Op-Ed: The class war on fat
Despite what the media says, you can’t tax obesity away
BY TREVOR BUTTERWORTH MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2011
The past few weeks have seen a couple of spectacular foot-shooting episodes in the “war” on obesity from those who claim to have magic bullets. First, there was the apparent proposal to allow the government to remove obese kids from their families, which turned its co-authors, David Ludwig, director of the Obesity Prevention Center at Children’s Hospital in Boston, and Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer at Harvard’s School of Public Health, into stand-ins for the child catcher in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
Anyone who is on the medical frontlines of childhood obesity deserves a break, given the horror stories they’ve seen, but Ludwig and Murtagh’s failure to anticipate how their message would come across is baffling. Ludwig has subsequently deplored the way the media “wildly” exaggerated their paper, but their conclusions were hardly ambiguous: “State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, comprising the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors.” The rhetorical fact is that they did not write their piece to make the caveats sound more persuasive than the proposal.
Perhaps the academic medical establishment needs to employ the modern equivalent of court jesters, to point out when academics sound like cranks or cuckoos — before the media performs the same function.
The second incident involves the idea that we can tax away the sin of obesity. As I’ve noted in this column before, the U.S. media loves soda taxes. Overwhelmingly, news reporting and editorializing between 2008 and 2010 described them as a brilliant prescription for reducing obesity, in effect quoting only those academics who advocate for them.
The latest outing of these ideas comes from the New York Times’ Mark Bittman, who has supersized the core idea of soda taxation to include taxing everything that’s not good for us. And once again, the public is treated to a masterpiece of selective reporting. (The Daily)
“Majestically Scientific” Federal Study On BPA Has Stunning Findings: So Why Is The Media Ignoring It?
(Please note that this piece was updated on July 26 to incorporate important comments from Prof. Jan Hengstler)
A study described by one of the world’s leading endocrinologists as “beautifully designed and executed” with “fundamentally important implications” for public health is getting no love from the media, despite answering the key question in one of the biggest scientific controversies of the past decade. (Forbes)
Toxic Alert: There’s a Killer, C8, Lurking in Your Kitchen, Says the Associated Press—Oops, Maybe Not!
Does the chemical used to make non-stick frying pans endanger the lives of the workers who make it? Facing a daily assault of über-opinionated stories on the web, the public has developed low expectations of journalists. But we continue to have high standards for science reporters wrestling with information that can impact our health and safety. Unfortunately, such lofty expectations aren’t always met. (STATS)
No junk left behind
Canada’s Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, is a green advocate, activist and bi-coastal self-promoter.
But she’s no scientist.
As Green Party leader and the Green’s first (and only) MP, her adherence to the cult of global warming is no surprise, but her opposition to Wi-Fi is:
…the first Green party MP threw her support behind her provincial counterparts’ efforts to stop the smart meter program and allow for more consultation on the kinds of meters that should be used. On Twitter, she voiced opposition to the unnecessary use of Wi-Fi, saying she was “so glad I don’t have Wi-Fi at home.” A subsequent tweet revealed a much stronger opinion about Wi-Fi as it pertains to the health of students: “It is very disturbing how quickly Wi-Fi has moved into schools as it is children who are the most vulnerable,”…
Wi-Fi as a health hazard is some of the junkiest of junk science, yet May has no problem jumping on the bandwagon and using ‘vulnerable ‘children as human shields to cover her knee-jerk activism. (Daily Bayonet)
The Ethics of Biofuels: Where should the discussion start?
Storms of Southeast Australia: How have they changed since the late 19th century?
Floods of the Upper Midwest United States: A 75-Year History: Have they been increasing in magnitude and frequency, as all good climate alarmists claim they should be doing?
The Real Recipe for Coral Bleaching: Bring seawater to higher-than-normal temperature and add a pinch of pollution.
Global Warming and Malaria Transmission in Burundi: Does the former increase or reduce the latter?
Pre-Industrial Climate Change and Human Population: How has the former typically impacted the latter?
Ocean Acidification Database
The latest addition of peer-reviewed data archived to our database of marine organism responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment is Carp. To access the entire database, click here.
Plant Growth Database
Our latest results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature are: Dark Leaved Willow (Paajanen et al., 2011) andRadish (Schubert and Jahren, 2011).
