Archive for the ‘Alarmism’ Category

The false alarmist, “environmental” themes which have misled the world

July 16, 2020

False is a kind word. In many cases the “environmental” alarmists have created fake alarms. So much so that real dangers have been ignored while fake crises have been trumpeted. There is little doubt in my mind that the world would have been better prepared for the Wuhan virus pandemic if we had not diverted resources to crises that never were, and probably never will be.

A prominent former alarmist, Michael Shellenberger, has seen some light:

I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30.

But as an energy expert asked by the US congress to provide ­objective testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to serve as a reviewer of its next assessment report, I feel an obligation to apologise for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know: 

  1. Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction” 
  2. The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
  3. Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
  4. Fires have declined 25 per cent around the world since 2003
  5. The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
  6. The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
  7. Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany and France since the mid-1970s
  8. The Netherlands became rich, not poor, while adapting to life below sea level
  9. We produce 25 per cent more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
  10. Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
  11. Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels, and
  12. Preventing future pandemics requires more, not less, “industrial” agriculture.

Shellenberger argues in his book that:

  • Factories and modern farming are the keys to human liberation and environmental progress
  • The most important thing for saving the environment is producing more food, particularly meat, on less land
  • The most important thing for reducing pollution and emissions is moving from wood to coal to petrol to natural gas to uranium
  • 100 per cent renewables would require increasing the land used for energy from today’s 0.5 per cent to 50 per cent
  • We should want cities, farms, and power plants to have higher, not lower, power densities
  • Vegetarianism reduces one’s emissions by less than 4 per cent
  • Greenpeace didn’t save the whales — switching from whale oil to petroleum and palm oil did
  • “Free-range” beef would require 20 times more land and produce 300 per cent more emissions
  • Greenpeace dogmatism worsened forest fragmentation of the Amazon, and
  • The colonialist approach to gorilla conservation in the Congo produced a backlash that may have resulted in the killing of 250 elephants.

There are many other areas where the alarmist themes have become fashionable but are false and sometimes faked.

  • Population implosion rather than population explosion, is the main risk which requires mitigation
  • The ozone hole dances to its own music and not to human emissions.
  • In the 1970s Snowball Earth was imminent.
  • Now, Fireball Earth is upon us.
  • The carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is not, in fact, significantly affected by man-made emissions.
  • There never was an acid-rain crisis in the 1970s.
  • There are more species alive now than ever before, and there are more “failed” species which need to go extinct.
  • Biodiversity is a result, not a goal.
  • At any time and in any biosphere there is an optimum for the number of species that can be supported.
  • There never has been a food crisis or an oil crisis or an energy crisis or a resource crisis.
  • The “water problem” is one of distribution not of quantity or availability.

Alarmist themes gradually dwindle as their catastrophes fail to materialize. But they take a long time to die out and while they live they cause an enormous waste of resources. However they do provide parasitic employment to the otherwise unemployable.


 

The alarmist population explosion meme bites the dust

July 15, 2020

Alarmist memes eventually die as the world stubbornly refuses to end. The impending catastrophe due to a population explosion has been a popular doomsday scenario pushed by the politically sanctimonious for over 40 years. However, the drop in fertility rates and the coming population implosion has been obvious for years. But it has been politically incorrect to say such a thing.

(See this for example from 2016 Population implosion has started).

The BBC is one of the leaders in pushing politically correct and alarmist themes. But the worm is turning.

Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born

The world is ill-prepared for the global crash in children being born which is set to have a “jaw-dropping” impact on societies, say researchers. Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. And 23 nations – including Spain and Japan – are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born.

The fertility rate – the average number of children a woman gives birth to – is falling. If the number falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 – and their studypublished in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100.

As a result, the researchers expect the number of people on the planet to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century. “That’s a pretty big thing; most of the world is transitioning into natural population decline,” researcher Prof Christopher Murray told the BBC. “I think it’s incredibly hard to think this through and recognise how big a thing this is; it’s extraordinary, we’ll have to reorganise societies.”

