Monday, July 02, 2018

Greenies are cheering as research finds that air pollution gives you diabetes-- but does it?

Some rather amusing "research" below.  In summary, the controls were inadequate and the effects minute. As a bonus, sea air was found not to be especially good for you.

Two major demographics that affect health generally are poverty and IQ.  Smart people live longer and poor people die younger.  So unless you take account of both, your results could be a result of one or both instead of the cause you think you are studying.  But data on both is pesky to gather so most medical research ignores both -- thus rendering the findings moot.

So how does that work out in studies of this sort?  I have said all this before but if medical researchers keep churning out rubbish, I guess I have to churn out rebuttals. (Just two of my previous rebuttals here and here)

Nobody likes breathing in polluted air, unless you like the smell of diesel of course.  And both rich people and smart people (two seriously overlapping categories) can usually manage to avoid it one way or another -- by moving to nicer suburbs or choosing a rural lifestyle, for instance. Poor people can't usually afford that and dumb people are too busy trying to get by to worry about refinements.

 So if you are living in a polluted area you are more likely to be poor and dumb. So if a polluted locality seems to be  bad for your health, it could be because of the poor and dumb people who live there, not because of the pollution itself.  And the present research is a prime example of that.  They cannot rule out that their findings were an effect of poverty and IQ and not pollution.  If they had gathered IQ and income data for each person they studied, they could have removed the influence of income and IQ from their results statistically (analysis of covariance, partial correlation etc).

They did not even attempt to gather IQ data.  They did not even measure education, which is a rough proxy for IQ and which has effects in its own right.  And their attempt to measure income was pathetic.  They looked at the percentage of poor people in the county where you lived and assigned that score as YOUR degree of poverty. That you can have both rich and poor people both living in the same county was ignored.

OK:  That's only one problem with the study.  The other problem -- regrettably common in these studies -- was the size of the effects they found.  They were tiny.  Their hazard ratio for the effect of pollution on diabetes was only 1.15.  Causative inferences normally require a HR of 2.0 or more.  To put that finding into context, compare the finding for the effect of "ambient air sodium concentration" (which I take to mean "sea-air") on diabetes.  They found a HR of 1.00, which they identified as non-significant, meaning no effect.  Yet 1.00 is only a touch behind the 1.15 ratio that the whole article is built on.  So you can summarize the study in one word:


Regrettably non-academic language, I know.  But when is this nonsense about air pollution going to stop? It's just the same mistakes repeated over and over again.  Lancet should not have published such weak stuff but they are as Green as grass so they were upholding a Greenie cause.

As you have perhaps already guessed, I am feeling a bit peevish at the moment so let me expand my comments about British medical journals.  Both Lancet and BMJ seem to be edited by kneejerk Leftists who are incapable of independent thought. I forget which one but either Lancet or BMJ published a critical article at one stage about George Bush's invasion of Iraq. Strange territory for a medical journal! They went well outside their area of expertise and their article was in consequence an heroic example of inferential boldness -- which I and others promptly pointed out.  It is too sad that Leftist bigotry has now infiltrated the medical journals.  The effect on the quality of their articles is only too well shown by the article critiqued here

Inferential boldness does in fact seem to infect medical journals across the board. The basic statistical dictum that correlation is not causation seems to be some sort of Masonic secret to their editors and authors:  Poorly controlled articles that treat correlation as causation are common.  Every time it is examined, poverty is found to have strong health correlations but there are nonetheless untold numbers of articles that fail to control for income.  One understands that asking about income is a sensitive matter but there is usually no point in doing your study unless you do.  Doing almost any health study of humans without controlling for income simply renders moot the implication of your findings

I follow the popular article below with the journal abstract

Around one in seven cases of the disease were directly caused by air pollution around the world in 2016 – about 3.2million cases in total.

Researchers say the link is ‘significant’ even for low levels of air pollution which are considered to be safe.

The study is the first to estimate the number of diabetes cases caused by pollution globally.

Although type 2 diabetes is mainly thought to be caused by obesity, several recent studies have linked it to air pollution.

Experts believe tiny particles in the air reduce the body’s ability to respond to the hormone insulin, known as ‘insulin resistance’.

