Friday, July 11, 2014

Warmer Climate Could Mean More Kidney Stones?

Crap!  The underlying journal article is Daily Mean Temperature and Clinical Kidney Stone Presentation in Five U.S. Metropolitan Areas: A Time-Series Analysis.  The findings are correlational ones so do not enable inferences about causes.  And the elevation of risk associated with temperature was very slight anyway.  Relative risks were around 1.3.  The Federal Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition says (p. 384): "the threshold for concluding that an agent was more likely than not the cause of an individual's disease is a relative risk greater than 2.0."

The consequences of global warming and climate change isn’t just limited to the decline in population of endangered species. A new study has now linked warmer climate to an increased risk of kidney stones among the individuals residing in the area.
Rising temperatures, it is believed, may be linked to an increase in the number of people who fall prey to kidney stones and other painful urinary tract obstructions.

“These findings point to potential public health effects associated with global climate change,” study leader Dr. Gregory Tasian, a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, explained.

The researchers examined medical records of over 60,000 patients who were diagnosed with kidney stones between the years 2005 to 2011, and also compared the information so obtained with the daily temperature data. The patients recruited for the study lived in cities with different climates- Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Careful observation revealed that as the annual temperature rose above 50 degrees, the number of individuals affected by kidney stones rose. Also, the number of kidney stone diagnosis rose within three days of rise in temperature.

“Although 11 percent of the U.S. population has had kidney stones, most people have not,” Tasian added. However, he believes that “it is likely that higher temperatures increase the risk of kidney stones in those people predisposed to stone formation.”
While the exact reason behind this strange relation is not very well understood, researchers believe that warmer temperatures contribute to dehydration, which in turn, cause calcium and other minerals to deposit in the urine, which can spur kidney stone formation.

“Kidney stone prevalence has already been on the rise over the last 30 years, and we can expect this trend to continue, both in greater numbers and over a broader geographic area, as daily temperatures increase,” Tasian concluded.

The results from this study are now published in the journal Environmental Health.


Power grab: EPA wants to garnish wages of polluters

Accused violators of pollution laws would have little recourse

The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.

The EPA has been flexing its regulatory muscle under President Obama, collecting more fines each year and threatening individuals with costly penalties for violating environmental rules. In one case, the agency has threatened fines of up to $75,000 per day on Wyoming homeowner Andy Johnson for building a pond on his rural property.

“The EPA has a history of overreaching its authority. It seems like once again the EPA is trying to take power it doesn’t have away from American citizens,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said when he learned of the EPA’s wage garnishment scheme.

Others questioned why the EPA decided to strengthen its collection muscle at this time.

Critics said the threat of garnishing wages would be a powerful incentive for people to agree to expensive settlements rather than fight EPA charges.

EPA officials did not respond to repeated questions by The Washington Times about why they thought it was necessary to garnish people’s wages.

The EPA announced the plan last week in a notice in the Federal Register, saying federal law allows it “to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.”

The agency cited authority under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 that centralized federal collection operations under the Treasury Department, which oversees garnishments of wages or tax refund checks.

Under the law, every federal agency has the authority to conduct administrative wage garnishment, provided the agency adopts approved rules for conducting hearings where debtors can challenge the amount of debt or terms of repayment schedule, a Treasury official said.

Still, the rule would give the EPA sweeping authority to dictate how and whether Americans could dispute fines and penalties, even as the amount of EPA fines collected from individuals, businesses and local governments steadily increase.

The amount of fines raked in by the agency has jumped from $96 million in 2009 to $252 million in 2012, a more than 160 percent increase, according to EPA annual reports.

Putting the collection powers on a fast track, the agency announced it in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would take effect automatically Sept. 2, unless the EPA receives adverse public comments by Aug. 1.

The EPA said it deemed the action as not a “significant regulatory action” and therefore not subject to review.

The negative reactions began almost immediately.