………


 

Has the world overreacted?

April 17, 2020

As countries now begin to, or plan to, relax their lockdowns and struggle to restart their economies, I have a niggling suspicion at the back of my brain that the world reaction may have involved more of panic and less of rationality. That the world may have overreacted in a fearful chain reaction may be understandable but was the chosen solution actually worse than the problem?

” ….. the spread of COVID-19 peaks after about 40 days and declines to almost zero after 70 days — no matter where it strikes, and no matter what measures governments impose to try to thwart it”.

This is from Prof Isaac Ben-Israel, head of the Security Studies program in Tel Aviv University, Chairman of the National Council for Research and Development and Head of Israel’s Space Agency.

A case perhaps of a kind of Mass hysteria?

A prominent Israeli mathematician, analyst and former general claims simple statistical analysis demonstrates that the spread of COVID-19 peaks after about 40 days and declines to almost zero after 70 days — no matter where it strikes, and no matter what measures governments impose to try to thwart it.

Prof Isaac Ben-Israel, head of the Security Studies program in Tel Aviv University and the chairman of the National Council for Research and Development, told Israel’s Channel 12 (Hebrew) Monday night that research he conducted with a fellow professor, analyzing the growth and decline of new cases in countries around the world, showed repeatedly that “there’s a set pattern” and “the numbers speak for themselves.”

……..

Asked to explain the phenomenon, Ben-Israel, who also heads Israel’s Space Agency, later said: “I have no explanation. There are all kinds of speculations. Maybe it’s related to climate, or the virus has a life-span of its own.” He said the policy of lockdowns and closures was a case of “mass hysteria.” Simple social distancing would be sufficient, he said. If the lockdowns instituted in Israel and elsewhere were not causing such immense economic havoc, there wouldn’t be a problem with them, he said. “But you shouldn’t be closing down the entire country when most of the population is not at high risk.”

Asked to explain why the virus had caused such a high death toll in countries such as Italy, he said the Italian health service was already overwhelmed. “It collapsed in 2017 because of the flu,” he said.


 

Real threats have been ill-served by the imaginary threat of fake climate crises

March 23, 2020

The utter inanity of the clamor about an imaginary climate crisis becomes clear as a real crisis unfolds.

For forty years now the doomsayers have been obsessed with the imminent catastrophe that human induced climate change (global warming due to human made carbon emissions) might bring. For the last 10 – 15 years it has become a mass delusion that eliminating the 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions that humans produce would save the planet from a certain disaster. It has been a manufactured, fake crisis which has unnecessarily consumed massive resources for no return.

But worse than the consumption of resources, the world has been diverted from addressing real threats to tilting at the imaginary windmills of “man-made climate change”.

The Cambridge Project states that the “greatest threats” to the human species are man-made; they are artificial intelligence, global warming, nuclear war, and rogue biotechnology. The Future of Humanity Institute also states that human extinction is more likely to result from anthropogenic causes than natural causes. – Wikipedia

The so-called think tanks put the risk, by 2100, of catastrophe by man-made global warming at around 20%. The Future of Humanity Institute put the risk due to an engineered pandemic at just 2% but then put the risk of a natural pandemic some 40 times less at 0.05%.

The obsession with population explosion has gone. It is population implosion which is now the greater risk. The world downgraded the risk of catastrophic pandemics and instead obsessed over normal variations of weather. The risks of famine were put to bed by the continuing green revolution. The obsession with “peak” oil has abated as fracking and methane hydrates have shown that there is little risk of running out of oil and gas. We have prepared ourselves for an imaginary sea-level rise (which is actually at a few mm/year and no different to the rate of change prevalent since the last ice age) but have made no preparations for a natural pandemic. We have no real preparations for a super-volcano eruption triggering a new ice-age. We have spent billions investigating model forecasts of “climate change” effects but have provided no great incentives for developing new antibiotics to handle multi-resistant bacteria.

