Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Climate change could spark a rise in KIDNEY STONES: Higher temperatures caused by greenhouse gases will lead to an increase

This is just modelling, which proves nothing. A hot climate actually is associated with more kidney stones but the tiny rise in average temperature of recent times is unlikely to be the cause behind the recent increased incidence. Many other factors can affect the incidence of the stones

More hot days in the future will likely due to greater water losses through sweat, resulting in more concentrated urine and increased formation of kidney stones, researchers in Pennsylvania claim.

Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys.

They form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances – such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid – than the fluid in your urine can dilute.

Previous research has already shown that high ambient temperatures increase the risk of developing these kidney stones.

Not drinking enough water contributes to their formation because more water in the kidneys helps prevent stone-forming crystals from sticking together.

Higher temperatures are therefore more likely to cause dehydration, which in turn leads to the painful condition, which can often require surgery.

The new study was conducted by researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in Pennsylvania, led by urologist Dr Gregory E. Tasian.

'It is impossible to predict with certainty how future policies will slow or hasten greenhouse gas emission and anthropogenic climate change, and to know exactly what future daily temperatures will be,' Dr Tasian said.

'[But] our analysis suggests that a warming planet will likely cause an increased burden of kidney stone disease on healthcare systems.'

In the US, there is an increase in the incidence of kidney stones from North to South, and there is a rapid increase in risk of kidney stone presentations following hot days.

However, previous studies have not precisely projected how climate change will impact the burden of kidney stone disease in the future.

A study by the Mayo Clinic found an overall increase in the prevalence of kidney stones across three decades.

The rate of confirmed symptomatic stones increased more than 300 per cent in women and 100 percent in men from 1984 to 2012.

While the increase can in part be explained by improvements in medical imaging technology, experts said it could also be linked to the dietary factors driving increases in cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.


Carbon taxes face growing state battle

While President Joe Biden continues to pursue anti-energy initiatives at the national level, those same policies appear to be unraveling at the state level.

The proposed restrictions on oil and gas use that sit at the heart of Biden’s "Build Back Better" agenda would only further accelerate rising consumer costs. The House version of the bill, for instance, is overloaded with new fees and taxes that would greatly increase the cost of domestic energy production. What will this mean for people who need to heat their homes, buy groceries, fill their tanks, and pay utility bills?

The answer comes in the form of a multistate climate change agreement that reflects in microcosm what Team Biden is attempting to do nationally. Recent developments in key states suggest the agreement may be in the early stages of collapse for the same reasons Build Back Better has stalled federally.

In Virginia, Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin has made it clear that he intends to pull his state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative , a " cap and trade " regulatory scheme widely known as RGGI. Youngkin aptly described the initiative as a "carbon tax" that will raise energy costs during his remarks before the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce in December. Dominion Energy, the state’s largest electric utility, is poised to nearly double the carbon surcharge it passes along to consumers for participating in RGGI. Government figures show this charge will boost the average residential customer’s monthly bill by $4.37 beginning in September. The surcharge is estimated to be $2.39 a month.

There are 11 RGGI states in the New England and mid-Atlantic regions that require power plants to purchase carbon allowances at quarterly auctions whenever those plants exceed the cap on emissions established under the climate change compact. Emissions prices for credits hit a record high of $13 per ton in the most recent auction, which will translate into more carbon taxes for consumers. This would help to explain why new member states have been holding out.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, had planned on having his state join RGGI this week. But he is running into opposition from lawmakers in both parties. Wolf had issued an executive order in 2019 directing his Department of Environmental Protection to develop regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions in anticipation of joining the initiative. But in December, the Pennsylvania House passed a concurrent resolution disapproving of Wolf’s carbon dioxide budget trading program, which means the regulations cannot be published in the state registry. The state Senate passed the resolution in October.

Assuming Wolf exercises his veto, the resolution will return to the Pennsylvania Senate, which will then have 10 legislative days or 30 calendar days to override the veto. If that effort is successful, the resolution will then go back to the House, which also needs to muster a two-thirds vote. That seems a tall order, but Wolf is drawing opposition from some of his own Democrats, putting a veto override within reach. Rep. Pam Snyder, who represents Greene, Fayette, and Washington counties, is among the Democrats who voted in favor of the resolution.

"RGGI is nothing but an unfair tax on the fossil fuel industry that will devastate the communities I represent," she said in a statement. "RGGI will artificially and prematurely shut down coal-fired power plants across Pennsylvania, the same ones that light our lamps and heat our homes."

There is some debate about how much executive authority Youngkin has in Virginia to end his state’s participation in RGGI. But since state law authorized RGGI participation without mandating it, Youngkin has good cause to believe he has the upper hand.

In Pennsylvania, the proponents of affordable energy have a heavier lift since the governor is not in their corner. RGGI participation hinges in part on how many members of Wolf’s party want to run for office while advocating carbon taxes. Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate for governor, clearly does not. He’s publicly expressed misgivings about RGGI despite the fact that his office has approved the rule enabling Pennsylvania to join. That’s a politician trying to have it both ways. But that’s not so easy to do with Biden pursuing energy taxes at the federal level while Wolf makes a final push to join RGGI in the run-up to the midterm elections.

Interesting times await.


British MP Scott Benton: As energy costs soar, we cannot balance environmentalism on the backs of the poor

It is imperative that the government doesn’t become blinded by green ideology in retaining these levies in the midst of millions of working people being plunged into fuel poverty.

The 2019 General Election realigned politics as working class voters in places like my constituency, Blackpool South, backed Boris and the Tories in record numbers.