Medieval Warm Period Project
Was there a Medieval Warm Period? YES, according to data published by 998 individual scientists from 573 research institutions in 43 different countries … and counting! This issue’s Medieval Warm Period Record comes from Castilla-León, Northern Spain. To access the entire Medieval Warm Period Project’s database, click here.
World Temperatures Database
Back by popular demand and upgraded to allow patrons more choices to plot and view the data, we reintroduce the World Temperatures section of our website. Here, users may plot temperatures for the entire globe or regions of the globe. A newly added feature allows patrons the ability to plot up to six independent datasets on the same graph. Try it today. World Temperatures Database.
Estimates of Global Food Production in the Year 2050 — Will We Produce Enough to Adequately Feed the World?: Government leaders and policy makers should take notice of the findings of this important new analysis of the world food situation; for doing what climate alarmists claim is needed to fight global warming will surely consign earth’s human population to a world of woe, while doing next to nothing in terms of altering the current warm phase of the planet’s surface temperature. (co2science.org)
NOAA’s Climate Office: Precursor to Cap and Trade?
By Mike Johnson
Cap and trade remains a key element in President Obama’s vow of a “fundamental transformation of America,” despite legislative branch setbacks. Now he may have found a way around the Constitution’s checks and balances.
Obama knows the consequences of cap and trade; he promised skyrocketing electricity costs when he was elected in 2008. To date, however, we have lucked out: Obama tried and tried and tried again to get his cap-and-trade bill through Congress, but so far, he has failed.
Obama has failed in large measure because the credibility and thus the hysteria of his science have eroded. Obama has been stymied by a public made skeptical because of the shenanigans of the U.N.’s IPCC and the self-promoting climate experts in East Anglia and the United States. Can Obama recover? Not before the next election, but if he is reelected (bite your tongue), and if he can resuscitate the hysteria by co-opting NOAA, the cream of American governmental science, he has a good shot at it. Bear in mind that Obama has a predilection for using regulatory agencies (e.g., the EPA) as weapons. (American Thinker)
Doug L. Hoffman
Climate alarmists have been pointing to the output of computer models for decades, insisting that the models could predict the future. The Earth is warming uncontrollably, they claim, and human CO2 emissions are the proximate cause. Others have argued that CO2 is not a powerful enough forcing factor to cause such a calamity. Still, the climate change catastrophists point to their models, claiming that the models do not lie. Now, according to data released by NASA, it seems that climate models not only can not predict the future, they do not even echo current conditions correctly. A new paper says climate scientists have misdiagnosed the surface temperature feedbacks and more heat is being radiated back into space than the models allow for. We have all been subjected to three decades of climate change malpractice. (The Resilient Earth)
Indian study shows climate change is probably caused by natural factors
By: Kelvin Kemm
In January, India’s Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, said: “There is a groupthink in climate science today. Anyone who raises alternative climate theories is immediately branded a climate atheist in an atmosphere of climate evangelists.
“Climate science is incredibly more complex than negotiators make it out to be . . . Climate science should not be driven by the West. We should not always be dependent on outside reports.”
Indian newspaper The Hindu commented: “A key belief of climate science theology – that a reduction in carbon emissions will take care of the bulk of global warming – has been questioned in a scientific paper released by the Environment Ministry.”
Ramesh made his comments in response to a scientific study released by respected Indian physicist Dr UR Rao, a former chairperson of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
I was most pleased to see this Indian response, particularly from a Cabinet Minister. Ramesh is exhibiting the courage to listen to his scientists and then take a stand on a most important issue. The issue is also thorny, and many politicians avoid it like the plague.
The fundamental issue is: Is climate change occurring as a result of man-made factors, or is any potential or observable change due to natural factors? (Creamer Media)
… or it might have – if atmospheric CO2 and/or CH4 were of particular significance.
Greenhouse gas impact of hydroelectric reservoirs downgraded
Site design and location can minimize carbon dioxide, methane emissions
An international team of scientists has amassed the largest data set to date on greenhouse gas emissions from hydroelectric reservoirs. Their analysis, published today in the online version of Nature Geoscience, posits that these human-made systems emit about 1/6 of the carbon dioxide and methane previously attributed to them.