The Covid-19 coronavirus has spread partly due to the Chinese government’s attempt to hide it, and certainly by the WHO’s eagerness to follow the Chinese narrative, but the real take-away is that no country was at all prepared for this pandemic. This has now become a real threat to the world order as we know it. It could decimate jobs and production for a long time to come. Savings could vanish. Maybe the virus itself could not have been avoided, but we could have been better prepared to curb its spread if we had not been so obsessed by imaginary threats.


 

Every ignoramus has become an expert on Covid-19 and epidemics

March 16, 2020

Every radio commentator has, overnight, become an expert. I can no longer listen for very long to radio news (and during the day I usually listen in the background to Swedish, UK and some US news broadcasts). Not only has every journalist become an expert, but every doctor, every politician and every member of the general public has also become an expert. When a journalist interviews a physician it is always about resources being insufficient. When a journalist interviews a politician it is always about why the politician got it wrong. Every posturing politician either attacks or supports the government actions depending upon whether his party is in power or not. Less than 10% of any broadcast is about reporting the latest news. The rest is inevitably taken up with opposing somebody. Even the “human interest” reports are focused on the human interest being a complaint or criticism of some kind.

So my background radio listening is now self-confined to the music channels (BBC Radio 3 or Swedish P2).

Fortunately, I don’t watch too much TV. TV commentators are a few orders of magnitude worse than their Radio counterparts. I tried last night. It took me less than 30 seconds to switch away from CNN and Fox, but BBC World News lasted over a minute. Rapport and Aktuellt were a little better but not by much.

The opinion columns in the “big” newspapers are not a lot better. The New York Times carried an article of some 2,000 words on Saturday entitled: How to Protect Older People From the Coronavirus.

I am an older person but this article is 2,000 words of drivel, signifying nothing. According to this nonsense verbiage, the way to protect older people consists of the following pearls of wisdom:

  • Familiarize yourself with guidelines and follow them.
  • Cancel nonessential doctor’s appointments if you can.
  • Beware of social isolation.
  • Have a talk with home health aides.
  • Bar visits to nursing homes.
  • Stay active, even in a pandemic.

There is not just one strategy, applicable to every population group or to every country, to limit infection and minimize fatalities. I take it on faith that all governments in power do have that as their objective. I am also taking on faith that government decisions to handle this crisis are themselves made in good faith with the best information to hand. However viruses are not so well understood that even all experts are of one mind. Even our most expert experts, whether on viruses or epidemics, are far from knowing everything.

We don’t even know whether viruses are living things or just a bunch of chemicals accumulated by chance. What we do know from the expert community (represented by the WHO) is

On 31 December 2019, WHO was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan City, China. A novel coronavirus was identified as the cause by Chinese authorities on 7 January 2020 and was temporarily named “2019-nCoV”.

On 30 December 2019, three bronchoalveolar lavage samples were collected from a patient
with pneumonia of unknown etiology – a surveillance definition established following the
SARS outbreak of 2002-2003 – in Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital. Real-time PCR (RT-PCR) assays
on these samples were positive for pan-Betacoronavirus. Using Illumina and nanopore
sequencing, the whole genome sequences of the virus were acquired. Bioinformatic
analyses indicated that the virus had features typical of the coronavirus family and belonged
to the Betacoronavirus 2B lineage. Alignment of the full-length genome sequence of the
COVID-19 virus and other available genomes of Betacoronavirus showed the closest
relationship was with the bat SARS-like coronavirus strain BatCov RaTG13, identity 96%.

The best I can do, I think, for myself and the community is to rely on common sense.

  • Minimize my chances of being infected.
  • Minimize chances of my unknowingly infecting someone else.
  • Avoid hoarding.

