Saturday, January 28, 2023

What? Giant iceberg breaks off from Antarctica, but not due to climate change

A rare event! An admission that most icebergs "have nothing to do with climate change"

There’s a new iceberg off the coast of Antarctica. The yet-to-be-named, 600-square-mile (1550-square-kilometre) iceberg broke away from the nearly 150-metre-thick Brunt Ice Shelf on Sunday during a particularly high tide known as a spring tide, according to a news release issued by the British Antarctic Survey.

The calving event is “part of the natural behaviour of the Brunt Ice Shelf” and “not linked to climate change,” BAS glaciologist Dominic Hodgson said in the news release.

Satellite imagery captured the break, which occurred about 10 years after satellite monitoring detected growth in a previously dormant crack in the ice known as Chasm-1, and almost two years after a slightly smaller iceberg named A74 separated from the same ice shelf. A chasm is a crack in the ice shelf that extends all the way from the surface to the ocean underneath, while an ice shelf is a floating piece of ice that extends from glaciers formed on land.

Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote in an email that while the iceberg “is a huge mass of ice, about 500 billion tons ... it is far from being the largest iceberg ever seen, which rivalled Long Island.”

The calving event is not expected to affect the BAS’s Halley Research Station, which was relocated further inland in 2016 as a precaution after Chasm-1 began to grow.

However, “the new fracture puts the base within about 10 miles of the ocean, and new cracking could occur over the next few years, forcing another expensive move of the station,” Scambos wrote. The new iceberg is expected to follow a similar path to that of A74 into the Weddell Sea and will be named by the US National Ice Centre.

Unlike some previous icebergs and collapsed ice shelves that have been linked to climate change, the BAS press release said the break is a “natural process” and there is “no evidence that climate change has played a significant role.”

Rather, the chasm started to grow due to “stresses building up . . . because of the natural growth of the ice shelf,” said Hilmar Gudmundsson, a glaciology researcher at Northumbria University, in a 2019 BBC story.

Scambos compares the calving of the iceberg to a chisel on a board of wood. “In this case the chisel was a small island called ‘MacDonald Ice Rise,’” Scambos wrote. “The ice was driven against this rocky seamount by ice flow, forcing it to split and eventually break off the floating ice shelf.”

“These large iceberg calvings, sometimes as large as a small state, are spectacular. But they’re just part of how Antarctica’s ice sheet works,” Scambos said. “Most of the time they have nothing to do with climate change.”


The PFAS scare rumbles on

Remember the H1N1 pandemic where everyone overreacted, including the wasteful slaughter of 300,000 Egyptian pigs because the clickbait term “swine flu” was used instead of just H1N1? Even CBS struggled to defend media sensationalism at the time.

It’s happening again, but with something a bit more important to daily life.

So-called progressive environmentalists and their lawyers have taken aim at perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (or PFAS for short), chemicals which they insist will end life on our planet as we know it – and time is running out. (Isn’t it always though?)

The offending legislation right now is the PFAS Action Act, which would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to designate the substances as hazardous.

As stated, the problem is that PFAS are supposedly “forever chemicals,” that accumulate over time in soil, water, and eventually human bodies. Any potential damage must be “remediated” with government control of 5,000 types of chemicals. Sounds like a good goal, but broad bans like this inevitably cause more problems than they fix.

It’s important to keep our environment as clean as possible – and, spoiler, it’s gotten cleaner and cleaner as time has gone on. But the outcome of the PFAS Act would be overregulation, litigation, discontinuation, and finally appreciation for the product that had previously been such an integral part of daily life.

PFAS are used in a variety of industries – according to the EPA, which does not include them among common sources of drinking water contaminants – including food packaging, commercial household products, raincoats, paints, and so on.

In fact, Minnesota-based manufacturer, 3M, recently published a full list of nearly 15,000 different products containing PFAS.

