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Science

Cold Fusion?

So, there’s this Italian guy named Rossi who has a little device he calls the "E-Cat" reactor tube. He says this reactor tube produces a Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR), or what the rubes call "cold fusion". Rossi has been a very secretive little fellow about his device, and has essentially been classified as either a crank or a scam artist—and has a white collar conviction record. So, he’s not especially trustworthy. He’s been challenged to submit the E-Cat to independent testing, because his claims about seem too good to be true.

Well, apparently he did. A team of researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden, the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, and Bologna University in Italy have uploaded a paper to Cornell’s xarchiv pre-press archive server entitled, "Indication of anomalous heat energy production in a reactor device", in which they say they observed the E-Cat in two tests, during which says things like, "the E-Cat HT2’s performance lies outside the known region of chemical energy densities," and it’s "at least one order of magnitude above the volumetric energy density of any known chemical source." To wit, the paper says the team observed "observed power production of 2,034 Watts thermal for an input of 360 Watts."

Not everyone is convinced, of course, and there are still troubling references to Rossi’s "industrial trade secrets". Skeptics are saying the physicists who took part in this are being hoodwinked by Rossi.

But if—and it’s a big if—the paper’s observations are true, then this is big. Really big. Still, it would’ve been nice if, in addition to the physicists, the team had taken a good journeyman electrician along, to look for the simple stuff.

~
Dale Franks
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What? We’ve lost no ice mass in Antarctica? But “consensus” said we would!

And, as we’ve said for a while, “consensus” is wrong.  I won’t call it ‘scientific consensus’ because there’s no such thing.  And, as you’ll see, there wasn’t much science involved in previous predictions anyway.  But first the news according to The Register:

Twenty-year-old models which have suggested serious ice loss in the eastern Antarctic have been compared with reality for the first time – and found to be wrong, so much so that it now appears that no ice is being lost at all.

“Previous ocean models … have predicted temperatures and melt rates that are too high, suggesting a significant mass loss in this region that is actually not taking place,” says Tore Hattermann of the Norwegian Polar Institute, member of a team which has obtained two years’ worth of direct measurements below the massive Fimbul Ice Shelf in eastern Antarctica – the first ever to be taken.

You don’t say.  And why is that?

It turns out that past studies, which were based on computer models without any direct data for comparison or guidance, overestimate the water temperatures and extent of melting beneath the Fimbul Ice Shelf. This has led to the misconception, Hattermann said, that the ice shelf is losing mass at a faster rate than it is gaining mass, leading to an overall loss of mass.

The team’s results show that water temperatures are far lower than computer models predicted …

So let me see if I get this straight … previous “scientific” studies were based in models that used no “direct data for comparison or guidance” and led us on this unscientific wild goose chase for what, 20 years?

But don’t expect this to stop anyone.  Scientific findings?  Bah, humbug.  They’re meeting right now, under the auspices of the UN, to save the world from the dire predictions the same sorts of models have forecast for our future – most likely based on about as flimsy a basis as these models were.

The rational among us know that. The ‘environ – mental’ crowd, however, will ignore this as they have every other bit of actual contrary evidence and we’ll continue to hear them claim that we’re losing antarctic ice mass at an alarming level (because remember, that sort of land based ice mass is bad because it will raise ocean levels and that fits their worldview and their agenda).

Science per se is not at all something they worship – unless it says what they want it to say.  If it doesn’t, they feel free to ignore it and pretend the contrary info comes from charlatans and “deniers”.

~McQ

ICYMI: Global warming appears to have stopped 16 years ago

But, of course, it is one of the Obama administration’s priorities (could it be because a carbon tax would most likely kill even more jobs?).  Bottom line?

The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week. The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported. This stands in sharp contrast to the release of the previous figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 – a very warm year.

Of course the figures, as mentioned, were “quietly” released without an media fanfare.  None.  They were just plopped out there.

Die-hard warmists aren’t going to pay any attention to it though.  Just watch.  Those who claim “science” should trump and we should be doing something to curb our carbon footprints really don’t care about science.

Does it matter that campaigners and the media are actively peddling disinformation? For the most part, probably not, as the public is by now used to such nonsense on just about every subject from unemployment figures to Barack Obama’s birth certificate. But there is one group that should be very concerned about the spreading of rampant misinformation: the scientific community. It is, of course, thrilling to appear in the media and get caught up in highly politicized debates. But leading scientists and scientific organizations that contribute to a campaign of misinformation — even in pursuit of a worthy goal like responding effectively to climate change — may find that the credibility of science itself is put at risk by supporting scientifically unsupportable claims in pursuit of a political agenda.

