Health

Problems with wind and solar generation of electricity – a review

This post consolidates the main points of many of my articles on wind and solar generation of electricity. The [ir]rationale behind the renewable energy campaign is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions which are alleged to be the main cause of global warming despite the lack of any supporting physical evidence. We will see that replacing electricity generation from fossil fuels with wind or solar will have no significant effect on global warming; that it significantly raises the cost of electricity; that it destroys wildlife and wildlife habitat; that wind generation has deleterious effects on human health; and that because wind and solar generation is intermittent and unpredictable, fossil fuel generation or nuclear generation will still be necessary. At the end of this post are links to some of my articles on the subject.

1. Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by switching to wind and solar will have almost no effect on global warming.

Carbon dioxide (which makes up just 0.04% of the atmosphere) is continually being emitted into the atmosphere and absorbed by the oceans, plants, formation of limestone, etc. According to the U.S. Department of Energy annual emission reports, humans are responsible for about 3% of total CO2 emissions; the rest is from natural sources. Carbon dioxide constitutes about 3% to 4% of total greenhouse gases by volume (water vapor is the main greenhouse gas); therefore anthropogenic CO2 represents just over one-tenth of one percent (0.12%) of total greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere each year. The U.S. is responsible for about 18% of global emissions, so elimination of U.S. emissions will make a difference of about 0.02% of total emissions.

The American Enterprise Institute estimates that eliminating all carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel generation of electricity would cut the global increase in temperature by 0.083 to 0.173 degrees Celsius, by 2100.

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg (president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of the book: The Skeptical Environmentalist) estimates that U.S. climate policies, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout the century, will reduce global temperatures by 0.031°C (0.057°F) by 2100. (Source)

2. Cost of transition to 100% renewables

An analysis from Scottish consulting firm Wood Mackenzie estimates the cost of transitioning the United States to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, as recommended by the “Green New Deal” and other overzealous climate change plans, would cost at least $4.5 trillion over that time period. The American Action Forum estimates the costs of moving the entire country to 100 percent renewable sources would be $5.7 trillion, or $42,000 per household. The several states that have imposed Renewable Energy Mandates (requiring a certain percent of electricity be produced from wind and solar) have already raised electricity prices by 11percent, which has cost us $125.2 billion. (Source)

Experience from Europe shows that the more installed solar and wind capacity per capita a country has, the higher the price people pay for electricity. In the graph below the vertical scale is Euro cents per kilowatt-hour, the horizontal scale is the installed capacity of renewables (solar and wind) per capita. (For reference, the U.S. average residential cost is 12 cents/kwh which is about 9.6 euro cents/kwh, lower than all European countries on the graph.) (Source)

3. Enormous land footprint of wind and solar destroys wildlife habitat

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, for the contiguous U.S.:

If all electricity were to be supplied by solar generation it would require 11,674 solar farms with a total footprint of 525,312 square miles.

If all electricity were to be supplied by wind generation, it would require 6,954 wind farms with a total footprint of 1,808,166 square miles.

If all electricity was supplied by nuclear generation, it would require 3,553 nuclear stations with a total footprint of 4,619 square miles. (Source)

 

4. Destruction of wildlife:

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and American Bird Conservancy say wind turbines kill 440,000 bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, egrets, geese and other birds every year in the United States, along with countless insect-eating bats.

“New studies reveal that these appalling estimates are frightfully low and based on misleading or even fraudulent data. The horrific reality is that in the United States alone, ‘eco-friendly’ wind turbines kill an estimated 13 million to 39 million birds and bats every year.” (Source)

Many birds are also killed by concentrating solar installations: see Avian mortality from solar farms.

5. Human health problems from wind turbines:

Wind turbines produce low-frequency sound, called infra-sound, which may cause many health problems. Infra-sound affects the vestibular system, causing symptoms resembling seasickness, accompanied by headache, dizziness, and “deep nervous fatigue.” It can affect ocular reflexes, causing nystagmus; spinal reflexes, causing tremors; and autonomic reflexes, causing shortness of breath. Infra-sound can lead to well known consequences such as tumor development, cardiac infarcts and/or the need for cardiac bypass surgery.

6. Wind and solar generation makes the electric grid unstable.

Wind and solar generation are unpredictably intermittent. Adding an unpredictable supply to the mix makes grid management very complex and increases the danger that the grid will become unstable and fail. The problem is multiplied as wind and solar generation become a larger percentage of the total power sources.

