This green fantasy will bankrupt us

After a year when the UK economy has shrunk by a tenth, we cannot afford more government repression, even cloaked in greenery.

It’s 2050. You wake in your cosy, insulated house, turn on the windfarm-powered lights, cook up a breakfast coffee on the hydrogen stove before jumping into your electric car. You whizz silently along roads with air as fresh as a mountain stream past happy e-bikers and carbon-neutral schools to your heat-pump powered office.

So, viewed from Britain in 2020, can you spot the odd one out? Here’s a clue: the e-bikers get no subsidy. Everything else on this list loses money, and needs state support on a massive scale to get even halfway to the nirvana glimpsed by the prime minister this week. Today’s subsidy, of course, is tomorrow’s tax rise.

Home insulation? £2bn is barely enough to get some sort of programme started. The disruption from insulating your home will be enough to discourage us from taking up this offer, almost regardless of the accompanying bribe. As we saw with double glazing and solar panels, the cowboy installers and fraudsters will be the principal beneficiaries.

WIndfarms? The easier sites are already filled up, driving development further offshore to have any chance of quadrupling today’s contribution. The bulk of new contracts are going to overseas manufacturers, while evidence of catastrophic damage to seabirds is growing, and nobody knows the long-term cost of maintaining this hi-tech engineering in a hostile environment.

Hydrogen home cooking? Hydrogen is much harder to handle than natural gas, and a compulsory conversion programme – the only practical way to exploit the existing pipework – would meet stiff resistance. Besides, like electricity, hydrogen is not a fuel but an energy transmission mechanism. Making it from actual fuel is like trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

Heat pumps? The capital cost typically runs into tens of thousands of pounds per dwelling, even where your garden is big enough to take one. They are also likely to be rather more expensive to maintain than your ‘fridge.

As for the electric car, despite subsidies of thousands of pounds per vehicle, with promises to spend billions more on sockets to charge them, motorists remain suspicious. After all, it is only a few short years since we were being urged to buy a diesel car, to make each barrel of oil go further. Now diesel is officially an evil producer of particulates that kill children.

Reconfiguring the electricity grid for electric vehicles will cost much more than the £2.5bn allocated in the government’s plan. Then there is the £40bn a year raised from fuel duties which will disappear if electricity takes over. It is almost a rounding error in the context of the hundreds of billions which the UK is going to waste with this week’s fashionable projects. They may indeed create thousands of jobs, but then so would digging large holes and filling them in again. Jobs that destroy wealth rather than creating it make us all poorer.

The government’s cheerleaders may argue that no price is too high to pay for “saving the planet”, but this week’s programme, if it is really implemented, will be ruinously expensive. After a year when the UK economy has shrunk by a tenth, we cannot afford more government repression, even cloaked in greenery. A smaller economy makes paying for the NHS, for example, much harder. Worse still, Britain’s self-harm makes almost no difference to global CO2 emissions, when China makes meaningless pledges of good behaviour while building two coal-fired power stations a week. How they must be laughing at us.

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November 21, 2020 at 11:00AM

Five rules for evidence communication

by Judith Curry

“Avoid unwarranted certainty, neat narratives and partisan presentation; strive to inform, not persuade.”

I just spotted this Comment in NatureFive rules for evidence communication.  Once I spotted co-author David Spiegenhalter, I knew this would be good.  I have definitely been in need of an antidote to the Covid-19 and global warming propaganda that I’ve come across lately.  I’m also working on a new climate change presentation; this provides an excellent check list.

Here is a [link] to the article (freely accessible).  Excerpts:

<begin quote>

There are myriad examples from the current pandemic of which we might ask: have experts always been explicit in acknowledging unknowns? Complexity? Conflicts of interest? Inconvenient data? And, importantly, their own values?

Our small, interdisciplinary group at the University of Cambridge, UK, collects empirical data on issues such as how to communicate uncertainty, how audiences decide what evidence to trust, and how narratives affect people’s decision-making. Our aim is to design communications that do not lead people to a particular decision, but help them to understand what is known about a topic and to make up their own minds on the basis of that evidence. In our view, it is important to be clear about motivations, present data fully and clearly, and share sources.