This causes the glucose levels in the blood to increase which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri, looked at data from 1.7million US veterans who were followed for eight and a half years.

They found the risk of developing type 2 diabetes went up 10 per cent for every 10 microgram per cubic metre increase in fine particulate matter in the air.

The study, published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health, also estimated 8.2million years of healthy life were lost around the world in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes.

Dr Ziyad Al-Aly, from Washington University, said: ‘Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally. We found an increased risk, even at low levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organisation.

‘Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened.’

The findings are particularly worrying as many areas in the UK have very high levels of air pollution which breach safe limits. Figures from the World Health Organisation last month showed 30 towns and cities have levels of fine particulate matter above the recommended limit of 10 micrograms per cubic metre.


The 2016 global and national burden of diabetes mellitus attributable to PM2·5 air pollution

Benjamin Bowe, MPH et al.


PM2·5 air pollution is associated with increased risk of diabetes; however, a knowledge gap exists to further define and quantify the burden of diabetes attributable to PM2·5 air pollution. Therefore, we aimed to define the relationship between PM2·5 and diabetes. We also aimed to characterise an integrated exposure response function and to provide a quantitative estimate of the global and national burden of diabetes attributable to PM2·5.

We did a longitudinal cohort study of the association of PM2·5 with diabetes. We built a cohort of US veterans with no previous history of diabetes from various databases. Participants were followed up for a median of 8·5 years, we and used survival models to examine the association between PM2·5 and the risk of diabetes. All models were adjusted for sociodemographic and health characteristics. We tested a positive outcome control (ie, risk of all-cause mortality), negative exposure control (ie, ambient air sodium concentrations), and a negative outcome control (ie, risk of lower limb fracture). Data for the models were reported as hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs. Additionally, we reviewed studies of PM2·5 and the risk of diabetes, and used the estimates to build a non-linear integrated exposure response function to characterise the relationship across all concentrations of PM2·5 exposure. We included studies into the building of the integrated exposure response function if they scored at least a four on the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale and were only included if the outcome was type 2 diabetes or all types of diabetes. Finally, we used the Global Burden of Disease study data and methodologies to estimate the attributable burden of disease (ABD) and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) of diabetes attributable to PM2·5 air pollution globally and in 194 countries and territories.

We examined the relationship of PM2·5 and the risk of incident diabetes in a longitudinal cohort of 1 729 108 participants followed up for a median of 8·5 years (IQR 8·1–8·8). In adjusted models, a 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2·5 was associated with increased risk of diabetes (HR 1·15, 95% CI 1·08–1·22). PM2·5 was associated with increased risk of death as the positive outcome control (HR 1·08, 95% CI 1·03–1·13), but not with lower limb fracture as the negative outcome control (1·00, 0·91–1·09). An IQR increase (0·045 μg/m3) in ambient air sodium concentration as the negative exposure control exhibited no significant association with the risk of diabetes (HR 1·00, 95% CI 0·99–1·00). An integrated exposure response function showed that the risk of diabetes increased substantially above 2·4 μg/m3, and then exhibited a more moderate increase at concentrations above 10 μg/m3. Globally, ambient PM2·5 contributed to about 3·2 million (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 2·2–3·8) incident cases of diabetes, about 8·2 million (95% UI 5·8–11·0) DALYs caused by diabetes, and 206 105 (95% UI 153 408–259 119) deaths from diabetes attributable to PM2·5 exposure. The burden varied substantially among geographies and was more heavily skewed towards low-income and lower-to-middle-income countries.

The global toll of diabetes attributable to PM2·5 air pollution is significant. Reduction in exposure will yield substantial health benefits.


Warburton's shuts crumpet plants due to CO2 shortage

Has Al Gore been at work?

The UK's largest producer of crumpets, Warburton's, has halted production at two of its four plants.

The firm has run out of carbon dioxide which it uses to package the product.

The CO2 scarcity has already forced beer, fizzy drink and meat firms to curb production.

Warburton's supplies 1.5 million crumpets a week to UK consumers, packaged using carbon dioxide to give them longer shelf life and prevent mould.

