Sunday, January 10, 2010

How come we never noticed? EPA says 20,000 Americans Killed by radon in 2009

An email below from Michael Anderson, Program Director, Environmental Health Committee. See here

The World Health Organization has released their mortality statistics for 2009 and a startling statistic about in-home causes of death surfaced. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Radon Gas causes over 20,000 deaths annually in the United States. To put that into perspective, Radon caused more deaths in 2009 than drunk driving, fires, and carbon monoxide.

The EPA is urging the U.S. media to assist in creating awareness of this silent killer by declaring January National Radon Awareness Month. Radon problems have been detected in almost every county in the United States. The Surgeon General and American Lung Association have also taken action to help prevent these needless deaths by recommending that all homes in the U.S. be tested regardless of geographic location or foundation type.

Please help promote this very worthy cause by writing an article or running a news story about indoor Radon Gas. Together, we can work toward saving thousands of lives in 2010! You can learn more about Radon Gas and National Radon Action Month 2010 at .

I don't know who is the wackiest here: The EPA or Mr Anderson. At least I have done what he asked -- though not perhaps in the way he wished. Mr Anderson does not seem to welcome debate. The email address from which the above originated was: The graphic above originates from the EPA. One suspects heroic assumptions behind it

Don't you love that global warming?

At least the Russians predicted global cooling

SCORES of flights have been cancelled across Europe as snow covers swathes of the continent, severing key highways and disrupting rail and electricity links. Germans were urged to buy enough food and medicines to last for up to four days in the face of a blizzard. The government said all non-essential travel should be avoided.

More than 200 flights were cancelled at Frankfurt, Europe's third largest airport, yesterday, spokesman Juergen Harrer said, adding that many more had been delayed. Traffic on the A5 highway between Germany and France was paralysed after French police blocked off the border road to trucks due to heavy snow, German traffic police said.

With much of Britain already shivering through the worst spell of bad winter weather for more than 30 years, a further blanketing was expected. Forecasters say up to 20cm could settle in the east. The conditions hit weekend sports games - five English Premier League football matches were called off and five out of the six Premiership rugby union fixures were also cancelled.

In London, the Serpentine outdoor swimming lake in Hyde Park was closed for the first time in about 140 years amid icy conditions.

Air travel was also being disrupted - at London's Heathrow airport, staff have been working round the clock to keep the runways clear and predicted delays and cancellations. The Eurostar rail link between Britain and continental Europe said it was operating two-thirds of services. Twenty-seven major companies in Britain were ordered to stop using gas on Friday in order to maintain overall supplies amid unprecedented levels of demand.

In France, significant snowfalls caused major delays to train services and southern areas experienced electricity cuts, with at least 7000 households affected, according to officials. With more snow forecast, authorities asked airlines to cut a quarter of flights today at Paris's main Charles de Gaulle airport. Traffic was suspended at Toulouse airport but expected to resume later today. Several trains were cancelled and many high-speed trains were running late, the national rail operator SNCF said.

Ireland, experiencing its worst weather since 1963, was again hit by fresh snowfall in the east which led Dublin airport to suspend all operations. Education Minister Batt O'Keefe ordered all state primary and secondary schools to remain closed until January 14. Police and the Automobile Association said temperatures were "well below zero" on all routes with dense freezing fog causing additional problems.

Freezing temperatures were reported on Saturday in Spain and Portugal, affecting road links. Authorities in Lisbon kept two metro stations open overnight to shelter the homeless.

In the Netherlands, thousands took to the ice as skating federation KNSB gave the green light for impromptu skating events on three lakes in the centre and north-east of the country. Dutch Railways deployed special teams to prevent railway points from freezing at key junctions but nevertheless warned of possible delays.

Scores of flights were cancelled in Brussels as Belgium experienced its first heavy snowfalls. Traffic on highways was affected.

Polish authorities said about 25,000 households were without electricity in the southern region of Kielce and Katowice after power lines were snapped by heavy branches felled in the snow.

In Italy, heavy winds and rain toppled trees in the centre of the country and around Rome, leaving about 65,000 people without electricity, civil protection officials said.


