Friday, September 10, 2010

Is global warming bad for your health?

More debunking of an always ludicrous claim

An extensive literature exists linking global warming to human health and mortality. There is no doubt that atmospheric conditions have a profound effect on human health; outbreaks of pneumonia, influenza and bronchitis have been linked many times to both weather and climate. Pollen concentrations and pollution levels are certainly related to both weather and human health.

Furthermore, the impact of heat waves and cold outbreaks on health and mortality are well established. Humidity not only influences health in terms of allowing bodies to cool in hot periods, but on the other side of the coin, dry, cold air leads to excessive dehydration of nasal passages and the upper respiratory tract increasing chances of microbial and viral infection. Precipitation events, particularly large snowfalls, are directly linked to an immediate decline in human health and an increase in mortality.

Given the large literature on the subject, it has been fairly easy for alarmists to make claims that changes in weather and climate will result in higher mortality and an overall decrease in human health.

We have addressed the climate change—mortality connection many times in the past, and while scientists certainly exist claiming the impacts will be catastrophic, others come to the opposite conclusion suggesting global warming might improve human health and extend our lifetimes.

One recent article that we recently ran across appeared in Environmental Research dealing with the diurnal temperature range and daily mortality. Nine scientists from China and North Carolina gathered daily mortality and daily maximum and minimum temperature data from Shanghai, China over the period 2001 to 2004. Kan et al. state “Diurnal temperature range (DTR), defined as the difference between maximal and minimal temperatures within 1 day, is another meteorological indicator associated with global climate change and urbanization. In most urban regions of the world, DTR has been decreasing because nocturnal minimum temperatures have risen faster than daytime maximum temperatures.

In some areas (e.g. parts of New Zealand and alpine regions of central Europe) maximum and minimum temperatures have increased at similar rates, and thus DTR has remained constant. However, in other areas (e.g. India), DTR has increased as a result of a decrease in the minimum temperature”. They speculate “We hypothesized that large diurnal temperature change might be a source of additional environmental stress, and therefore a risk factor for death.”

Kan et al. used some statistical wizardry to control for day of week, air pollution, mean temperature, and relative humidity. They state “We found a strong association between DTR and daily mortality after adjustment for those potential confounders. A 1ÂșC increment of the 3-day moving average of DTR corresponded to a 1.37% increase in total non-accidental mortality, a 1.86% increase in cardiovascular mortality, and a 1.29% increase in respiratory mortality.”

They warn “In summary, we found that DTR is independently associated with daily mortality in Shanghai. Although the association between climate change and DTR varies across the globe and our results might not necessarily apply to other areas of world, our data suggest that even a slight increase in DTR is associated with a substantial increase in mortality.”

Of course, it would be just as valid to say “our data suggest that even a slight decrease in DTR is associated with a substantial decrease in mortality.” Kan et al. acknowledge that DTR is decreasing in most cities and DTR has generally decreased at the global scale. The latest United Nations IPCC report clearly states “Diurnal temperature range (DTR) decreased by 0.07°C per decade averaged over 1950 to 2004, but had little change from 1979 to 2004, as both maximum and minimum temperatures rose at similar rates.” Not much to get overly alarmed about.

Our second article on climate change and mortality appeared in Occupational and Environmental Medicine a couple of years ago and was written by seven scientists from the United States and the United Kingdom. Carder et al. begin noting “Mortality rates for cardiovascular and respiratory disease typically exhibit distinct seasonal variation with the highest rates occurring in the winter months. For Scotland, the percentage summer to winter difference in weekly all cause mortality rates is estimated to be in the order of 30%. The main factor considered to be influencing the observed seasonal pattern is the relation between mortality and temperature. The association between low temperature and increased morbidity and mortality is well recognised.”

To explore the mortality – low temperature connection, the team gathered daily mortality data for Scotland’s three largest cities for the period January 1981 to December 2001 (Scotland’s three largest cities are Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen). In addition to other goals, Carder et al. examined whether or not wind chill (which is markedly worsened by high wind speeds) would be a better predictor of mortality than temperature alone.