We recognize that the world is in an ‘infodemic’, with false information spreading virally on social media. Therefore, many scientists feel they are in an arms race of communication techniques. But consider the replication crisis, which has been blamed in part on researchers being incentivized to sell their work and focus on a story rather than on full and neutral reporting of what they have done. We worry that the urge to persuade or to tell a simple story can damage credibility and trustworthiness.

So how do we demonstrate good intentions? We have to be open about our motivations, conflicts and limitations. Scientists whose objectives are perceived as prioritizing persuasion risk losing trust.

  • Inform, not persuade
  • Offer balance, not false balance
  • Disclose uncertainties
  • State evidence quality
  • Inoculate against misinformation

When zoologist John Krebs became chair of the UK Food Standards Agency in the 2000s, he faced a deluge of crises, including dioxins in milk and the infectious cattle disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy. He adopted the following strategy:

  • say what you know;
  • what you don’t know;
  • what you are doing to find out;
  • what people can do in the meantime to be on the safe side; and
  • that advice will change.

Quick tips for sharing evidence

The aim is to ‘inform but not persuade’, and — as the philosopher of trust Onora O’Neill says — “to be accessible, comprehensible, usable and assessable”.

  • Address all the questions and concerns of the target audience.
  • Anticipate misunderstandings; pre-emptively debunk or explain them.
  • Don’t cherry-pick findings.
  • Present potential benefits and possible harms in the same way so that they can be compared fairly.
  • Avoid the biases inherent in any presentation format (for example, use both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ framing together).
  • Use numbers alone, or both words and numbers.
  • Demonstrate ‘unapologetic uncertainty’: be open about a range of possible outcomes.
  • When you don’t know, say so; say what you are going to do to find out, and by when.
  • Highlight the quality and relevance of the underlying evidence (for example, describe the data set).
  • Use a carefully designed layout in a clear order, and include sources.

Trust is crucial. Always aiming to ‘sell the science’ doesn’t help the scientific process or the scientific community in the long run, just as it doesn’t help people (patients, the public or policymakers) to make informed decisions in the short term. That requires good evidence communication. Ironically, we hope we’ve persuaded you of that.

<end quote>

The Supplementary Information is a longer version of this, well worth reading also.

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November 21, 2020 at 10:41AM

India expresses concern over EU’s Green Deal, possible carbon taxes

New Delhi asks EU for more details, calls for legal analysis of deal

India, the US and a few other countries have expressed apprehensions over the European Green Deal and the impact of carbon border taxes that could be imposed on imports once the proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) is implemented. India has called for a legal analysis of the deal, a Geneva-based trade official said.

“As many as nine countries intervened and expressed their apprehensions in response to the EU’s presentation on its Green Deal at the WTO’s Committee on Trade and Environment meeting this week. New Delhi pointed out that a legal analysis of the Green Deal, including the carbon adjustment mechanism and the possible carbon taxes on imports, has to be carried out and its compatibility with WTO norms needs to be looked into,” the official told BusinessLine.

Other countries that expressed their concerns include Canada, Colombia, Norway, Paraguay, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Reducing carbon leakage

The EU, in its presentation, said the Green Deal was important as it would lead the EU economy towards sustainability. It said that the arrangement would ensure mimimum risk of ‘carbon leakage’ when dealing with nations that did not share its ambitions on climate action, the official said.

Other countries that expressed their concerns include Canada, Colombia, Norway, Paraguay, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The proposed CBAM is one of the primary policy instruments of the Green Deal which seeks to put in place rules to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. For this, greenhouse gases emissions have to be brought down to very low levels by 2030.

Full story

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November 21, 2020 at 10:39AM

This green fantasy will bankrupt us

After a year when the UK economy has shrunk by a tenth, we cannot afford more government repression, even cloaked in greenery.

