Will Global Warming Increase Heart Disease?

I was surprised to see this article in the International Herald Tribune suggest that global warming might cause increased incidence of cardiovascular death. In particular one statement struck me as being somewhat absurd.

On the sidelines of the European Society of Cardiology’s annual meeting in Vienna this week, some experts said that the issue deserved more attention. It’s well-known that people have more heart problems when it’s hot.

During the European heat wave in 2003, there were an estimated 35,000 deaths above expected levels in the first two weeks of August. In France alone, nearly 15,000 extra people died when temperatures soared. Experts say that much of that was due to heart problems in the elderly worsened by the extreme heat.

The hardening of the heart’s arteries is like rust developing on a car. “Rust develops much more quickly at warm temperatures, and so does atherosclerosis,” said Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University and program chair at the American Heart Association.

In higher temperatures, we sweat to get rid of heat. During that process, blood is sent to the skin where temperatures are cooler, which opens up the blood vessels. In turn, the heart rate rises and blood pressure drops. That combination can be dangerous for older people and those with weakened cardiovascular systems.

That’s interesting. It makes you wonder why all those old people move to Florida if increased heat is actually dangerous for older people. There are problems with this report, and while increased temperatures do cause some cardiovascular problems, they decrease others, and the picture is more complicated than this article would suggest.
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No! Bad media!

Do I have to roll up a newspaper?

Big Tom warned me in today’s cranks post of the ABC news’ headline Global Warming Tipping Point in ’09?” in regards to this paper from the Hadley Centre on new more sophisticated modeling techniques. Could they be more boneheaded?

Fortunately, nowhere in the article do they mention “tipping” points for ’09, it’s just that yellow headline. The point of the story is that this modeling that uses current weather patterns and data to model climate for the near future shows a likely lull in the current upward trend before further increases in temperature after 2009. This does not mean a “tipping point” has been reached, nor should such a thing be suggested.

Bad ABC news. Bad!

The Independent needs its environmental credentials to be taken away

Between electronic “smog” and their incessant bleating that every weather event is due to global warming, I have come to the conclusion that the Independent, with stories like this one, are trying to bring down the science of global warming from the inside.

It’s official: the heavier rainfall in Britain is being caused by climate change, a major new scientific study will reveal this week, as the country reels from summer downpours of unprecedented ferocity.

More intense rainstorms across parts of the northern hemisphere are being generated by man-made global warming, the study has established for the first time ­ an effect which has long been predicted but never before proved.

The study’s findings will be all the more dramatic for being disclosed as Britain struggles to recover from the phenomenal drenching of the past few days, during which more than a month’s worth of rain fell in a few hours in some places, and floods forced thousands from their homes.

I feel like Mooney said it best in what I quoted in his book review this morning:

At the outset, let me offer a critical point of clarification: Global warming did not cause Hurricane Katrina, or any other weather disaster. Or to put it more precisely, we just can’t say scientifically that global warming either does or not “cause” individual weather events.

Exactly! Will somebody please tell the independent this? Climate change is about increasing probability of certain types of weather. It is not possible or responsible to attribute specific weather events as evidence for or against climate change. These ridiculous assertions from the Independent are just as annoying as those coming from anti-GW cranks like Tim Blair who rejoice in every cold-snap. Climate is not the same as weather!

What is even more amazing is that in the same article they include this statement:

The new study, carried out jointly by several national climate research institutes using their supercomputer climate models, including the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office, does not prove that any one event, including the rain of the past few days in Britain, is climate-change related.

So why did you just write 10 paragraphs about how it is?


Perverting Conservation

Getting “buy-in” from an industry is crucial when attempting to regulate in favor of consumer protection or environmentalism. If the industry fundamentally does not accept the values embodied in the effort, it finds ways around it. After all, these companies have the brightest lawyers and engineers on their side, and if some public policy is supposed to do X, they’ll find a way to make it do Y.

A case in point is the popularity of hybrid cars and the conservation of fuel. Luxury car companies have found a way to pervert them from energy-saving devices to gas guzzlers with the patina of conservation. Just check out this article on the Lexus LS 600h. Lawrence Ulrich reports:

…You can actually park that terrific gas-only Lexus in the garage and have $30,000 to buy a Prius hybrid, with cash left over. Save the LS for special occasions and run errands in the Toyota at more than double the mileage. While Lexus plays the hybrid game, it’s the Prius that takes care of business.

Kilimanjaro and Global Warming

I’m surprised it took as long as a day for denialists like Patrick Michaels to gloat over the finding that the loss of the ice caps on Kilimanjaro – an example used by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth – has turned out to be from causes other than global warming (a more in depth paper).

But one thing they usually won’t mention when they quote these articles – how Kilimanjaro was the exception that proved the rule.

In an article in the July-August edition of American Scientist, Mote and Kaser also cited decreased snowfall in the area as a driver of melt because bright, white snow reflects sunlight back into the atmosphere; if there’s not new snow, sunlight gets absorbed and melts the ice.

The scientists say that other declining glaciers, like the South Cascade Glacier in Washington, would be a better poster child for the plight of glaciers in a warming world, which are indeed diminishing overall as a result of climate change. It’s just that Kilimanjaro is one exception to the trend. Government photographs taken from 1928 to 2000 have shown that the South Cascade Glacier lost half its mass in that time.

“There are dozens, if not hundreds, of photos of mid-latitude glaciers you could show where there is absolutely no question that they are declining in response to the warming atmosphere,” Mote said.

Why am I not surprised that they never seem to mention this part of the article. Hmmm. Anyway, the best overview of the problem I think comes from Geek Counterpoint:

Kilimanjaro has pretty much been used as a “poster child” for global warming by Al Gore & co. Meanwhile, climate change “skeptics” have used the data for Kilimanjaro’s natural thawing as supposed “proof” that climate change isn’t behind any glacier’s retreat. Essentially, both camps have fallen victim to their own versions of confirmation bias (you see what you expect / want to see…).


Is there any idiot theory UD won’t credulously repeat?

Now it’s the “Rachel Carson killed millions” nonsense over at Uncommon Descent and it’s based upon this WSJ editorial from Dr. Zaramba, the health minister for Uganda.

What’s really embarrassing is how they link the entire article and it’s clear they didn’t even read it.

BarryA writes:
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Hurricanes and Global Warming

Ever since I heard the link I was hoping for something more solid than the weak associations I was hearing about on NPR and other news sources. It seemed very preliminary, and a bit worrisome that, especially in the foreign press, that they were claiming things like the New Orleans/Katrina disaster was the first example of a global warming disaster. The evidence simply wasn’t conclusive and in general in science, results need to age. It’s like cheese or wine, you wait for the results that get better with time, and you have to be patient.

I’m reading now in New Scientist that the hurricane link, when evaluated through proxy-data over about 3 centuries, is pretty weak. (Nature article here)
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Profile of a Crank – Julia Stephenson

Ben Goldacre at Bad Science is leading the way on opposing this new absurdity of “electric smog”, and one of it’s leading proponents in Britain, Julia Stephenson.

It’s really too easy. Remember the crank HOWTO? Well, she’s just about a perfect example.

It all started when she got wifi in her apartment…
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