The article spares the reader all the gory details and includes a “Main messages” section in which Carder et al. write “Cold temperature is a strong predictor of mortality in the Scottish population. The strongest associations were observed between cold temperature and respiratory mortality. The effects of cold temperature on mortality persisted for periods in excess or two weeks. The evidence does not suggest that wind chill temperature, as measured by the Steadman Index, is likely to be a better predictor of mortality than dry bulb temperature.”

In a final summary section entitled “Policy implications”, Carder et al. state “Cold temperature is a public health problem. The most significant mortality outcomes are cardiovascular and respiratory although it is open to speculation as to whether people with prior cardiorespiratory disease are more susceptible to cold related mortality.” The root cause of the cold temperature – high mortality connection is suggested as “Cold related increases in respiratory mortality are generally attributed to cross infection from increased indoor crowding during colder months and to the detrimental effect of exposure to cold temperatures on the immune system’s resistance to respiratory infections. The observed relation between cold temperature and mortality was typically stronger among the elderly.”

In work done on weather-related mortality in major U.S. cities, Robert Davis and colleagues (which include several WCR contributors), also found a clear increase in mortality in the winter months (over the average mortality during the summer months). However, Davis et al. found only a very weak association between mortality and temperature during the winter months, and instead suggested that the mortality impact from influenza likely swamped any impact from temperature during this time of the year.

The bottom line though, is that the results from these studies suggest that the ultimate impact of climate change—especially a winter-dominated and/or nighttime-dominated warming—on weather-related mortality is likely minimal at worst, and perhaps, at best, even slightly beneficial.

SOURCE (See the original for references)

Almanacs say Global cooling to continue

They use formulas based on sun, planets etc. and have an excellent record of predictive skill, something sadly lacking in the Warmist 'models"

Most of the country will see a colder-than-usual winter while summer and spring will be relatively cool and dry, according to the time-honored, complex calculations of the "Old Farmer's Almanac."

The 2011 issue of the almanac, which claims to be the nation's oldest continuously published periodical, was released Tuesday. It predicts that in the coming months, the Earth will continue to see a "gradual cooling of the atmosphere ... offset by any warming caused by increased greenhouse gases."

Janice Stillman, editor of the almanac, said that means much of the eastern half of the United States will experience lower-than-normal temperatures with less snow while Mid-Atlantic states will see more snowfall than usual. The West will see a mild winter with average precipitation, she said.

Meanwhile, the South will experience a cold and wet summer and the Rockies should see a mild and dry winter, according to the New Hampshire-based "Old Farmer's Almanac."

"It'll be cold. There will be no mistaking winter," Stillman said. "But it may be a little shorter or we may see some small warm spells in places like the East Coast."

The 219-year-old "Old Farmer's Almanac" and its longtime competitor, the Maine-based "Farmers' Almanac," still draw droves of fans despite it being the age of the Internet and mobile phone apps. The books, which use secret formulas to predict weather based on sunspots, planetary positions and other information, are popular at farmers markets and bookstores and have maintained a fan base that sometimes spans generations of families.

Both books have a circulation of around 3.2 million and feature a mix of helpful hints, recipes, gardening tips, jokes and inspirational messages. Their websites are full of videos, blogs, podcasts, Twitter accounts and Facebook fan pages.

In general, the almanacs' weather predictions are similar. The "Farmers' Almanac" predicts that it'll be cold but nothing like last winter. "Overall, it looks like it's going to be a kinder and gentler winter, especially in the areas that had a rough winter last year," said managing editor Sandi Duncan.

But the almanacs' forecasts are at odds with the National Weather Service's long-range outlook for the meteorological winter, which runs from December through February.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center anticipates a warmer-than-normal winter for the mid-Atlantic and Southeast and colder-than-normal weather in the Northwest. That puts it at odds with the almanac.

Ed O'Lenic from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center said the scientific community doesn't accept tides, planetary alignment and sunspots as effective predictors of temperature or precipitation, but he stopped short of being critical of the almanac's meteorological methods.

Stillman said, however, she's confident about the weather predictions in the "Old Farmer's Almanac" because they tend to be 80 to 85 percent accurate - the same accuracy rate boasted by the Maine almanac.


If you have bedbugs, thank the Greenies

Bedbugs, those tiny indestructible creatures hiding in your bedding and couch just waiting to sneak up on you at night to feast on your blood, are making a comeback especially on the east coast. Not an indication of poverty or lack of cleanliness, the little bloodsuckers have been spotted in the buildings of such elite liberal bastions as the New York Times and Vanity Fair in addition to some of New York's finest hotels and apartments in the most expensive neighborhoods as well as homes, offices and other buildings all over the region.