It’s 2050. You wake in your cosy, insulated house, turn on the windfarm-powered lights, cook up a breakfast coffee on the hydrogen stove before jumping into your electric car. You whizz silently along roads with air as fresh as a mountain stream past happy e-bikers and carbon-neutral schools to your heat-pump powered office.

So, viewed from Britain in 2020, can you spot the odd one out? Here’s a clue: the e-bikers get no subsidy. Everything else on this list loses money, and needs state support on a massive scale to get even halfway to the nirvana glimpsed by the prime minister this week. Today’s subsidy, of course, is tomorrow’s tax rise.

Home insulation? £2bn is barely enough to get some sort of programme started. The disruption from insulating your home will be enough to discourage us from taking up this offer, almost regardless of the accompanying bribe. As we saw with double glazing and solar panels, the cowboy installers and fraudsters will be the principal beneficiaries.

WIndfarms? The easier sites are already filled up, driving development further offshore to have any chance of quadrupling today’s contribution. The bulk of new contracts are going to overseas manufacturers, while evidence of catastrophic damage to seabirds is growing, and nobody knows the long-term cost of maintaining this hi-tech engineering in a hostile environment.

Hydrogen home cooking? Hydrogen is much harder to handle than natural gas, and a compulsory conversion programme – the only practical way to exploit the existing pipework – would meet stiff resistance. Besides, like electricity, hydrogen is not a fuel but an energy transmission mechanism. Making it from actual fuel is like trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

Heat pumps? The capital cost typically runs into tens of thousands of pounds per dwelling, even where your garden is big enough to take one. They are also likely to be rather more expensive to maintain than your ‘fridge.

As for the electric car, despite subsidies of thousands of pounds per vehicle, with promises to spend billions more on sockets to charge them, motorists remain suspicious. After all, it is only a few short years since we were being urged to buy a diesel car, to make each barrel of oil go further. Now diesel is officially an evil producer of particulates that kill children.

Reconfiguring the electricity grid for electric vehicles will cost much more than the £2.5bn allocated in the government’s plan. Then there is the £40bn a year raised from fuel duties which will disappear if electricity takes over. It is almost a rounding error in the context of the hundreds of billions which the UK is going to waste with this week’s fashionable projects. They may indeed create thousands of jobs, but then so would digging large holes and filling them in again. Jobs that destroy wealth rather than creating it make us all poorer.

The government’s cheerleaders may argue that no price is too high to pay for “saving the planet”, but this week’s programme, if it is really implemented, will be ruinously expensive. After a year when the UK economy has shrunk by a tenth, we cannot afford more government repression, even cloaked in greenery. A smaller economy makes paying for the NHS, for example, much harder. Worse still, Britain’s self-harm makes almost no difference to global CO2 emissions, when China makes meaningless pledges of good behaviour while building two coal-fired power stations a week. How they must be laughing at us.

Full post

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Neil Collins: This green fantasy will bankrupt us – The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) (thegwpf.com)

More to follow, no doubt

The prime minister’s pledge to ban gas boilers from new homes by 2023 has been withdrawn.

The promise first appeared on the Downing Street website this week attached to Mr Johnson’s climate plan.

But the date was later amended, with the PM’s office claiming a “mix-up”.

The original statement from Number 10 announced this goal; 2023 – Implement a Future Homes Standard for new homes, with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency.”

That means no room for gas central heating, which is a major contributor to the emissions over-heating the climate.

The latest version of the 10-point climate plan on the Number 10 website includes the line: “Homes built to Future Homes Standard will be ‘zero carbon ready’ and have 70-80% lower carbon emissions than those built to current standards.”

Crucially there’s no target attached to the new version of the policy – the 2023 date has disappeared.

A Downing Street spokesperson told BBC News there had been a “mix-up”, saying: “The government wants to implement the measures under the Future Homes Standard in the shortest possible timeline.

“We’ve consulted on introducing this by 2025 and will set out further details in due course.”