Absolutely.  But back to Roger Pielke Jr’s question at the beginning.  Does it matter that politicians and the media are actively peddling disinformation?  Yes, in fact it does.  Because they are able, if they convince enough people, to force us to pay for one of their revenue schemes with the false science they peddle.  So yes, it does matter.   But his point about scientists is important as well.  It is the scientific community that should be up in arms about the fiasco that global warming, or as warmists now prefer, “climate change”, has been presented.  Pure, grant peddling, hogwash.

Dr. Judith Curry at Georgia Tech says:

The data confirms the existence of a ‘pause’ in the warming. The impact of this pause within the climate dynamic community has been to focus increased attention on the impact of natural variability, particularly the impact of internal multi-decadal oscillations in the ocean.  The new climate model calculations for the AR5 have focused on trying to assess what it would take to accurately simulate these multi-decadal ocean oscillations and how predictable they might be.  These new observations and climate modeling results will hopefully impact the the IPCC AR5 deliberations so that we do not see the same overly confident consensus statements that we saw in the AR4.

Got that?  They don’t even know what it will take to simulate the “multi-decadal ocean oscillations”.  That should tell you all you need to know about the efficacy of the previous models which so “over confidently” claimed both viability and consensus.  As we’ve since learned, they had neither.

Final nail?  Oh, no.  Zombie warmism will be with us until the newest man-made apocolypse is “discovered”.

~McQ
Twitter: @McQandO
Facebook: QandO

Damn global warming!

This … this … this just can’t be!

Antarctica has broken the record for the greatest sea ice extent ever measured at either pole. If current trends continue, the Earth will be completely covered with ice much faster than the climate models predicted.

It has to be nonsense, right?  Is it the Onion?  We all know ice is melting and sea levels are rising … the media tells us so.  And then there’s Al Gore, the voice of reason.  We all know this can’t be true.  Just ask us:

OK, so the floating Arctic ice cap appears to be shrinking. Catastrophe if it goes on, right? As white ice reflects heat into space, past a certain point more and more heat will not be reflected, more and more ice will melt. Past such a “tipping point”, the ice cap would never recover – it would vanish completely, taking with it the ice cover of Greenland which would cause huge rises in sea levels and Biblical flooding worldwide. Not so much, according to the latest research by German climate scientists.

Really?  You mean, the ice isn’t melting?  The world won’t flood?  It’s not getting warmer?

What’s that you say?  You have actual science to back that up?

Real world measurements are the best tools we have at our disposal to monitor what impacts, if any, our use of fossil fuels is having on earth’s climate. Measured temperature increase has stopped for over a decade despite large increases in carbon dioxide. Loss and gain of sea ice in the Arctic is directly tied to cycles of warming and cooling ocean temperatures. Antarctic sea ice is increasing. Antarctic temperature is not increasing. The number of hurricanes around the world is not increasing and the strength of hurricanes worldwide is decreasing.

Antarctica’s temperature is not increasing?  You’ll probably claim sea temperatures haven’t risen either:

Using data from the Climatic Research Unit of the UEA, it appears sea surface temperatures may explain Antarctic Sea Ice at record levels. SST in the southern hemisphere have a cooling trend of -0.068C per decade over the last 15 years.

Oh, my.  The sea has been cooling for all these years?  But what evidence do you have that there’s more ice?

Global average sea levels fell by 5mm last year, presenting an inconvenient fact in a climate change narrative that warns of severe long-term threats to coastal settlements. The 5mm decline was almost twice the rate of the 3mm-a-year average increase recorded over the past 20 years and three times the 130-year average rise rate of 1.7mm a year.

Wow … so how do we hide that decline?

Just askin’

~McQ
Twitter: McQandO
Facebook: QandO

Oxygen isotope ratio cycles support skeptical climate change view

Anthony Watts publishes the following chart over at Watts Up With That:

O18

It has nothing at all to do with CO2 but instead with Oxygen isotopes (O18).  Why is that significant in the climate debate?