7. Renewable energy is not as green as advertised

PV solar panels rely on polysilicon being manufactured in large quantities and at high quality. A byproduct of polysilicon production is silicon tetrachloride, a highly toxic substance that poses a major environmental hazard. Wherever silicon tetrachloride is dumped, the land becomes totally infertile. A major environmental cost of photovoltaic solar energy is toxic chemical pollution (arsenic, gallium, and cadmium) and energy consumption associated with the large-scale manufacture of photovoltaic panels. (Source)

8. Wind farms decrease weather radar ability to track storms – puts people in danger

A new report from the National Weather Service says that wind farms have some unfortunate negative impacts on the ability of Doppler radar to track storms.

“Wind farms affect … radars in several ways; first, the turbines can block a significant percentage of the radar beam and decrease the radar signal power down range of the wind farm, particularly if the wind farm is within a few miles of the radar. Second, the wind farm can reflect energy back to the radar system and this appears as clutter or false reflectivity data. This reflectivity can create false precipitation estimates and disrupt precipitation algorithms used by the radar and other software programs. Finally, wind farms can significantly influence velocity and spectrum width data, which can cause bad data sampling of rotating storms and false storm motions, along with impacting algorithms used by the radar to process this data. Since the wind turbines have motion and produce reflectivity, schemes designed to filter out the clutter do not work properly.”

 

Former EPA scientist and economist Alan Carlin opines, “Climate alarmism is probably the most insidious, largest, and most dangerous scam ever perpetrated on the American public and most of the developed world. Unless brought down by reality, it is now reaching such dimensions that it could even end the position of the current developed countries as the primary engine for economic and technological progress. Instead, the dictates of climate alarmism may eventually consume as much as half of the resources available and yield nothing but climate virtue signaling.” (Source)

References on  Wryheat:

Six Issues the Promoters of the Green New Deal Have Overlooked

The high cost of electricity from wind and solar generation

Avian mortality from solar farms

Big Wind gets “get out of jail free card” from Obama Administration

Wind turbines versus wildlife

Wind turbines killed 600000 bats last year

Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

How infrasound from wind turbines can cause cancer

Why alternative energy is not a viable alternative for electrical generation

Winds farms decrease weather radar ability to track storms

Solar energy cannot economically compete in electricity generation

Vote NO on Arizona proposition 127 the renewable energy mandate

Why you should vote NO on Arizona proposition 127

Winds farms decrease weather radar ability to track storms

 

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

The Broken Greenhouse – Why CO2 is a minor player in global climate

How much global warming is dangerous?

What keeps Earth warm – the greenhouse effect or something else?

 

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How infrasound from wind turbines can cause cancer

This article from the Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions reviews several research studies that show infrasound from wind turbines can cause cancer. Read the full paper at http://wiseenergy.org/Energy/Health/LFN_and_Cancer.pdf

Here is an introduction:

Recently, President Trump made a statement about the possibility of wind turbine noise causing cancer. Predictably much of the press scoffed at this claim. Even some Republican legislators objected. But what are the facts?
Since this is a technical matter, let’s clarify some basics… Infrasound is Low Frequency Noise (LFN)… Industrial wind turbines generate substantial LFN… A variety of wind turbine LFN caused human and animal health problems have been well-documented (see this small sample of studies)… But what about cancers?
The medical term genotoxins is separated into three main groups: carcinogens, mutagens, and teratogens (i.e. toxins that cause cancer, genetic mutations, or birth defects)… LFN has been identified as a genotoxic agent of disease, capable of inducing blood vessel wall thickening as seen in autopsy, as well as through light and electron microscopy studies. This can lead to well known consequences such as tumor development, cardiac infarcts and/or the need for cardiac bypass surgery. The pathology caused by excessive exposure to LFN is termed vibroacoustic disease (VAD), and has been diagnosed among several occupational and environmentally exposed populations.
To read about other health problems see: Health Hazards of Wind Turbines  

Some Basic Science about “Toxic Molds”

This article is written by Blair King  a Professional chemist and biologist. He resides in the Township of Langley, British Columbia, Canada. He writes a  blog: A Chemist in Langley. I am reblogging the article here because it is very interesting and informative. It busts some myths about mold.

See the complete article in the original here: https://achemistinlangley.net/2018/05/14/some-basic-science-about-toxic-molds/

 

Let’s start with some mold basics. Mold is a non-scientific term for a varied group of fungi. Molds are literally everywhere. Molds existed on the planet long before humans and will likely exist long after the last humans are gone. Humans evolved in a world heavily populated by molds. What does this mean? Well that that we, as a species, have mostly evolved to live side-by-side with molds and to filter out their spores. That is lucky because virtually every breath we take, indoors or out, brings us in contact with mold spores.

In order to grow, mold only needs warmth, moisture and food (often called “the mold triangle“…the mold version of “the fire triangle“). Molds will thrive at temperatures over 5 degrees C (and under about 45 degrees C) and humidity over about 50 per cent. Molds have evolved to live on pretty much anything organic in nature so can grow almost anywhere. To make it worse some molds, like Penicillium or Cladosporium, can tolerate colder temperatures. This is why you tend to find these two molds growing on rotting veggies in your fridge or on the cold grout in your windows in winter time.