As of December 31, 2009: 12-Year U.S. Cooling Trend Is Now -11.03°F Per Century

Overall decade-long global cooling trend has not abated. Both the U.S. and the world are definitely not experiencing global warming, in any sense of the concept. The case for AGW is without merit as temperatures have done exactly the opposite of what IPCC experts and climate models predicted a decade ago.

In the case of U.S. cooling, it has generally been happening since 1998. If the trend for the U.S. were to continue, temperatures would drop some 11 degrees over a 100 year span - that's global cooling on steroids, which (we hope) is not likely to happen.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Carbon dioxide is not the right villain. Doubling the amount of carbon dioxide yields a 70% increase in plant growth

Not so many years ago, schoolchildren were taught that carbon dioxide is the naturally occurring lifeblood of plants, just as oxygen is ours. Today, children are more likely to think of carbon dioxide as a poison. That’s because the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased substantially over the past 100 years, from about 280 parts per million to 380.

But what people don’t know, say the scientists at Intellectual Ventures labs in Bellevue, Wash., is that the carbon dioxide level some 80 million years ago — back when our mammalian ancestors were evolving — was at least 1,000 parts per million. In fact, that is the concentration of carbon dioxide you regularly breathe if you work in a new energy-efficient office building, for that is the level established by the engineering group that sets standards for heating and ventilation systems.

So not only is carbon dioxide plainly not poisonous, but changes in carbon dioxide levels don’t necessarily mirror human activity. Nor does atmospheric carbon dioxide necessarily warm the earth: Ice-cap evidence shows that over the past several hundred thousand years, carbon dioxide levels have risen after a rise in temperature, not the other way around.

Meet Ken Caldeira, a soft-spoken man with a boyish face and a halo of curly hair. He runs an ecology lab at Stanford University for the Carnegie Institution. Caldeira is among the most respected climate scientists in the world, his research cited approvingly by the most fervent environmentalists. He and a co-author coined the phrase “ocean acidification,” the process by which the seas absorb so much carbon dioxide that corals and other shallow-water organisms are threatened. He also contributes research to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for sounding the alarm on global warming.

If you met Caldeira at a party, you would likely place him in the fervent-environmentalist camp himself. He was a philosophy major in college, for goodness’ sake, and his very name — a variant of caldera, the crater-like rim of a volcano— aligns him with the natural world. In his youth (he is 53 now), he was a hard-charging environmental activist and all-around peacenik.

Caldeira is thoroughly convinced that human activity is responsible for some global warming and is pessimistic about how future climate will affect humankind. He believes that “we are being incredibly foolish emitting carbon dioxide” as we currently do.

Yet his research tells him that carbon dioxide is not the right villain in this fight. For starters, as greenhouse gases go, it’s not particularly efficient. “A doubling of carbon dioxide traps less than 2% of the outgoing radiation emitted by the earth,” he says. Furthermore, atmospheric carbon dioxide is governed by the law of diminishing returns: Each gigaton added to the air has less radiative impact than the previous one.

Caldeira mentions a study he undertook that considered the impact of higher carbon dioxide levels on plant life. While plants get their water from the soil, they get their food — carbon dioxide, that is — from the air. An increase in carbon dioxide means that plants require less water to grow. Caldeira’s study showed that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide while holding steady all other inputs— water, nutrients and so forth— yields a 70% increase in plant growth, an obvious boon to agricultural productivity. “That’s why most commercial hydroponic green houses have supplemental carbon dioxide,” a colleague says. “And they typically run at 1,400 parts per million.”

“Twenty thousand years ago,” Caldeira says, “carbon dioxide levels were lower, sea level was lower — and trees were in a near state of asphyxiation for lack of carbon dioxide. There’s nothing special about today’s carbon dioxide level, or today’s sea level, or today’s temperature. What damages us are rapid rates of change. Overall, more carbon dioxide is probably a good thing for the biosphere — it’s just that it’s increasing too fast.”

The gentlemen of Intellectual Ventures abound with further examples of global warming memes that are all wrong. Rising sea levels, for instance, “aren’t being driven primarily by glaciers melting,” Lowell Wood says, no matter how useful that image may be for environmental activists. The truth is far less sexy. “It is driven mostly by water-warming — literally, the thermal expansion of ocean water as it warms up.” Sea levels are rising, Wood says — and have been for roughly 12,000 years, since the end of the last ice age. The oceans are about 425 feet higher today, but the bulk of that rise occurred in the first thousand years. In the past century, the seas have risen less than eight inches.