But why, after years of relative disappearance, their sudden resurgence? Lena H. Sun of the Washington Post delicately slides: "A common household pest for centuries, bedbugs were virtually eradicated in the 1940s and '50s by the widespread use of DDT. That insecticide was banned in the 1970s, and the bugs developed resistance to chemicals that replaced it."

DDT was banned under the influence of Rachel Carson's 1960s book Silent Spring, the founding bible for the nascent eco and environmental movement. Advocating the now discredited theory that insecticides, especially DDT, which wiped common pests destroying crops, moved up the food chain into the birds, ultimately killing them, budding environmentalists lobbied vigorously until its use was prohibited. That was one of the earliest environmental victories in contemporary times.

While unpleasant, sometimes producing an itchy rash, bedbug bites are not fatal. But malaria is. Carried by mosquitoes, malaria was the scourge of what was once referred to as the Third World, killing millions, incapacitating millions more. DDT effectively wiped out untold billions of the malaria caring mosquitoes, saving millions of lives. But...not satisfied with eliminating DDT in their relatively healthy "developed" world, the environmentalists worked for and ultimately succeeded banning DDT world wide.

"Saving" the environment or killing people? Which should it be? The enviro imperialists went with the former, piously proclaiming mosquito netting, draining the water where mosquitoes breed and gentler, alternative ways of killing mosquitos would be just as effective without harming the environment. Wrong! While these methods should certainly be part of a program to destroy mosquitoes and conquer malaria it seemed that nothing was as effective at killing masses of malaria carrying mosquitoes as DDT. No DDT = more malaria.

Over 10 years ago, a group of doctors and scientists affiliated with the Malaria Foundation International sent a letter t o diplomats negotiating banning DDT, begging for the continued production of DDT. While agreeing that DDT does have unfavorable side effects so research on finding more effective insecticides without comparable side effects is important, presently DDT, while used carefully, is the most effective tool against the deadly mosquitoes. Banning its use presently is unethical, immoral--condoning mass murder essentially--as other insecticides aren't as powerful, the mosquitoes flourish, ultimately killing more people.


Unscientific attack on skeptics

By Roger A. Pielke Sr.

There is a weblog called “Skeptical Science – Getting Skeptical About Global Warming Skepticism” that has a misleading post on ocean heat content titled: "Ocean cooling: skeptic arguments drowned by data"

The post starts with:
In 2008, climate change sceptic Roger Pielke Sr said this: “Global warming, as diagnosed by upper ocean heat content has not been occurring since 2004”. It is a fine example of denialist spin, making several extraordinary leaps:

•that one symptom is indicative of the state of an entire malaise (e.g. not being short of breath one day means your lung cancer is cured).

•that one can claim significance about a four year period when it’s too short to draw any kind of conclusion

•that global warming has not been occurring on the basis of ocean temperatures alone

So much for the hype. What does the science say about the temperature of the oceans – which, after all, constitute about 70% of the Earth’s surface? The oceans store approximately 80% of all the energy in the Earth’s climate, so ocean temperatures are a key indicator for global warming.

No straight lines

Claims that the ocean has been cooling are correct. Claims that global warming has stopped are not. It is an illogical position: the climate is subject to a lot of natural variability, so the premise that changes should be ‘monotonic’ – temperatures rising in straight lines – ignores the fact that nature doesn’t work like that. This is why scientists normally discuss trends – 30 years or more – so that short term fluctuations can be seen as part of a greater pattern. (Other well-known cyclic phenomena like El Nino and La Nina play a part in these complex interactions).

The post starts by mislabeling me as a “climate change sceptic” and a “denialist”. Not only is this completely incorrect (as can be easily confirmed by reading our article in Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413.

but it sets the tone of their post as an ad hominem attack, rather than a discussion of the issue.

The author of this post documents in the figures that they present, that upper ocean heat, in terms of its annual average, did not accumulate during the period ~2004 through 2009. This means that global warming halted on this time period. There is no other way to spin this data.