Molds absolutely love places that are wet and dusty. Most mold spores travel with the wind and deposit (stick) to places that are wet. That means that a well-designed air-conditioning system will filter out mold spores but that means the drop trays in your air conditioning system should be regularly cleaned because that is where the spores went. This will also mean that indoor air concentrations of mold spores should be lower than outdoor concentrations. If the opposite is true that means you likely have mold growing in your house that needs to be cleaned up. A big warning for people with flooded homes is that molds also grow pretty quickly. Within 24-48 hours of water intrusion mold will start growing, but on the bright side if you eliminate the water the molds will stop growing and dry up.

Given its ubiquity, you might wonder why one would spend so much time testing for mold? Well in the last 20 years an industry has built up around the idea of “toxic molds.” This industry preys on our fears and ignorance with mold being described as “black gold” in some circles. The reality is there is no such thing as “toxic mold.” There are some mold species that are “toxigenic,” that is they produce “mycotoxins.” Mycotoxins are metabolites produced by molds that are capable of harming other living organisms. Molds evolved these metabolites as part of their strategy to battle bacteria (and each other). Molds have spent the last billion years in an ongoing arms race against bacteria; their primary competition for living space and food. One of the most famous of these mycotoxins is a compound we call penicillin. Penicillin is produced by the mold Penicillium (one of the supposedly “toxic molds”) and is essentially harmless to non-allergic humans in the concentrations encountered in our day-to-day lives.

Certainly, there are people who can be deathly allergic to penicillin but even these people are exposed to the mold Penicillium on a daily basis with no ill-effect. As for allergies, approximately five per cent of individuals have some allergic airway response to elevated mold spore concentrations. That is, these people will get runny noses, itchy eyes and some wheezing when encountering high concentrations of mold spores. But let’s put that number into perspective, about 10 per cent of people are allergic to household pets.

Now I am not saying that mold is good for you as that is clearly not the case. Molds can and do produce spores that can act as human allergens. I can personally attest that at high enough concentrations mold spores can even induce headaches in people who are not directly allergic to mold. In addition I have to include this important proviso, individuals with illnesses that decrease their immune response (immunosuppressed individuals) should be especially careful to reduce their exposure to molds as molds can cause them serious harm. From a physical perspective, molds can also damage and weaken structures. But on a day-to-day basis, molds and mold spores are not a significant risk to a healthy individual.

As for ingesting mold. Issues with mold have been known since biblical times and everyone knows that you should not eat moldy food as it can make you sick. Moreover, it is not unheard of for horses to actually die from eating moldy hay. But for people to die from eating mold is incredibly rare.

The question you are probably asking is: if mold is so harmless why has this industry grown so big? It has been argued that our current generation of mold panic can be directly linked to U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studies in 1994 and 1997. At that time, the CDC incorrectly linked lung damage in children to the presence of Stachybotrys chartarum mold. In 2000, this linkage was retracted by the CDC. Unfortunately, by then the damage was done and a few very lucrative lawsuits later, the “toxic mold” industry was born.

So what is the truth about “toxic mold”? The fact that is understood now, that was not fully recognized in the 1990s, is that it is not the mold in your house that is making you sick. Rather it is living in conditions where mold can thrive that actually causes illnesses. As explained by the World Health Organization in 2009

Sufficient epidemiological evidence is available…to show that the occupants of damp or mouldy buildings, both houses and public buildings, are at increased risk of respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections and exacerbation of asthma. Some evidence suggests increased risks of allergic rhinitis and asthma. Although few intervention studies were available, their results show that remediation of dampness can reduce adverse health outcomes.

As for the mycotoxins, the research is also clear:

Current scientific evidence does not support the proposition that human health has been adversely affected by inhaled mycotoxins in home, school, or office environments (Hardin Kelman and Saxon, 2003)

and

Currently, there is no supportive evidence to imply that inhaling mold or mycotoxins in indoor environments is responsible for any serious health effects other than transient irritation and allergies in immunocompetent individuals (Fung and Clark, 2004).

So what are the take-home messages about “toxic molds”? It is not “toxic mold” that is making people sick, it is living in conditions conducive to mold growth that is bad for human health. If you are living in a house with high humidity and low temperatures then you are going to get sick irrespective of the presence or absence of “toxic molds”. As such mold can serve as a useful indicator. If you see mold growing in your house it is time to deal with the conditions that are likely to make you sick sometime in the future.

EPA says Glyphosate is not harmful to humans

The herbicide glyphosate is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. This product has been used for more than 40 years on farms, residential lawns, and on golf courses. Environmentalists have been conducting a scaremongering campaign asking for a world-wide ban.

