Posts Tagged ‘Alarmism’

Is the “bee crisis” yet another alarmist fiction?

September 9, 2013

I don’t really know a great deal about bees. I have been stung by bees twice in my life. I was not threatening them in any way and both paid the price of their insolence and died. Every year we have ” a lot” of bees in our garden where ” a lot” is my subjective assessment of the number of times I have to swat them away or have to move while dozing in the sun. I have not noticed any great difference – this summer – in the number of bees that I have “interacted” with. I am well aware that they play a very important  (but not indispensable) role in pollination and I do like honey even if I have to watch my sugar intake.

In the last year or so I have been bombarded with articles greatly alarmed about the catastrophic decline of honey bees and strident calls  – especially in the over-bureaucratic EU – for the banning of various pesticides (neonicotinoids) which are decimating the bee population.  A new “syndrome” has been invented – Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The UK has not gone along with the ban so far.

“The two-year European Union ban on neonicotinoids was justified as a way to tackle CCD. It is perhaps worth pointing out that France banned the neonicotinoids in the 1990s, and it has seen no marked reduction in CCD.”

But it could all be just another case of what may well be a perfectly “natural” variation being blown up by alarmist environmentalists. I am coming to the view that every time an “environmentalist” invents a new catastrophe it is just to inflate the importance of his own advocacy.

Bjorn Lomborg writes:

There is no bee crisis

Contrary to what you may have heard, there is no “bee-pocalypse.” There is lots of alarmist talk about colony collapse disorder, people are blaming pesticides and talking about hundreds of billions of dollars at risk. But a closer look tells a very different story.

Yes, honeybees are dying in above-average numbers, but the most likely cause is the varroa mite and associated viruses.

Moreover, if you look at the actual numbers, they undermine much of the catastrophic rhetoric. In the United States, where we have good data, beekeepers have adapted to CCD. Colony numbers were higher in 2010 than any year since 1999. The beekeepers are not passive victims.

Instead, they have actively rebuilt their colonies in response to increased mortality from CCD. Although average winter mortality rates have increased from around 15 per cent before 2006 to more than 30 per cent, beekeepers have been able to adapt to these changes at fairly low cost and to maintain colony numbers.

Honeybee deaths are also nothing new. The Breakthrough Institute reports that, in 1853, Lorenzo Langstroth, the 19th-century bee-keeper who invented the modern hive, described colonies that were “found, on being examined one morning, to be utterly deserted. The comb was empty, and the only symptom of life was the poor queen herself.” In 1891 and 1896, large clusters of bees vanished in a case known as May Disease.

In the 1960s, bees vanished mysteriously in Texas, Louisiana and California. In 1975, a similar epidemic cropped up in Australia, Mexico and 27 U.S. states. There were heavy losses in France from 1998 to 2000 and also in California in 2005, just two years before CCD was first diagnosed. ….

…… Many have pointed toward pesticides as the main reason of colony collapse disorder. The two-year European Union ban on neonicotinoids was justified as a way to tackle CCD. It is perhaps worth pointing out that France banned the neonicotinoids in the 1990s, and it has seen no marked reduction in CCD.

Recent science articles instead point clearly to mites and viruses: “Varroa mites and viruses are the currently the high-profile suspects in collapsing bee colonies.”

Overall, the CCD is a problem we need to tackle, but it is not by any stretch of the imagination as bad as it is made out. …. 

CCD – it seems – may be an over-exaggerated and alarmist figment of an over-fertile “green” imagination.

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Internet chatter leads to US diplomatic lockdown

August 5, 2013

Following my post a few days ago, it would seem that others also question the US Global Terror Alert.  I discern a faint whiff of alarmism and a strong smell of “CYA”.