 

Corona virus fatality rate: Playing with numbers

March 14, 2020
  1. Over the last 50 days (starting January 23rd), 5436 deaths around the world have been attributed to complications after being infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus. While the number of deaths yesterday was 448, the peak may not yet have been reached. Hopefully all the restrictions in place will lead to the peak being reached soon. The global number of deaths over this period has averaged about 110/day. A vast majority of the deaths are of people over 65.
  2. Around 152,000 people die every day (7.7/1000 of population). Around 65% of these die due to age related causes.
  3. Symptoms of influenza rarely lead to testing for the influenza virus. Every year an estimated 290,000 to 650,000 people die in the world due to complications from seasonal influenza (flu) viruses. This figure corresponds to 795 to 1,781 deaths per day due to the seasonal flu.

But:

  • In retrospect it seems that this coronavirus first appeared around November 2019. So some of the deaths attributed to influenza since then may have been due to Covid-19.
  • At least 145,000 people have tested positive for the virus. However people are not generally tested unless symptoms are severe. Many are infected and show no symptoms at all. Many are infected and recover without ever having been diagnosed.
  • The number of people infected is – as an estimate – around 10-20 times the number who have tested positive (1.4 – 3 million).

Even if the number of deaths due to coronavirus is certain, which it is not, the fatality rate depends entirely upon what number is used to divide by:

  • Around 0.07% of all daily deaths
  • Around 0.15 – 0.35% of those infected
  • Around 3.7% of those who have tested positive
  • Around 6 – 15% of daily influenza deaths

Numbers don’t lie but the same numbers can be used in many different ways. They can be used rationally or, more likely, to promote an alarmist agenda or a political agenda.

And they can be used maliciously.

I find the most significant statistic for my own behaviour (and since I am in the risk-age group) is that risk of death increases by a factor of about 50 if I get infected. However, even if I do get infected the chances of survival are around 10 times higher than the chance of dying. It makes sense to exert myself to avoid infection but I don’t need to kill myself to avoid being infected.


 

Market Sell-Off! Corona Crash! But there can only be sellers if others buy

March 13, 2020

Markets have crashed globally.

The value of stocks has tanked and unrealized wealth has vanished.

“Poof”.

Just like that, your portfolio may soon be worth half of what it was just 10 days ago.

But even in the worst market sell-off, there have to be buyers prepared to buy what sellers will divest.

Warren Buffet’s much quoted line comes to mind:

“Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful” 

I found this text about the Great 1929 Depression on my computer which I probably saved after the 2008/9 crash. Unfortunately I no longer have the author or the source. It does seem correct. Certainly more millionaires were created by the Depression than were destroyed.

Not everyone suffered during the Great Depression. More people became millionaires during this time than in any other time in American history. Opportunities, that were not present during the 1920s economic boom times, suddenly became available. An economic downturn is a good time to start a business. Start-up costs are much lower in a recession than in boom periods. Savvy entrepreneurs edged in and positioned themselves for when the economic climate improved. Many poorly run businesses closed during the Depression years and their equipment and assets could be bought at fireside sales for next to nothing. Commercial rents were cheap and wages were low. There was also time to get the business fundamentals right before increased orders made it too hectic for the entrepreneur to build and test his business model. It was these ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’ Great Depression entrepreneurs that made the best of the crisis to provide a service, or product, for new markets.

Who were some of these maverick entrepreneurs? Some very famous names made their money during the Depression era. In Kentucky, a grandfather, called Colonel Sanders, started serving fried chicken at his gas station. By 1937 he had expended to a 142 seat restaurant due to popular demand. Two young electrical engineering graduates stared a electrical machine business in a rented garage during the 1930s. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard officially became business partners in 1939 with only $538 in investment money.

Many people with small amounts of liquid cash were able to buy bankrupt businesses at bargain prices. Towards the end of the 1930s some business people watched the upsurge in military spending by some countries. The world was preparing for war and those that invested in companies that made in-demand products for the government stood to make lots of money. Companies dealing with shipping, military vehicles, textiles (for uniforms, tents, etc.), metals (copper, steel, aluminum and iron), shipping and petroleum products made a fortune. Well known companies that were bought at this time were John Deere, Reynolds Metals and Douglas Aircraft. 