Glyphosate was classified as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2015, based on very sketchy evidence. However, in November 2015, the European Food Safety Authority determined that glyphosate was unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans. In May 2016, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization meeting on pesticide residues (another subdivision of the WHO), concluded that glyphosate was unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.

A new study published December 12, 2017 by the Environmental Protection Agency concludes that glyphosate and its metabolites are not likely to be harmful to humans, neither as a carcinogen, nor harmful in other ways. You can read the entire 216-page report here.

The EPA reviewed thousands of studies relating to glyphosate effects on humans and other animals. The EPA’s main conclusion: “In summary, considering the entire range of information for the weight-of-evidence, the evidence outlined above to potentially support the ‘suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential’ descriptor are contradicted by other studies of equal or higher quality and, therefore, the data do not support this cancer classification descriptor.” The strongest support is for “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

This story has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. I did find mention by Reuters which noted that the EPA reported that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans and found “no other meaningful risks to human health” when glyphosate, the world’s biggest-selling weed killer, is used according to its label instructions.

There was also mention in the LATimes which pointed out that the EPA finding contradicted “California regulators, who have included the chemical on the Proposition 65 list of probable carcinogens.”

As Steve Milloy pointed out in a June 19, 2017, Washington Times article, it’s time to dismantle the chemical scaremongering industry.

For additional background see Is glyphosate, used with some GM crops, dangerously toxic to humans? From the Genetic Literacy Project (link). They point out:

Toxicity is all about dosage; this applies to all substances. Some chemicals like aflatoxin and botulin are toxic in small doses, while others like vitamin D and caffeine have low toxicity, becoming dangerous only at higher doses.

Let’s take a closer look at glyphosate. Glyphosate is derived from an amino acid, glycine. It acts against plants by suppressing an essential biochemical mechanism commonly found in plants, but not in animals. According to the Extension Toxicology Network, a joint pesticide information project by Cornell University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University and University of California at Davis, and funded by US Department of Agriculture, glyphosate is non-volatile, minimizing exposure through inhalation, and undergoes little metabolism in the human body. If accidentally consumed, glyphosate is excreted mostly unchanged in feces and urine, so it doesn’t stay in the body and accumulate.

The EPA has also determined that glyphosate has “minimal” ecological effects. Glyphosate is only slightly toxic to birds and fish, and it binds tightly to the soil, reducing the possibilities of leaching. Microbes in the soil then break glyphosate down so it doesn’t accumulate in the soil. According to plant pathologist Steve Savage, glyphosate has also replaced mechanical tillage to destroy weeds, which is “a substantial positive for the environment because of reduced erosion and retention of soil carbon.”

So how toxic is glyphosate exactly? To examine toxicity, one must look at the LD50 value given to the chemical in question. LD50 is a standard measure of acute toxicity for chemicals, expressed in the amount of chemical (milligrams) per body weight (kg) that it took to kill fifty percent of a population of test animals. Because LD50 is a standard measure, it is used to compare toxicities of compounds; the lower the number, the more toxic it is.

Glyphosate has a LD50 of 5600 mg/kg based on oral ingestions in rats, according to EPA assessments (PDF), placing it in Toxicity Category III. The EPA ranks chemicals in four categories, I being the most toxic and IV being the least. The EPA has also found that glyphosate does not cause cancer. To compare, caffeine has a much lower LD50 of 192 mg/kg based on oral ingestions in rats.

These words are followed by a chart of LD50 for many common substances.

See also:

Food Scares – WHO vs Bacon

Genetically modified food, nothing to fear

GMO modified rice eliminates methane emissions and increases nutrition

UPDATE 10/11/18: Documents seen by Reuters show how a draft of a key section of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) assessment of glyphosate – a report that has prompted international disputes and multi-million-dollar lawsuits – underwent significant changes and deletions before the report was finalised and made public.
The edits identified by Reuters occurred in the chapter of IARC’s review focusing on animal studies. This chapter was important in IARC’s assessment of glyphosate, since it was in animal studies that IARC decided there was “sufficient” evidence of carcinogenicity.
One effect of the changes to the draft, reviewed by Reuters in a comparison with the published report, was the removal of multiple scientists’ conclusions that their studies had found no link between glyphosate and cancer in laboratory animals.
In one instance, a fresh statistical analysis was inserted – effectively reversing the original finding of a study being reviewed by IARC.
In another, a sentence in the draft referenced a pathology report ordered by experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It noted the report “firmly” and “unanimously” agreed that the “compound” – glyphosate – had not caused abnormal growths in the mice being studied. In the final published IARC monograph, this sentence had been deleted.
Reuters found 10 significant changes that were made between the draft chapter on animal studies and the published version of IARC’s glyphosate assessment. In each case, a negative conclusion about glyphosate leading to tumors was either deleted or replaced with a neutral or positive one. Reuters was unable to determine who made the changes. (Source)

Ozone, Asthma, and EPA Junk Science

On June 22, 2017, the Arizona Daily Star ran a story with the alarmist headline: “Tucson-area air quality the worst in five years.” The “worst in five years” thing is that on just five days during the past three months ground-level ozone measurements exceeded the EPA standard of 70ppb by a few parts per billion. “Ozone levels at Saguaro National Park-East that topped the 70 parts per billion federal standard: June 15 — 77 ppb, June 14 — 73 ppb, May 12 — 71 ppb, April 21 — 73 ppb, April 20 — 74 ppb.” The EPA claims that ozone causes asthma and other respiratory ailments, hence the strict standards. But, the EPA’s own data debunks the claim.

For many years, the EPA has been conducting experiments on the effects of ozone exposure. They placed volunteers in a closed room and subjected them to 300ppb and 400ppb ozone for two hours while they performed mild exercise. The 6,000 volunteers included children, the elderly, and even asthmatics. The EPA reports that “not a single adverse event.. [was] observed.” (Source)

There is also independent data showing that EPA ozone standards are bunk. For instance, there was “No association between air quality (PM2.5, ozone) and hospital admissions for asthma in University of California-Davis Health System during 2010-2012 (19,000+ cases). (Source)

According to the Institute for Energy Research, “average ozone concentrations nationwide dropped by 33 percent from 1980 to 2014. Since the incorporation of the 2008 standards, average ozone levels have declined by more than 9 percent, nationally.”

IER also reports: “According to an August 2015 report by NERA Economic Consulting, which analyzed the impacts of a 65 ppb standard (EPA ultimately went with a slightly higher 70 ppb standard), the total compliance costs could total $1.13 trillion from 2017 to 2040. The rule could also lead to annualized GDP declines of $140 billion as well as $840 in consumption losses for households.” (Source)

The EPA’s rules were endorsed by a panel of scientists required by law to review them, called the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). Both the Clean Air Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act required that CASAC panels be independent and unbiased. So was the panel independent and/or unbiased? A report shows that members of the board received a total of $192 million worth of EPA grants. (Source)

Some background:

“Ground-level ozone is formed through a chemical reaction when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) interact with sunlight. Emissions from power plants, industrial facilities, automobiles, gasoline vapors and solvents are all sources of NOx and VOCs. Natural sources, such as plant life and fires, also contribute to the formation of ozone; today, given how much ozone levels in the United States have already been reduced, a significant portion of a given area’s ozone concentration is made up of natural background ozone and ozone that has traveled from other states and, increasingly, from overseas.” (Source, study by National Association of Manufacturers)

A measurement problem:

“While the EPA has long known that ozone measurements are significantly biased upward by mercury vapor, the agency has required States to use ultraviolet ozone monitors subject to mercury interference. These ozone monitors blow air between an ultraviolet (UV) lamp and a UV detector. Ozone strongly absorbs UV, so reductions in UV arriving at the detector are proportional to the ozone in the air. But mercury vapor and other contaminants in air also absorb UV, thus, artificially inflating the amount of ‘ozone’ that is measured. The bias can range from a few parts per billion to many more.” (Source)

Mercury occurs in soil in and around Tucson. It is possible that readings recorded by local instruments may be “biased upward” by the mercury contained in blowing dust. A study in Avra Valley, west of Tucson, found soil mercury values up to 750ppb. (Arizona Geological Survey, Open-File Report 81-5, 1981).

The AZ Star article expresses much concern over the County exceeding EPA standards. These standards are the current law, so they may have economic consequences for non-attainment. There is, however, no proof that exceeding these standards have any effect on health.

See also: EPA experiments on humans debunk their ozone and particulate matter health claims

Will Trump rein in regulation?

Have we just witnessed a second American revolution; one that repudiates the policies of the political establishment of both Republicans and Democrats? We had a hint of this when Trump beat out establishment Republicans in the primary.

Trump will have much to deal with. In this article I will concentrate on the EPA, an agency whose regulations have trampled private property rights, and killed much inexpensive electricity generation.

What if, in his inaugural address, Trump were to issue an executive order that says something like “no federal agency shall regulate carbon dioxide emissions from burning of fossil fuels and all existing regulations to that effect are null and void?” Even the EPA admits that the possible effect on climate of its “Clean Power Plan” is prevention of just 0.03°C by the year 2100. That would be a great positive step in quelling the climate madness. It would also boost our economy. EPA regulations on particulate matter have no basis in science (see references below).

The EPA itself could be phased out and replaced by the environmental agencies of each state.

The EPA’s “Waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS, see here and here) impacts private property rights because the rule has become so invasive that it regulates every puddle and rill that may occur on or pass through a property.

