Sunday, July 12, 2020

Why is the EPA restricting ventilator sterilization chemical ethylene oxide when we need it the most in the middle of the pandemic?

The Environmental Protection Agency is making a mistake.  They are moving forward with the process of further regulating something called ethylene oxide [EtO] upon a harshly contested assumption that the chemical’s emissions may contribute to cancer.

So what’s not to like?

It just so happens that the chemical ethylene oxide is the only thing which sufficiently sterilizes medical equipment like ventilators, so that they can be re-used in new patients.  Yet, in the midst of the on-going Chinese-originated virus pandemic, the bureaucrats at the EPA are trying to subject vulnerable patients to unsafe medical devices due to them not being as clean as they should be.

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb put it like this in a March 19, 2019 statement, “Certain medical devices need to be sterilized to reduce the risk of those devices causing infections in patients from living microorganisms. Sterilization of medical devices is a well-established and scientifically-proven method of preventing harmful microorganisms from reproducing and transmitting infections. It’s critical to our health care system.  And ethylene oxide is a commonly used method of medical device sterilization. It’s considered a safe and effective method that helps ensure the safety of medical devices and helps deliver quality patient care. Devices sterilized with ethylene oxide range from wound dressings to more specialized devices, like stents, as well as kits used in routine hospital procedures or surgeries that include multiple components made of different materials.”

And the science on whether this unique and important sterilizing agent is carcinogenic is hardly settled, as Dr. Gail Charnley, PhD, who serves as the Senior Toxicologist for HealthRisk Strategies plainly states, “There is no cancer threat from the tiny amounts of ethylene oxide released from these sterilization plants.”

Lucy Fraiser, a board-certified toxicologist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology agrees, “To be clear – there are no actual scientific data that show that these [EtO] exposure levels result in cancer.”

While different scientists might disagree about the relative health risk of the very low current exposure levels of [EtO] coming from sterilization plants, what is indisputable is that the loss of these plants is a medical disaster.

Already a sterilization plant was forced to temporarily close in the state of Illinois as the state EPA knee-jerked to the latest scare by imposing standards that could not be met without $10 million of upgrades to the facility.

This precedent has the president and CEO of the ECRI Institute Dr. Marcus Schabacker worried, “If there’s an ubiquitous ban on ethylene oxide today, we’re going to have a health crisis on our hands, because in very short time and order, sterile products won’t be available, and we don’t have an alternative to replace that today.”

And it should have each of us worried as experts like Gary Secola who is on the FDA’s General Hospital and Personal Use Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee assert that “There are avenues that might lead to replace ethylene oxide, but the standards aren’t there yet. If we’re going to get rid of [EtO] it’s going to take 10-20 years.”

President Trump has made it clear to agency heads that he expects them to be very cautious in issuing regulations, and the EPA itself is still considering instituting a wise policy to make all the science they rely upon to make regulatory determinations transparent so that others can subject it to the scientific method of re-testing to insure that the results and conclusions are valid.

With the on-going scientific contention that the science behind the EPA’s push to regulate this extremely important sterilization tool, it would behoove them to release all the records and methodology for any studies which support this conclusion.  The very idea of having a non-sterile ventilator or stent or heart valve put into a patient’s body because the EPA used junk science to come to a determination and then failed to adequately balance the damage done to human health by a ban against the risk of doing nothing is almost inconceivable in 2020, when Americans have been subjected to many or our worse health fears.

It is time for EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to slow his Agency’s roll.  After all, it would seem logical for them to follow one of the first rules of medicine when it comes to this important tool for sterilizing medical devices which is to do no harm. It would be wise for the EPA to assume this posture when it comes to further regulation ethylene oxide.


Shameless alarmists spread climate change cancer horror story

Over the years I’ve become almost inured to the crazy claims various climate alarmists have made. They have tried to link almost every bad thing that happens in the world to climate change, from psychiatric disorders to violent crime, from the end of winter sports to reduced milk production, from hair loss to the loss of one’s sex drive. And no, in case you are wondering, I’m not making these examples up: you can find the articles yourselves by typing the terms into your favorite search engine.

None of these claims, nor any of the myriad other loony links alarmists have tried to establish between human fossil fuel use and bad outcomes, have any basis in facts or hard data. Now, adding insult to injury, an article in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, irresponsibly hyped by CNBC, is falsely claiming “[c]limate change has triggered more frequent weather disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, … lower[ing] cancer survival rate[s] and threaten[ing] prevention.”

This article shows, once again, alarmists truly have no shame when it comes to scaremongering and preying on the most vulnerable to increase their political power and funding.