Oxygen isotope ratio cycles are cyclical variations in the ratio of the abundance of oxygen with an atomic mass of 18 to the abundance of oxygen with an atomic mass of 16 present in some substances, such as polar ice or calcite in ocean core samples. The ratio is linked to water temperature of ancient oceans, which in turn reflects ancient climates. Cycles in the ratio mirror climate changes in geologic history.

Connection between temperature and climate

The 18O/16O ratio provides a record of ancient water temperature. Water 10 to 15 °C (18 to 27 °F) cooler than present represents glaciation. As colder temperatures spread toward the equator, water vapor rich in 18O preferentially rains out at lower latitudes. The remaining water vapor that condenses over higher latitudes is subsequently rich in 16O.[2]Precipitation and therefore glacial ice contain water with a low 18O content. Since large amounts of 16O water are being stored as glacial ice, the 18O content of oceanic water is high. Water up to 5 °C (9 °F) warmer than today represents an interglacial, when the 18O content of oceanic water is lower. A plot of ancient water temperature over time indicates that climate has varied cyclically, with large cycles and harmonics, or smaller cycles, superimposed on the large ones. This technique has been especially valuable for identifying glacial maxima and minima in the Pleistocene.

Steve McIntyre notes:

Oxygen isotope series are the backbone of deep-time paleoclimate. The canonical 800,000 year comparison of CO2 and temperature uses O18 values from Vostok, Antarctica to estimate temperature. In deep time, O18 values are a real success story: they clearly show changes from the LGM to the Holocene that cohere with glacial moraines.

[…]

Given the high reliance on O18 series in deep time, one would think that paleoclimatologists would be extremely interested in a publication of the Law Dome O18 data and be pressuring Tas van Ommen on this point.

[…]

But despite the apparent opportunity offered by Law Dome, there has been virtually no technical publication of a high-resolution O18 or delD isotope series.

That’s not to say, however, it wasn’t offered:

On its face, Law Dome, which was screened out by Gergis and Karoly, is an extraordinarily important Holocene site as it is, to my knowledge, the highest-accumulation Holocene site yet known, with accumulation almost 10 times greater than the canonical Vostok site. (Accumulation is directly related to resolution: high accumulation enables high resolution.) The graphic below compares glacier thickness for some prominent sites for three periods: 1500-2000, 1000-1500 and 0-1000. its resolution in the past two millennia is nearly double the resolution of the Greenland GRIP and NGRIP sites that have been the topic of intensive study and publication.

[…]

A Climategate email shows that Phil Jones asked about the omission of the Law Dome series from the IPCC illustration in the AR4 First Draft. I asked the same question about the AR4 Second Draft. They realized that the Law Dome graphic had an elevated medieval period and thus, including it in the graphic would – to borrow a phrase from the preparation of AR3 – would “dilute the message” and perhaps provide “fodder to skeptics”.

Why would it “dilute the message” and provide “fodder to skeptics”?  Well look at the chart.  A clearly defined Medieval Warm Period and no hockey stick.

Speaking of “inconvenient truths”.

Much more on the subject here.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Coal powered, er electric cars, not as efficient as EPA claims?

Why I’d be shocked, shocked I tell you if that was the case.

The tease:

The Green Machine is now exposing how the US Government can choose to create data that disobey the laws of thermodynamics so that the worthless government policy of favoring plug in vehicles over gas or diesel powered vehicles can be supported by the public. Yes the US EPA chooses to make 34.4% equal to 100%.

Hmmm … I’m hooked, let’s see why:

The EPA allows plug in vehicle makers to claim an equivalent miles per gallon (MPG) based on the electricity powering the cars motors being 100% efficient. This implies the electric power is generated at the power station with 100% efficiency, is transmitted and distributed through thousands of miles of lines without any loss, is converted from AC to DC without any loss, and the charge discharge efficiency of the batteries on the vehicle is also 100%. Of course the second law of thermodynamics tells us all of these claims are poppycock and that losses of real energy will occur in each step of the supply chain of getting power to the wheels of a vehicle powered with an electric motor.

So the 118 mpg equivalent that the EPA allows the Honda Fit is nonsense?  Tell me it ain’t so!

Well it is simple the US EPA uses a conversion factor of 33.7 kilowatt hours per gallon of gasoline to calculate the equivalent MPG of an electric vehicle.

