Thursday, April 27, 2017

A very hungry caterpillar

Looks like plastic is "biodegradable" after all

Here is something interesting. A caterpillar that digests plastic. And it makes sense, because it is the wax moth caterpillar that digests the wax in bee hives.

I expect the enzyme that breaks down the plastic will eventually be isolated and reproduced artificially. Then waste plastic will simply be dissolved and turned into fertilizer.

I have never considered plastic to be a great long term problem, just something for Greenies to make a fuss about.


The EPA's Secret Human Experiments about particulate pollution

EPA officials first testified to Congress that small particle pollution is a huge health hazard.  Then, when challenged on ethical grounds, they say it is very safe

The issue of small particle air pollution human effects was discussed in a House of Representatives hearing in September 2011 by the U.S. EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson.  In a colloquy with Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ms. Jackson stated, "Particulate matter causes premature death.  It's directly causal to dying sooner than you should."

Markey asked, "How would you compare [the benefits of reducing airborne PM2.5] to the fight against cancer?"

Ms. Jackson replied, "Yeah, I was briefed not long ago.  If we could reduce particulate matter to healthy levels, it would have the same impact as finding a cure for cancer in our country."

Markey: "Can you say that sentence one more time?"

Jackson: "Yes sir.  If – um – we could reduce particulate matter to levels that are healthy, we could have identical impacts to finding a cure for cancer."  (Author note: Cancer kills a half-million Americans a year – 25 percent of all deaths in the U.S. annually).

The claim stated above by Ms. Jackson is the basis for the EPA's war on coal, fossil fuels, and internal combustion engines.  All other criteria air pollutants are minimal concerns for the EPA.  Surely small particles are a very toxic and lethal thing, as bad as cancer.  Right?  

EPA is discovered doing human experiments

The same month as Ms. Jackson's testimony, Milloy discovered a report in Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal published online and in hard copy by the National Institutes of Health, that reported an experiment on a 57-year-old lady subjected to small particle air pollution much higher than the EPA says is safe, in a chamber at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine EPA laboratory for human research.  A stunned Milloy showed the journal report to Dunn.  So little had come of the decade of human experiments before that Milloy and Dunn had not known of the EPA human exposure experiments project that was at least illegal and unethical, possibly a crime against humanity.  Humans are not guinea pigs.  

The Nuremberg Code; the Helsinki Accords; the Belmont Report; and U.S. common law, statutes, and regulations, to include state laws and the Federal Code "Common Rule" and EPA rule 1000.17, all prohibit human experimentation that might cause harm to the subjects.  Human risk can be considered only for the researchers themselves in circumstances where the research is essential and vital.  The civil or criminal offense of human experimentation that risks harm to the subjects would be either exposure to harm or the fear of harm by infliction of mental distress if subjects found out that the public position of the EPA is that small particles are toxic and lethal and cause cancer.  Which lie to believe?  That is the twist – you can't make these things up.

In 2011 and 2012, Milloy and Dunn wrote letters to the EPA, the NIH journal editor who published the article, the EPA inspector general, and the federal Office for Scientific Integrity.  They wrote to all the physicians in Congress, all the deans of the ten domestic medical schools doing human experiments, and state medical boards in North Carolina and Michigan, all attempting to stop the human experiments.

The authors have written about the EPA project of research that exposed human beings of all ages, even children, to that same small particle air pollution to see if they could cause some harm.  EPA sponsorship of these studies at ten domestic and six foreign medical schools was admitted under oath by an EPA official, Wayne Cascio, M.D., and it is unethical and illegal.  Senior EPA research scientist Robert Devlin, Ph.D. admitted in a sworn affidavit that the EPA epidemiology was unreliable, the reason for human experiments.

EPA hires the National Academy of Science

The EPA, in response to a congressional inquiry and negative inspector general report, engaged and paid the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) contract subdivision, the National Research Council (NRC), to provide a whitewash investigation.  The NAS National Research Council Investigative Committee was convened in secret without notice and without contacting Milloy and Dunn, the complaining parties, or the congressional committee that had demanded an inspector general report that had gone badly for the EPA.