Prior studies based on more limited data cautioned that hydroelectric reservoirs could be a significant and large source of both carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere. (EurekAlert)
Review Of “Measuring Global Temperatures: Their Analysis And Interpretation” by Ian Strangeways
EOS has published a book review I wrote
Pielke Sr., R.A. 2011: Book Review of: Measuring Global Temperatures: Their Analysis and Interpretation by Ian Strangeways. Cambridge University Press; 2010; xviii + 233 pp.; ISBN 978-0-52-189848-5.
Ian’s book is available from here. (Roger Pielke Sr.)
Aerosols affect climate more than satellite estimates predict
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Aerosol particles, including soot and sulfur dioxide from burning fossil fuels, essentially mask the effects of greenhouse gases and are at the heart of the biggest uncertainty in climate change prediction. New research from the University of Michigan shows that satellite-based projections of aerosols’ effect on Earth’s climate significantly underestimate their impacts.
The findings will be published online the week of Aug. 1 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Aerosols are at the core of “cloud drops”—water particles suspended in air that coalesce to form precipitation. Increasing the number of aerosol particles causes an increase in the number of cloud drops, which results in brighter clouds that reflect more light and have a greater cooling effect on the planet.
As to the extent of their cooling effect, scientists offer different scenarios that would raise the global average surface temperature during the next century between under 2 to over 3 degrees Celsius. That may not sound like a broad range, but it straddles the 2-degree tipping point beyond which scientists say the planet can expect more catastrophic climate change effects. (EurekAlert)
Himalaya glaciers shrinking on global warming, some may disappear
Three Himalaya glaciers have been shrinking over the last 40 years due to global warming and two of them, located in humid regions and on lower altitudes in central and east Nepal, may disappear in time to come, researchers in Japan said on Tuesday.
Using global positioning system and simulation models, they found that the shrinkage of two of the glaciers — Yala in central and AX010 in eastern Nepal — had accelerated in the past 10 years compared with the 1970s and 1980s. (Reuters)
Think we should tell them there is no Laurentide Ice Sheet any more? And maybe that the Antarctic and Greenland ice shields have already experienced surrounding water warming not of a mere 3-4 °C, which may have been critical for the Laurentide but 2-3 times that and sustained for about 10,000 years – and they’re still there.
Ancient glacial melting process similar to existing concerns about Antarctica, Greenland
CORVALLIS, Ore. – An analysis of prehistoric “Heinrich events” that happened many thousands of years ago, creating mass discharges of icebergs into the North Atlantic Ocean, make it clear that very small amounts of subsurface warming of water can trigger a rapid collapse of ice shelves.
The findings, to be published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provide historical evidence that warming of water by 3-4 degrees was enough to trigger these huge, episodic discharges of ice from the Laurentide Ice Sheet in what is now Canada.
The results are important, researchers say, due to concerns that warmer water could cause a comparatively fast collapse of ice shelves in Antarctica or Greenland, increasing the flow of ice into the ocean and raising sea levels. One of the most vulnerable areas, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, would raise global sea level by about 11 feet if it were all to melt. (EurekAlert)
IPCC and Supporters on Treadmill of False Explanations
by DR. TIM BALL
A whimsical T-shirt logo says, “Just making it up as I go along.” It’s appropriate for those defending the indefensible hypothesis that human CO2 is causing warming or climate change. It’s the treadmill they ride by proving a theory rather than disproving it, as standard scientific method requires. You have to ‘explain’ facts that don’t fit the hypothesis. (Tim Ball)
The Climate Time Bomb Dud
By Art Horn
In the 1994 Greenpeace released a publication called “The Climate Time Bomb Catalogue”. In it they state categorically that the burning of fossil fuels will cause all kinds of disasters. As you will see, all of these “disasters” and “unprecedented” weather events are not new and have occurred many times in the near and distant past. The Climate Time Bomb predictions of the awful consequences of global warming have failed. Even in light of these failures organizations like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council and many others continue to pump out scary storm stories, animal extinction dramas and dangerous sea level rise predictions. They rely on people’s ignorance of historical weather events to sell their predictions of doom. What you will find as you read on is that nearly 20 years ago, environmentalists were using exactly the same propaganda scare stories we hear today. As Joseph Goebbels said “It (in this case the environmental movement) must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”. Here is a list of some of the “Climate Time Bombs” listed in 1994 by Greenpeace. They will all sound very familiar. (Energy Tribune)