Whilst this was mainly attributed to Brexit and a dislike of the woke and metropolitan values which the Labour Party had come to symbolize, lifelong Labour voters who switched to the Conservatives were undoubtedly put at ease by a party who was promising to ‘level-up’ and spend record sums on the public services upon which they depended. There was a distinct feeling that the Tory Party of Boris was different and was genuinely on the side of working people in places such as Blackpool, Bolsover and Burney.

Two years since the election, and the view of those former Labour voters towards their old party hasn’t changed. This explains why despite the pandemic and a number of government mishaps, Labour aren’t 25 points ahead in the polls as one might expect. My constituents generally think that the government has done a pretty good job in handling the pandemic, and the vast sums of money which were spent on supporting people’s jobs and businesses, and keeping the NHS afloat, has bought the government some time.

However, there are monumental challenges ahead. Not just managing the pandemic or the NHS, keeping the economy on track or finally rebooting ‘levelling up’, but more imminently, the impending cost of living crisis.

By many standards, my constituency is the poorest in England. Unemployment is double the national average and the majority of those in work are in receipt of benefits. People in Blackpool are already struggling to manage the household budget but with nearly all consumer goods and foods rising in price, and the expected increases in National Insurance and Council Tax also set to kick in, working people are facing a tsunami of rising prices. Factor in the expected £600 rise in fuel costs for the average family and people’s budgets will be stretched beyond breaking point in many circumstances.

If the government is going to maintain the trust and support of those new converts from Labour, and truly demonstrate that it is ‘on their side’, it must act quickly. Although we are already doing a great deal to help working families (raising the income tax threshold for low earners; the Universal Credit taper rate changes; increases in the National Living Wage; and freezing fuel duty, for example) people are facing unprecedented pressure on their household budgets and we must go further, and fast.

One blindly obvious solution to help people with the expected rise in fuel costs from April would be to scrap VAT and the so-called ‘green levies’ on bills. Collectively these make up around 25% of the average fuel bill and scrapping them would save the average household somewhere in the region of £250 pounds per year. Whilst this wouldn’t fully protect consumers against the expected £600 rise, it would go an awful long way towards helping families in the short-term.

It is imperative that the government doesn’t become blinded by green ideology in retaining these levies in the midst of millions of working people being plunged into fuel poverty. If there is one single thing which would demonstrate my Party being out of touch with working people it would be this.

In short, you can’t balance environmentalism on the backs of the poor who are struggling to keep the heating on. In any case, the green levy is spend on some very dubious projects: not least, a £1 billion subsidy to a power station burning wood chip pellets. Doesn’t sound very green does it?

Whilst cutting VAT and green levies would be a helpful short term measure it does not of course solve our energy crisis. Governments of both colours have hopelessly mismanaged our energy policy for decades. A reluctance to properly pursue nuclear energy and a reliance on fair weather green power has brought us to the point where we are dangerously reliant on the whims of a geo-political foe in Russia.

Our long term energy security surely necessitates expanding North Sea exploration and looking again at shale gas where appropriate. Whilst this may be unpalatable to some, the alternative of huge price volatility, the enormous costs to our economy, and working people suffering in cold homes is simply not an option.

Working class voters in red wall seats, like Blackpool South, will decide the outcome of the next election. The test will be whether people feel that the government is truly on the side of people such as them. That’s why the government can’t afford to get decisions such as this wrong.


Biden’s fuel afflictions

The new year forecasts relentless gasoline pains

That government existing to better the lives of its citizens is self-evident. Happiness can be an elusive pursuit, of course, and leaders are no less likely to zig when they should have zagged than the imperfect folks who choose them. Americans give their chief executive four years to discover the path to betterment, but their patience quickly wears thin when the trouble is intentional. President Biden has launched a flotilla of hardships during his first year in office, but few as harmful as the breakneck surge in fuel prices.

The 230 million Americans who drive spent the past year cringing at the sight of gas station signs flashing an average price of $3.02 per gallon. Fuel price analysts at Gas Buddy warn the worst is yet to come. In 2022, the average is forecast to bolt higher to $3.41 and could reach $4 a gallon by spring. With prices currently hovering around $3.29 nationwide and with trend-setting California already cracking through the stratospheric level of $4.66, the possibility is looking extremely likely.

The extra dollar a gallon hike over a year ago is on course to pilfer consumers’ pockets for an extra $80 billion, raising the nation’s gas bill to nearly $485 billion during 2022. Some happy new year.

In December, when prices were slightly less jaw-dropping, the Pew Research Center pointed out that the nation has endured a long history of gas price spikes. For example, the $4.11 Americans paid for gas in 2008 would have cost $5.20 in today’s dollars.

It is a painful reminder rendered all the more maddening by the realization that by electing Mr. Biden, voters made the fateful decision to rehire the Obama cadre who made those gas prices good and high, including then-Vice President Biden himself.

Viewing the turn of events as simply misfortune is to ignore the deliberate steps Mr. Biden has taken to instigate the price surge: The president canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, which, incidentally, triggered a lawsuit from the project builder seeking $15 billion in damages. Promising as a candidate “no more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period,” he ordered a temporary halt of oil and gas drilling permits on government property.

Thankfully, a federal court blocked the executive order, but the energy industry heard the message: Fossil fuels are to be phased out. Choosing not to throw good money after bad, companies have responded to the 2020 pandemic energy-use slowdown by opting out of renewed drilling operations. Consequently, active wells across the nation totaled 991 in September — down from the pre-pandemic 2019 average of 1,253, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Willfully squeezing-off fossil fuels threatens the well-being of the nation. The president’s 43% approval rating quantifies his abysmal leadership. A year on, Americans are starting to roll up their sleeves — not for vaccinations — but to throw Team Biden out of office.




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