Another huge opportunity was real estate. During the Depression years, demand was low and thus prices were low as well. Visionary business people knew that real estate values would go up in the future and when they did they used the equity to leverage their business growth and expansions. Those wise folk that were not caught up in the stock market frenzy in the 1920s, and saved their cash, were well positioned to snap up bargain businesses and became millionaires as a result.

There will be winners coming out of the Corona-Depression.

Not everybody who buys will be a winner, but all the Corona Crash winners will be buyers.

Most of those who sell now will be among the losers.


 

Covid-19 global lock-down is a mishmash of fear and precaution

March 12, 2020

Being over 70, I am apparently in the high-risk group if I get infected.

I am sure that all those who are currently battling with containing the outbreak are well-qualified and and are doing their best. But being well-qualified and knowledgeable are not always an indicator of wisdom.  Even given the same level of knowledge, there is a difference between a measured response and an alarmist response. The current panic response to the outbreak seems to me to be more alarmist than measured.

The Twitter and Facebook worlds are ideally suited to spreading alarm. Fact and fiction are blended with the ridiculous and the malicious to give a “tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing”.

  • Don’t touch your own face unless you have washed your hands.
  • Stock-up on toilet paper.
  • Stock-up with food for 14 days. Replenish every day.
  • Wash your hands every 20 minutes.
  • Don’t go to sports events. Complain if the match is cancelled.
  • Stay 1 m away from fellow passengers on public transport.
  • Viruses are necessary for biodiversity.
  • Ban the virus (except in cases of asylum).
  • Ban foreigners who may carry the virus from entering your country.
  • Your own citizens who carry the virus may enter freely.
  • Banning a foreigner carrying the virus is racist.
  • Children are the lowest risk group. Close the schools.
  • The old are at greatest risk. Don’t visit them / lock them up.
  • If you think you have a cold, self-isolate.
  • If you are tested positive, wait it out, don’t self-immolate.
  • If you think a household member is infected, self-isolate.
  • The old who are infected take up the most health resources. Let nature cull those over 65.
  • It is divine punishment for ……
  • Coronavirus transmission is ‘highly sensitive’ to high temperatures. Covid-19 pathogen appears to spread fastest at 8.72° Celsius.
  • Close the world until summer.

The fear-driven response is going to continue for a few months yet. There will be fatalities. But the deaths resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak are still well below the “normal” 1000+ deaths per day due to influenza. At the time of the peak in China in February, deaths reached about 150 in a day (mainly in Wuhan). Yesterday, March 11th, the peaks in Iran and Italy have given a world total of 331 deaths. Some say it is going to get worse.


 


 

Common influenza has killed 20 times more people than coronavirus in the last 2 months

March 8, 2020

The global mortality due to all strains of conventional influenza is greater than 1000 deaths per day (between 400,000 and 600,000 deaths per year). The flu season in northern climes runs from about September to March and most fatalities occur at this time.

The current Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak has resulted in 3,600 deaths, globally, in the last 50 days with over 2,000 just in China.

During the same period influenza has killed at least 50,000 (and more likely around 80,000) around the world.

The number of influenza deaths occur in spite of there being vaccines for some strains of the virus. There is no vaccine yet for Covid-19. There is no “cure” for influenza and neither is there a “cure” for Covid-19. However treatment of influenza is much better established than for the new virus.

Common influenza – even with vaccines available and with better established treatment –  has killed at least 20 times more people than Covid-19 in the last 2 months. So why the unnecessary and ridiculous panic?

I suspect it is because we have now been conditioned by Alarmism and are governed by fear. I note that cowardice is when actions are subordinated to fear (and bravery is when fears are subordinated to actions). The alarmist world has become a more cowardly place.


#coronavirus

All the doomsday predictions throughout history that have come true

February 7, 2020

list:

 

 

end:


 


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