The cancer researchers claim climate change is causing more frequent and severe hurricane and wildfire seasons, resulting in people being unable to receive lifesaving care such as operations, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments during and in the aftermath of hurricanes and wildfires.

According to the paper, CNBC writes, “Extreme weather disasters also lower cancer survival rates. One study shows that cancer patients were 19 percent more likely to die when hurricane declarations were made during their therapy because of treatment interruptions compared with patients who had regular access to care.

“‘For patients with cancer, the effects of hurricanes on access to cancer care can mean the difference between life and death,’ the authors wrote,” CNBC reports.

Contrary to these scary claims, human-induced climate change cannot be causing increased mortality from cancer, because data show no evidence hurricanes or wildfires are becoming more severe or frequent.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds no evidence of any increase in the frequency or severity of hurricanes as Earth has modestly warmed, with the IPCC’s 2018 Interim Report stating there is “only low confidence for the attribution of any detectable changes in tropical cyclone activity to anthropogenic influences.”

As Climate at a Glance: Hurricanes points out, hurricane strikes on the United States are at an all-time low, with America recently experiencing more than a decade (2005 through 2017) without a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) striking the United States—the longest such period in recorded history. The United States also recently experienced the fewest hurricane strikes in any eight-year period (2009 through 2017) in recorded history.

Nor are recent wildfire seasons more severe or affecting larger areas than the United States has historically experienced. Drought is the among the most important factors contributing to wildfires, and Climate at a Glance: Drought reports the United States is undergoing its longest period in recorded history without at least 40 percent of the country experiencing “very dry” conditions. Peak droughts in 1978, 1954, 1930, and 1900 were much larger than what the United States has experienced in the 21st century and in the late 20th century. Indeed, in 2017 and 2019, the United States registered its smallest percentage of land area in drought in recorded history.

The most recent data from the National Integrated Drought Information System shows only 0.39 percent of the country is experiencing extreme drought and 76 percent of the country is not experiencing drought or even below-average rainfall at present. In addition, the IPCC reports with “high confidence” precipitation over mid-latitude land areas of the Northern Hemisphere (including the United States) has increased during the past 70 years, and the IPCC has “low confidence” about any negative trends globally.

Since drought conditions are low, and drought is the single biggest factor behind wildfires, it should come as no surprise to learn, contra the cancer paper’s assertions, wildfires have neither become more frequent nor larger in recent years. In the few regions that have experienced particularly severe wildfires, such as California and Australia, the root cause is government policies preventing proper land management in areas prone to wildfires.

Although there is limited evidence human fossil fuel use is driving dangerous climate change, there is copious evidence widespread fossil fuel use has saved lives by making modern cancer treatments and natural disaster response and recovery possible.

Fossil fuels are the bedrock of modern medicine, which has reduced mortality from cancer and increased lifespans. Contemporary health care, including cancer treatments, depends on sterile plastics made from fossil fuels, such as IV drip bags and tubing, medical machinery, electronics casings, and syringes.

Hospitals, ambulances, operating rooms, emergency rooms, and clinics cannot function without coal, natural gas, and oil. Medical refrigeration units, CT scanning machines, MRIs, X-rays, laser scalpels, ventilators, incubators, and even lights require reliable electric power, which fossil fuels provide more affordably and dependably than alternative sources.

In fact, every hurricane or wildfire season demonstrates the criticality of fossil fuels to humankind’s responses to the vagaries of nature. No industry does more than the fossil fuel industry to help hurricane- and wildfire-stricken areas recover. Fossil fuels power the boats, helicopters, and other modes of transportation the Coast Guard, fire departments, military, and police use to evacuate people from flood and wildfire zones. Fossil fuels power the fire trucks used to fight wildfires, and the airplanes that deliver “smoke jumpers” and flame retardant to wildfire sites inaccessible to vehicles.

Fossil fuels also power the eighteen-wheelers that deliver water, food, blankets, and other relief supplies, the ambulances carrying those hurt during storms and wildfires or needing transport from medical facilities and nursing homes damaged or left without power by natural disasters. Fossil fuels also power the utility vehicles sent to get the power back on. The list goes on.

When power lines go down during hurricanes and wildfires, it is backup generators powered by diesel, natural gas, or liquid propane that deliver electricity to apartment residents, hospital patients, people in nursing homes, and others. Gasoline-powered chainsaws cut apart the fallen trees blocking the roads, and diesel-powered trucks haul it off. Utility companies use diesel-powered cranes to reattach wires and get the power back on.