The substances are critical components in commercial electronics, notably cell phones. PFAS are involved in the production of semiconductors, help cool data centers for cloud computing, and stabilize cell phones. Given that we are already in the midst of a global shortage of semiconductors, banning PFAS will only make matters worse – especially if China exploits the lacuna of strength in the White House right now to invade Taiwan.

PFAS are also crucial components in medical equipment. The same thing that supposedly makes PFAS an environmental bane – a “forever chemical” – is that they are chemically inert and durable. That means they’re useful for creating contamination-resistant products like gowns, drapes, and face masks.

They are also used in implantable, life-saving medical devices like vascular grafts, surgical meshes, and catheter tubes. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) wanted the PFAS Action Act to include an exemption for medical devices, but the Democrats shot him down.

What would he know – he’s just a heart surgeon. Trust The Science™, not science.

PFAS can also help people from needing to see the doctor, as they’re useful in fire retardants. Call me selfish, but if there are alternative chemicals that are dramatically worse at extinguishing flames, sign me up for the good stuff.

Due to the threat of bad faith “science” discussions and regulatory action, 3M took the proactive step of announcing it would be discontinuing its use of PFAS by 2025.

Now is where the rubber meets the road (and yes, PFAS is in rubber). An important ingredient that is used in countless products is now going to be phased out by a large supplier at a time when the supply chain needs to be shored up. Will we see an orderly transition or more cherry-picked data in the hands of greedy lawyers and overzealous lawmakers?

Only time will tell, but if the progressives and environmentalists continue to push ridiculous unfounded regulations upon us, I hope everyone got everything they wanted for the holidays this year because we might not be able to get them come December 2023.


Are gas stoves dangerous to your health? Here’s what science says

People either swear by gas stoves or say they’re harming our health. But what is the science behind the debate?

The fury was reignited earlier this month after reports that a commissioner of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission was considering a ban on natural gas stoves. The chairman of the commission has since clarified that there’s no move to ban gas stoves, but they are seeking ways to make them safer.

The main health concern with gas stoves is that they emit nitrogen dioxide. This gas can trigger inflammation in the airway and irritate the lungs, potentially exacerbating respiratory illnesses such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults and children, according to environmental-health scientists and doctors.

For the approximately 38 per cent of US households that cook with gas, there are ways to reduce exposure. You can use a range hood when you cook with gas, provided you have one that vents air outside rather than recirculates it. And open your windows when possible.

Assessing the Risks

The debate stemmed in part from a December study in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, which is a peer-reviewed journal. It analysed previous studies on gas stoves as well as US census data and concluded that nearly 13 per cent of US childhood asthma cases can be attributed to gas stove use.

That study used data from a 2013 meta-analysis – or review of the existing research – which found that children who live in a home with a gas stove have a 42 per cent increased risk of having asthma symptoms and a 24 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed with asthma. The December study also used data from a 2018 Australian study, which found that 12 per cent of childhood asthma cases there can be attributed to gas stoves.

The Rubin Report host Dave Rubin says World Economic Forum attendees have an “obsession” with how other people live their lives while they… “certainly will not partake in that”. “These people I assure you will not be giving up their gas stoves that their very expensive Michelin Star More
A meta-analysis is statistical analysis that looks at multiple studies on the same topic. Researchers often conduct them to evaluate the body of evidence on a particular topic.

“This was sort of a first step in trying to quantify this burden,” says Brady Seals, a co-author on the study and manager of the carbon-free buildings program at RMI, a Colorado-based clean-energy research organisation.

Public and environmental-health scientists say the recent study merely confirmed what they’ve known for more than a decade.

“There’s no uncertainty about the basic premise that burning natural gas is bad for you,” says Darby Jack, an associate professor of environmental health at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. “The emissions are bad for you.”

Gas-stove emissions

Nitrogen dioxide can trigger asthma symptoms in people who already have the condition and is associated with the development of new cases, says Curtis Nordgaard, a paediatrician at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis and an environmental-health consultant.