Full story

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November 21, 2020 at 10:18AM

UK climate pledge on gas boilers for 2023 ‘vanishes’

Domestic gas central heating boiler

Now you see it — now you don’t. The claimed ‘climate emergency’ will just have to wait, until 2025 at least. A reprieve for new home buyers.
– – –
The prime minister’s pledge to ban gas boilers from new homes by 2023 has been withdrawn, says BBC News.

The promise first appeared on the Downing Street website this week attached to Mr Johnson’s climate plan.

But the date was later amended, with the PM’s office claiming a “mix-up”.

The original statement from Number 10 announced this goal; “2023 – Implement a Future Homes Standard for new homes, with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency.”

That means no room for gas central heating, which is a major contributor to the emissions over-heating the climate [Talkshop comment: evidence-free BBC assertions].

The latest version of the 10-point climate plan on the Number 10 website includes the line: “Homes built to Future Homes Standard will be ‘zero carbon ready’ and have 70-80% lower carbon emissions than those built to current standards.”

Crucially there’s no target attached to the new version of the policy – the 2023 date has disappeared.

A Downing Street spokesperson told BBC News there had been a “mix-up”, saying: “The government wants to implement the measures under the Future Homes Standard in the shortest possible timeline.

“We’ve consulted on introducing this by 2025 and will set out further details in due course.”

But Andrew Warren from the British Energy Efficiency Federation said: “It’s unbelievable to think there would have been a ‘mix-up’ on a really important prime minister’s document like this.

“Are we expected to believe they can’t tell the difference between a 3 and a 5? Here we go again.”

Full report here.

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November 21, 2020 at 10:06AM

Michigan votes un-certified, back in play, after harassment and threats against children

Two Republican canvassers wouldn’t certify the dubious votes in Wayne County, Michigan. Then for two hours they were worked on, and their families and children were threatened, they agreed to certify under duress, and only with the condition of a full audit. But the audit idea was dropped, just another lie. The two canvassers then decided to rescind their votes, and wrote and signed affidavits.

The vote in Michigan remains uncertified. If the electoral college votes are not certified before December 14 and no candidate gets 270 votes the election goes to the House in January, as voted on by State representatives, not Congressional members. Republicans control that House.

Something the ABC, BBC, CBC forgot to mention tonight in the news:

One America News

Cancel Culture threatened to exile them and follow them forever

DailyMail: Just some of the harassment:

The initial decision by the two Republicans not to certify sparked outrage on Tuesday, with the two board members being subsequently lambasted in a Zoom meeting by Ned Staebler, a prominent Michigan businessman who worked as a poll watcher in the large county, which encompasses the city of Detroit. 

‘I just want to let you know that the Trump stink, the stain of racism that you have covered yourself in, is going to follow you throughout history,’ Staebler raged, noting that the pair specifically refused to certify results in Detroit, which has a population that is around 80 percent black.

‘You will forever be known in southeastern Michigan as two racists who did something so unprecedented that they disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of black voters in the city of Detroit, because they were ordered to,’ Staebler raged. 

‘Just know when you try to sleep tonight that millions of people around the world on Twitter know the names William Hartmann and Monica Palmer as two people completely racist and without an understanding of what integrity means or a shred of human decency.’

Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

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November 21, 2020 at 09:48AM

Some Amazon rainforest regions more resistant to climate change than previously thought

New observational study demonstrates that increasing air dryness does not reduce photosynthesis in certain very wet regions of the Amazon rainforest, contradicting Earth System Models that show the opposite

Sunrise over the Amazon rainforest (taken from the top of the K34 flux tower site located 60km north of Manaus, Brazil). Credit: Xi Yang/ University of Virginia

New York, NY—November 20, 2020—Forests can help mitigate climate change, by taking in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and storing it in their biomass (tree trunks, roots, etc.). In fact, forests currently take in around 25-30% of our human-generated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Certain rainforest regions, such as the Amazon, store more carbon in their biomass than any other ecosystem or forest but when forests become water-stressed (not enough water in the soil, and/or air is extremely dry), forests will slow down or stop photosynthesis. This leaves more CO2 in the atmosphere, and can also lead to tree mortality.