In addition to the above:

The U.S. should withdrawal from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, from the Paris climate agreement and from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC). These agencies and agreements suck money and provide no benefit. In the thousands of pages from reports by the IPCC, they have never produced any physical evidence that carbon dioxide emissions play a significant role in controlling global temperature.

The U.S. should also terminate all federal government subsidies for climate change research and for “renewable” energy. Let the solar and wind turbine companies test the demand for their product on the free market without any artificial markets produced by mandates and subsidies.

Endangered species listings based on projected climate change should be rescinded. In fact, the Endangered Species act should be amended or replaced with something that is more science-based and provides a positive incentive for conservation.

I hope Trump can “drain the swamp” and make the government serve the people once again.

 

See also:

EPA Clean Power Plan is Junk Science

EPA’s own human experiments debunk health claims

EPA claims on dangers of particulate matter are false

EPA Clean Power Plan is Junk Science

Replace the Environmental Protection Agency

EPA targets wrong cause of haze in Grand Canyon

The Flaws in the Endangered Species Act

 

 

The Origin of Vaccine Fears

Some parents refuse to have their children vaccinated because of the fear that the vaccinations may cause autism and other problems. That fear was bolstered in Britain with the publication of a 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. That paper claimed a link between the triple vaccine combination MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and inflammatory bowel disease and autism. The paper was retracted in 2010 after a long investigation by reporter Brian Deer for the London Sunday Times. Wakefield was removed from the U.K. medical registry in 2010, after the longest-ever professional misconduct hearing by the UK’s General Medical Council.

You can read a summary of the seven-year investigation here: http://briandeer.com/mmr/lancet-summary.htm It is a long article which I will further summarize.

According to the article:

It all started with a British lawyer, Richard Barr, “a jobbing solicitor in the small eastern English town of King’s Lynn, who hoped to raise a speculative class action lawsuit against drug companies which manufactured the triple shot. Barr hired medical researcher Andrew Wakefield to find some problem with MMR. “The goal was to find evidence of what the two men claimed to be a ‘new syndrome’, intended to be the centrepiece of (later failed) litigation on behalf of an eventual 1,600 British families, recruited through media stories.”

Wakefield’s entire study “reported on the cases of just 12 anonymous children with apparent brain disorders who had been admitted to a pediatric bowel unit at the Royal Free hospital in Hampstead, north London, between July 1996 and February 1997.”

“The prime cause of the alarm was findings in the paper claiming that the parents of two thirds of the 12 children blamed MMR for the sudden onset of what was described as a combination of both an inflammatory bowel disease and what Wakefield called ‘regressive autism’, in which language and basic skills were said to have been lost. Most disturbingly, the first behavioral symptoms were reported to have appeared within only 14 days of the shot.”

Deer’s investigation showed that Wakefield was well-paid for his findings. The investigation also found a conflict of interest: The Sunday Times investigation found that in “June 1997 – nearly nine months before the press conference at which Wakefield called for single vaccines – he had filed a patent on products, including his own supposedly ‘safer’ single measles vaccine, which only stood any prospect of success if confidence in MMR was damaged.”

Deer’s investigation also found that the original 12 children were not what they appeared to be. “In the Lancet, the 12 children (11 boys and one girl) had been held out as merely a routine series of kids with developmental disorders and digestive symptoms, needing care from the London hospital. That so many of their parents blamed problems on one common vaccine, understandably, caused public concern. But Deer discovered that nearly all the children (aged between 2½ and 9½) had been pre-selected through MMR campaign groups, and that, at the time of their admission, most of their parents were clients and contacts of the lawyer, Barr.”

“The investigation revealed, moreover, that the paper’s incredible purported finding – of a sudden onset of autism within days of vaccination – was a sham: laundering into medical literature, as apparent facts, the unverified, vague – and sometimes altered – memories and assertions of a group of unnamed parents who, unknown to the journal and its readers, were bound to blame MMR when they came to the hospital because that was why they had been brought there.”

The bottom line is that the original paper, which precipitated so much concern, was based on fraud. No other researchers have been able to replicate the results of Wakefield’s original paper.
Read the entire summary of investigation linked above.

Platinum group metals fight pollution and cancer

The platinum group metals are exceptionally rare elements vital to the healthcare, energy and transportation sectors. The six metals’ unique characteristics make them essential in or necessary to production of 20% of goods manufactured today.

Platinum group metals make major contributions to our health, playing a significant role in fighting cancer as active ingredients in chemotherapy drugs. They are also used in implants for radiation therapy. Because of their resistance to corrosion, platinum group metals are frequently found in pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, catheters, stents and neuromodulation devices.

Platinum group metals are key components of automobile pollution control devices and fuel cell technology that powers our electronic devices, cars and homes.