In a comment letter submitted to the EPA, the conservative Heritage Foundation faulted the rule for giving the government “unbridled discretion” in controlling the process for challenging fines and wage garnishment, such as dictating the site of a hearing without consideration of the time and travel expense placed on the accused debtor.

The rule allows the EPA to decide whether a debtor gets a chance to present a defense and then picks whomever it chooses to serve as a hearing officer, even someone not trained as an administrative law judge, wrote David S. Addington, group vice president for research at The Heritage Foundation.

It also puts the burden of proof on the debtor, not the EPA, he said.

The EPA has been on the front lines of the battle over Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda, including issuing proposed rules that would require coal-fired power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent over 15 years.

Critics say it will cause massive increases in the cost of electricity, lead to power shortages and eliminate jobs, while making scant impact on the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted worldwide.

The agency has been a magnet for criticism over new rules on things such as wood-burning stoves and small streams or ponds on private land, including waterways on farms and golf courses.


The EPA’s New Water Rule Leaves the Economy High and Dry

When the Clean Water Act was first conceived, the EPA could only restrict entrepreneurs when they attempted to pollute bodies of water that were used by their fellow businesses, or what the EPA calls ‘navigable waters.’ However, its original mission is far too modest for modern-day bureaucrats.

In March the EPA unveiled their proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule. If finalized, this rule would expand the federal government’s regulatory authority over millions of acres of wetlands and millions of miles of streams. It would place virtually all bodies of water, no matter how small their size or impact on commerce, under EPA authority.

Thankfully, legislators are taking action against this agency’s extraordinary power grab. Last week, 31 senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, introduced The Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014, a bill that would prevent the EPA from expanding their authority under the CWA.

In the words of Senator Cruz, “The EPA is following in the footsteps of our lawless President. The EPA's unilateral expansion of the Clean Water Act to include regulation of puddles and temporarily flooded areas is an abuse of power that would allow the EPA to march into the backyards of many Americans. Congress must exercise its power to strictly define what the EPA may do under the Clean Water Act to protect our nation's landowners, farmers, and homeowners from undue harassment by the EPA."

In the House of Representatives, the Appropriations Committee approved a bill on June 18 that would fund the Army Corps of Engineers, but with a provision that bars the agency from enforcing the Waters of the US rule, a move in the right direction.

The way the agency justified this exponential expansion of their powers over bodies of water traditionally regulated by states and localities was by making the case that all bodies of water in one way or another flow into these larger navigable waters. In a study published last September, the EPA made the case that because all bodies of water have a connection to one another, pollution in a single stream could flow to the rest. Coincidentally, this study was released to the public the very same day that they proposed the rule.

If the EPA were to expand its authority over even more of America’s waters, its damaging effect on the economy would only grow. A business or property owner who simply wishes to move soil from one area of a body of water to another must apply for a permit, since this movement is considered to be polluting. The average permit can cost upwards of $271,000 and take 788 days to be processed which leads to private companies and municipalities annually being forced to pay $1.7 billion to the EPA for the right to develop or build over bodies of water. And if a developer fails to secure the proper permits, $37,500 in fines can be incurred every day for unlawfully developing a stream or wetland.

This is not the first time that the EPA has overreached in its authority. In 1986 the agency claimed that any body of water that a migratory bird landed in was under its jurisdiction. Its blatant and repeated abuse of its authority was checked first in 2001 and again in 2006 when the Supreme Court ruled in Rapanos v. The United States that the EPA could not block a developer from filling in a wetland in order to build a mall even though it was connected by a stream to a larger body of water. As Justice Kennedy wrote in his decision, the EPA must prove that a “significant nexus (connection)” exists between the body of water the agency claims jurisdiction over and navigable waters. So rather than accept the court’s decision, the EPA concocted a study last year that claims that all bodies of water have a significant connection to navigable waters, and thus should be under its authority.

At a time when it is still unclear if the country is on the road to economic recovery, we can’t afford additional burdensome regulations that inhibit entrepreneurs and farmers from working and investing on their own property.