The plastics in cell phones, computers, and equipment keeping people connected and informed are made in part from, and were manufactured using, oil and natural gas. The silica necessary for microchips at the core of these technologies was mined by diesel-powered mining equipment. Fossil fuels power the advanced warning systems that give people time to evacuate or take shelter as hurricanes or tornadoes approach, the weather planes that literally fly through cyclones, and the 24/7 communications systems that enable meteorologists to report on hurricane and wildfire movements.

Obviously, natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires make it more difficult for people with cancer to get proper treatment, as is true for people suffering from other terrible diseases and maladies. But there is no evidence climate change is making extreme weather more common, so there is no basis to claim climate change is decreasing cancer survival rates or preventing proper treatment. Statements to the contrary are alarmist horror fiction lacking any basis in fact.


Tragic energy triple whammy

America’s energy supply just received three devastating blows.

A federal district court shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline and ordered it drained of oil.

The Supreme Court excluded the Keystone XL Pipeline from an otherwise positive decision that a number of pipeline projects be “fast tracked.”

Dominion Energy won a major court victory for its Atlantic Pipeline, then decided to scrap it anyway, deciding the delays and costs imposed by left-wing obstruction were just too much.  Dominion’s stock promptly plunged 11.3%.

In recent years we have been favored by a long-awaited energy renaissance, with American energy independence and security achieved at last.  It is a tragedy of astounding proportions that tremendously well-financed efforts are continually underway nationwide to obstruct, delay, and in effect ruin America’s energy infrastructure.

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette issued a hard-hitting a statement about the Dakota Access decision that could apply to all three: “It is disappointing that, once again, an energy infrastructure project that provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic revenue has been shut down by the well-funded environmental lobby, using our Nation’s court system to further their agenda. The Dakota Access Pipeline safely provides affordable and reliable American-produced crude oil across the Midwest, and has created approximately 10,000 jobs. In addition, the shutdown will eliminate millions of tax dollars paid by the pipeline each year that go towards schools, hospitals, and other community services in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.”

The far Left, of course, is jubilant.  Greenpeace climate director Janet Redmans said, “Three dangerous pipelines delayed within 24 hours should serve as a clear warning to any companies hoping to double down on dirty fossil fuel projects.  For more than a decade now, a powerful movement has been taking on reckless oil and gas pipelines and fighting to put Indigenous rights, a just economy, and our environment before oil company profits… It is past time to leave fossil fuels in the ground and begin a just transition to a Green New Deal and 100 percent renewable energy.”


There is a new nihilism that stalks our land.  Statues of civil rights leaders are being torn down, supposedly in the name of civil rights.  Cries ring out to defund the police in communities most desperate for law and order.  Clean, safe, efficient energy is blocked without regard to the hard fact that there is nothing available to replace it.  Activists trumpet inefficient, intermittent wind and solar, ignorant to the fact that they are unable to meet our energy needs.

Wind and solar don’t replace pipelines. Trucks, trains and tankers do — albeit poorly.

Americans need to dig deep, fight back and defeat the Greens — before they leave us all freezing in the dark.


Australia: Nothing to fear but climate fearmongers

The politics of fear is usually ascribed to the populist right, and disapprovingly so. Yet what is the contemporary global warming rhetoric and advocacy of the green left if not the politics of fear?

One of the green left’s secular saints, Al Gore, even opened his book The Assault on Reason by declaring: “Fear is the most powerful enemy of reason.” This, from a bloke who rose skywards in a cherry picker in An Inconvenient Truth to highlight predicted carbon dioxide increases, and then showed animations of Florida, San Francisco, The Netherlands, Shanghai, Bangladesh and Manhattan being swamped by oceans “if” Greenland and Antarctica “broke up and melted” before he talked about “a hundred million or more” refugees fleeing these rising oceans.

An assault on reason, indeed. Whether fear is the main driver, or ideology, or plain delusion, Gore was right to observe that rational debates are in short supply in the political arena.

Take the response of Greens leader Adam Bandt to the Eden-Monaro by-election. “The by-election did send a clear message to the government about acting on the climate crisis,” Bandt said this week on Sky News.

Given the Greens vote dropped by a third (from almost 9 per cent to less than 6 per cent) and Labor’s vote fell more than 3 per cent, while the Liberal vote climbed with the Coalition’s two-party-preferred share, you might think he meant that the result provided a ringing endorsement of current policies. But no; Bandt reckoned this result was a call for more climate action.

“Labor held on in part because of Greens preferences, and that should send also a very clear message to Labor now that they’ve won this seat off the back of people who want to see action on climate change,” he said. “As Labor starts to formulate its policies going to the next election it has to have action on climate front and centre.”