Exposure to nitrogen dioxide won’t cause asthma in everyone, but in certain people who are more vulnerable to developing it, chronic inflammation and stress in the airway might be one trigger, says Dr Nordgaard.

The level of risk in a home depends on a number of factors, says Dr Jack, including the ventilation in the kitchen, how old and well-maintained the stove is and how you’re using it.

“For somebody cooking on a late model, well-maintained stove with a good hood and good ventilation, concentrations (of natural gas) are going to be pretty low and the risk is pretty low,” says Dr Jack.

Researchers say other appliances that use natural gas, such as furnaces and boilers, are less of a concern when it comes to nitrogen dioxide because they are required to vent directly outdoors.

What about when the stove is off?

Stoves can emit gas even when you’re not using them, but the gas emitted is largely methane, says Rob Jackson, an environmental scientist and professor at Stanford University. Methane is a greenhouse gas linked to global warming, but the levels emitted from a stove aren’t considered harmful to human health, he says.

“The methane emissions are not a health issue indoors at the concentrations we find,” says Dr Jackson. He was senior author on a 2022 study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, which found that three-quarters of the methane emitted from gas stoves takes place when they are turned off.

Reducing the risk

If you’re moving into a new home or renovating your kitchen, consider an electric or induction stove, health experts say.

If you are using a gas stove, the best thing to do, they say, is to get a good range hood and ensure it’s venting air outside rather than recirculating it back into your kitchen. Make sure you use your hood while cooking. Open your windows, too, to improve ventilation.

Fixing or running a kitchen exhaust fan, or replacing a gas stove with an electric one, led to a 7 per cent reduction in serious asthma events in the homes of children with asthma, found a 2014 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“You can get appreciable health benefits if you improve ventilation in the kitchen or remove the gas stove as a source,” says Jon Levy, professor and chair of environmental health at Boston University School of Public Health, who conducted the study along with co-researchers.

Being farther from the kitchen when using a gas stove also helps, says Dr Levy, as nitrogen-dioxide levels can remain elevated for an hour or more if the kitchen lacks good ventilation.

He recommends keeping young children and other people who might be vulnerable away from the kitchen while you’re cooking. Even cooking on the back burner results in less exposure, he says.

Some doctors suggest buying a countertop induction burner to use for some simpler tasks – such as boiling water for tea or pasta – rather than always using your stove.


Climate Activists Alarmed That Twitter Under Musk Allows More Dissenting Views on Global Warming

An organization that says it is a coalition of “climate and anti-disinformation organisations” says Twitter under CEO Elon Musk is allowing more dissenting views on climate change.

Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD), released a Jan. 19 study (pdf), accusing Musk of allowing misinformation about the climate crisis to spread on the social media platform.

The study accused Twitter of boosting the hashtag “#ClimateScam” to users when searching the word “climate,” as its top search result.

The hashtag has suddenly spiked on Twitter search results since July 2022, with its appearance increasing ever since, according to CAAD.

The report said that “in 2022, denialist content made a stark comeback on Twitter in particular.”

Twitter Search

CAAD alleged that at least 91,000 Twitter users reported the #ClimateScam hashtag more than 362,000 times by December.

“The source of its virality is entirely unclear, and re-emphasises the need for transparency on how and why platforms surface content to users,” said the study’s authors.

They said that term appeared to be trending despite “data that shows more activity and engagement on other hashtags such as #ClimateCrisis and #ClimateEmergency.”

The research team claimed that the rise of the term in search results could not be explained by user personalization, the volume of content, or popularity.

“A basic search for ‘climate’ on Facebook did not autofill with overtly sceptic or denialist terms; searching explicitly for #ClimateScam only showed 1.5k users mentioning the term, versus 72k for #ClimateEmergency and 160k for #ClimateCrisis.”

CAAD complained that the source of the #ClimateScam hashtag was unclear and that there was a need for transparency on how the search result came up.

“Equally, TikTok returned no search results for #ClimateScam, but instead suggested the phrase ‘may be associated with behaviour or content that violates our guidelines.’”




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