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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Air Pollution - Mass Killer Or More Political Jobs for The Boys

  This is the official line:

The World Health Organization states that 2.4 million people die each year from causes directly attributable to air pollution, with 1.5 million of these deaths attributable to indoor air pollution.[15] "Epidemiological studies suggest that more than 500,000 Americans die each year from cardiopulmonary disease linked to breathing fine particle air pollution. . ."[16] A study by the University of Birmingham has shown a strong correlation between pneumonia related deaths and air pollution from motor vehicles.[17] Worldwide more deaths per year are linked to air pollution than to automobile accidents. A 2005 study by the European Commission calculated that air pollution reduces life expectancy by an average of almost nine months across the European Union.[19] Causes of deaths include aggravated asthma, emphysema, lung and heart diseases, and respiratory allergies.[citation needed] The US EPA estimates that a proposed set of changes in diesel engine technology (Tier 2) could result in 12,000 fewer premature mortalities, 15,000 fewer heart attacks, 6,000 fewer emergency room visits by children with asthma, and 8,900 fewer respiratory-related hospital admissions each year in the United States.[citation needed]

The US EPA estimates allowing a ground-level ozone concentration of 65 parts per billion, would avert 1,700 to 5,100 premature deaths nationwide in 2020 compared with the current 75-ppb standard

   But is it true. Or is it yet another case opf taking genuine results at high levels and assuming a proportionate linear reaction all the way down. That is the Linear No Threshold theory proven, after 60 years spent inducing hysteria about the nuclear industry, to be wholly false.      Welll it seems to be the latter. Here is the particular research:

Exposure misclassification and threshold concentrations in time series analyses of air pollution health effects.

Brauer M, Brumm J, Vedal S, Petkau AJ.

Linear, no-threshold relationships are typically reported for time series studies of air pollution and mortality.

.... These results demonstrate that surrogate metrics that are not highly correlated with personal exposures obscure the presence of thresholds in epidemiological studies of larger populations,       If  1 person stands in 8 feet of water they will drown, therefore if 10,000 people stand in 6 inches pf water 625 of them will drown - that is the LNT theory.       I looked this up because Steve Milloy wrote a more general article comparing the air pollution deaths alleged, under oath, by the EPA and China's many times worse air quality:

China’s bad air puts the lie to EPA scare tactics

As a practical matter, the average level of PM2.5 in U.S. air is about 10 micrograms per cubic meter, and the EPA standards are hardly ever exceeded in the vast majority of the country. Nonetheless, the agency’s justification for such strict standards is its assertion that PM2.5 kills people — a lot of them.

Outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson testified about PM2.5 before Congress in September 2011: “Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It is directly causal to you dying sooner than you should.” Mrs. Jackson also testified that PM2.5 kills about 570,000 Americans annually, about 25% of all U.S. deaths. 

... The EPA has estimated that every 10 microgram-per-cubic-meter increase in PM2.5 increases daily death rates by about 1 percent. That rate is asserted to be higher for vulnerable subpopulations like the elderly or sick.

What should all this mean for China?

On the worst day so far of the ongoing Chinese air pollution event, Beijing’s PM2.5 levels peaked at 886 micrograms per cubic meter — an incredible 89 times greater than the U.S. daily average. Based on EPA risk estimates, we should expect the daily death toll in Beijing to have skyrocketed by 89 percent on a same-day and next-day basis. Remember that PM2.5 essentially causes “sudden death,” according to the EPA.

Beijing has a population of about 19.6 million and an annual death rate of a little more than 500 per 100,000. This means that about 100,000 people die annually in Beijing, or about 274 per day.

According to EPA risk estimates, the day the PM2.5 level spiked to 886 micrograms per cubic meter, the daily death toll should have increased to about 518 deaths — that is, if what the EPA says about PM2.5 is true.

The Chinese media have reported on four deaths related to the current air pollution crisis. Two Chinese boys were reportedly killed in a train accident caused by visibility problems. Two other people were apparently killed in a car accident, again caused by visibility problems. Yet there are no reports of a spike in deaths caused by breathing the heavily polluted air.