The current Earth system models used for climate predictions show that the Amazon rainforest is very sensitive to water stress. Since the air in the future is predicted to get warmer and drier with climate change, translating to increased water stress, this could have large implications not just for the forest’s survival, but also for its storage of CO2. If the forest is not able to survive in its current capacity, climate change could greatly accelerate.

Columbia Engineering researchers decided to investigate whether this was true, whether these forests are really as sensitive to water stress as what the models have been showing. In a study published today in Science Advances, they report their discovery that these models have been largely over-estimating water stress in tropical forests.

The team found that, while models show that increases in air dryness greatly diminish photosynthesis rates in certain regions of the Amazon rainforest, the observational data results show the opposite: in certain very wet regions, the forests instead even increase photosynthesis rates in response to drier air.

“To our knowledge, this is the first basin-wide study to demonstrate how—contrary to what models are showing—photosynthesis is in fact increasing in some of the very wet regions of the Amazon rainforest during limited water stress,” said Pierre Gentine, associate professor of earth and environmental engineering and of earth and environmental sciences and affiliated with the Earth Institute. “This increase is linked to atmospheric dryness in addition to radiation and can be largely explained by changes in the photosynthetic capacity of the canopy. As the trees become stressed, they generate more efficient leaves that can more than compensate for water stress.”

Gentine and his former PhD student Julia Green used data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) models and combined them with machine learning techniques to determine what the modeled sensitivity of photosynthesis in the tropical regions of the Americas was to both soil moisture and air dryness. They then performed a similar analysis, this time using observational remote sensing data from satellites in place of the model data, to see how the observational sensitivity compared. To relate their results to smaller-scale processes that could explain them, the team then used flux tower data to understand their results at the canopy and leaf level.

Earlier studies have shown that there are increases in greenness in the Amazon basin at the end of the dry season, when both the soil and air is drier, and some have linked this to increases in photosynthesis. “But before our study, it was still unclear whether these results translated to an effect over a larger region, and they had never been connected to air dryness in addition to light,” Green, who is now a postdoctoral research associate at Le Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement in France, explained. “Our results mean that the current models are overestimating carbon losses in the Amazon rainforest due to climate change. Thus, in this particular region, these forests may in fact be able to sustain photosynthesis rates, or even increase it, with some warming and drying in the future.”

Gentine and Green note, however, that this sensitivity was determined using only existing data and, if dryness levels were to increase to levels that are not currently being observed, this could in fact change. Indeed, the researchers found a tipping point for the most severe dryness stress episodes where the forest could not maintain its level of photosynthesis. So, say Gentine and Green, “our findings are certainly not an excuse to not reduce our carbon emissions.”

Gentine and Green are continuing to look at themes related to vegetation water stress in the tropics. Green is currently focusing on developing a water stress indicator using remote sensing data (a dataset that can be used to identify when a forest is under stressful conditions), quantifying the effects of water stress on plant carbon uptake, and relating them to ecosystem traits.

“So much of the scientific research coming out these days is that with climate change, our current ecosystems might not be able to survive, potentially leading to the acceleration of global warming due to feedbacks,” Gentine added. “It was nice to see that maybe some of our estimates of approaching mortality in the Amazon rainforest may not be quite as dire as we previously thought.”

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November 21, 2020 at 09:07AM

Survey Results: Where Are All the Sick People?

Survey Results and Opinion by Kip Hansen – 21 November 2020

The “Where Are All the Sick People?” survey has had nearly 3000 participants since its inception at 10 a.m. EST.  Three questions were posed to illuminate the issue of the effects of the SARS-CoV-2, which is causing the current Covid-19 Pandemic, on the readers of this blog, WUWT. 

The readers here are a diverse, eclectic, multinational cohort.  A totally unscientific cross-section of the general public.  My experience in responding to thousands an thousands of comments over the years – comments in response to my essays on a rather wide variety of topics – has convinced me that readership here has a broad range of professional and occupational backgrounds.  I have found it interesting and surprising – I write about insects and an entomologist weighs-in in comments.  I write about dogs and veterinarians weigh-in in comments.   I write nuclear power – nuclear power technicians weigh-in. 