Bast: If There’s No Global Warming, There’s No Climate Change Problem

  With satellite data showing no global warming for 17 years and 10 months, and even the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledging a “pause” in rising temperatures, it’s time to stop talking about a climate change problem, says Joe Bast, president and CEO of the Heartland Foundation.

"Global warming is still at the heart of climate change. All the climate changes are attributable to the increase in temperature in the climate, so even if they might want to talk about sea level rise and heat being stored in the lower ocean and all these indirect climate effects, the engine for that, the cause of all that is global warming,” Bast told

“And if there is no global warming, or if it’s paused, or if it’s less than what they thought, or if the human impact is less than they thought, then that whole paradigm collapses. Whether you call it climate change or global warming, if there’s no warming going on, it’s not a problem.”

“I would say two years ago, we could have concluded that,” Bast added. “NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said 15 years was the cut-off date in an influential [2008] report…. But even the alarmists said that if there was no warming for 15 years, that that would invalidate the models that they were using. So it’s rare that the other side puts a date on something like that, but they did it this time, and I think we ought to hold them to it.”

Noting that the behavior of prominent climate change scientists is “characteristic of a movement that’s about to crash,” Bast pointed out that the “alarmists” invited to debate the “skeptics” at Heartland’s 9th Annual Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas this week declined to defend their contention that the Earth is facing catastrophic warming and that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are to blame.

“We invited scores of scientists who are on the alarmist side of this debate to attend and present their ideas,” Bast told “In the past, we’ve had one or two willing to do that, and they’ve always been treated with great politeness and allowed to debate. But none of them this time agreed to take us up on our offer.”

“Why do you think that is?” asked Bast.

“I think they’re afraid to debate. They’re just afraid,” he replied. “They know in front of an audience of their peers that they will lose.”

On June 25, President Obama mocked those who challenge the theory that man-made global warming is causing catastrophic climate change, telling the League of Conservation Voters that it is a fact despite 17-plus years of evidence to the contrary.

"You can ignore the facts; you can't deny the facts," the president said.

But Bast criticized the Obama administration for doing just that by promulgating energy policies based on flawed computer models’ predictions of global warming, which actual temperature data have since proven to be wrong.

“I don’t think this administration’s policies are based on science at all, which is why they just ignore every report and every scientist who says they’re wrong on this,” Bast told

He also criticized Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) for claiming that “97 percent of scientists agree that [carbon dioxide] is leading to dangerous climate change that is affecting our families” at a June 18 hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee.

“The scientific community is deeply divided on some of the underlying science issues, like whether or not models can forecast future climate, and what the trade-offs, the feedbacks are in the environment, so there’s just tremendous uncertainty,” Bast said.

“This is one of the big unsolved scientific issues of our day, and for politicians to be saying 97 percent of all scientists agree on this is absurd.”

“Frankly, the science doesn’t matter to President Obama or to any of those Democratic senators. They’ve decided that they want to wage a war on fossil fuels, they’ve decided that they want to subsidize and promote a new energy industry, renewables, and global warming is just a handy excuse, or smoke and mirrors, that they can use to sell this agenda," Bast told

Asked whether most Americans are aware that the Earth has not warmed for close to 18 years, he replied:

“I think the people who are paying attention have figured this out. The American people see prominent left-wing politicians talking about this issue and the more they talk about it, the more the public understands that this is a political issue, not a science debate.”

Now that actual temperature data has confirmed the skeptics’ view that carbon dioxide is not causing catastrophic global warming, Bast says it’s time to move on, especially since billions of dollars have already been spent trying to stop a non-existent threat.

“I think the other side is just going to double down on ad hominen attacks and outrageous lies, like the 97 percent consensus and claims about the weather. They’re going to try to keep the focus away from what the real issue now should be,” he said.

“Going forward, the issue is: what do we do legislatively?  How should public policy be changed, now that we know global warming is not a crisis, now that we know the costs of trying to reduce emissions are enormous and would cause lots of negative consequences?”