As to the future: Rather than the catastrophic 30-foot rise some people have predicted over the next century — goodbye, Florida! — Wood notes that the most authoritative literature on the subject suggests a rise of about one and a half feet by 2100. That’s much less than the twice-daily tidal variation in most coastal locations. “So it’s a little bit difficult,” he says, “to understand what the purported crisis is about.”

Caldeira, with something of a pained look on his face, mentions a most surprising environmental scourge: trees. Yes, trees. As much as Caldeira personally lives the green life — his Stanford office is cooled by a misting water chamber rather than air conditioning — his research has found that planting trees in certain locations actually exacerbates warming because comparatively dark leaves absorb more incoming sunlight than, say, grassy plains, sandy deserts or snow-covered expanses.

Then there’s this little-discussed fact about global warming: While the drumbeat of doom has grown louder over the past several years, the average global temperature during that time has in fact decreased.

In the darkened conference room, Intellectual Ventures co-founder Nathan Myhrvold cues up an overhead slide that summarizes IV’s views of the current slate of proposed global warming solutions. The slide says: * Too little; * Too late; * Too optimistic

Too little means that typical conservation efforts simply won’t make much of a difference. “If you believe there’s a problem worth solving,” Myhrvold says, “then these solutions won’t be enough to solve it. Wind power and most other alternative energy things are cute, but they don’t scale to a sufficient degree. At this point, wind farms are a government subsidy scheme, fundamentally.” What about the beloved Prius and other low-emission vehicles? “They’re great,” he says, “except that transportation is just not that big of a sector.”

Also, coal is so cheap that trying to generate electricity without it would be economic suicide, especially for developing countries. Myhrvold argues that cap-and-trade agreements, whereby coal emissions are limited by quota and cost, can’t help much, in part because it is already …

Too late. The half-life of atmospheric carbon dioxide is roughly one hundred years, and some of it remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years. So even if humankind immediately stopped burning all fossil fuel, the existing carbon dioxide would remain in the atmosphere for several generations. Pretend the United States (and perhaps Europe) miraculously converted overnight and became zero-carbon societies. Then pretend they persuaded China (and perhaps India) to demolish every coal-burning power plant and diesel truck. As far as atmospheric carbon dioxide is concerned, it might not matter all that much. And by the way, that zero-carbon society you were dreamily thinking about is way …

Too optimistic. “A lot of the things that people say would be a good thing probably aren’t,” Myhrvold says. As an example, he points to solar power. “The problem with solar cells is that they’re black, because they are designed to absorb light from the sun. But only about 12% gets turned into electricity, and the rest is reradiated as heat — which contributes to global warming.”

Although a widespread conversion to solar power might seem appealing, the reality is tricky. The energy consumed by building the thousands of new solar plants necessary to replace coal-burning and other power plants would create a huge long-term “warming debt,” as Myhrvold calls it. “Eventually, we’d have a great carbon-free energy infrastructure but only after making emissions and global warming worse every year until we’re done building out the solar plants, which could take 30 to 50 years.”


Obama's Green Jobs Program: $135,294 Per Job

The White House announced Friday the awarding of $2.3 billion in tax credits — the money comes from last year’s stimulus bill — to companies to create “green jobs.” The announcement was rather obviously timed to counter the news that the nation lost 85,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate stayed at 10% — bad news for an administration that once promised to hold unemployment to 8% by the end of 2009.

So the administration sought to change the tune by talking about all those green jobs in the pipeline. “Building a robust clean-energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future — jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced,” President Obama said Friday.

Yes, but getting these jobs is burning a hole in the national wallet. The problem is that even advocates like Obama concede that these programs are not very cost-effective in creating jobs. Obama says the grants will create 17,000 cleantech jobs. Well, get out your calculator. $2.3 billion for 17,000 jobs equals $135,294 per job. (And that’s not including the eventual interest on this deficit spending). Those green jobs had better pay well over six figures to justify that expense.

Not to worry, the administration has a plan to solve this, too. It wants Congress to approve another $5 billion for “tens of thousands” more green jobs.


