Sunday, September 02, 2007

Bedbugs are back

DDT sent them close to extinction but they have now bounced back and only that wicked DDT will eradicate them again

Five decades after being declared officially dead, the most toe-curling of all America's critters has returned, with a spate of bloodsucking attacks on unsuspecting victims as they sleep. The culprit is Cimex lectularius - otherwise known as the common bedbug. Until recently it was known happily to Americans only from nursery rhymes.

Not any more. Up to 5mm in length, wingless, nocturnal and covered in microscopic hairs, the bedbug was supposed to have been eliminated from the US by the pesticide DDT, which was later banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1972 because of the damage it caused to fish, birds and other wildlife. But now the insect is back, and its sudden return has been proclaimed "one of the great mysteries of entomology". Over recent months bedbugs have been turning up in hospitals, nursing homes, cinemas, dry cleaners, schools, public housing and even some well-to-do residential homes.

They are attracted to the very thing that has caused the US, and the rest of the world, so much grief lately: carbon dioxide. While historically it is the carbon dioxide in human breath that has brought them out to feed, experts speculate that rising levels in the air could be behind their renaissance. Every day seems to bring a new tale of infestation - and, in the land that spawned the compensation culture, a new lawsuit.

Maya Rudelph, star of Saturday Night Live, is suing her New York landlord for $450,000 over a claim that her $13,500-a-month SoHo loft apartment is infested with the insects. In Ohio a woman is suing the Hilton hotel chain after she allegedly suffered more than 150 bites in a room, leaving her "physically scarred and emotionally damaged".

The bugs have been gone for so long now that few know how to deal with them. "We have a whole new generation of people in our profession who had never seen a bedbug," said Leonard Douglen, executive director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association, which organised a trade show at Rutgers University last week devoted to the pest's resurgence.

Another problem: with DDT banned, the bedbugs laugh in the face of the pyrethroid-based compounds now used against them. "We've had cases where we're spraying 200 to 300 times the label dose of toxins and we can't kill 'em," Michael Potter, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky, complained during a seminar in New York last week.

Anyone unsure of what a bedbug calls mealtime is invited by Dr Potter to look at a video posted on YouTube by his university. It shows a bug, in close-up, on the flesh of a victim. The bug appears translucent at first, but after injecting the human with saliva - which contains anticoagulants and anaesthetics - the bug turns crimson as it gorges on blood.

Bedbugs are hard to see, as are their eggs, of which they can lay six a day. Although they like to feed every five to ten days, they can survive without a bloodsucking session for as long as 18 months. The good news is that while they have been known to contain pathogens such as plague and hepatitis B, bedbugs have not been linked with the transmission of any diseases.


Leo DiCaprio, Expert Climatologist

Movie "The 11th Hour" Serves as Latest Round of Silly, Self-Righteous Hollywood Environmentalism

No longer satisfied playing the role of vacuous teen dreamboat, actor Leo DiCaprio now presumes to play the role of meteorological expert on all things climate-related. Joining that vast herd of self-righteous Hollywood global-warming hysterics, DiCaprio last week opened his new "documentary" entitled The 11th Hour, which he both narrates and produced. No word yet on whether DiCaprio dons a white lab coat or horn-rimmed bifocals to fabricate that extra little sense of legitimacy and expertise.

According to a fawning summary in the reliably-partisan Los Angeles Times, DiCaprio peppers the film with "traumatic images of destruction" to advance his theme that "everyone and everything on Earth is linked and it will take a collective shift of individual determination to save the planet." Unfortunately for the dinosaurs, sabretooth tigers and Neanderthals, there was no prehistoric Leo DiCaprio to save them from similar destruction.

But this silliness is merely the tip of Leo's iceberg, assuming that icebergs still exist in our supposedly-sweltering sauna of a planet. And speaking of icebergs, isn't it also tragic that DiCaprio wasn't around in 1912 to stop that deadly wave of global cooling that doomed the Titanic? After all, his starring role in the movie of the same name should have been sufficient to raise his consciousness to that little climate cataclysm. Global warming, global cooling - what matters is not climatic reality, but the ability of well-meaning celebrities to morally preen before an adoring audience of clueless young minds.

Regardless, DiCaprio, who apparently also moonlights as a socio-political expert, aims to do much more than merely whip up a meringue of typical environmentalist hysteria. Rather, his ultimate goal is apparently nothing less than complete worldwide socio-economic reconstruction. According to DiCaprio, "the collapse of the environment is not the problem - it's a symptom. The real problem is industrial civilization and how we organize society." Can you say "Karl Marx?"

The mind boggles at the possible degree of social upheaval that he seeks. Does he actually intend to abolish all worldwide industry? Is it "goodbye manufacturing industry, and hello homemade sandals and garden sustenance?" Will pretentious Hollywood actors still be able to fly private jets and drive convoys of giant SUVs with blackened window tinting?

Levity aside, DiCaprio's bald partisan vitriol is nothing short of pathetic. On the movie's official website, DiCaprio narrates the usual tripe about "irreparable damage" to a supposedly-fragile Earth while sinister images of the White House, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice roll.