Oh dear. Even in the village of Cobargo, where a handful of locals excited the media and the left by being rude to the Prime Minister in the aftermath of the bushfires, the Liberal vote grew 6 per cent and the Greens vote fell by more than 3 per cent.

The Greens bushfire climate scare did not take hold even in Cobargo. So, this party of the environment does not seem to thrive outside of its natural habitat of treeless, congested, mains-powered, inner-city electorates.

In Eden-Monaro, ravaged by drought first, then fire, the climate fear campaign did not work. Catastrophist alarmism and pseudoscientific fear mongering was rejected by voters — once more — and yet the Greens will continue to push Labor further down this furtive and futile path.

Apart from being politically self-defeating for the Labor Party, and distracting and divisively ghoulish for the nation, the premeditated use of last summer’s bushfires to advance a climate policy agenda has been dumb and misleading. You cannot fool mainstream Australians who have grown up with the bushfire threat, seen bushfire disasters and understand the interaction of fuel loads, drought and the consequences of building houses close to bushland.

When smoke blanked our cities from last spring, university students and other agitators became putty in the hands of former fire chiefs and other climate activists who pre-positioned, at the far end of a drought, to ensure their case was amplified by any bushfires that happened along. It was a cynical sure bet, and I said so at the time.

None of this diminishes the trauma of the summer, the worst on record in NSW. It is simply and tragically true that the nation has seen worse, numerous times, and as I have documented through contemporaneous records, the timing and extent of the bushfires were not out of character with events recorded 70 years ago and more.

Protesters were clambering in Sydney in early December, long before the worst of the fires, demanding “climate justice” and a “green new deal”. Scott Morrison would have been better advised to holiday at home but the attacks on him for being in Hawaii, and the silly attempts to make bushfire management a prime ministerial issue, were driven by maniacal climate activism that was lapped up by extremists and the media but dismissed by most everyone else.

The Eden-Monaro test, along with the previous four federal elections, cements an inspiring resistance by mainstream voters to global warming hyperbole. The electorate has made it clear that it prefers sensible and cautious climate action over costly and risky gestures, but the progressive Left ignores the lessons.

This is a global phenomenon. Take the US presidential election this year, where the Democrats tasked policy committees to meld moderate Joe Biden policies with ideas that might hold sway with the radical leftists who were energised by Bernie Sanders.

This process threw up a climate policy paper this week and it opened with the usual appeal to primordial fear. “Climate change is a global emergency,” it said. “We have no time to waste in taking action to protect Americans’ lives.”

It went on to cite “record-breaking storms, devastating wildfires, and historic floods” as well as dams failing “catastrophically” and neighbourhoods “all but wiped off the map” while communities suffered “tens of billions of dollars” in losses and crops “drowned” — and all of this was supposed to have happened in the past four years under Donald Trump. “Thousands of Americans have died,” thundered the Democrat policy document. “And President Trump still callously and wilfully denies the science that explains why so many are suffering.”

This is junk politics and junk science. It is the blatant politics of fear that has Greta Thunberg and others, including Biden, talking about tipping points and the urgency of the moment.

In his latest climate video, the Democrat presidential candidate refers to the “climate disaster facing the nation and our world” as he goes on to talk about “more severe storms and droughts, rising sea levels and warming temperatures shrinking snow cover and ice sheets”. It is all accompanied by alarming pictures, graphics and music.

“It’s already happening,” says Biden, “and science tells us that how we act, or fail to act, in the next 12 years will determine the very liveability of our planet.” That is not a bad pitch, is it? Vote for me because if you vote for the other guy, life on earth is finished.

You could write a book about the prevalence of this toxic climate alarmism — and Michael Shellenberger just has — but let me provide at least one Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reference for context on climate change and natural disasters. It published a report on this topic in 2012.

“Increasing exposure of people and economic assets has been the major cause of long-term increases in economic losses from weather and climate-related disasters,” the IPCC found. “Long-term trends in economic disaster losses adjusted for wealth and population increases have not been attributed to climate change, but a role for climate change has not been excluded.”

In other words, there is nothing to see here. Yet.

So, while warming temperatures could increase the length of Australia’s fire season, in some parts of the country, and therefore increase the incidence of bad fire weather, this is a minor and uncertain factor in the bushfire debate. What is certain is that we have always faced catastrophic fire conditions and always will — and the things we can control are fuel loads and what we do to ensure housing and other built assets are separated or protected from fire risks.

We know social media, activists and Greens preference deals will keep pushing Labor towards more extreme and costly climate policies, ignoring both the electoral lessons of the past and the sensible voices in science and economics. For those who value Labor as a movement for mainstream families, and a party of government, that is a most frightening reality.



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   here 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


No comments: