Posts tagged ‘New Scientist’

Just When You Thought You Would Never See Any Of That Stuff From Science Fiction Novels...

Via the New Scientist

NEITHER dead or alive, knife-wound or gunshot victims will be cooled down and placed in suspended animation later this month, as a groundbreaking emergency technique is tested out for the first time....

The technique involves replacing all of a patient's blood with a cold saline solution, which rapidly cools the body and stops almost all cellular activity. "If a patient comes to us two hours after dying you can't bring them back to life. But if they're dying and you suspend them, you have a chance to bring them back after their structural problems have been fixed," says surgeon Peter Rhee at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who helped develop the technique.

The benefits of cooling, or induced hypothermia, have been known for decades. At normal body temperature – around 37 °C – cells need a regular oxygen supply to produce energy. When the heart stops beating, blood no longer carries oxygen to cells. Without oxygen the brain can only survive for about 5 minutes before the damage is irreversible.

However, at lower temperatures, cells need less oxygen because all chemical reactions slow down. This explains why people who fall into icy lakes can sometimes be revived more than half an hour after they have stopped breathing.

via Alex Tabarrok

Repeating the Same Mistake, Over and Over

Flowing Data draws my attention to this nutty chart in the New Scientist  (I have never read the New Scientist, but my experience is that in periodicals one can generally substitute "Socialist" for the word "New").  Click to enlarge.


Will the world really run out of Indium in 5 years?  Of course not.  New sources will be found.  If they are not, then prices will rise and a) demand with be reduced and b) efforts to find new sources will be redoubled.  Push come to shove, as prices rise too much, substitutes will be found (which is why John D. Rockefeller probably saved the whales).  Uranium is a great example -- sure, proved reserves are low right now, but companies that mine the stuff know that there is tons out there.  That is why they are going out of business, there is too much supply for the demand.  Any spike in price would immediately generate tons of new developed resources.  And even if we run out, there are enormous quantities of thorium which is a potential substitute in reactors.

Absolutely no one who was old enough to be paying attention to the news in the 1970s could have missed charts very similar to this.  I remember very clearly mainstream articles that we would run out of oil, titanium, tungsten, etc. by the early 1990's.  Seriously, name one commodity we have plain run out of (*cough* Julian Simon *cough*).

People say, well, the resources have to be finite and I would answer, "I suppose, but given that we have explored and mined about 0.000001% of the Earth's crust and none of the floating mineral reservoirs in space (called asteroids), I think we are a long, long way from running out."

You would think that the guys running this analysis would get tired of being so wrong so consistently for so many decades, but in fact their real point is not about resources but about the US and capitalism.  The point of the chart is not really to say that the world will credibly run out of tungsten, but to tell the world that it is time to get out their pitchforks because the US is stealing all their wealth and resources.  It is an age-old zero-sum wealth fallacy that has never held any water, but remains a powerful talking point among socialists none-the-less.

For socialists, wealth is not created by man's mind and his effort -- it is a spring in the desert with a fixed flow rate.  It just exists to be taken or fought over.  The wealthy, by this theory, have not earned their wealth, they are just the piggy ones who crowd to the front of the line and take more than their share from the spring.  Unfortunately, socialists have never been able to explain why the spring, which flowed so constantly (and so slowly) for thousands of years, suddenly burst forth with a veritable torrent in lockstep with the growth of capitalism in the west.  And why it seems to dry up in countries that adopt socialism.

Postscript: A while back I posted on the New Economics Foundation  (remember what I said about "New") and their claim the world had just gone into ecological debt.

Does this Make Sense?

I am just finishing up my paper "A Skeptical Layman's Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming," and one thing I encounter a lot with sources and websites that are strong supporters of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory is that they will often say such-and-such argument by skeptics was just disproved by so-and-so. 

For example, skeptics often argue that historical temperature records do not correct enough for the effects of urbanization on long-term measurement points.  The IPCC, in fact, has taken the position that what is called the urban heat island effect is trivial, and does not account for much or any of measured warming over the last 100 years.  To this end, one of the pro-AGW sites (either or the New Scientist, I can't remember which) said that "Parker in 2006 has disproved the urban heat island effect."

Now, if you were going to set out to do such a thing, how would you do it?  The logical way, to me, would be to draw a line from the center of the city to the rural areas surrounding it, and take a bunch of identical thermometers and have people record temperatures every couple of miles along this line.  Then you could draw a graph of temperature vs. nearness to the city center, and see what you would find.

Is that what Parker did?  Uh, no.  I turn it over to Steve McIntyre, one of the two men who helped highlight all the problems with the Mann hockey stick several years ago.

If you are not a climate scientist (or a realclimate reader), you
would almost certainly believe, from your own experience, that cities
are warmer than the surrounding countryside - the "urban heat island".
From that, it's easy to conclude that as cities become bigger and as
towns become cities and villages become towns, that there is a
widespread impact on urban records from changes in landscape, which
have to be considered before you can back out what portion is due to
increased GHG.

One of the main IPCC creeds is that the urban heat island effect has
a negligible impact on large-scale averages such as CRU or GISS. The
obvious way of proving this would seem to be taking measurements on an
urban transect and showing that there is no urban heat island. Of
course, Jones and his associates can't do that because such transects
always show a substantial urban heat island. So they have to resort to
indirect methods to provide evidence of "things unseen", such as Jones
et al 1990, which we've discussed in the past.

The newest entry in the theological literature is Parker (2004, 2006),
who, once again, does not show the absence of an urban heat island by
direct measurements, but purports to show the absence of an effect on
large-scale averages by showing that the temperature trends on calm
days is comparable to that on windy days. My first reaction to this,
and I'm sure that others had the same reaction was: well, so what? Why
would anyone interpret that as evidence one way or the other on UHI?

He goes on to take the study apart in detail, but I think most of you can see that the methodology makes absolutely zero sense unless one is desperately trying to toe the party line and win points with AGW supporters by finding some fig leaf to cover up this urban heat island problem.  By the way, plenty of people have performed the analysis the logical way we discussed first, and have shown huge heat island effects:

Uhi(Click for a larger view)

The bottom axis by the way is a "sky-view" metric I had not seen before, but is a measurement of urban topology.  Effectively the more urbanized and the more tall buildings around you that create a canyon effect, the lower the sky view fraction.  Note that no one gets a number for the Urban Heat Island effect less than 1 degree C, and many hover around 6 degrees (delta temperature from urban location to surrounding rural countryside).  Just a bit higher than the 0.2C assumed by the IPCC.  Why would they assume such a low number in the face of strong evidence?  Because assuming a higher number would reduce historical warming numbers, silly.

Oh, and the IPCC argues that the measurement points it uses around the world are all rural locations so urban heat island corrections are irrelevant.  Below are some sample photos of USHCN sites, which are these supposedly rural sites that are used in the official historical warming numbers.  By the way, these US sites are probably better than what you would find anywhere else in the world. (All pictures from  As always, you can click for a larger view.





You can help with the effort of documenting all the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN) stations.  See my post here -- I have already done two and its fun!

Check the Thermostat!

While we all argue about man's impact on the climate (my most recent take here), why isn't anyone checking the thermostat?

The New
Scientist report, along with other scientific assessments warning of
global cooling, also come as a blow to the campaign -- led by David
Suzuki and one of the directors of his foundation -- to portray all who
raise doubts about climate change theory -- so-called skeptics -- as
pawns of corporate PR thugs manipulating opinion. If the Suzuki claim
is true, then the tentacles of Exxon-Mobil reach deeper into science
than anyone has so far imagined.

Dramatic global temperature fluctuations, as New Scientist
reports, are the norm. A Little Ice Age struck Europe in the 17th
century. New Yorkers once walked from Manhattan to Staten Island across
a frozen harbour. About 200 years earlier, New Scientist reminds us, a
sharp downturn in temperatures turned fertile Greenland into Arctic

These and other temperature swings corresponded with changing
solar activity. "It's a boom-bust system, and I expect a crash soon,"
says Nigel Weiss, a solar physicist at the University of Cambridge.
Scientists cannot say precisely how big the coming cooling will be, but
it could at minimum be enough to offset the current theoretical impact
of man-made global warming. Sam Solanki, of the Max Planck Institute
for Solar System Research in Germany, says declining solar activity
could drop global temperatures by 0.2 degrees Celsius. "It might not
sound like much," says New Scientist writer Stuart Clark, "but this
temperature reversal would be as big as the most optimistic estimate of
the results of restricting greenhouse-gas emissions until 2050 in line
with the Kyoto protocol."

It turns out that while we may be encountering some of the highest temperatures in a couple of centuries, the sun's output is also at its highest point in centuries:


Really Lame

Volokh points out this bit of stupidity:

Family Research Council Opposing Vaccination:

New Scientist reports:

Deaths from cervical cancer could jump fourfold to a million a year
by 2050, mainly in developing countries. This could be prevented by
soon-to-be-approved vaccines against the [sexually transmitted HPV]
virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer . . . . [T]o prevent
infection, girls will have to be vaccinated before they become sexually
active, which could be a problem in many countries.

In the US, [however,] religious groups are gearing up to oppose
vaccination . . . . "Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV," says
Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, . . . [which] has made
much of the fact that, because it can spread by skin contact, condoms
are not as effective against HPV as they are against other viruses such
as HIV.

"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful,
because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex,"
Maher claims . . . .

This is just wrong on any number of levels.  The lamest part of this, beyond the sheer wrongheadedness of it, is it strikes me as a sign that these religious groups are unsure of their own teachings and moral standing.  I will never be confused with a religious expert, but I would think that religious groups would be fighting for abstinence as a positive moral principal.  Trying to deny vaccinations in order to make sexual intercourse incrementally more dangerous and threatening strikes me as a sign that the religious groups have given up on moral teaching and are now relying on bald scare tactics. 

When my kids were about 2, we had trouble with them getting out of bed and coming into our room.  Increasing the likelihood of STD's in order to discourage sex strikes me as similar to if I had spread tacks on the ground around my kids bed to keep them from wandering around at night.  When we come up with an HIV vaccine, are these groups going to oppose that as well?