But plants in London and Burnley have run out of CO2 and supplies at the company's Stockton site are intermittent.

"We have had quite big shortfalls," said Tearmh Taylor, a spokeswoman for Warburton's.

"We're probably running at about 50% of what we can normally make" she said.

Only the Midlands plant is operating normally and the firm doesn't know when supplies will resume. Their supplier said it could be next week but have had no confirmation.

Meanwhile, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said brewers were "working their socks off" to keep the beer flowing.

Scotland's biggest abattoir is closed and other meat producers are considering adapting their products to use less CO2.

Some food and drink firms have asked whether the government could help alleviate the problem.

"If a similar issue were to affect the water industry... then you feel government would be acting with far greater urgency," the Food and Drink Federation said..

What is the problem?

CO2 is widely used in the food processing and drinks industries. It puts the fizz into beer, cider and soft drinks, and is used in food packaging to extend the shelf life of salads, fresh meat and poultry.

The gas is also used to stun pigs and chickens before slaughter, and create dry ice to help keep things chilled while in transit.

However, several UK and mainland European producers of carbon dioxide - a by-product from ammonia production that is used in the fertiliser industry - closed for maintenance or scaled down operations.

In the UK, only two of five plants that supply CO2 are operating at the moment.

The shortage comes at the same time demand for food and drink is soaring. "The football, the weather, the BBQs have created the sort of demand for beer we only see at Christmas," one big UK brewing company told the BBC.


California's Costly Global Warming Campaign Turns Out To Be Worse Than Useless

For more than a decade, California has won high praise from environmentalists for its stringent greenhouse gas restrictions. But a new report shows that despite the enormous costs of this effort, the state is doing a worse job at cutting CO2 emissions than the rest of the country, while badly hurting its working families.

Back in 2007, California became the first state to cap CO2 emissions when then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB32, which mandated the state cut greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. Schwarzenegger called it "a bold new era of environmental protection."

Not to be outdone, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last year requiring the state to cut emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

So, what happened? From 2007 to 2015, California managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 9%. But the rest of the country cut them by more than 10%, according to a new report from the Center for Demographics and Policy at Chapman University in Orange, California.

On a per capita basis, 41 states outperformed California on CO2 cuts over those same years.

Here's another way to look at it. Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, and Pennsylvania have about the same combined population as California. But these states saw emission reductions five times as great as California. (To be fair, California started from a lower base.)

Even that is exaggerating California's achievement. The study notes that because the state has become so inhospitable to manufacturing and energy production, it now imports more energy than any other state in the nation and relies heavily on imported goods.

In fact, California imports 66% of its crude oil, 91% of its natural gas, and 88% of the ethanol is uses from other states and countries. California alone accounts for almost a quarter of U.S. oil imports from the Persian Gulf and from Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, in 2015, it imported about $408 billion in products from other nations, or 16% of the state's GDP.

In other words, California is exporting its energy production and manufacturing base to other, more carbon-intensive states and countries, while patting itself on the back for its own CO2 reductions.

Even if California were able to meet its ambitious CO2 cuts, it would have no impact on global temperatures — assuming the climate scientists are right in their predictions — because the state represents a tiny portion of global CO2 emissions.

And what have Californians received in return for their state's "bold" effort? As the report notes, these environmentalist policies have "significantly distorted the California economy." And not in a good way.

Outside Silicon Valley, this unilateral effort to cut CO2 emissions is hampering the states' economy, eliminating opportunities for working families, and increasing poverty. Housing and energy prices are climbing faster than the national average. Wages for Latinos, African Americans and the less educated have stagnated.

"In summary," the report says, "the imposition by the state's Democratic Party leaders of highly regressive climate schemes have engendered disparate financial hardships on middle and lower income workers and minority communities, while providing direct economic subsidies to wealthier Californians in environmentalist strongholds like Marin County."

"This represents a significant departure from more traditional Democratic Party values."

No kidding.

This is the problem with environmentalist mandates generally. They make rich coastal elites feel better about themselves, do little to improve the environment, and load all the costs and burdens on the backs of those who can least afford it.

Tell us again which political party is the one that cares about working families?