One Beijing hospital reportedly claims to have experienced a 20 percent to 30 percent increase in admission for respiratory ailments — but no deaths have been reported or claimed, and deaths are key to EPA’s PM2.5 regulations. Even the reported respiratory hospitalizations, to the extent any of them can actually be attributed to poor air quality, would more than likely be due to a genuinely toxic air pollutant or mixture other than mere PM2.5.

 I commented
  "The Chinese level was 89 times the US average. Lets assume this was particularly high and the Chinese average is 20 times thec US average. So if air pollution kills “570,000 Americans annually” (presumably EPA testimony on oath) the Chinese death toll, in a country 4 times larger, must be at least 46 millionm (far more if the assumptuion is that damage rises geometrically as would be normal) .

So no worries about China becoming the next superpower since they will all be dead in 28 years.

Assuming the EPA isn’t lying on oath."
      I think that about covers it. official claims of air pollutionn deaths are total and since if I can make these comparisons the "experts" can, deliberate lies. They help provide gainful employment for pseudo-environmentalist bureaucrats by scari8ng the public but that is it.      The UK Clean Air act was introduced when an inversion over London created a smog so strong people couldn't see their hands in front of their faces and hospitals registered 4,000 deaths more than expected. But that has nothing to do with modern experience thousands or even hundrerds of thousands of times less. The Clean Air act is lauded as the first environmental legislation and is almost certainly the most , or only, beneficial one, but this happened in the 1950s, long before the pseudo-environmental movement even iexisted.      I suggest that the default position for anybody involved in the movement is to ask if they are publicly on record as having denounced the use of LNT in air pollution, nuclear, food standards or elsewhere. If they haven't the base assumption has to be that they are lying in any other scare they promote until good, independent, evidence proves other wise.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Driverless Driving - Another Technological Revolution Caused By....

   The driverless car currently not only exists but has been licensed for regular road use inn Nevada other states are going that way too. Since the most difficult bit is the pregramming to allow ut it is likely that when it gets going and the cost effects of mass production come in costs will drop in the same way all electronic/computer systems do.

   Doubtless here we see the Luddites with an FUD (spread fear, incertainty and doubt) campaign tell us that it has not yet been proven that there could be no bad effects that haven't been considered. This is the standard tactic and works, so long as you have a media monopoly, for anything. Fraccing - who can say it might not have some unforeseen effect; GM food - who can say that an unforeseen effect might not turn yout great grandchildren green: video cassettes - who can say it won't pervert children; steam trains - who can say the humans will not die if they travel at 20 mph; nuclear power - who can say that unknown geological processes will not, centuries from now release an unknown amount of radiation with unknown consequences? In none of these cases is any sort of evidence needed and indeed the less evidence and less specific the allegation the more room for scare stories there is.

    However in countries not run by Luddites the driverless car revolution may take off remarkably quickly. This is from Forbes (HT Next Big Future)

  The driverless car has broad implications for society, for the economy and for individual businesses. Just in the U.S., the car puts up for grab some $2 trillion a year in revenue and even more market cap. It creates business opportunities that dwarf Google’s current search-based business and unleashes existential challenges to market leaders across numerous industries, including car makers, auto insurers, energy companies and others that share in car-related revenue.

Because people consistently underestimate the implications of a change in technology—are you listening, Kodak, Blockbuster, Borders, Sears, etc.?—and because many industries face the kind of disruption that may beset the auto industry, I’m going to do a series of blogs on the ripple effects that the driverless car may create. I’m hoping both to dramatize the effects of a disruptive technology and to illustrate how to think about the dangers and the opportunities that one creates.

....I’ll explore how real the prospects are for driverless cars. (Hint: The issue is when, not if—and when is sooner than you think.)

   However  the point I want to make, which is even more important than a single multi-trillion dollar technological revolution, is the social/governmental environment which cuasesw the technology to be developed.      I gave discussed driverless cars before here - with respect to the how that basic technology was developed.   AN AMERICAN GOVERNMENT X-PRIZE WORKS

..... so far as I knew, the only government sponsored X-Prize in the world. Well it turns out that the US Army put up $3 million of prizes & it worked:

"August 18, 2009: The U.S. Army's decades long effort to develop a practical autonomous UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) has succeeded. Earlier this month, two T2 vehicles equipped with sensors and control equipment, successfully passed realistic tests...

Two years ago, for the third time since 2004, the U.S. Department of Defense sponsored a race for robotic vehicles. For several decades, the U.S. Department of Defense has been trying to build a robotic vehicle. But in early 2004, the Department of Defense decided to try something different, and give enterprising civilian organizations a chance to show what they could do. DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) held the DARPA Grand Challenge. Put simply, the first robotic vehicle (moving completely under software control, with no human intervention) that could complete a 240 kilometer course, would get a million dollars for its designers. No one even came close. But a second Challenge, held in late 2005, yielded several finishers, and the first one picked up the million dollar prize for navigating a 212 kilometers cross country course in just under seven hours. All vehicles operated under software control, as true robots. The third "Challenge" race was held in late 2007, and had a two million dollar prize for the first vehicle to complete a 60 kilometer course through an urban environment (an abandoned air force base) in under six hours...

The DARPA Challenge races have been a bonanza in terms of advancing the state of the art for robotic vehicles. For less than $10 million in prize money and expenses, the Department of Defense has created new technology that would have otherwise cost more than $100 million, and taken a lot longer to perfect."

   One wouldn't have to have a high proportion of government sponsored  million dollar X-prizes create trillion dollar industries (a million times more) for it to be far and away, probably by orders of magnitude, the best use government, or society, could make of our resources.

    I think this case, on its own, proves the case for prizes (and there are many many other cases through history from longitude to the first plastic). 

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

An Engineer Seduced to the Dark Side by Alex Salmond & One Not by the Chinese

   I went to the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow lecture last night. The lecturer was, recently knighted, Sir Jim McDonald, an electrical engineer and he spoke on "Energy challenges and a low carbon future".

    I was told beforehand that he was a very good engineer and it was clear from his talk that he knows the facts and is capable of lecturing enthusiastically, well and confidently.
    He co-chairs (with the First Minister) the Energy Advisory Board in Scotland. He became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in March 2009

    So does he agree with me that all this eco-fascism is nonsense, or am I wrong, or is he? Well no to all 3.

     He was speaking in support of the "renewables" programme. as is his job. He even went so far as to say that the global warming scare was "evidence based" but stopped there, without actually giving any evidence.

     On the other hand he acknowledged that we could indeed be building as much power as we need from nuclear and said some particulalrly favourable things about small scale nuclear plants (around 25 MW but comparable to the 225 MW reactors Westinghouse are proposing to mass produce and could be mass produced here).

     He said that the first he had heard of the First Minister's wheeze of making Scotland "100% renewable by 2020" which emerged 4 weeks before the election, was when heard it on the car radio, and nearly drove off the road. As he said this scientifically illiterate promise has since been retroactively finessed to pretend it is just that Scotland will be able to provide the equivalent of 100% in renewables but will still have back-up power.

     He showed us maps of;  

Scotland's current generating capacity - about a dozen large generators

; of what it will be in 2020 - 4 generators, 2 of them, Hunterston and Torness being nuclear (both now officially closing in 2023, Hunterson originally being scheduled for retiral in 2009)

: and of what it will be in 2030 - none of them still providing power - with a deathbed humour remark about balaclava sales  

But despite all that he stuck to the party line asserting that "renewables is a fact" that is not going to go away because the politicians want it. The reason got explained during questions.    

    He then said that 10 years ago he would have been all for going for the best engineering solutions but now he was older and wiser and accepted that engineering reality was less important that what politicians and creators of "social policy" wanted. That "big business and government are hand in hand" and that if politicians want it done a certain way then it is the job of engineers to agree and do their best to make reality fit.

      I understand why he did that and even that there is virtue in doing what can be done in impossible conditions, but I find it sad.

     Obviously I would much prefer a society where economic freedom existed, or at the very least, a centrally planned socialist system where the central planners knew and cared enough to make decisions which are sane in economic and engineering terms and intended to benefit society (which is why I have a soft spot for Stalin).

      The questions at the end were disappointing (ie I didn't get to ask if he accepted that correlation between energy use and GDP; if I was wrong to think at least 94% of electriciry production costs are political parasitism; or what evidence there is for CAGW or the desirability of cutting CO2).
     The example of an engineer not being so seduced that I have been reading about is 

 Chen Xing, one of China's foremost hydrologists was involved in the design of the dam. He was also a vocal critic of the government dam building policy, which involved many dams in the basin. He had recommended 12 sluice gates for the Banqiao Dam, but this was scaled back to five. Chen Xing was criticized as being too conservative. Other dams in the project, including the Shimantan Dam, had a similar reduction of safety features and Chen was removed from the project. In 1961, after problems with the water system were revealed, he was brought back to help. Chen continued to be an outspoken critic of the system and was again removed from the project.

   The dam in question the Banqaio Dam broke in 1975, killing between 171,000 and 230,000 people (don't worry nobody else has heard of it either). Let us hope that when the lights go out in Scotland nothing so spectacular happens though we already have 3,000 excess winter deaths annually which gives us 70 years before we catch up.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cameron's New Cast Iron Promise - Letter To Be Unpublished and BBC Continue Censoring Dissent

  This letter went out to 40 publishers today. I will let you know if I am wrong and it gets published. It also has a short mention of 28 gate which also puts it on the list of, now 700 letters (unpublished) on that subject.
"So we, at last, have a promise that we will be allowed a referendum vote on EU membership - in 2017. This from "cast iron" Cameron who previously made such a promise to allow us a referendum over the Lisbon Treaty. To be fair to him the Labour, LibDem and SNP made the same promise in their manifestos and broke them even faster, the LibDems going on to put that referendum promise in their current manifesto too, with predictable results.
We in UKIP welcome this. "Bring it on" to quote those who said 2 years was to long to wait for the Scottish referendum.
Let us also see a proper debate on the subject too. It is generally recognised that the BBC, despite being required to be balanced, formed part of the 1974 campaign for a Yes vote. As the recent 28 gate scandal, where the BBC's claim that their support of the warming scare was based on the assurances of 28 "leading scientists" who turned out to be neither leading nor scientists, shows they are not above breaking their charter today.

A debate requires that both sides be allowed to speak, in roughly equal measure, without censorship. That would be a welcome novelty." --------------------------      Does anybody believe Cameron actually wants to keep this promise or will do so if the pressure is not kept on him, ot if he gets the chance to wriggle, like having to have another coalition?      In light of the last section of the letter Radio Scotland just did lecture by Menzies Campbell, in which he was given free range to arrack UKIP. The old buffer did indeed sputter when asked a moderately difficult question. --------------------------- I note Radio Scotland has not only reported on what representatives of the approved parties said about Cameron's speech but invited on Menzies Campbell, of Britain's 4th party for a very supportive interview (when he spluttered and failed to answer the only mildly questioning question the interviewer ignored it.   Yet you have not even hinted at getting a few words from Britain's 3rd party, UKIP, whose commitment to this isuue is clearly of great importance.

Indeed you even gave space to Campbell to make a dishonest attack on UKIP without objecting or even pointing out that UKIP was being allowed to reply.

Under the FoI I would like to ask the BBC if, as a result of censoring real debate in a manner consistent only with the doctrine of Fascism, a single employee of the organisation has at any time officially objected to the BBC's acting as a state propagandist willing to lie and censor. Also whether the BBC has obtained legal advice on the consequence of its breaching of its Charter and the law and what that advice was.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

An "Independent in EU" Scotland Would Lose 144,000 Jobs

  Tim Congdon, whose previous report on how the EU costs £150 billion, I reviewed here and found to be, if anything, on the cautious side, is doing another about the europhile's scare that 3 million jobs would be lost by quitting the EU. This is obviously a ridiculous lie since it depends on the EU stopping all out exports to them (illegal under international law) and at the same times us stopping none of their imports.

However this is from the summary:

:The UK’s participation in ‘the European construction’ (i.e., ‘the Common Market’ from 1973 to 1993 and the European Union since then) has reduced employment. If the UK had remained a fully independent nation, employment would now be higher than it is.

- The main reasons for the job destruction are two-fold - restrictive EU employment and labour market regulations, and the opening of the UK labour market to workers from poorer EU countries, particularly since 2004. (See pages 12 and 17 on regulation and Chapter 3 on immigration.)
- OECD data shows that last year the proportion of working-age people in employment was 63.8% in the Eurozone compared with 70.0% in the UK and over 72% in the main Commonwealth high-income countries. (See page 12.)

- EU labour markets are highly inefficient compared with those of other high-income countries, mainly because of excessive regulation.

- If the UK were to be become more like the Eurozone, because of yet more regulation and ‘harmonization’ with the Eurozone average, 1.8 million jobs would be destroyed.

- In the first 20 years of Common Market membership (i.e., the 20 years to 1993), the number of men in employment in the UK fell by almost two million. (See pages 14 and 15.)

- In the Great Recession employment in our country of UK-born people fell by 800,000, whereas employment of foreign-born people rose by 400,000. (See page 19.) About half of the increase in foreign-born employment was of immigrant workers from Eastern Europe, allowed in because of our EU membership.

     The underlined bit is of particular importance for Scotland concerning the "independence in Europe" debate. It seems now acknowledged that a separate Scotland would have to apply as a new member. New members are not allowed opt outs.

    Thus a separate Scotland would indeed have full regulation and ‘harmonization’ with the Eurozone average. That means, with 8% of the UK population we should expect the loss of 8% of 1.6 million i.e. 144,000 jobs.

    For obvious reasons this is something the "official, no UKIP members need apply" No campaign will be reluctant to mention but is vital.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Referendums - Scotsman Letter

  In today, a highlighted letter:

May I express my support for George Shearing's letter (Sat 19th Jan) calling for an enshrined legal right of the people to make decisions through referendums? This has long been UKIP policy.

Having such a right would have allowed us to have referendums on both Scots independence from Britain and British independence from the EU long ago without all the fuss. Indeed, bearing in mind that Labour, Tories, LibDems and Nationalists all made manifesto promises of an EU referendum over the lisbon Treaty (& the LibDem's last manifesto also promised they would support a referendum) having a legal right seems to be the only way to guarantee it would take place.

In Scotland, where we do not have a second chamber there is a desperate constitutional need for a brake on the power of the government and a right of referendum might be the only way we could put a brake on governmental power. Had we had that I doubt if we would have had billions poured into windmill subsidy, the smoking ban or the tram fiasco but am also willing to acknowledge that, had the people voted for any of these they would have a far stronger democratic legitimacy.   Neil Craig, Branch Secretary, UKIP Glasgow
    A simple little letter. Editings are underlined.. The underlined "Britian" was changed to "United Kingdom" which seems perverse since it weakens the comparison between the 2 referendum subjects.

    My only problem with referendums is that I would not wish to see them used to increase governmental power against minorities. Perhaps any referendum increasing such power should require a 2/3rds majority or perhaps I am simply letting my liberal/libertarian prejudices show. Daniel Hannan did blog recently about how the Swiss people consiste3ntly use their referendum power to lower rather than raise taxes so p0erhaps we should just trust the people entirely.

    I am also pleased that the reference to UKIP & my signature as such has not been removed.

    This is one of these policies that allows UKIP to outflank the sterile left/right no-man's-land. It is clearly very popular with voters and almost impossible for the old paries (particularly the alleged left) to argue against and I am quite serious about its particular applicability to Scotland. It might well cut the ground from under the Holyrood Soviet. Note that those online comments opposed simply said that UKIP is small rather than addressing the argument - strong evidence that they have no counter argument.
     This is after a series of unpublished letters replying to ongoing assertions by Roy Turnball (Slioch) saying that just because the Met Office released an acknowledgement they were withdrawing their claims of warming until at least 2018 (released on Christmas Eve when it would be buried without coverage) doesn't mean they have in any way their claims of warming, barbecue summers etc. etc.

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