Please don’t think that this survey is meant to be a broad sociological study of Covid-19 and the various governmental responses to the pandemic.  It is nothing more than a snapshot of actual experience of the readers here who have taken the few moments necessary to go to the online survey and answer the three questions. 

I was hoping for three thousand participants before writing up the results, but the response percentages have not shifted since about participant 1000 – which is a good indicator that the snapshot is at least “in focus”. 

SURVEY RESULTS (with 2851 responses)

Question #1:    “How many people among your immediate family, extended family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues are CURRENTLY sick (ill enough to voluntarily stay home from work, school, or normal activities) with Covid-19?”

A strong majority of people, 85.8%, know no one who is currently ill with Covid-19.   Some people know some sick people:  13.5%.  There have been complaints in the comments that using a range like “1-5” prevents us knowing that many people selecting 1-5 know only 1 sick person – a valid criticism.  How many people know many sick people?  O.66%  (19 of 2851) know 6 or more.  Comments reveal that there are some nurses and doctors and nursing home staff answering the survey, which may account for some of these response with higher numbers.

Question #2:    “How many people among your immediate family, extended family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues have been sick (ill enough to voluntarily stay home from work, school, or normal activities) with Covid-19 during the last nine months?”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, characterized as “the last nine months”, a majority of people, 54.4%, know no one who has been ill with Covid-19.  Again, some people know some-but-not-many (1-5) people who have been ill – 39.5%. That is about four-out-of-ten have had someone in their circle of family, friends and acquaintances become ill with Covid-19.  In total, 93.9% who know either none or only a few (less than 5) people who have actually been ill during the entire pandemic so far.   However, 6.1% know “more than a few” (6-10) or “many” (11 or more) that have been ill.   How ill?  We don’t know.  A more complete survey might have asked additional questions, like “How many of those were ill enough to require hospitalization?”

Question #3:   “Covid-19 has caused many deaths, particularly, but not exclusively, among the older population and those already ill with serious conditions. How many of these deaths have occurred among your immediate family, extended family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues since the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020?”

As the question itself acknowledges, Covid-19  has caused or contributed to a lot of deaths around the world.  More deaths than an average annual influenza pandemic, less deaths – so far – than the worst of the influenza pandemics — Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 which reportedly killed between 50 and 100 million people out of a world population of 1.8 billion.  Today’s population is about four times that — 7.8 billion.  A pandemic that deadly today would kill 200 to 400 million people. As of today, Covid-19 is reported to have contributed to the deaths of about 1.37 million humans.  (for more on “contributed to”, read my upcoming essay on Cause of Death).

Our survey reveals, that among survey respondents, a huge majority, 88.4%, know no one in their circle of family, friends, acquaintances or colleagues that have died from or with Covid-19, since January 2020 – the earliest possible date for the pandemic in the United States and Europe.  Unfortunately, some readers, 327 of them, have suffered losses of at least family member, friend or colleague.  My condolences go out to them, each and every one.  Only three (3) respondents report a range of higher than 5 – two report 6-10, and one reports >20.  (This “>20 deaths” response came in very early in the survey, and may be a troll trying to spoil the survey – or it may be a legitimate response from someone in the medical or nursing home field.)

Discussion:

Those of your who know no one who is currently ill with Covid-19 are not crazy and not terminally isolated from society.  That is the experience of over 85% of others reading here and participating in this survey.  So, you are not alone.   I would interpret >85% as “most everyone”.  Yet, more than one-out-of-ten (13.4%) do know one or more (up to 5) people who are sick right now.  Comments indicate that many of these folks know only 1.  I do wish that I had created more categories in the lower range, such as 1, 2, 3 4 & 5. 