The official movie trailer subsequently trumpets the standard doomsday hyperbole, such as the claim that "the U.N. estimates that by the middle of the century, there may be 150 million environmental refugees." But don't hold your breath on that. DiCaprio and his silly army of associates in this nonsense would be well-advised to recall 1970s climate-change alarmist Paul Ehrlich, who boldly predicted worldwide starvation due to oncoming global cooling - yes, cooling.

Undeterred, the trailer then boldly pronounces that, "the tragedy is the potential extinction of humankind." A straight-faced DiCaprio then appears to appoint "our pivotal generation" (more pivotal than the World War II generation, Leo?) as responsible for "creating a sustainable world in time." Obligatory images of cute penguins and ridiculous contraptions such as ugly windmills and grass-covered buildings follow, creating a cavalcade of self-parody.

But never mind the facts. Years from now, when the utter absurdity of these enviro-economic fascists comes to light, such claims will be conveniently swept under the rug. By then, a new bogeyman will be fabricated by the Left to advance their collectivist, anti-freedom agenda.

In the meantime, however, this isn't all fun and games. It's easy to mock DiCaprio as the foolish airhead that he is, but the damage that he and people like him create is very real, and it's no laughing matter. Schoolchildren who will naturally be subjected to this nonsense are likely to swallow it wholesale, as will adult dupes who are unaware of the facts regarding natural climate fluctuation and the consequences of environmentalist orthodoxy.

Accordingly, everyone should do themselves a favor and read Christopher C. Horner's fantastic book entitled The Politically-Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism. It's the perfect antidote to the lunacy of Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio.



This is an excerpt from the most recent contribution by econometrician Nordhaus. Nordhaus shows that the Kyoto approach is very inefficient in achieving its goals and that there is no urgency in dealing with any global warming

A. Preface

The issues involved in understanding global warming and taking policies to slow its harmful impacts are the major environmental challenge of the modern age. Global warming poses a unique mix of problems that arise from the fact that global warming is a global public good, is likely to be costly to slow or prevent, has daunting scientific and economic uncertainties, and casts a shadow over the globe for decades, perhaps even centuries to come.

The challenge of coping with global warming is particularly difficult because it spans many disciplines and parts of society. Ecologists may see it as a threat to ecosystems, marine biologists as a problem arising from ocean acidification, utilities as a debit to their balance sheets, and coal miners as an existential threat to their livelihood. Businesses may view global warming as either an opportunity or a hazard, politicians as a great issue as long as they don't need to mention taxes, ski resorts as a mortal danger to their already short seasons, golfers as a boon to year-round recreation, and poor countries as a threat to their farmers as well as a source of financial and technological aid.

This many-faceted nature also raises challenges to natural and social scientists, who must incorporate a wide variety of geophysical, economic, and political disciplines in their diagnoses and prescriptions. This is the age of global warming ... and of global-warming studies.

The present study uses the tools of economics and mathematical modeling to analyze efficient and inefficient approaches to slowing global warming. It describes a small but comprehensive model of the economy and climate called the DICE-2007 model, for Dynamic Integrated model of Climate and the Economy. The current study is a completely revised version of earlier models developed by the author and collaborators to understand the economic and environmental dynamics of alternative approaches to slowing global warming. It represents the fifth major version of modeling efforts, with earlier versions developed in the periods 1974-1979, 1980-82, 1990-1994, and 1997-2000. Many of the equations and details have changed over the different generations, but the basic modeling philosophy remains unchanged: to incorporate the latest economic and scientific knowledge and to capture the major elements of the economics of climate change in as simple and transparent a fashion as is possible. The guiding philosophy is, in Leonardo's words, that "simplicity is the highest form of sophistication."

B. Reader's Guide to the Book

The current volume combines a description of the new version of the DICE model along with several analyses of major issues and policy proposals. We begin with a brief outline of the major chapters for those who would like a map of the terrain. We begin this book with a Summary for the Citizen, which describes the underlying approach and major results. This chapter stands alone and can be usefully read by non-economists who want the broad overview as well as specialists who would like an intuitive summary.

Chapter II provides a verbal description of the DICE model. Chapter III then provides a detailed description of the model's equations. The actual equations of the model are provided in Appendix A, while the GAMS computer code is provided in Appendix B. More details on the computer code and derivation of the program are available online. Chapter IV then describes the alternative policies that are analyzed in the computer runs. These include everything from the current Kyoto Protocol to an idealized perfectly efficient or "optimal" economic approach. Chapter V presents the major analytical results on the different policies, including the economic impacts, the carbon prices and control rates, and the effects on concentrations and temperature. Chapters VI through IX provide further analyses using the DICE model. Chapter VI begins with an analysis of the impacts of incomplete participation. This new modeling approach is able to capture analytically the economic and geophysical impacts of policies which include only a fraction of countries or sectors; it shows the importance of full participation. Chapter VII presents preliminary results on the impacts of uncertainty on policies and outcomes. Chapter VIII is a policy-oriented chapter that examines the two major approaches to controlling emissions - prices and quantities - and describes the surprising advantages of price-type approaches. Chapter IX provides an analysis, using the DICE model framework, of the recent Stern Review of the economics of climate change.