Skeptical Canadian journalist pushed out

But he has a new spot on a more conservative publication

The National Post has welcomed with open arms a public broadcaster and former marquee Globe & Mail columnist apparently smarting from being pushed out of his coveted Saturday spot.

Rex Murphy’s official debut in the Post was today. It looks like it was a foray into the right-leaning opinion pages that finally landed him in hot water with the new Globe management. The Cross Country Checkup host – and long-time CBC host and pundit – penned an A-section screed for the Financial Post, December 5th, on climate change.

It seems the article was only what “got the ball rolling” in the words of one insider. Less than commentary in a rival paper; several sources have suggested Globe and Mail Editor in Chief John Stackhouse was simply unimpressed with the increasingly esoteric opinions of this elder-statesman of Canadian opinion. One example widely cited is this CBC appearance (subsequently praised by Terrance Corcoran of the Post.)

So, “climate change denial” is widely rumored to have been the last straw. Perhaps sensing the loquacious Newfoundlander would prompt unneeded bad PR if sacked; I’m told Stackhouse offered to move him to Mondays. As evidenced by the quick decampment to the National Post, it seems that went over like a tonne of bricks with Murphy.

The move was announced this past Thursday by Peter Mansbridge on CBC’s the National, where Murphy still resides as one of the few opinion columnists left on television. Editor of the Vancouver alternative weekly the Georgia Straight, Charlie Smith is pleased with the move: “I don’t know if Murphy jumped or if he was pushed by Stackhouse. Regardless, I’m looking forward to picking up a Saturday Globe and Mail without one of Murphy’s typically ill-informed attacks on climate-change scientists.”

Well it looks as if the answer is: Rex Murphy was pushed a little and jumped.

SOURCE (See the original for video, graphics etc.)

Australia: Rogue sharks to be killed -- but only if they are small

This is Greenie craziness. ALL sharks found near swimmers should be shot immediately. There is a whole ocean for them to live in. The little strip of it near land should be off-limits to them

Rogue sharks that attack beachgoers this summer will be hunted down, shot in the head and sawed apart until their spines are severed. [Seeing they don't have spines, that could be tricky]

The Sunday Times can today reveal the graphic methods put in place by the WA Government's Shark Hazard Committee for dealing with man-eaters. In a candid interview, WA Department of Fisheries strategic compliance manager and shark committee member Tina Thorne said a rogue shark that attacked a swimmer would be slaughtered if it continued to pose a significant threat to beachgoers and if it could be positively identified as the offending shark. But the kill order would only be given in "extreme circumstances" as a last resort where there was an immediate danger to the public.

Ms Thorne said fisheries officers would first use a baited drumline and put "attractant" in the water to try to hook the shark. Then the creature would be hauled aboard a boat where officers would "have to use a large firearm to dispatch the animal". "That is not an easy task, as sharks have very small brains," she said. Once shot through the head, fisheries personnel would take a final step to ensure the creature was dead by "severing the spinal cord and bleeding it out". "Even if you hook it, you can't just fly over in a chopper and shoot it because of refraction (of the bullets) in the water," Ms Thorne said.

While the shoot-to-kill methods had been put down in policy by the Shark Hazard Committee, Ms Thorne stressed great whites - the species responsible for most fatal attacks - were protected and a special exemption from the law was required by Fisheries Minister Norman Moore to kill one. "It's not something we would take lightly," Ms Thorne said, after a spate of shark sightings and beach closures across Perth this week.

Trying to catch a large shark was extremely dangerous, she said, and in most cases the creatures disappeared into the depths after an attack. Ms Thorne said in three of the past four fatal attacks in WA the shark responsible was never spotted. Only after the fatal attack in 2008 on 51-year-old Port Kennedy man Brian Guest did the shark linger. In that case, there was no immediate danger to other beachgoers, so authorities tried to tag the animal.

The statements about killing sharks angered the family of Mr Guest. A friend of the family told The Sunday Times Mr Guest's widow Charmaine and son Daniel stuck by their comments that sharks belonged in the marine environment and should not be harmed.

Ms Thorne agreed, saying "they live in the ocean and we don't". Six people have been killed by sharks in WA in the past 20 years.



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