Monday, November 09, 2020

The Environmental Defense Fund's Silly Food Chemical Claim

A recent CNN article about the FDA oversight of chemicals in foods is puzzling. Author Sandee LaMotte regurgitates a ludicrous demand by the anti-chemical group Environmental Defense Fund – that the estimated 10,000 chemicals found in food be tested and regulated. We believe this is absurd (and impossible) exercise.

People are exposed to tens of thousands of chemicals every day. All of them are toxic at some dose and all of them are also safe at some lower dose. And this doesn’t just apply to “synthetic chemical additives,” which EDF paints as toxic villians. In fact, if every one of the 10,000 chemicals were magically removed from food it would make little difference in the total burden of chemicals to which we are exposed. Our foods contain far more than 10,000 chemicals.

Coffee itself contains over 1000 natural chemicals, caffeine being the best known. This does not mean it is completely safe. Only six cups of coffee contain enough caffeine to nearly reach a toxic level. As is the case with caffeine and all other chemicals , the dose makes the poison – the founding principle of toxicology – is misconstrued or ignored by those who are scientifically ignorant or have an anti-chemical agenda. So, in the absence of any discussion of “how much” of these chemicals we are exposed to the EDF claim becomes irrelevant.

Moreover, the article makes it seem like the US FDA is asleep at the nations’ “wheel” when it comes to food safety. Au contraire. The FDA employs scores of board-certified toxicologists, unlike the EDF, and has other scientists intimately familiar with food safety. A balanced article would have included their voices, or at least voices from a variety of organizations with specialized knowledge of food safety. But EDF is as balanced as an elephant and fruit fly on a see-saw and, not surprisingly, CNN did not seek another opinion.

Here is one (of many) examples of a misstatement in the article, “The FDA never considers the overall effect of these 10,000 chemicals on people…” Wrong, the FDA considers this quite often. It has also developed a concept, referred to as the threshold of toxicological concern (TTC) back in the last century to grapple with this issue. This concept was developed because the FDA realized back then that each individual type of food was itself a complex mixture of hundreds, if not thousands of chemicals. Potatoes, for example, have hundreds of chemicals, one of which, solanine, is a natural, toxic pesticide made by the potato plant,. This is why eating green potatoes or potato leaves is not recommended---the level of solanine in this part of the plant is much higher than in the actual potato. However, the level of solanine in the actual potato is below the safe dose of solanine, which is why eating potatoes is not harmful. This TTC concept developed by FDA is being routinely applied by other health organizations for chemicals in air, water and cosmetics.

Can FDA improve its efforts on maintaining the already-safest food on planet Earth? Probably, and the article points to some areas that need further study such as the PFAS family of chemicals. But alarmist articles such as this are not based on good science, nor an accurate portrayal of the good work of the FDA.

Our food is already safe. The enormous effort required to examine minute levels of thousands of common chemicals won’t make it any safer. It’s just a waste of time and money.

Evidence submitted by the GWPF to the UK Treasury Committee
Climate Policy Research

We are writing with respect to the committee’s Decarbonisation and Green Finance inquiry, and specifically to the question of the economic costs and benefits that decarbonisation presents for the UK.


A target to decarbonise the economy (“net zero”) was agreed by Parliament in 2019. Ahead of the debate, the minister, Chris Skidmore, informed MPs that the cost of achieving the target would be modest – 1–2% of GDP in 2050 – a figure apparently provided by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). This claim was reinforced by subsequent statements in the House of Lords by Lord Deben, the chairman of the CCC,(1) and in public pronouncements by Chris Stark, its chief executive.(2)

Claims of modest costs were false

The Treasury and BEIS have disputed the CCC’s figure, although not necessarily on the grounds that it was understated. However, it is now appears that the CCC’s figure was not based on explicit calculations; they have said that they have not calculated a cost for any of the years 2020-2049.(3) The Treasury and BEIS have both refused to release details of their own estimates of the cost.

Thus no official costings of the net zero project have been published, and it appears likely that Parliament was misled into voting for the measure.

In reality the costs are going to be very high

The central plank of the decarbonisation plan is the replacement of fossil fuels with electricity, mostly supplied by offshore windfarms. In other words, it involves the wholesale electrification of most of the economy, although in some sectors, where this is not possible, it is said that hydrogen will be used to deliver energy.

A necessary (but not sufficient) condition for decarbonisation at “modest” cost is that the electricity from offshore windfarms be very cheap. It has been argued in the media and by windfarm promoters that the costs of offshore wind are falling rapidly. They point to the results of the 2017 Contracts for Difference auction, in which two offshore windfarms – Moray East and Hornsea 2 – won contracts at just £57.50/MWh, less than half the price of any previous winner, and much closer to market prices.

However, a recent review of published accounts of operational UK offshore windfarms showed that costs are barely falling, and remain above £100/MWh.(4) While it has been argued that the review was backward looking, and thus not representative of the windfarms that are coming on stream in the next few years, examination of the accounts of those new windfarms shows that no major reductions in capital expenditure are likely to be forthcoming. For example, the foundations for the Moray East windfarm were completed in February 2020. By that point, the developers had spent over £1.2 billion, thus suggesting that the final bill will run to nearly £4 billion once the turbines and ancillary works have been installed.(5)

But the capital spend needs to be kept to well below £2 billion if the windfarm is to be profitable at £57.50/MWh. The costs look as though they will be in line with previous windfarms, and thus, unequivocally, electricity from offshore windfarms will remain very expensive for the foreseeable future. These high costs will have to be passed on to consumers.

It is important that members of the committee understand that the cost of electricity coming from the wind turbines is only part of the equation. To decarbonise at modest cost, it is also necessary to have a very cheap way to deal with the intermittency caused by fluctuations in the wind.