The closeted investigation continued with closed meetings attended only by NRC staff, committee members, and the EPA.  The docket by a year, June of 2016, had 50 documents, all submitted by the EPA or its allies.  In May of 2016, a congressional aide ran across information about the existence of the committee and informed Milloy.  Milloy demanded a hearing and allowance for submissions in June of 2016, which was granted by NRC officials.  Milloy found that 13 out of 19 members of the committee were significant grantees of EPA, amounting to tens of millions of dollars received, with the most extreme example being Charles Driscoll, discussed here.

On August 11, 2016, an internet audio conference  of the National Research Council Panel on EPA-sponsored human exposure experiments titled "Assessing Toxicological Risks to Human Subjects Used in Controlled Exposure Studies of Environmental Pollutants" was held, with two hours of testimony heard and submissions critical of the EPA human exposure experimentation.  After that, nothing was heard from the committee.  

The committee published its news release and a 150-plus-page report on March 28, 2017, ignoring the testimony and submissions of witnesses Milloy, Dunn, Young, Enstrom, and Donnay.  The report exonerated the EPA human experiments on the theory that small particles are not toxic or lethal or carcinogenic acutely – that is, they do not have any acute toxic effects, but rather just long-term deleterious effects.  They said that, knowing that the EPA asserts short-term acute death effects and justifies its regulations on the basis of Ms. Jackson's claim – that small particles kill people and kill them acutely.

The problem for the NRC committee is that they are trying to create cover for the EPA by misstating the EPA position on toxicity and lethality of small particles.  That is clear from this quote from the National Academy of Sciences Report press release:

To assess the level of safety provided by study protocols and the likelihood of participants experiencing any serious health effects with long-term consequences, the committee reviewed eight recent CHIE studies.  The committee concluded that the societal benefits of CHIE studies are greater than the risks posed to the participants in the eight studies considered, which are unlikely to be large enough to be of concern.  EPA applies a broad set of health-evaluation criteria when selecting participants to determine that there is no reason to believe that their participation in the study will lead to an adverse health response.  The health status of subjects is monitored shortly before, during, and immediately after the exposure studies and usually again about 24 hours later.

The NAS report is self-destructive, obfuscatory, contradictory gobbledygook.

The NAS report is so filled with errors, omissions, misstatements, misdirection, and general dishonesty that it would take days if not weeks to fully critique.  The NAS compromised its integrity to cover for the EPA, confirming Eisenhower's warning about the government-research complex that can produce science fraud and misconduct for a political agenda.  Scaremongering is important for justifying government growth and overreach.  After all, the aim of practical politics is to create scares so the populace will be anxious and clamor to be led to safety by government experts (paraphrasing H.L. Mencken).

If the EPA can continue to do these experiments, then it must not be true that any exposure to PM2.5 can kill within hours or days, or even weeks.  It must have only a "chronic" long-term effect that the NRC committee fails to define.  That destroys the basis for the EPA air pollution regulatory regime that has burdened society for three decades and more and is based on scientific misconduct.

Who will reimburse society for the costs and burdens of this scam?  How about all those coal miners without jobs and the companies that had to spend millions to comply with regulations chasing a phantom small particle air pollution menace that was claimed to kill hundreds of thousands annually in the U.S.?

The movie Creature from the Black Lagoon, featuring the gill man, was scary, but corrupt researchers and politicians at the EPA-NAS-D.C. swamp are just despicable.

A comprehensive and informative narrative of the EPA wars and the EPA misconduct and what to do about it is found in Milloy's sixth and most recent book, Scare Pollution (Bench Press 2016).

Dunn's long battle with the EPA on scientific integrity is told here.  


Fracking isn't contaminating groundwater, study finds

A major anti-fracking argument by environmentalists may not have the facts to back it up, a new study conducted by Duke University found.

Fracking has not contaminated groundwater in northwestern West Virginia, according to the peer-reviewed study published this month in a European journal.

“Based on consistent evidence from comprehensive testing, we found no indication of groundwater contamination over the three-year course of our study,” explained Avner Vengosh, the professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

The growing industry could help create as many as 3.5 million jobs by 2035, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

While the study concluded that fracking didn’t contaminate groundwater, the researchers did say accidental spills of fracking wastewater could be dangerous to surface water in the area.

”However, we did find that spill water associated with fracked wells and their wastewater has an impact on the quality of streams in areas of intense shale gas development,” Vengosh added.

“The bottom-line assessment,” he continued, “is that groundwater is so far not being impacted, but surface water is more readily contaminated because of the frequency of spills.”