However, the result for the first question – “know any people currently ill?” — is that most people don’t know anyone or just know a few.   Readers should compare this to any of the very bad recent flu seasons, trying to remember when we all knew many people ill with the flu simultaneously.  Here are figures for the last three flu seasons in the United States:

2017-2018  45,000,000 Symptomatic Illnesses

2018-2019  36,000,000  Symptomatic Illnesses

2019-2020  38,000,000  Symptomatic Illnesses

These flu seasons saw massive workplace absenteeism, school closures (mostly due to too many teachers out with the flu), hospital ERs overrun with flu patients and a media pouring out Flu Panic.  The numbers above are Symptomatic Illnesses – people who were actually sick – unable to go to school, work, or do their daily activities.  For the most part, they were simply miserable for days – some died.  Those of you with sharp memories will remember these years and some of you will recall your own bouts of influenza. 

We should not compare these numbers with what is being reported today as “Covid-19 Cases” — these are not sick people but simply people who have tested “positive” for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA fragments in their nasal swabs.  “Positive Test” does not mean infection.  The current standards of the RT-PCR test are way too sensitive to produce “actionable” results and do not return positives that indicate a current ongoing infection and nothing even resembling a “Symptomatic Illness”.   According to the World Health Organization the vast majority of Covid-19 infections are asymptomatic– which just means “not sick”.

The Public Health viewpoint is that a “positive test” might mean “infection” and “if infection then maybe infectious, now or later”.   Most testing done today does not test for the one thing health officials need to know to protect the population:  “Who has an infectious case of Covid-19?”  Public Health viewpoints cause authorities to do stupid things – such as closing an entire school because five pupils – pupils not sick and at school – “tested positive” – and ordering a “deep cleaning” of the school before pupils can return. 

And there have been sick people —  while a majority of respondents (54.4%) don’t know even a single person who has had Covid-19 in the last nine months, the remainder of respondents,  45.6%, know at least one person who was sick.  From the comments, many of the early cases could have simply been the any one of the influenzas – testing was not rampant in Jan-Feb-Mar.  There is some evidence that the current ramp up of “Covid Cases” might include the new flu season’s Influenza Cases.  Influenza season generally begins the first of October, we are now halfway through November – six weeks into flu season. 

And sadly, many people have died in in the Covid-19 Pandemic.  Most of us, almost 9-of-10, know no one who has died.  But the other 1-of-10 have lost a family member, a friend, an acquaintance or a colleague.  It is suspected that susceptibility to serious, life-threatening, severe illness involving SARS-CoV-2 has a genetic basis.  This may mean that families suffering deaths of loved ones may experience multiple deaths – as the family shares genetic material.  Everyone has been exposed to the idea that the risk of severe Cocid-`9 illness and death involves, almost invariably,  a list of common comorbidities:

“Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:

Source:  CDC here

In fact, any condition that weakens the immune system or cardiovascular system or the pulmonary system places one at higher risk of developing a severe illness from SARS-CoV-2 than those without those conditions. 

A note on “Covid-19 Deaths”:  The CDC has asked that all death certificates [link is a .pdf] that list Covid-19 or even suspected Covid-19 anywhere, in any portion, of the Cause of Death portion of a death certificate be reported as a Covid-19 Death.  This means that the mortality figures are reported far higher than they should be in order to be released for public consumption without serious caveats. (There are valid epidemiological reasons for this requirement –  responsibly informing the general public about the Covid Pandemic is not one of them.)  They are reporting all deaths that in any way involve Covid-19 or look like they might involve Covid-19 or might be suspected of involving Covid-19 as a “Covid-19 Death.”   That is the subject for another essay – savvy readers can confirm this for themselves. 

The GIANT omission on the list from the CDC, known almost from the first month of the pandemic, is this:   The older you are, the higher your risk of dying from Covid-19 if infected.  Person aged 80 or greater had nearly a 1-in-3 chance of dying if they had a Covid-19 infection. Those 70-79 had a 1-in-6 chance of dying, and those 60-69 a 1-in-16 chance.   We can look at this another way. Percentage of all Covid-19 deaths by age group.

Over 85% of all Covid-19 deaths occurred in those over 65 years of age.   Advancing age itself is a major risk factor for death by Covid.