The info-graphic below from the National Mining Association shows the many uses of platinum group metals. This info-graphic could be a resource for teachers. More info-graphics are linked to below.

The platinum info-graphic can be downloaded as a PDF file at:

 http://mineralsmakelife.org/resources/details/platinum-group-metals-platinum-is-powerful

PGM_Infographic_FINAL-page-001

See other info-graphics from NMA here:

Gold in modern life

Importance of Copper

Importance of domestic mining to manufacturing

Iron – critical to nearly every industry

Minerals vital to modern life – a short video

Potash and Phosphate help feed the world

How we use rare earth elements

Zinc the building block of summer fun

New study suggests that eating nuts prolongs your life – or does it?

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined consumption of nuts in relation to total mortality.  According to a press release in the Arizona Daily Star “Eating nuts is tied to lower risk of death” “The risk of dying of heart disease dropped 29 percent and the risk of dying of cancer fell 11 percent among those who had nuts seven or more times a week compared with people who never ate them.”

Many studies suggest that eating nuts have a beneficial effect on health.  The study in question was a statistical study of 170,000 health-care professionals that were followed for many years.

The results of the study are consistent with the conclusion that eating nuts every day prolongs life.  However, the results were also consistent with the conclusion that healthier people tend to eat more nuts than less healthy people, so the association is a coincidence.  Correlation does not prove causation.  Hence the study can’t really determine cause and effect.

You can read the complete article in the New England Journal of Medicine here and form your own conclusion.

Here are some details of the study:

“Dietary intake was measured with the use of validated food-frequency questionnaires administered every 2 to 4 years.”  This assumes the respondents correctly remembered, and honestly reported nut consumption.

The study excluded people with history of cancer, heart disease, or stroke.  It also excluded smokers, the extremely thin, the extremely fat, and diabetics.  Therefore, the study selected people who were genetically healthy or who had good health habits.

The study concludes: “In conclusion, our analysis of samples from these two prospective cohort studies showed significant inverse associations of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality. Nonetheless, epidemiologic observations establish associations, not causality, and not all findings from observational studies have been confirmed in controlled, randomized clinical trials.”

Although the study did not really prove that nuts prolong life, nuts do have many benefits, so go nuts.

See also:

Statistical Games #1

Statistical Games #2 Stroke for Stroke

Statistical Significance in Science – how to game the system

ADEQ shows a better way for environmental permitting and protection

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has the mission to protect public health and the environment.  They have to vet and permit operations big and small.  They do this through three main divisions: Air Quality, Waste programs, and Water Quality.

In a previous post, “How NEPA crushes productivity,” I wrote about the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a byzantine Federal bureaucratic maze that stifles productivity.  The length, complexity and uncertainty of the permitting process of NEPA now takes a mining company about 10 years to obtain the necessary Federal permits for a major project.  That puts the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage since other countries are more efficient in this regard.  For instance, permitting time in Canada and Australia is typically less than two years.

In contrast to the Federal NEPA process, ADEQ has a process that gets the job done much more efficiently and now ADEQ is striving to make it even better.  The ADEQ system should be a model for the Feds.

I asked ADEQ Director Henry Darwin some questions about the philosophy and workings of ADEQ:

Wryheat: 1. What advancements in regulations and permitting time lines has ADEQ made recently?

Darwin:

ADEQ has applied “Lean techniques” to its permitting processes and is now making permitting decisions much faster.  Permits that previously required 18 months to process are now being processed in less than a year.  Certain interim permitting steps, administrative review for example, previously took up to 60 days and can now be completed in a single meeting.

Wryheat note: “Lean techniques” according to Wikipedia “is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. Working from the perspective of the customer who consumes a product or service, ‘value’ is defined as any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for.  Essentially, lean is centered on preserving value with less work.”

Wryheat: 2. Do you believe that economic activity, especially mining, can co-exist with good environmental stewardship? If so, how?

Darwin:

I have long believed environmental protection and economic development go hand in hand. It is a little recognized fact that poor countries and countries that are emerging from poverty have the most difficult time protecting the environment. The converse is also true; a strong economy provides society the wherewithal to protect the environment.  As a result, the best indicator of a healthy natural environment is often a healthy economic environment.

Wryheat: 3. To some, mining and environmental quality are opposites. How does ADEQ reconcile the apparent conflict?

Darwin:

This is a false choice. Prudent use of natural resources and environmental protection are not at odds. Conflict between the two only arises at the extreme of either activity, and legal protections exist to minimize mining’s adverse impacts. ADEQ doesn’t get to decide whether a mine opens, but through our permitting processes, we ensure mining operations occur in an environmentally responsible way that limits harmful emissions to our air, water and soil. It’s worth noting, as important as the mining industry is to Arizona’s economy, our state leaders recognized the value in protecting our precious natural resources. This is why they passed the Environmental Quality Act in 1986, which not only established ADEQ as a separate, cabinet level agency, but also created the Aquifer Protection Permit program, the first comprehensive groundwater protection program in the nation. As a result, every mine that operates in Arizona must obtain a permit that ensures groundwater is protected.

