, then it was tested in the lab. Will it work on people, and what are the side-effects?

[...]

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 [...]