Reblogged from Bloomberg

Warning to Americans: Be Afraid, Very Afraid

By Jeffrey Goldberg Aug 5, 2013 2:40 AM GMT+0200

Jeffrey Goldberg is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is the author of “Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror” 

It seems as if al-Qaeda, or its Arabian Peninsula branch, has succeeded in terrorizing the United States of America again, but this time without – as of this writing – detonating an ounce of C4. It doesn’t strike me as a wise idea to preemptively shutter 21 different American embassies across the Middle East and North Africa in response to NSA-collected terrorist chatter. What message does this post-Benghazi, “don’t say we didn’t tell you” move send to the citizens of the Middle East, who, it is our hope, understand the United States to be a powerful and fearless country dedicated to openness and to the defeat of fanaticism? We have already muddied any message of fearlessness by turning our embassies into bunkers. Now, we are admitting that these bunkers aren’t safe. What next? Virtual embassies on Facebook? Ambassadors who never leave Washington?

The Administration tells us that the heightened threat of al-Qaeda terror extends through the end of the month. Is the State Department going to keep its diplomatic fortresses closed through September 1? Late this afternoon, State announced that 19 diplomatic posts are going to stay closed until August 10; others, including those in Baghdad, and Kabul, of all places, are scheduled to reopen Monday. It is unclear if these closings will be extended, or if the reopening embassies and consulates will again be closed. It could be that many of our diplomats — who, by the way, are still living in the target countries, just in less secure locations, generally, than embassy compounds – will not be at work for awhile. 

It is plausible that the intelligence community is fearful of this weekend in particular, because, as Bloomberg’s Nicole Gaouette and David Lerman have noted, Sunday is the Muslim holiday known as the Night of Power, and al-Qaeda-type extremists sometimes mark important holidays on the Muslim calendar by trying to kill people. So after the holiday passes, things could return to normal. It will be interesting to watch how the State Department manages this crisis – and, this time, it is being managed directly out of Washington. Usually, diplomatic posts are allowed to make their own judgments about security, independent of State Department headquarters. Not any more.

It will also be interesting to watch whether State clarifies its travelers’ alert to the American public. A couple of days ago, the department issued a warning to American travelers that was notable both for its implied dread and its maddening vagueness: “Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests,’ the warning reads. “U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.”

As a public service, let me translate this warning for you: “Dear U.S. citizen: So, it turns out that al-Qaeda has not been defeated. In fact, its operatives want to kill you. Mainly, they want to kill you if you happen to be in one of the following 21 countries. Also, by the way, they want to kill you in the U.S., but right now let’s not talk about that, and focus on the immediate threat. We don’t know where, when or how al-Qaeda is going to try to kill you – probably August, if it makes you feel any better. In the past, al-Qaeda terrorists have targeted planes, trains, and automobiles, as well as large buildings, and small buildings. Also, boats. Our suggestion is that you not leave your hotel. And stay out of the lobby! Lobbies are dangerous. Actually, come to think of it, al-Qaeda has also targeted hotels in the past, so maybe you should just leave your hotel now, but through the kitchen, or the service entrance. But try to avoid people, and also places where there are people, once you have left your hotel. If you want to come home, please do so, but just be very careful at the airport. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”

In truth, the State Department is in a tough spot: If it doesn’t publicly issue warnings, and something dreadful, God forbid, does happen, the Obama Administration will be blamed by opportunists for not telling Americans they were in danger. But perhaps there is a way to issue these warnings in way that doesn’t fear-monger, and in a way that helps Americans make informed decisions. And perhaps there is a way to manage diplomatic security so as to avoid conveying to the world the idea that al-Qaeda can unhinge us quite so easily.

“Global warming is the opiate of the upper middle class”

April 9, 2013

That “global warming” is a religion I have no doubt. But we could be going through a Martin Luther or perhaps a Galileo Galilei  moment for this religion as its foundations crumble. “Heretics” are gaining ground steadily as the high priests of the global warming religion continue to roar and bluster and threaten hell-fire and damnation.

The “religion” theme is succinctly put by Henry Payne in The Detroit News. Considering the soporific and addictive nature of the religion and its ability to induce a feeling of being superior I thought that being “an opiate of the upper middle class” was particularly apt.

Paris, France – From Anglicanism to Catholicism, Europe’s history is full of state-based religion. In secular 21st century Europe, the unofficial state religion is the GreenChurch. Environmentalism inspires a devout, pro-Kyoto devotion here quite different than the more skeptical American outlook.

But France’s strident green political and media voices are curiously silent this year. Perhaps it’s the bone-chilling spring.

Parisians used to leafy April vistas shiver past leafless trees on Paris’s beautiful, tree-lined parks. Temperatures are in the mid-40s, well below the 60s-normal. Average temperatures across the continent are, on average, 4-8 degrees below normal with March registering colder average temperatures than January. Snow fell in England, France, and Germany this spring- an unusual occurrence. The cold snap follows the frigid London Olympics last summer and over a decade of flat temperatures worldwide. Hardly the stuff of global warming. But the GreenChurch is firm in its doctrine – and the global warming high priests must be obeyed.

If Christianity was the opiate of the masses in centuries gone by, then global warming is the opiate of the upper middle class.

As such, politicians here have imposed draconian laws on their masses, from high gas taxes to high utility costs – a situation so extreme in Germany that the term “electric poverty” has become a common term. Unable to afford high energy costs imposed by government censor of sinful coal power, thousands have had their power shut off.

Here in Paris, French citizens suffer under $7.50 a gallon gas even as hey huddle at the pumps in winter overcoats. They pay their sin taxes, but, they may ask, to what end?

Climate studies a “science” is not

April 4, 2013

That climate is a subject for study is obvious. That it can be called a “discipline” is questionable but allowable. But any claim that it is settled and understood, let alone fanciful claims that we can control it, are just arrogant nonsense. When the study of climate might  get to be a “science” lies some few centuries in the future – if ever. Climate studies may be a discipline but a “science” it is not.

As with many articles in RealClearPolitics this by Robert Tracinski is trenchant, concise, precise and extremely well written. But RCP has not often been known to break with the global warming orthodoxy and I was surprised to find this there.

Very well worth reading.

The End of an Illusion

Many years ago, I remember thinking that it would take many years to refute the panicked claims about global warming. Unlike most political movements, which content themselves with making promises about, say, what the unemployment rate will be in two years if we pass a giant stimulus bill—claims that are proven wrong (and how!) relatively quickly—the environmentalists had successfully managed to put their claims so far off into the future that it would take decades to test them against reality.

But guess what? The decades are finally here.

…….. So basically, all that the global warming advocates really have, as the evidentiary basis for their theory, is that global temperatures were a little higher than usual in the late 1990s. That’s it. Which proves nothing. The climate varies, just as weather varies, and as far as we can tell, this is all well within the normal range. …..

……

So here’s the state of play of climate science a third of a century into the global warming hysteria. They don’t have a reliable baseline of global temperature measurements that would allow them to say what is normal and natural and what isn’t. Their projections about future warming are demonstrably failing to predict the actual data. And now they have been caught, yet again, fudging the numbers and manipulating the graphs to show a rapid 20th-century warming that they want to be true but which they can’t back up with actual evidence.

A theory with this many holes in it would be have been thrown out long ago, if not for the fact that it conveniently serves the political function of indicting fossil fuels as a planet-destroying evil and allowing radical environmentalists to put a modern, scientific face on their primitivist crusade to shut down industrial civilization.

But can’t we all just stop calling this “science” now? 

Full article here

Upto130 years of global warming — but March is immune!

March 29, 2013

No comment!

Der Spiegel

Germany Faces Coldest March Since 1883

Complaining about the weather has reached epidemic proportions in northern Germany this “spring.” And with good reason. With Easter just around the corner, meteorologists are telling us this could end up being the coldest March in Berlin and its surroundings since records began in the 1880s. …… Meteorologists are keeping close tabs on thermometers to determine whether this March will go down as the coldest ever — since records began in the 1880s. And wiseacres on the streets of Berlin have not yet tired of noting that Easter promises to be colder than last Christmas.

The Guardian: 

Britain set for coldest March since 1962

This weekend’s great Easter getaway will be accompanied by some of the coldest March weather in decades, with temperatures in the UK set to drop to their lowest levels since 1962.

Met Office figures show that from 1 March to 26 March the UK mean temperature was 2.5C (36.5F) – three degrees below the long-term average.

This makes it the joint fourth coldest in the UK, in records going back to 1910. The coldest March in the UK was in 1962, at 1.9C (35.4F).

Real Science:

US Second Coldest March Since 1969 (So Far)

US temperatures are forecast to be far below normal for the rest of the month, so it is difficult to determine where March 2012 will end in the rankings. Possibly the coldest in 44 years.

 

Munich Re: Natural catastrophe and weather related deaths in 2012 were less than one-tenth of the 10-year average

January 5, 2013

Alarmism and fostering a fear of future events where the actual risk is well below the perceived risk is the stock-in-trade of insurance companies. A simple case of boosting revenues (premiums from perceived risks)  for any given cost (actual risk). It is inevitable that while statistics of past events from insurance companies are detailed and accurate any forecast from an insurance company will (must) exaggerate risks. There is no business if perception of risk is low.

When it comes to weather and global warming fears Munich Re is among the more strident of the alarmists. A fear of coming catastrophes by drought or too much rain or floods or rising sea levels are all actively promoted as new insurance products are touted.

Munich Re has just issued a press release about the statistics of natural and weather related catstrophes showing that costs for 2012 were below average and lives lost were well below average. Needless to say the headline is spun to help sell more insurance:

Overall, losses were significantly lower in 2012 than in the previous year, ….. 

Some 9,500 people lost their lives in natural catastrophes last year compared with the ten-year average of 106,000. The relatively small number of fatalities was due to the fact that, in 2012, few severe natural catastrophes occurred in emerging and developing countries, where natural catastrophes tend to have far more devastating consequences in terms of human lives.

Prof. Peter Höppe, Head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research then adds his spin to try and ensure Munich Re’s business for the future:

 “It is not possible, of course, to attribute individual events to climate change, each theoretically being possible in isolation. However, numerous studies assume a rise in summer drought periods in North America in the future and an increasing probability of severe cyclones relatively far north along the US East Coast in the long term. The rise in sea level caused by climate change will further increase the risk of storm surge. And, with no apparent prospect of progress in international climate negotiations like those held recently in Doha, adaptation to such hazards using suitable protective measures is absolutely essential.”

COP18 in Doha: A convention of the cowardly in the “theatre of the absurd”

December 3, 2012

COP18 in Doha enters its second week and politicians are now arriving in droves. A small fortune has already been spent during the first week. But this is a gathering of an alarmist movement built on unprovable fears. Inevitably the greedy “groupies” gather (some 17,000 of them). A convention of the cowardly in the “theatre of the absurd”.

As The Economist puts it

NEVER let it be said that climate-change negotiators lack a sense of the absurd. Thousands of politicians, tree-huggers and journalists descended on Doha this week, adding their mite of hot air to the country that already has the world’s highest level of carbon emissions per head. The feeling of unreality is apt.  ……. The jamboree in Doha is the 18th UN climate-change summit, but the third since a landmark one at Copenhagen in 2009.

We shall see – and are seeing — new alarmist articles and press releases every day till the end of this week. But the fundamental problem is not so much the politics of alarmism connected with this one non-issue of climate change, but the fact that the once laudable environmental movement now resorts to the politics of fear. Courage is singularly lacking.

Courage is the subordination of fear to purpose. Today however with the politics of alarmism, fears dominate purpose. Inevitably these are fears which can never be disproved because they are forecasts of what lies a long way in the future. And the politics of fear generates its own greedy “groupies”

Once upon a time, the environmentalists were a courageous lot and were surely instrumental in the cleaning up of many areas from the effects of real pollution … But the simple virtues of keeping things clean and preventing disease and improving the standard of living for humans has given way to the more pompous and pretentious goals of preventing global warming (an unbridled arrogance), of maintaining bio-diversity (and why is this important?) and of preserving “scarce resources due to the “limits to growth”…  

… Inevitably the politics of alarmism are accompanied by the opportunists whose greed leads to all the scams surrounding environmental subsidies for renewable power or for carbon trading.

Flu vaccines are “over-promoted and over-hyped” and of limited effectiveness

November 21, 2012

I am rather suspicious of the enthusiasm with which influensa vaccination programs are pushed by some (including the WHO). The manufacture and sale of flu vaccines is enormously lucrative. Just in the UK the program costs £120 million every year. Worldwide just influensa vaccine sales are an estimated $4 – 5 billion. The total vaccines market is expected to grow from about $30 billion in 2012 to about $40 billion in 2015! For adult vaccines the biggest growth comes from public health programs pushing influensa vaccines:

Driving that growth is an increasing acceptance of adult vaccines and the public health focus on flu prevention, ……  world sales of adult vaccines reached $12.5B in 2010, up from $10.1B in 2009 largely on strong growth of influenza vaccines. ….

….. Most vaccine revenues are earned by five companies: Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co., Pfizer, and Novartis. They held nearly 80% of the market as of 2010.

The names of the members of the committees which recommend wholesale flu vaccinations are often shrouded in secrecy and often  – when revealed – are found to have unhealthy ties to the manufacturers of the vaccines.

Something smells!

The Independent takes up the issue:

The flu vaccine given to millions of people each year in Britain is “over-promoted” and “over-hyped” and the protection it offers against the seasonal illness has been exaggerated, scientists claim. Flu causes thousands of deaths, mainly among the elderly, in the UK each year but the vaccine is of limited effectiveness, especially for older people. One expert told The Independent the Government should be held accountable for “wasting taxpayer’s money” on the annual £120m national vaccination campaign. ….

… A report published by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, US, says the misperception that existing flu vaccines are highly effective has become a barrier to developing new and better vaccines. It also risks undermining public trust in mass immunisation campaigns if Governments fail to tell the truth about the vaccine. ….

…… Flu vaccine has to be re-formulated every year on the basis of an educated guess by experts who attempt to match it with the strains of the rapidly mutating flu virus likely to be circulating that season.

A 2010 review by the highly respected Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of experts, concluded that the vaccine had little impact in years, like the winter of 2011-12, when the vaccine and the viruses were mismatched.

On average, flu vaccine shortened the illness by about half a day but did not reduce the number of people hospitalised, it said. …….

Potsdam Institute for the World Bank showcases alarmism at it its very worst

November 19, 2012

 Just in time for the COP 18 meetings in Doha, the Potsdam Institute has produced – for the World Bank – the most apalling mish-mash of baseless fear-mongering I have seen for a long time (one could say that being from Potsdam it is only to be expected).  Much about increasing emissions but nothing about the broken link between carbon dioxide and temperature. This is Alarmism at its worst.

Why a 4°C warmer world must be avoided (Summary pdf)

 

Superstorm Sandy fizzles to a tropical storm

October 30, 2012

Are US politics and media channels driven by fear-mongering and alarmism?

By the time it hit the US coast, the storm system Sandy which had been hyped by an alarmist media, irresponsible insurance companies and  a frightened set of politicians into the “worst storm ever to hit the US” had fizzled to be a tropical storm.

The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Sandy to a “post-tropical cyclone,” as it approaches the New Jersey coast.

It was no hurricane which hit the US coast.

It was no doubt a severe storm but was it really worth cancelling 8,000 flights for?


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