At present there is no technology that can be applied to do this at the scales required in the UK at anything other than astronomical cost. This is true of batteries, pumped hydro and hydrogen. Members should understand that the cost of dealing with intermittency may well come to exceed the cost of the electricity from the windfarms, if there are a lot of them on the grid.

There is currently a push to promote hydrogen as form of energy storage to deal with intermittency. However, using electricity to electrolyse water into hydrogen and oxygen is a very inefficient process. Thus further cost is added, while much of the energy is wasted. Once the hydrogen has been converted back into usable energy it will be extraordinarily expensive. The only other way to generate hydrogen involves use of carbon capture, and it will therefore also be very expensive.(6)

With the CCC having failed to calculate the costs of net zero between now and 2050, and no other estimates having been published, we believe that it is incumbent upon the Treasury to prepare and publish a detailed and publicly accessible costing of the project. In the meantime, GWPF has instituted a project to do so on their behalf. This work is ongoing, but the running total is approaching £4 trillion;(7,8) or around £150,000 per household.

In addition, once the ambitions of actually meeting the target are translated into discrete projects that together will deliver the target, the financing of such projects is not the only problem, the availability of enough skilled workers, the access to sufficient scarce raw materials, and the major disruption to everyone’s lives over the next three decades compound the challenge.

The scale of the task, in terms of money and of other resources, made it clear that the Net Zero project was unachievable even before Covid. Now, with the economy severely weakened, it would be foolish to even set out on such a course. To do so would risk setting the country on course to decades of economic stagnation.

The GWPF team and its authors would be happy to give evidence should the committee want to learn more.

New Study Discredits Human Attribution In Global Warming

The forcing uncertainties and lack of observational measurements in the top-to-bottom global ocean preclude an assessment that modern warmth is due to anthropogenic activities.

Key points from a new paper (Gebbie, 2021):

* 93% of the changes to the Earth’s energy budget, manifested as warming of the Earth system, are expressed in the global ocean. Just 1% of global warming is atmospheric.

* Even with the advent of “quasi-global” temperature sampling of the ocean since 2005 (ARGO), these floats (pictured) “do not measure below 2,000-m depth.” This means that temperature changes in “approximately half the ocean’s volume” are still not being measured today.

* To detect the effects of anthropogenic forcing, it would require energy budget imbalance measurement precision of 0.1 W/m² at the top of the atmosphere (TOA). Uncertainty in the forcing changes affecting climate is ±4 W/m², meaning that uncertainty is about 80 times greater than an anthropogenic signal detection.

* Past changes in global ocean heat content, such as the last deglaciation, have been 20 times larger than modern changes.

* Ocean heat storage during the Medieval Warm Period (Medieval Climate Anomaly, or MCA) was much greater than modern. Modern global ocean heat uptake is “just one-third” of what is required to reach the levels attained during Medieval times.

One final point. Dr. Gebbie asserts that approximately 15% of modern global warming (ocean) can be attributed to geothermal heat fluxes through the seafloor that “persistently heat the ocean.”

Interestingly, he also assesses that the value attained for geothermal heating of the ocean, 87 mW/m², is similar to that which is required to end a glacial period (melt ice sheets) and transition into an interglacial.

Considering the ocean bottom waters warmed up 2°C from 19,000 to 17,000 years ago about 1,000 years before the surface warmed (and CO2 began rising) (Stott et al., 2007), and that Arctic bottom waters were 6-10°C warmer than today at the beginning of the Holocene about 10,000 years ago (Beierlein et al., 2015), geothermal heat fluxes could potentially explain a large portion of glacial-interglacial transitions – as well as millennial-scale global ocean temperature changes.

Australia's Deputy PM Michael McCormack slams Adam Bandt’s comments to South Korea as ‘treacherous’

Bandt is an old Trot (Trotsky-ite) so he hates the whole of Western society. Trotsky thought even the Soviet Union was too conservative. His followers normally see themselves as "revolutionary"
They are too extreme for mainstrean politics but a few of them have infiltrated the Greens, where they are very disruptive -- pushing the Greens even furtherto the Left than even the Greens want to go. Some of them have by now been eased out but Bandt has so far survived

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has slammed Greens Leader Adam Bandt for ‘treacherous’ comments he says are against Australia’s national interest.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has slammed Greens Leader Adam Bandt for ‘treacherous’ comments he says are against Australia’s national interest.

The Nationals have called on Greens Leader Adam Bandt to retract his comments urging South Korea to stop buying Australian coal, or resign.

During an address to South Korean MPs on Tuesday, Mr Bandt encouraged them to stop buying Australian coal and renegotiate trade agreements to include carbon tariffs.

Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said reports that Mr Bandt was urging a foreign government to act to the detriment of Australia’s national interest were “deeply concerning”.

“By urging a foreign government to agitate for a change to Australia’s domestic policies through a free-trade agreement, the Greens have attempted to undermine our democracy,” Mr McCormack said on Wednesday.

“In telling a foreign government to stop buying Australian coal, Adam Bandt is telling tens of thousands of workers in our resources industry that their jobs don’t matter.

“He is telling tens of thousands of families that they shouldn’t be able to put food on the table. He is telling small and medium-sized businesses that they should just shut up shop.”

Mr McCormack said the comments were an attack on Australian jobs and the national interest.

“Adam Bandt is Australia’s modern-day Benedict Arnold. This is treacherous behaviour,” he said.

“The Nationals urge Mr Bandt to immediately withdraw his comments and apologise to the thousands of workers who rely on Australia’s resource industry for their livelihood. If Mr Bandt does not withdraw these comments, he should resign from parliament today.”




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