The claim in the post (apparently written by Graham Wayne) Does ocean cooling prove global warming has ended? that:

“The most recent ocean measurements show consistent warming”

is false (unless the author of this post has new data since 2009 which may show warming). The recent lack of warming (the data do not support a cooling, despite what the Skeptical Science weblog reports) does not prove or disprove whether global warming over a longer term has ended.

However, the ocean heat content provides the most appropriate metric to diagnosis global warming in recent (since ~2004 when the Argo network became sufficiently dense) and upcoming years, as recommended, of example, in: Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55.

The author of the post on Skeptical Science continues to present misinformation in their Intermediate level post where it is stated
“Early estimates of ocean heat from the Argo showed a cooling bias due to pressure sensor issues. Recent estimates of ocean heat that take this bias into account show continued warming of the upper ocean. This is confirmed by independent estimates of ocean heat as well as more comprehensive measurements of ocean heat down to 2000 metres deep.”

This is an erroneous statement. There was not continued warming for the time period 2004 to 2009, as confirmed by Josh Willis in:

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55.

Recently, Josh Willis reported that an updated analysis will be available this Fall.

What the Skeptical Science fails to recognize is that with respect to the diagnosis of global warming using Joules of heat accumulation in the oceans, snapshots of heat content at different times are all that is needed. There is no time lag in heating or cooling. The Joules are either there or they are not. The assessment of a long-term linear trend is not needed.

For example, if the ocean lost its heat in one or two years (such as from a major volcanic eruption), the global warming “clock” would be reset. The Skeptical Science statements that:

“Claims that the ocean has been cooling are correct. Claims that global warming has stopped are not.”

illustrates their lack of understanding of the physics. If ocean cooling does occur, it DOES mean global warming has stopped during that time period.

What would be useful is for the weblog Skeptical Science authors to discuss the value of using (and issues with using) the accumulation of Joules in the climate system as the primary metric to monitor global warming


Warmists are getting rattled by GOP skeptics

By Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.

Stephen Stromberg's Sept. 3 PostPartisan commentary, "A downside to Murkowski's exit," hit the nail on the head about a disturbing trend that has emerged this year among almost a dozen Republican Senate candidates. These candidates are full-fledged global-warming deniers. If they win, the number of card-carrying members of the Flat Earth Society will rise exponentially in the world's greatest deliberative body.

Wisconsin candidate Ron Johnson said, "I think it is far more likely it is just sunspots" rather than human actions causing global warming. Nevada candidate Sharron Angle said, "I don't . . . buy into the whole man-caused global warming . . . mantra of the left." Colorado candidate Ken Buck admitted, "I am one of those people that Al Gore refers to as a skeptic," and Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt said, "There isn't any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the Earth."

If candidates like these replace climate champions in November, we will feel more than just the loss of a few elected officials. We will lose out on a clean energy future that creates jobs, increases our national security and protects the planet for future generations.


Green Fascism costs American jobs

The last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing this month, marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison's innovations in the 1870s. The remaining 200 workers at the plant here will lose their jobs.

"Now what're we going to do?" said Toby Savolainen, 49, who like many others worked for decades at the factory, making bulbs now deemed wasteful.

During the recession, political and business leaders have held out the promise that American advances, particularly in green technology, might stem the decades-long decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs. But as the lighting industry shows, even when the government pushes companies toward environmental innovations and Americans come up with them, the manufacture of the next generation technology can still end up overseas.

What made the plant here vulnerable is, in part, a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014. The law will force millions of American households to switch to more efficient bulbs.

The resulting savings in energy and greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to be immense. But the move also had unintended consequences.

Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.

Consisting of glass tubes twisted into a spiral, they require more hand labor, which is cheaper there. So though they were first developed by American engineers in the 1970s, none of the major brands make CFLs in the United States.

"Everybody's jumping on the green bandwagon," said Pat Doyle, 54, who has worked at the plant for 26 years. But "we've been sold out. First sold out by the government. Then sold out by GE. "

Doyle was speaking after a shift last month surrounded by several co-workers around a picnic table near the punch clock. Many of the workers have been at the plant for decades, and most appeared to be in their 40s and 50s. Several worried aloud about finding another job.

"When you're 50 years old, no one wants you," Savolainen said. It was meant half in jest, but some of the men nod grimly.



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


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