The final chapter contains some reservations about the results and then provides the major conclusions of the study. For those who are interested in the derivation of the model and technical details, these are available in a full set of documentation in Accompanying Notes [2007].


"Doomsday Clock" hijacked by climate change alarmists

Radical Environmentalists Continue Politicization of Doomsday Clock, Literally Equating Climate Change to Nuclear Weapons

What does the famed nuclear war "Doomsday Clock" have to do with climate change hysteria? According to Al Gore's minions, everything. For the first time since the Clock's inception, its hands have been advanced for a reason other than the prospect of nuclear war. Not because of mass terrorism, not an outbreak of catastrophic conventional war, not political instability in a nuclear-armed nation or other concrete event, but rather due to that trendy, all-purpose bogeyman of the left - climate change.

First introduced by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago in 1947, the iconic clock face shows the remaining "minutes to midnight," with midnight symbolizing humanity's nuclear destruction. The initial 1947 Clock showed seven minutes until midnight as the Cold War descended upon the world, and the minute hand has been advanced or turned back 19 times since that date in response to various geopolitical crises and the threat of global nuclear war. The Clock was advanced to just three minutes to midnight in 1949, when the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb, and again to just two minutes in 1953, when the United States and Soviet Union tested advanced hydrogen bombs within nine months of one another.

During subsequent years, the Clock became increasingly politicized to reflect the leftist sympathies of its Board of Directors. For instance, the Board illogically turned the Clock back to 12 minutes in 1972 with the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, even though this treaty actually eliminated missile defense protections.

The politicized nature of the Clock became even more obvious with Ronald Reagan's ascent to the White House. During the 1980s, the Board predictably expressed its antipathy toward President Reagan, who ultimately ended the Cold War without firing a shot, by advancing the minute hand all the way to just three minutes before midnight. The Board's naked political basis for this decision is best illustrated by quoting its own website:

"The United States seems to flout the few arms control agreements in place by seeking an expansive, space-based anti-ballistic-missile capability, raising worries that a new arms race will begin... Reagan scraps any talk of arms control and proposes that the best way to end the Cold War is for the United States to win it."

Yes, how silly of that foolish warmonger Ronald Reagan to think that America could actually "win" the Cold War. The Kremlin itself couldn't have stated it in a more one-sided manner. In this light, the recent addition of climate change hysteria to the Clock's calculation is merely a pathetic continuation of its gradual politicization.

Nevertheless, the blatant incorporation of global warming silliness is astounding and noteworthy. On January 17, 2007, giddy with anticipation of the release of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," the Board announced that it was advancing the Clock two minutes. Consequently, it now reads five minutes to midnight. According to the Clock's official website:

"We have concluded that the dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons. The effects may be less dramatic in the short term than the destruction that could be wrought by nuclear explosions, but over the next three to four decades climate change could cause dramatic harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival".

Of course, the Board neglects to mention that climate change hysterics in the 1970s asserted that global cooling, not global warming, was threatening massive crop failure and billions of human deaths through starvation. But that would be an "inconvenient truth," as Mr. Gore would say.

In what can only be charitably described as breathtaking absurdity, the Board proceeds to assert that climate change is second only to nuclear war in terms of its threat to human existence:

"Global warming poses a dire threat to human civilization that is second only to nuclear weapons".

Did the Board sleep through 9/11? Have they ever heard of Darfur? What about diseases such as malaria that still kill millions because environmentalists in wealthier countries oppose the use of simple preventative vaccines like DDT? One can only wonder what pet political issue the Clock's Board will attempt to dramatize by adding to its minute calculus. Socialized medicine? Secondhand smoke? Labor union protections? Trans-fats? Sadly, none of these would be a shock in light of the clock's politicized history.



Forgotten to recycle any newspapers or tin cans recently? Feeling guilty because you neglected to carbon offset your flight to somewhere, anywhere, outside England this summer? The Roman Catholic Church is at hand with a new line in "green confessions" to help eco-sinners to find forgiveness. Dom Anthony Sutch, the Benedictine monk who resigned as head of Downside School to become a parish priest in Suffolk, will be at the county's Waveney Greenpeace festival this weekend to hear eco-confessions in what is thought to be the first dedicated confessional booth of its kind.

Vested in a green chasuble-style garment made from recycled curtains, and in a booth constructed of recycled doors, he will hear the sins of of those who have not recycled the things they ought to have done and who have consumed the things they ought not to have done. Father Sutch tries to practise what he preaches but has turned the heating down so low at his church of St Benet's that at least one parishioner has fled to the warmer care of a neighbouring priest for winter services.

He told The Times: "It is not, I hope, blasphemous to do this. I do not think it is. It is just an attempt to make people conscious of the way they live. The Church is aware of green issues and of how aware we have to be of how we treat the environment. "I know the Pope has now set up his own airline, but I am told the Vatican will be planting trees every time it flies. I do think the way we treat our environment is important. "There is a huge amount of greed in the West. We have to be aware of the consequences of how we live."



The Lockwood paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowleging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and a very detailed critique here for more on the Lockwood paper

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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