“I would love to have that debate,” Bast continued. “We tried to start that debate a good 10, 15 years ago and people were so concerned about the science that they didn’t want to discuss how much it would cost to try to stop this thing. Now that the science has been thrown out, we need to be having a debate about what we should be doing.

“And that debate, I think, logically leads to we should start getting rid of all the subsidies to wind and solar and ethanol, we should start looking at ways of adapting to climate change regardless of whether it’s natural or man-made, and probably encourage innovation, both in the energy sector and manufacturing, because that’s where we have win-win solutions."

Meanwhile, he pointed out, more and more scientists are quietly backing away from their prior claims that the Earth has a “fever,” as former vice-president Al Gore once put it.

“I think the IPCC in its last report kind of hit a dead end, and some very prominent folks are saying that. The editors of Nature editorialized that this should be the last report from the IPCC,” Bast said, characterizing the reports as “massive compilations of obsolete research” trying to prove “a broken paradigm.”

“Now the folks at Nature are still committed alarmists, although I think they’re walking that back, admitting that it’s more complicated, or that it might take longer, or that reducing emissions might not be the way to try to respond to the possible problems,” he said.

Even groups that have been “sitting on the sidelines, not willing to challenge the science,” are now speaking out publicly, he added, noting that the Heartland Institute has done so since its founding in Chicago in 1984.

“We took a lot of bullets, a lot of arrows for doing that,” Bast said. “But it’s great. I love the company.”


Missouri Lawmaker Introduces Bill To Halt All EPA Regulations

For one Missouri lawmaker, fighting individual Environmental Protection Agency regulations — like the recent rule on carbon emissions from power plants — isn’t enough.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would halt all EPA rules that are currently in the works and prompt a review of all previous EPA regulations. H.R. 5034, titled the Stop the EPA Act, would also require Congress to approve all previous and new regulations that cost $50 million or more. Under the bill, any that aren’t approved by Congress won’t become law.

“My legislation will give the American people a voice in the regulator’s room when the President and the EPA try and go around Congress,” Graves said in a statement. “EPA aggression has reached an all-time high, and now it must be stopped.”

Graves’ legislation was prompted by the EPA’s “Waters of the United States” proposal, which aims to clarify what streams and rivers are under the jurisdiction of the federal government, under the Clean Water Act. It’s also aimed at the EPA’s new rule on carbon emissions from power plants, a proposal that multiple other lawmakers have attempted to undermine or overturn in recent months. House Republicans introduced an EPA funding bill this week that would block the agency’s new power plant rule, and nine states have signed on to coal company Murray Energy’s lawsuit against the agency, claiming that the new rule constitutes EPA overreach.

The EPA has long been the target of attacks from industry and lawmakers, however.

“The Obama EPA has waged an all-out War on Coal, promulgating a series of rules and regulations seeking to eliminate the United States coal industry, and the very good jobs, and low cost electricity, which it provides,” Murray Energy said in a release after filing its lawsuit against the EPA. “Indeed, the lives and livelihoods of entire families in many regions of America are being destroyed.”


Super pollutants

Joe Romm ups the ante below.  CO2 causes only 60% of warming, he says.  We have to fight the 40% caused by "super pollutants" too

Some confusion has been generated on this issue by a Tuesday New York Times piece, “Picking Lesser of Two Climate Evils,” which frames our optimum climate strategy as a choice between targeting CO2 and targeting super pollutants like methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon, that together cause some 40% of the warming we’re experiencing now.

But that is a “false choice,” as longtime NASA climate scientist Drew Shindell explained to me. We have to do both to maximize lives saved and minimize the chances of dangerous warming. That’s a point Climate Progress has made consistently.

The New York Times piece builds off an analysis by climatologist Raymond Pierrehumbert on “Short-Lived Climate Pollution” (SLCP). He concludes that an “implementation of SLCP mitigation that substitutes to any significant extent for carbon dioxide mitigation will lead to a climate irreversibly warmer than will a strategy with delayed SLCP mitigation. SLCP mitigation does not buy time for implementation of stringent controls on CO2 emissions.”



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