Why Are Home Appliances Less Efficient, More Costly?

Last week CFACT’s Co-founder Craig Rucker posted a call to action, titled simply “Make dishwashers fast again.”

He explained it succinctly, saying: “If you brought home any new appliances recently, you no doubt noticed something strange. They look great but take forever to work. The Department of Energy is considering fixing this problem, specifically when it comes to dishwashers, and has asked for public comment.”

The request for comments from DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office was triggered by a petition from our esteemed colleagues at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

The comment period was short and is now closed, but DOE got over 2300 comments, many quite pointed. For example:

“Make dishwashers great again. It should not take 2-3 hours to clean a dishwasher full of dirty dishes.”

“My dishwasher has a life of its own. It goes on forever while washing my dishes while I wait patiently for it to finish. I am tired of waiting and waiting. Please do something...”

I got my comment in as well, going beyond dishwashers to the whole goofy issue of federal regulation of appliances.

Here is my comment:

Energy efficiency means doing the same job with less energy. If performance is degraded then this is energy rationing or restriction, not energy efficiency. DOE has no statutory authorization or mandate to impose energy rationing or restriction on appliances.

As CEI suggests by its petition, appliances should first be classed by their performance. Efficiency standards should then be set in such a way that there is no degradation of performance.

Instead, DOE appears to have classified appliances simply according to what they do, without consideration of specific performance. As a result, energy efficiency standards may have been set that degrade performance. If so then this is a significant error on DOE’s part, one which needs to be corrected.

There also needs to be a procedure whereby performance can be improved, even if it requires using more energy. Energy efficiency should not be a bar to performance improvement.

Reducing performance in the name of efficiency is government imposed asceticism.

Even worse, the law under which DOE deliberately degrades appliance performance does not mention energy efficiency. It claims to be about something called “energy conservation,” which is a nonsensical political slogan. Electric energy that is not used is not somehow conserved. It is not waiting to be used. It does not exist.

Mind you, if they called this the “We don’t want you to use electricity to make your lives better” bill, its chances of passages would be slim to none.

Given the present climate change hysteria, it might get some votes if it were titled the “Fossil fuel use reduction” bill. But now the problem is that a lot of electricity does not come from fossil fuels. If it comes from wind, hydro or solar then there is nothing to constrain or conserve, quite the contrary.

The real point here is that this entire law and practice is woefully obsolete. It is a silly reaction to a 1970’s scare. As such it should be repealed. There is absolutely no reason for the US Department of Energy to be telling dishwasher makers how to do their job.

Dishwashers serve an extremely useful purpose, freeing up hundreds of millions of hours of American people’s time every year. Their makers should be allowed to make them work well, not governed by some harebrained federal “energy conservation” mandate from the last century.

Make appliances great again.


Ban on plastic bags in Australian supermarkets has not gone well

ENRAGED Australian shoppers have taken to social media to condemn supermarket giant Coles’ decision to ban single-use plastic bags from check-outs from today onwards.

The controversial new rules saw the traditional free plastic shopping bags vanish from stores once the clock ticked past midnight.

From now on, Coles shoppers around the country will need to bring their own reusable bags to transport their groceries, or fork out 15c for a range of reusable bags available for purchase at check-outs.

But while a Coles spokesman touted the ban as “the right thing to do for our environment” on Friday, many Aussies have since accused the corporation of using the ban as a money-making ploy.

Meanwhile, others have threatened to boycott the chain altogether in protest.

The growing backlash follows yesterday’s announcement from SDA National, the union for workers in retail, fast food and warehousing, that a female Woolworths staff member was strangled and sworn at by a male customer who disagreed with the company’s bag ban at Woolworths Greenfields at Mandurah, Western Australia late last month.

The union is calling for angry shoppers to treat retail staff with respect despite so-called “plastic bag rage”.

However, when visited Coles Waterloo in inner Sydney early this morning, the scene was calm with a number of shoppers already armed with their own reusable bags.

One said it was “about time” single-use plastic bags were banned, while another added it was “a positive step” towards a more sustainable future.

And while many shoppers have criticised the ban, others have attacked Coles for not ditching bags sooner.




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: