A Tipping Point Reached

Events this week make me wonder if we have reached a tipping point in climate change.  The trouble with tipping points is that you can only see them with any certainty well after the fact – which is something that has allowed certain high-profile climate scientists to get away with uttering the ‘tipping point’ cry for several years now.

Earth, they reason, is slow to react. Positive feedbacks set in motion only gradual effects. By the time we wake up to the danger it will already be too late – in fact, they say, it is.

The term “tipping point” commonly refers to a critical threshold at which a tiny perturbation can qualitatively alter the state or development of a system. (Lenton et al. 2008)

Year on year measurements reveal the change.  Subtle, imperceptible changes at first, then a hiatus perhaps, then an unstoppable gradual momentum builds. This week there was major slippage – in the mainstream media.

First in the US there was the article in the WSJ No Need to Panic About Global Warming (27th January).  Then the Mail on Sunday published Forget global warming – it’s Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again).  The evidence of the tipping point I’m talking about is not that these were published at all (although would we have seen them a few years ago – I mean really, would we?), but readers’ reactions to them.

The WSJ article (currently) has 8,981 likes on Facebook; 2,003 tweets on Twitter; 53 shares on LinkedIn; 330 +1 on Google.  On top of that are 2544 comments and the debate is still active.  The early comments (first few hundred) had a predominance of ‘thumbs up’ recommendations for skeptical comments.  As we’re now on page 59 of the comments and there’s no easy way back to the beginning I’m relying on memory.  The few diehard debaters that remain seem to include avid recommenders of both the skeptical and warmer persuasions;  the average reader has moved on.

The Mail’s article has 15,521 likes on Facebook; 1,874 tweets on Twitter; 181 +1 on Google and 702 comments.  The comment system here allows both ‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down’ voting, and viewing of the comments by ranking.  The best rated comments with 500+ (and up to 1702) positive recommendations are scathing of AGW and green taxes, while the worst rated with (200-769) negative recommendations are all from true believers.

Isn’t social media wonderful? The internet has become the demoscrasphere.

The change has been noticeable gradually over the last couple of years, but time’s up for global warming. The public is fed up hearing about it and is waking up to the reality of cooling and costs.

Even in politics it is happening too.  Christopher Booker’s very perceptive article on Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress recorded the audience’s reaction to the contents (bold mine):

...when he hailed the way his country’s energy future has been transformed by the miracle of shale gas, met with a storm of applause. Not only would this give the US energy security for decades, creating 600,000 jobs, but it could now go all out to exploit its gas and oil reserves (more applause). Yet this was the man who in 2008 couldn’t stop talking about the threat of global warming, and was elected on a pledge to make the US only the second country in the world, after Britain, to commit to cutting its CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 80 per cent within 40 years. [… ]

Even more telling than his audience’s response to this, however, was what happened when Obama referred briefly to the need to develop “clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes”. But no mention now of vast numbers of wind turbines – those props beside which he constantly chose to be filmed back in 2008. No harking back to his boast that “renewable energy” would create “four million jobs”. And even to this sole fleeting reminder of what, four years ago, was his flagship policy the response of Congress was a deafening silence.

While we have, in Booker’s words  “political America’s wholesale retreat from the great fantasy of global warming”, Britain sails on, not so much ‘regardless’ as having other kinds of icebergs on the horizon. As the Telegraph’s brilliant cartoons explain (links only due to copyright): Too much snow in Davos where the European leaders are going downhill rapidly and the eventual get-out clause because carbon capture and storage is soooooo expensive.

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33 Responses to A Tipping Point Reached

  1. Ed says:

    Hi Verity
    Very well said. Although I hate to be optimistic I do think you may well be right. However there will be an awful lot of crow to be eaten by some very arrogant people on the way. I am hopeful that we will enjoy watching it.

    [Reply – I know what you mean about hating to be optimistic – just calling what I see though. V]

  2. Hi Verity!

    its really an amazing number of comments, likes and dislikes. The debate is SO over… not!

    All the best!

    K.R. Frank

  3. Pascvaks says:

    True, but… in the US, the government never really “sold out” to the Catistrophic-Climate-Change-Let’s-Turn-Everything-Upside-Down-Now Histeria, maybe only because it’s very hard to turn elephants and jackasses toward one common direction and keep them going in that direction for more than a minute. For some altogether very strange and British and German and French and Etc. reason, the politico’s across the pond bought it hook-line-and-sinker, turned their Titanic’s in a straight direction, put the wheel on autopilot, told everyone on watch for bergs to get down out the rigging, and made sure all the millions of third class paxs were muzzled, tied up, and locked away below decks, with all the exit ways barred and chained. Not sure how they did it. It’s all like something from a Dicken’s novel, or one of those Russian guys. I have a feeling it’s something in the water over there. A Super Bug, that’s it! For the fast fourty years, or so it seems, we’ve been told that bleach kills 99.9% of the bugs. Now think about it… fourty years and that .1% has definitly been fooling around making stronger bugs, so now the bleach has no effect and everybody who hasn’t been drinking French bottled water is totally blitzed by the Super Bug and letting the Captain and Crew and 1st/2nd Class Pax have a Grand Old Time doing all sorts of crazy things… Well… it’s a thought. Right?

  4. Verity Jones says:

    @Frank – and the science is so not settled.

    @Pascvaks – indeed you are right that there was only temporary buy-in in the US and now the wind direction has changed. I do like your Titanic/crazed captain analogy for the brainwashed British and Europeans. The populace has woken up, but is it too late?

  5. gallopingcamel says:

    Great post!

    However, no matter what Obama may say, most of the USA is not in the mood to “Reduce its Carbon Footprint”. Everyone knows this is code speak for higher energy prices.

    It is the Europeans, Australians, New Zealanders and Californians who are in earnest about reducing CO2 emissions. It won’t matter and nobody will care. I say “Thank You” for doing dumb stuff so the rest of us won’t have to.

    • Ezekiel Zweck says:

      In regard to Australia being “earnest about reducing CO2 emissions”. We are getting a Carbon Tax here only because we have a minority government who were so desperate to hold onto power that the Prime Minister announced the carbon tax a year after saying, during the election campaign, “There will be no Carbon Tax under a government that I lead”. She has now achieved record low popularity for her and her party. Polling showed that a large majority of Australians didn’t want the carbon tax, which independent costings show will raise AU$ 3-4 billion less than the government are promising to give back to lower income earners as compensation! Only true believers – whether they are truly “green” or are watermelon greenies – could support that kind of governance. It’s been calculated that they difference this tax will make to the climate – if you assume that AGW is real and that taxing “carbon pollution” will actually do anything at all – is so small that there are currently no instruments in existence that could actually measure the drop in temperature! Genius, pure genius!

  6. Bloke down the pub says:

    @ Paskvacs
    I have a theory on the mass hysteria that took over European democracies in the name of global warming. Not just in the UK, but across Europe, populations got tired of the existing political system where parties of the left and the right took it in turn to muck things up. Then along came the green parties, wanting a clean environment (who doesn’t?) and offering the opportunity of a protest vote that couldn’t possibly do any harm. The old established parties had to swallow the new mantra or face years in the political wilderness. Hence we get slogans like the Conservative Vote Blue, go Green. That is why in the Uk at least, there is no mainstream party so far that has been prepared to stand up and say the emporer has no clothes on.

    • Kate says:

      BBC, UK Met office, academia all have pension plans loaded with trillions in investments in carbon emissions. This will not go down easily.

  7. Bloke down the pub says:

    Sorry Pascvaks, should have checked the spelling of your name.

  8. Pingback: Competition in the meme pool | Digging in the Clay

  9. Verity Jones says:

    The parties in power are too lilly-livered to dare risk going out on a limb when the green media would tear them to shreds. But just watch what happens when the parties realise that the public has woken up to a new-found realism and while they like the idea of green, in reality they want what we can afford. I think it won’t be long before we see the gubmint shedding the most of its green layers. After all look what’s happening (gradually) to public attitude over looting, strikes and now benefits and immigrants (on benefits) – or maybe I read too much James Delingpole.

  10. catweazle666 says:

    Good stuff Verity.

    Keep it coming.

    Here’s a pretty graph for your delectation.


    [Reply – thanks – here it is for those who don’t hit the link. Red is temperature; blue is CO2, V]

    Temperature & CO2 trends

  11. Mama says:

    Hate to tell you all that under the UN agreement signed by GW Bush and then implemented by Clinton we have in the US and organization called ICLEI. It is a UN group operating in over 600 cities and counties and it is the soft usurpation of private property rights and without private property there is no liberty.

    70% of small businesses get their start because someone took a loan out against their home. When our homes become valueless due to regulation and rezoning there goes economic liberty and basically all liberty. They are trying to tell us sugar is as dangerous as cigarettes and alcohol. They just want to tax and regulate us to death…for any reason they can come up with.

    No longer do people lose their property because of a faux wetland – now it is called “sensitive areas” – you can be told not to use part of your property. That is a government taking without compensation. Urban growth boundaries, Smart Growth, Planned Communities, Sustainable Communities, One Valley, One Bay, One this One that – all of it a move to take away cars and private property in the name of social justice – a term no one on the movement will define.

  12. Kate says:

    I have worked very hard in the blogosphere to bring this day.

    But am concerned by what Mama says above.

    see Democratsagainstunagenda21.com Has anyone seen the new building codes for 2012?? How much has the EPA driven up the price of an automobile? Is California’s cap and trade system going to breathe life into the CCX and ECX? Why aren’t Republicans using the long list of big corporations tied to Obama in hopes of making billions on pollution credit speculation?

    We must say Enough!

    • Verity Jones says:

      Hear hear Kate!

      I must say I can see things changing. If I look at the time since I turned skeptic (2007) the started blogging (late 2009) there was little change in either the scope or tone of coverage on AGW and environmental issues. If anything articles got more shrill and preachy (less explaining, more imperative). However, in the last two years there’s been a huge change. This time last year the tide had turned. Kevin (with whom I share this blog and who is the database and mapping knowhow behind the climate analyses I used to do) said “We’ve won” but at that time nobody realised it. I think he was right – on climate anyway. This year every month, every week, every day seems to add more weight to that.

      But your concern – and Mama’s – is very real. Is it possible we can win the fight only to find we have already lost the war?

      Public opinion is a very strong master – whether for climate issues, or regulation and sustainability. We need to cut through the complexity and give people some reality to spread – https://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/competition-in-the-meme-pool

  13. cptwayne says:

    The truth about CO2 is emerging. Yes, it warms, but only a little. It has much less heat capacity then water vapor, which it replaces in the upper troposphere. At 400 mbar (where the IPCC says its most important), the humidity is dropping and cooling the atmosphere. This cooling from lowered humidity is offsetting the effects of the increased CO2 warming. It is suggested too that the total GHGs, including water vapor, has not increased in over 60 years due to this displacement. While CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere, its net effect may be one of cooling instead of warming. This would certainly explain the ice age many years ago when the atmospheric CO2 was 10x today’s.

    [Reply – agree – however don’t you mean lowered humidity from cooling? A cooler atmosphere being able to support less water vapour and therefore there being more condensation and precipitation, Verity]

  14. Chad says:

    “…when he hailed the way his country’s energy future has been transformed by the miracle of shale gas, met with a storm of applause.”

    Forgive me for being so blunt, but the pure condescension and arrogance of this article is disgraceful.. I’m not talking about global warming but do people not realize the harm that fracking for gas, and the pollution of extracting hydrocarbons has caused? As well as the burning of these? How many people realize the cancer rate is approaching 1 in 2 people this century? It doesn’t matter whether you believe in global warming or not, whether you’re a democrat, republican, immigrant, you need fresh clean drinking water, clean air, good food and shelter. To applaud shale oil/gas supplies, and scoff at renewables is a disgrace. Personally I hold no stance on global warming, because there is too much bull**** coming from both sides of the argument that BOTH have vested interests, that without dedicating my whole life to researching this very thoroughly I can hold no opinion.

    I do know these to be facts, coal releases substantial amounts of mercury into the air and water, mercury is one of the worst neurotoxins known to man. Oil/petroleum has so many carcinogens within, in both combusted and pure form that using this as a fuel has got to go. VASTLY improving efficiency and reducing wasteful decadence is the only way to go short term until renewable energy becomes a more viable alternative.

    • Verity Jones says:

      Careful about being so alarmist – you need to get facts right or people will dimiss your whole rant as baloney:

      “How many people realize the cancer rate is approaching 1 in 2 people this century?”

      Er in developed countries the rate is 30% (1 in 3) and much less in the developing world as cancer development is age related. It is quite a stretch to turn 1 in 3 into 1 in 2.

      I’ll comment on your other points when I get time this evening.

      • Verity Jones says:

        Your idealism is just that – sadly there is no magic fix for our energy resources.

        The current renewables for which markets have been artificially created have a very poor cost benefit ratio – for all the good they do. If you think fracking and oil production are 100% bad across the board, what about mining? Without mining and refining of rare metals, renewable technologies would not be as advanced – do you not worry about the mining pollution. And then if we move to energy crops – what about the extra land area, fertiliser and water for that? I could go on.

        Are you one of these people who campaigned against Alar on apples but would happily eat fruit or vegetables with a tiny brown spot on it that might be growing and producing an aflatoxin? Ignorance is bliss I guess and everything is relative.
        If you must sound off – be very careful you are not promoting a fix that is worse than the situation you are railing against.

      • Chad says:

        Firstly, let me state that there is nothing inaccurate in what I said, you’re taking me out of context, if you interpret carefully I stated ‘approaching’ in the ’21st century’. It’s true current rates are approximately 30%. If you have a 30% chance of a horrible disease, if your children have this same probability, and that’s not something to be concerned about, then what in the world is?

        “Based on rates from 2006-2008, 41.21% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer of all sites at some time during their lifetime.” http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html

        The overall rates are higher for men than women, for men born this century it’s very much likely to be closer to 50% than 30%. Of course predicting future rates will never give a 100% accurate result, and it’s not explicitly a result of an ageing population, for sure this is a very significant factor involved here (I’m not disputing this), but the age specific cancer rates are also increasing in western nations in recent years despite a generally decreasing smoking population. It’s not sky-rocketing sure but cancer is often an extreme symptom of pollution, there are many other illnesses are caused by it. Before anyone says anything I never said all cancers are caused by pollution. But something is taking up the slack here, it’s true that obesity can also increase the cancer rate, but these people are more likely to develope heart disease instead. It’s a very complicated subject of course.

        WRT to the second part of your post. as I can’t reply to that directly

        Oil and gas are indeed a form of mining in and of itself. You’re releasing some toxic chemicals to consume more toxic chemicals in this case. That is why I said we need to focus on efficiency of these resources, I agree life right now is impractical without oil and gas, but I think society could double it’s efficiency in terms of usage of these resources, if oil were $500 per barrel, you’d see massive efficiency increases in all aspects of modern life (not that I support increasing the price of oil per say). The first step should be improvement in the ludicrously inefficient forms of trade, such as the importing food from China to other nations. If the US had instead developed Mexico instead of China imagine how much fossil fuels could be saved? Sending goods on 15,000 mile trips around the world for products that could easily be made locally is sheer insanity for an effectively finite resource no matter how you look at it. If things were more efficient, we wouldn’t have to be exploring more and more risky deep oil resources which lead to terrible disasters like the Gulf of Mexico which then required even more toxic chemicals released to clean up the spill. What’s getting in the way is ignorance of society in general, and lobbyists within the government along with market forces that need intervention to function correctly. And the “oh but it’s so much cheaper to buy from China” argument does not stack up, because this leads to unemployment at home which means less buying power within your original community. Mining of minerals is also harmful, many of these produce toxic by products in either extraction, refinement, while many others have a small environmental harm other than territorial destruction (deforestation, etc). But that does not mean we should stifle research into this field. So you raise some good points, at the same time we have to keep investment research in these area’s. In theory I would support a mining tax if those revenues went DIRECTLY into an increased recycling program to recollect these materials in an efficient manner could help to offset such things to an extent. The pollution in such an approach is far reduced. Land fill is quite rich of important resources and the current recycling is ineffective, insufficient and confusing. Every county/council has different rules regarding what recylcing is picked up and where you can despose of harmful products, and this has to become more unified and widespread. I still see people throwing appliances into the garbage even though it’s illegal to do so. So while I agree that renewables are not really ready for deployment right now, I feel they are getting close. There are 40% efficient solar panels showing signs of development and I feel this next generation product is finally sufficient to have a lower dust to dust environmental impact than does fossil fuel technologies if these are deployed effectively. I agree that the current programs are not working well, and generally encouraging shody low quality product that are very inefficient, certainly pushing these technologies out too early is causing it’s own issues. But major investments have to be made in these areas, if not least simply because hydrocarbons are a resource soon to be in decline.

        You apple example, if I see mold growing on an apple, it’s quite simple really, cut that section off, if it’s bad I’ll discard the apple entirely. I’ve been doing that before I even knew what a mytotoxin was, because I made an assumption long ago, that a diseased part of fruit would be either lacking in nutrients, full of bacteria or possibly capable of holding more pesticides (I still don’t know the answer to that question, but it seems plausible). Alar or not, apples still have brown spots, it’s not a miracle chemical. Although, Alar was before my time, I have been efficient and careful in my food preparation.. But in theory, I do agree with banning the substance, by the time you buy an apple it could be 3 months old no amount of Alar would protect for that long. Food safety is one of my biggest concern, and perhaps that’s why I have only been sick once in the past 13 years, and that was with influenza. While I can choose these things, I can’t really choose how much environmental pollution I am exposed to, and that is impeding my own freedoms in a way. So while I always buy low or nil VOC products I use a mechanical (manual) lawn mower, axe to cut trees, and a bicyle when I can. I can’t force others to do so, but they should want to do so.

        There’s probably not much you could teach me about toxins. I believe I am quite learned in this field, of course I try to be as open minded as possible, I always believe that every person has something to offer, to learn from. So I thank you for putting up with me, on what is your blog.

      • Verity Jones says:

        Firstly the point I was making about mould spots on apples (and elsewhere) is that mycotoxins spread well beyond the visibly affected area, which is why cutting the spot out does not avoid exposure. They are a long range defence that protects the food supply from other comers – so they need to spread out.

        You say you are quite learned in the field of toxins and there is probably not much I could teach you – how so? On one hand you say you have an open mind, but there is not much I could teach you. Be careful – that does not sound like an open mind – even a professor is always open to learning new things and cannot be an expert in everything. Besides, you do not know my field of expertise nor my history of employment.

        You have an obvious fear of toxins and pollution so let me explain my experience of illness. Twenty-five years or so ago I had a prolonged period of unexplained ill health. I too worried about pollution and toxins. I changed my diet and my lifestyle and that brought some improvements, but every so often I’d have an unexplained relapse. About ten years ago my life changed completely. At the same time a routine blood test picked up the cause of my ill health, which was unusual, genetic and mild. I’m not going into details, but the one consequence was that I stopped worrying – I mean completely – and my illness went into remission. I was “a worrier” and stopping that was the one key to better health.

        We all want a cleaner world, but it has gotten a lot cleaner in the last few decades. Perhaps the biggest choice we each have to make is to be pessimistic or optimistic, and I choose the latter.

      • Chad says:

        “Firstly the point I was making about mould spots on apples (and elsewhere) is that mycotoxins spread well beyond the visibly affected area, which is why cutting the spot out does not avoid exposure. They are a long range defence that protects the food supply from other comers – so they need to spread out.”

        Yes, you’re right. I knew the probable reason for mycotoxins as you said to secure a potential food source, even this is not a proven theory as far as I’m aware, but the leading theory with a high probability of being the correct one. I wasn’t aware at the time the fungi carried these toxins within them, I thought they produced them after finding a food source and using this energy source to create mycotoxins so were mostly found after the fungi were at least partially established. I’ll admit the proliferation of this group of toxins may not have been my greatest strength and that this is partially incorrect. One thing to consider is where you buy the food from, some stores will sell apples picked within days, others and yes this is 100% true, can keep apples for up to 10 months before offloading them onto the poor consumer! Fungi have a very good chance of spreading in such a time frame, although I’m not 100% sure of the storage methods used, I believe they store them CO2 to keep them “fresh”, but don’t quote me on that.

        “You say you are quite learned in the field of toxins and there is probably not much I could teach you – how so? On one hand you say you have an open mind, but there is not much I could teach you. Be careful – that does not sound like an open mind – even a professor is always open to learning new things and cannot be an expert in everything. Besides, you do not know my field of expertise nor my history of employment.”

        My toxicological knowledge is mostly in ‘natural’ occurring and man-made chemical compounds some of this knowledge has come from some journals, one book and some internet sources. It is mostly in terms of the impact these pose directly at a biological level. I don’t work in the field, nor have I done a course in the field.

        The English language is not always very clear my terms ‘probably’ and ‘much’. Probably, by definition “having a 51%-99% greater chance of being true”, and “much” I substantiate as a term being significant enough to somewhat change ones outlook in that subject. If you literally take that, I have given you a possible 49% chance of changing my outlook on the subject, in those terms, I would say this qualifies as an open mind. If you are too open minded of course you will always believe the last article you have read as 100% fact, and this is quite often not the case. Perhaps what I said was not quite as I had intended it to sound, either way I apologize if it sounded as if I am all knowing in the field, it is a field in which I am reasonably well versed, but far from all knowing! As you have shown about the distribution of mycotoxins which I have validating using the most ‘reputable’ sources I could find in such short order, so I thank you for increasing my knowledge in a related area of interest.

        “You have an obvious fear of toxins and pollution so let me explain my experience of illness. Twenty-five years or so ago I had a prolonged period of unexplained ill health. I too worried about pollution and toxins. I changed my diet and my lifestyle and that brought some improvements, but every so often I’d have an unexplained relapse. About ten years ago my life changed completely. At the same time a routine blood test picked up the cause of my ill health, which was unusual, genetic and mild. I’m not going into details, but the one consequence was that I stopped worrying – I mean completely – and my illness went into remission. I was “a worrier” and stopping that was the one key to better health.”

        My assumption about your use of the term, ‘obvious fear’ as stating a paranoid stance, and that as you used to be, I’m a ‘worrier’. Let me define what I believe to be more accurate terms, I would say a ‘concerned’ individual. I used to be a worrier too, and again if I sound like somehow who it wearing a tin foil hat, and paranoid obsessive, then I am sorry for this. I know how harmful stress can be, but as I explained I haven’t really been ill for some 13 years now, so I think that in itself was a clear enough demonstration that my stress levels must be relatively low or at least within ‘check’. Yes, I can get carried away at times and my original post was maybe made on one of those rare days. And I should apologise for it’s abrasive nature, it was perhaps not the most becoming way to have expressed my truest of feelings. Regardless, every time I fix an issue or find a better solution it makes me feel good inside to have done so. I prefer not to think of the harm something can do, but the good an alternative or solution can do. Every time I find a better alternative, with a lower total impact I feel happy knowing that it will benefit myself and my family, the people who I love and care for above myself. Everything is in the eyes of the beholder, and I choose to see the beauty in what it can be. But you must become the change you want to see.

        “We all want a cleaner world, but it has gotten a lot cleaner in the last few decades. Perhaps the biggest choice we each have to make is to be pessimistic or optimistic, and I choose the latter.”

        I rarely disagree with you, and for the most part I have at least partially agreed with your comments, but this one I will change my stance. Let’s define “cleaner”, I hope you would agree, that this could be defined as less contaminants in the essentials of life, that is air, water and food. I haven’t read much into the ‘food’ supply literature currently, however I did see a recent article about increasing cadmium in produce, and frequently drinking water is used on farm produce. So what do the studies regarding this actually show? Generally, in western nations in terms of air quality, lead has reduced, which is excellent, the water supplies also generally show a small decrease here, depending on the location at which samples are taken from, but the effect is usually slower. All pollutants vary in the time they break down, some last a few days, or weeks, others years, some even thousands of years and essentially never break down. With an ever increasing total world population and increasing production of completely useless throwaway junk products that people are blindly purchasing primarily from China, most of the other pollutants are still increasing, especially in developing countries, but also in western nations.
        Of course everything varies across the globe and air quality is more often considered the ‘here and now’, and sometimes less reflective of long term trends, because rain either makes many of these fall to earth or they are heavier than air and so will do so on their own accord eventually. If you move a heavily polluting factory from the US to China, do you say air quality has improved in the US? Perhaps, but the global pollution continues to increase and water quality studies will continue to show more toxins as these products are sent to leach out in landfill. Even many studies into wildlife are showing a high probability of increased rates of death from cancer, particularly larger aquatic wildlife. And this is highly unlikely to be stress related (except possibly in Cetaceans (whales and dolphins), due to sonar usage). So while some pollutants have gone down in drinking water and air, the general trend is that there are more and more ‘types’ of chemicals finding their way into drinking water, and this includes significant presences of pharmaceuticals, which are not reflected in ‘air quality’.
        Getting back more to the CO2 debate, I always point out in this argument, to the proponents of global warming. Those who are screaming about CO2 levels and yet have very little consideration for any other pollutant. Some people even go as far as to think CO2 is the worst pollutant there is, and this is definitely far from the case.
        Maybe ignorance is bliss, but I think a much better bliss is the one we have the power to create for ourselves.

      • Verity Jones says:

        it’s been a pleasure… You know it is easy for people (self included) to write something focussed and even one-sided on a blog, and often the best writing is driven by a bit of passion and cannot consider all sides. It is quite usual for this to enflame commenters (self-included) to respond with the same, yet when you actually get down to talking around the subject and discussing the details, people show real depth and often agree on a lot of the details.

        Perhaps it is unfortunate the sometimes a little bit of bias, or even polemic is required to stir people, or even to make writing interesting. It can be an absolute bore to read something that tries to satisfy everyone.

    • catweazle666 says:

      >>Oil/petroleum has so many carcinogens within, in both combusted and pure form that using this as a fuel has got to go. <<

      You are totally ignorant.

      Oil/petroleum consists almost exclusively of carbon and hydrogen, neither of which is carcinogenic.

      Go away and learn something about the subject before you accuse others of pure condescension and arrogance, the very character defects you so profoundly demonstrate yourself.

      • Chad says:


        You’ve implied hydrogen and carbon are separate this is so blatantly false and ignorant in itself. Almost exclusively hydrogen and carbon? True, but this has nothing to do with anything, what on earth are you talking about here? You can easily take 2 inert substances and make something extremely toxic, for that matter. It’s like calling you a chimp because you share 99% of your DNA with them. Small changes can change things unrecognizably. Do a quick search for yourself, you’ll see petroleum includes some really nasty stuff like aromatics. Which are highly carcinogenic forms of hydrocarbons. You are the first person I have EVER seen to dispute this fact. You’re either extremely conspiratorial or very well misinformed on the dangers here.

        Furthermore, I’d like to point out that some chemicals are so potent that it does not take much to kill you, look at Botox, 1ng/kg can kill you! This is an extreme example, but many of these substances have been proven to be carcinogenic at substances in the parts per million and even parts per billion.

  15. Verity Jones says:


    “You’ve implied hydrogen and carbon are separate…”

    Cat’s statement was overly simplistic, but does not imply (to me anyway) that they are separate.

    “…petroleum includes some really nasty stuff like aromatics.”

    Yes it does – and they are carcinogenic, but our exposure to those coming from oil/petroleum needs to be put in perspective with many other sources in everyday life. ‘Aromatics’ form naturally during combustion – even of ‘sustainable’ woody biomass. In fact one of the issues with the move from fossil fuels to biomass burners is our ability to control the burn and ensure that toxic elements are not released. Ironically the move to wood burning stoves increases our exposure to ‘aromatics’:

    “Newer airtight wood stoves keep more of the carcinogens out of the burners living space, however they deliver more carcinogens to the burners neighbors. One wood stove in one hour, produces approximately 4,300 times more PAH than thirty cigarettes (Larson, 1993) (Ott, 1999). Burning two cords (a cord of wood is a pile which measures 8 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet.) of wood produces the same amount of mutagenic particles as driving 13 gasoline powered cars 10,000 miles @ 20 miles per gallon (Lewtas, 1991).
    In the San Francisco Bay Area a winter trend of increased mutagenic activity in tested air samples was spotted in the early 1980’s. Winter samples were three to nine times more mutagenic than during other seasons. Cleaner cars helped lower the PAH but not the overall mutagenicity of the winter air (Flessel, 1991).”

    Source: http://burningissues.org/car-www/science/pah-comp-wood-coal.htm

    Perhaps you like BBQ – that’s likely to cause you even greater exposure:

    “…polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are present and can cause cancer, too. PAHs are in smoke from incomplete combustion, so if you can taste smoke on your food, expect it contains those chemicals.”

    Source: http://chemistry.about.com/b/2011/05/15/barbeque-carcinogens.htm

    • Chad says:

      Correct, but I don’t like BBQ burning the outside of meat while the inside is relatively and sometimes undercooked does not appeal to me on many levels, I don’t use wood heating. I’m lucky enough to live in a relatively warm climate where I do not need such things. Some others around here do, and I have the stuff it’s a terrible cause of smog. I know about all these sources, and it’s sad that people still use these primitive technologies.

      • Chad says:

        I meant to say “hate the stuff”, PS. Why can’t I reply to your other posts?

      • catweazle666 says:

        Life is a sexually transmitted disease, and is invariably fatal.

        Enjoy it while you can, you won’t get a second chance, stress and worry will kill you faster than a bit of scorched dead animal.

        This is not a drill.

        As for your idea of smog, for what it’s worth, I experienced the real “pea-souper” smogs in British cities in the 1960s before the clean air effects took effect, they killed thousands in a few days, and you literally couldn’t see your hand in front of your face even in daylight. Everything ground to a halt. They were very unpleasant indeed.

        Truly, there is nothing like that now, even in China.

  16. Verity Jones says:

    Wordpress only allows ‘reply’ comments 3 deep (or that may be what I’ve set up as a limit on the blog, I can’t remember).

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