The next chart is Rate Ratio (akin to Risk Ratio) of Covid Death by age group compared to young adults aged 18 through 29.

Moral to this story?  Don’t get old?  Well, not really – but we should have been protecting our aging population, those 65 and older, from the very start – all while keeping our economies and societies functioning full-blast so that governments at all levels could afford to take the steps necessary to protect the elderly.  Sensible guidelines for their protection should have been the first order of business accompanied by plans to safely serve the elderly in nursing homes.

BOTTOM LINES:

  1. If you don’t know any people sick with/from Covid-19 you having the same Covid-19 experience as the vast majority of other people – at least according to this somewhat unscientific survey.
  2. If you don’t know anyone who has died, or only one or maybe two, you are again having the same experience as almost everyone else.
  3. While most of us don’t know anyone who has died from/with Covid-19, we probably know someone who does know someone who has sadly lost a family member or acquaintance during the ongoing pandemic.
  4. Opinions vary wildly on the subject of Governmental Responses to the pandemic.  It will be years before the historians, sociologists, medial researchers, and others sort out the quagmire of mistakes that have been made at all levels of governance.

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Author’s Comment:

This survey was just a quick peek at the real-world experience of the readers here.  I have not fooled myself into thinking that it tells the full truth about Covid illnesses or Covid deaths.  It does tell us something interesting – but what is up to the readers.  

Bias Alert:  Both my wife and I fall into the most vulnerable category by age.  But we also have children and grandchildren – and they are more important to us than ourselves. 

Let me hear from you in the comments.

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November 21, 2020 at 08:22AM

Heat Pumps Will Overwhelm The National Grid

By Paul Homewood

We have been looking at the potential impact of electric cars on grid capacity, but this is likely to be swamped pretty quickly if the roll out of air heat pumps is carried out as planned,

The government’s plan is to be installing 600,000 a year by 2028, some of which will be in new build homes.

According to the Tradesmen Costs website, heat pumps would range from 6 KW for a terraced house to 9 KW for a typical detached.  If we take 8 KW as the norm, 25 million homes would potentially need 200 GW of grid capacity, purely for heating alone.

This assumes that they will all be working simultaneously, a not unreasonable assumption, given the need to heat houses in the early morning.

This quite clearly is a non runner, which is why the Committee on Climate Change has been pressing for hydrogen hybrid boilers, which can provide most of the heat on cold winter mornings.

However, we don’t have a hydrogen network, and are unlikely to for many years to come. The official plan is to set up a pilot scheme by 2030, but it will take many more years to extend it nationwide.

600,000 heat pump installations a year would mean an extra 5 GW of capacity would need to be added each year, so even by the mid 2030s, we would need an extra 35 GW.

I can honestly see a scenario where we are still allowed to use our gas boilers until hydrogen is rolled out, despite having a heat pump installed. (While at the same time being implored by National Grid to turn our heat pumps off!)

COSTS

I have also been taking a fresh look at costings. When extra insulation is added, average costs are likely to be well in excess of £10,000:

And despite the misleading advertising often put out, running costs for an ASHP are much higher than a gas boiler.

A typical house uses about 11,000 KWh for heating and 4,000 KWh for hot water. Current gas prices are 2.5p/KWh, so the annual bill would be £375.

A heat pump working at COP 3.0 (ie efficiency of 300%) would consume 3666 KWh of electricity for heating alone. But heat pumps are inefficient when it comes to hot water. There is a particular issue with legionella, which thrives at water temperatures below 60C – a typical heat pump reaches about 50C.

The simple option is to install a separate electric water heater, which would increase the installation costs. In total then, you would need 7666 KWh of electricity for heating and hot water, which at a current price of 14.5p would cost £1112 a year, making you £737 worse off.

There are more complex solutions to supplying hot water, such as incorporating an auxiliary hot water in the heat pump system to raise the temperature to 60C. But it is not evident that running costs would be much less.

Better get your winter woollies out!

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November 21, 2020 at 06:45AM