To complete the research, water samples from 112 drinking wells in northwestern West Virginia were evaluated during a three year period. Twenty of the water wells were sampled prior to drilling or fracking started in the area in order to obtain a baseline for later comparisons.

Tests demonstrated the presence of saline groundwater and methane in both the pre-drilling and post-drilling well water samples. But the samples had a chemistry slightly but distinctly different from the methane and salts found in fracking fluids and shale gas. The findings indicated that the elements occurred naturally in the region’s permeable rock and weren’t related to the result of recent shale gas operations at the site.

The study appears in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.


UK: We’re All Victims Of The Great Green Swindle

A generation who thought they were doing the right thing by buying diesel and clean energy have been taken for a ride.

When I was three my parents moved next to one of the busiest roundabouts in Europe. Hogarth roundabout in west London leads to the M3 and M4 and the smell of car fumes was only overpowered by the aroma of hops from the brewery on the corner. It was the perfect place to grow up. We had a huge green in front where we could stand on the railings and count the number of cars whizzing past. No one in the 1970s worried about the lead pollution, only about being run over. Nor did we care about where our electricity came from unless the lights went out. Green issues were not high on our agenda nor was our health. Our neighbours happily smoked away and we ate tinned spaghetti hoops and Angel Delight without a care for the sugar content.

Now my family is as green and healthy as possible. We recycle our apple cores, the children play sport every day under the Westway flyover, we bought a second-hand diesel car and then a hybrid and take the train to Devon for holidays. But the children are probably less healthy than I was 40 years ago. When the youngest started to wheeze I took him to the doctor who said he had doubled the number of inhalers he hands out in the past three years, so many children are becoming asthmatic.

“It’s the diesel, all that nitrogen dioxide and those toxic pollutants,” he explained. “He’ll inhale the particles in the car even with the windows shut, when he’s playing football by a busy road and even from the trains at the station.”

Our obsession with cutting carbon emissions has had terrible consequences. Air pollution contributes to an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year in Britain, mainly among the young, the frail and the elderly, according to the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health. It can also hinder brain development, raise the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cancer, and contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Our attempts to be altruistic have harmed rather than helped the most vulnerable. Almost as bad, those 11 million people who now own a diesel car are about to be penalised for following government advice a decade ago that the vehicles would help the country cut CO2 emissions. [...]

Gordon Brown’s budget of 1998 may have said in the small print that the government “recognises the adverse effect that the use of diesel has on local air quality” but first as chancellor and then as prime minister he shifted incentives towards diesel, until more than 35 per cent of cars were running on it, while manufacturers fiddled their engine management systems to cheat the testers. Japan, meanwhile, steered consumers away from polluting diesel, America stuck to petrol and India began switching buses to compressed natural gas (CNG).

The same mistake is now being made subsidising power stations to burn American wood pellets that are doing more harm to the climate than the coal they replaced, according to a recent Chatham House report. Drax in Yorkshire, once the largest, cleanest, most efficient coal-fired power station in Europe, has been converted to burn wood pellets with an annual £500 million public subsidy but it now pumps out more CO2. Wind farms are little better because we’ve had to build diesel power plants across the country to help on days when the wind doesn’t blow at the right speed.

One Scottish stately home owner boasted to me that he keeps his heating on in the summer as well as the winter because he is paid more in subsidies to use “green” wood chips for fuel than he pays out in heating costs. All this while the rest of us worry about our escalating energy bills.

Anaerobic digesters, which were sold to the public as a means to convert food waste into power, are now turning huge quantities of crops into small quantities of methane for the national gas grid thanks to yet more subsidies costing £200 million a year.

But it is car manufacturers who are still making the most money out of this great green swindle — consumers certainly aren’t. Diesel owners now face having to buy another car at vast expense. Scrappage payments of between £1,000 and £2,000 for the oldest diesel cars would help those hardest hit. However, if we subsidise new electric cars we will have to accept that much of the electricity used to charge their batteries comes from power stations using fossil fuels — or wood chips.