Wryheat: 4. What do you regard as the minimum time for ADEQ to vet a major project and what does the process consist of?

Darwin:

In the recent past we have permitted several large projects in as little as six months, but timeframes are project-specific and providing a general timeframe would be subject to error. We encourage any party who is planning a major project to visit with us to establish a plan for expeditious permitting. An expeditious process consists of the following major steps:

Pre-Application Meeting: Face to face pre-application meeting

Administrative Review: A real time and face to face administrative review meeting to make sure the applications is complete

Substantive Review: Regular phone contact between the ADEQ permit writer and the applicant’s consultant during substantive review

Applicant Review of Permit Conditions

Public Comment

Public Comment Response

Final Payment

Issue Permit

Wryheat: 5. Does ADEQ regard itself, in its role of protecting the environment, a partner of business or a strict watchdog, or both? How is that reconciled?

Darwin:

As I said in my response to Question 2, above, a strong economy and safe, healthy environment are not adversarial. In fact, one of our agency’s strategic goals is to support environmentally responsible economic growth. Companies that do business in Arizona often require our products and services (permits, or example) in order to operate. Such companies are, in fact, our customers, and ADEQ must deliver value as our customers define it. This doesn’t mean we give our customers everything they want, because the customer is not always right. We have shareholders, too, namely taxpayers, who require a solid return on their investment; they want clear skies, clean water and land that is safe to roam, work and play. There must always be a healthy balance between delivering customer value and providing that solid return on investment for Arizona taxpayers.

I asked some representatives of the mining industry about their perception of ADEQ.

From Kathy Arnold, VP Environmental & Regulatory Affairs, Rosemont Copper Company:

ADEQ has made great strides with permitting both in setting specific requirements and in setting specific timeframes. This gives businesses the certainty necessary for determining timeframes.  ADEQ has been working on developing processes and rules for programs and their stakeholder system allows people to give input necessary so rules can be fully vetted and understood before implementation. The overall process for permits is fair and can be followed without political interference. The enforcement of the rules and permits is tough but again fair.  

From  Steve Trussell, Executive Director, Arizona Rock Products Association:

The ADEQ has recently worked on several projects that have been of key interest to citizens of our state in terms of air and water quality, but two that come to mind as of late are efforts to respond to  components of Governor Jan Brewer’s Four Cornerstones Document which was presented at the State of the State Address in January of this year. 

The ADEQ began the laborious task of process waste reduction regarding the amount of steps it takes to get a permit out the door by reducing licensing time frames.  ADEQ hosted events which included stakeholders in order to identify the factors that arise in permitting that could be potentially holding up permit approvals.  Permitting can be a challenge depending on the specific project and the current regulatory requirements and is a key factor in business investment in Arizona.  ADEQ has employed LEAN process improvements that have and will continue to reduce permitting delays for both air and water permitting and will be implementing the lessons learned across the boards and within all sections of the agency.  The agency reports that processing times have been reduced by one-third and have allowed companies to allocate valuable resources elsewhere. 

Additionally, the ADEQ will further enjoy expeditious submittals, approvals and reporting compliance as a result of their proposed e-portal which will allow the agency to move in a paperless direction.  The portal will enable a permitted source to track, report and submit payment on all of their various permits with the agency, and all in one place.  A process that once required a tremendous amount of time and effort from a record keeping and delivery standpoint would now be possible at the project site.

These are merely a few examples of progressive steps the ADEQ has taken to be protective of the environment while addressing time and resource sensitivity of Arizona’s businesses. Governor Brewer had this to say about the initiative, “The completion of this project, with its cost savings, convenience, and compliance assistance, will be a boon to business regulated by the ADEQ and help attract new business to Arizona” and the members of the Arizona Rock Products Association. couldn’t agree more.  All business organizations regulated by the ADEQ should encourage the legislature to support this laudable effort.

Mr. Darwin sent me some information on the proposed e-portal Mr. Trussel mentioned.  The new site will be called MyDEQ.  The program “will  funded through existing revenue ($10 million) from the Vehicle Emissions Inspections Fund.”

Here are some highlights of the proposed program:

MyDEQ1

MyDEQ2

The Federal government should take notice of ADEQ methods and try to emulate them.

See also:

Mining and the bureaucracy

How NEPA crushes productivity

Uncorrected Forest Service errors block marble mine

Pima County versus Rosemont

The importance of minerals to our economy and national security