This week Andrea Leadsom, the environment secretary, shelved a new plan for air quality. But Downing Street policy advisers hint that Theresa May is on the side of the consumer, and sceptical of the latest money-spinning environmental fad. Last year, the prime minister’s joint chief of staff Nick Timothy described the Climate Change Act, which has been at the root of many of these misguided policies, as “a monstrous act of national self-harm”. He was right. As soon as the election is over Britain needs a coordinated energy strategy and a new Clean Air Act, to protect the environment and restore faith in government policy.


Settled science? 107 cancer papers retracted due to peer review fraud

The Warmist reliance on peer-review as a warrant of truth is badly flawed

The journal Tumor Biology is retracting 107 research papers after discovering that the authors faked the peer review process. This isn’t the journal’s first rodeo. Late last year, 58 papers were retracted from seven different journals— 25 came from Tumor Biology for the same reason.

It’s possible to fake peer review because authors are often asked to suggest potential reviewers for their own papers. This is done because research subjects are often blindingly niche; a researcher working in a sub-sub-field may be more aware than the journal editor of who is best-placed to assess the work.

But some journals go further and request, or allow, authors to submit the contact details of these potential reviewers. If the editor isn’t aware of the potential for a scam, they then merrily send the requests for review out to fake e-mail addresses, often using the names of actual researchers. And at the other end of the fake e-mail address is someone who’s in on the game and happy to send in a friendly review.

Fake peer reviewers often “know what a review looks like and know enough to make it look plausible,” said Elizabeth Wager, editor of the journal Research Integrity & Peer Review. But they aren’t always good at faking less obvious quirks of academia: “When a lot of the fake peer reviews first came up, one of the reasons the editors spotted them was that the reviewers responded on time,” Wager told Ars. Reviewers almost always have to be chased, so “this was the red flag. And in a few cases, both the reviews would pop up within a few minutes of each other.”

It’s not always the authors providing the reviews. "There is some evidence that so-called third-party language-editing services play a role in manipulating the reviewing process,” said a spokesperson for Springer, the company that published Tumor Biology until this year. Scientists who work in a language other than English may use editing services to polish their papers before submitting to a journal, and some of these services can be unethical and predatory, says Wager.

It might be naive, she says, but “if the authors didn't realize that this is what the editing company was doing, then I feel the authors should have a fair chance. There's probably nothing wrong with the research; it just hasn't been peer reviewed.” But of course, it’s difficult to assess whether the authors knew about it. “It is unclear whether the authors of the manuscripts were aware that the agencies were proposing fabricated reviewer names/e-mail addresses,” the Springer spokesperson told Ars.

This most recent avalanche of fake-reviewed papers was discovered because of extra screening at the journal. According to an official statement from Springer, “the decision was made to screen new papers before they are released to production.” The extra screening turned up the names of fake reviewers that hadn’t previously been detected, and “in order to clean up our scientific records, we will now start retracting these affected articles...Springer will continue to proactively investigate these issues.”

It’s best for editors not to rely on the contact details submitted by authors, but rather search for proper academic e-mail addresses themselves, said Wager. Some journals include this in their editorial guidelines, and other institutions recommend it as best practice. But there are other ways to game the system.

Tumor Biology changed hands in January, and the new publishers, SAGE, were aware of the problems when they took over. “[Springer] were open about the past instances of peer review fraud, and as part of the relaunch they wanted to address the underlying reasons,” a SAGE spokesperson told Retraction Watch. “The Tumor Biology editorial team have already introduced new robust peer review practices expected from all SAGE journals.” However, this doesn’t necessarily mean no more retractions for the journal, since investigations like this recent one may turn up more dirt from the past.

jooced wrote:

The U.S. EPA and Dept of Science should take note of this. This one example is but one of many of scientific fraud. EPA and Dept of Science: you wonder why too many people are skeptical of your work? 1. You are affiliated with the U.S. Government which has shown time and again how it cannot be trusted. 2. You do not hold your own to the highest standards -and- when there is an issue you are too slow to report it and/or out the fraudster.

This is on the scientific community - pure, plain, and simple.

Sigh, it is clear that 68 comments later some people still chose to spew their own nonsense without reading other comments first or having a basic understanding of the scope of this issue. Seriously, don't feel that you are now somehow justified in not believing in science because of anecdotes like this.

I really hate to reiterate the same point over and over, but this particular issue is exactly like what the other reader Veritas super omens stated: a three-year-old running her tricycle into the curb. It does not mean we need to stop all motorvehicles on the road.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   main.html or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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