Dr. Chu Chu of the Department of Entropy is instructing the EPA on thermodynamics in coming up with the 33.7 kwh per gallon. On a heating value of the fuel 33.7 kwh equals 114,984 BTUS which is indeed the lower heating value of gasoline. The fit needs 286 watt hours to travel a mile and the Green Machine agrees with this for the 2 cycle US EPA test with no heating, cooling or fast acceleration. Using this amount of energy per mile and the 33.7 kwh “contained” in a gallon of gas, the EPA calculates the Fit gets 118 MPG equivalent.

All of these calculations are in fact flawed as the generation of electricity, the transmission and distribution of electricity, the conversion of the AC electricity into DC electricity, and the charging and discharging of the vehicle batteries all have energy losses associated with these activities. The average efficiency of power generation is perhaps 42.5%, the transmission and distribution efficiency is perhaps 90%, the AC to DC conversion and the battery charge discharge efficiency is about 90%. Multiplying all these efficiencies one can calculate that the overall efficiency is 34.4% to get electric power from fuels at the power station into stored electrons within the plug in vehicle’s batteries.

On this basis the 118 MPG equivalent is 40.6 MPG actual for the Honda Fit which is not much of an improvement to the gasoline version of this vehicle that has an EPA rating of 35 MPG combined for city and highway driving.

Uh, that’s quite a little downgrade in performance, isn’t it?  Nothing like being 190% off, EPA.

However, I am glad to see the administration has finally taken the politics out of science and has “real” science again serving the public’s best interest.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Climate change skeptics have “the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity”

Shocking I know.  In fact the findings are exactly the opposite of what those doing the study expected to find (via Nature.com):

As respondents’ science-literacy scores increased, concern with climate change decreased (r=−0.05, P=0.05). There was also a negative correlation between numeracy and climate change risk (r=−0.09, P<0.01). The differences were small, but nevertheless inconsistent with SCT, which predicts effects with the opposite signs.

[…]

Contrary to SCT predictions, higher degrees of science literacy and numeracy are associated with a small decrease in the perceived seriousness of climate change risks.

Or to simplify, the difference between the believing herd and thinking individualists. 

Speaking of the herd vs individualists, that takes us to the second claim:

If cultural cognition is merely a heuristic substitute for scientific knowledge and system 2 reasoning, reliance on it should be lowest among those individuals whose scientific knowledge and system 2 reasoning capacity are highest. SCT thus implies that as science literacy and numeracy increase, the scepticism over climate change associated with a hierarchical individualistic world-view should lessen and the gap between people with hierarchical individualistic world-views and those with egalitarian communitarian ones should diminish.

Not valid:

Among egalitarian communitarians, science literacy and numeracy (as reflected in the composite scale Science literacy/numeracy) showed a small positive correlation with concern about climate change risks (r=0.08, P=0.03). In contrast, among hierarchical individualists, Science literacy/numeracy is negatively correlated with concern (r=−0.12, P=0.03). Hence, polarization actually becomes larger, not smaller, as science literacy and numeracy increase.

Contrary to SCT’s predictions, highly science-literate and numerate hierarchical individualists are more sceptical, not less, of climate change risks.

These results won’t slow down the alarmists or stop them from calling skeptics scientifically illiterate.  But it will allow skeptics to laugh in their face when they do.

Another in a long line of alarmist myths about AGW put to death by …. science.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

New UN IPCC report drops AGW as the cause of climate change

Roger Pielke Jr notes that the new IPCC report covering climate change seems to take the skeptical argument to heart and stick much more closely to actual facts and what is really known  empirically.  Says Pielke:

The full IPCC Special Report on Extremes is out today, and I have just gone through the sections in Chapter 4 that deal with disasters and climate change. Kudos to the IPCC — they have gotten the issue just about right, where "right" means that the report accurately reflects the academic literature on this topic. Over time good science will win out over the rest — sometimes it just takes a little while.

His examples from the report:

A few quotable quotes from the report (from Chapter 4):

-"There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change"

-"The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornados"

-"The absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds for flood losses"

The report even takes care of tying up a loose end that has allowed some commentators to avoid the scientific literature:

-"Some authors suggest that a (natural or anthropogenic) climate change signal can be found in the records of disaster losses (e.g., Mills, 2005; Höppe and Grimm, 2009), but their work is in the nature of reviews and commentary rather than empirical research.

Maybe he’s right.  Maybe, finally, science will “win out”.  And I also hope that the administration that has said it will use science in its policy making process will now actually do so. 

Hello, EPA?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Fraudulent attack on Heartland Institute exposes Alarmist desperation

Sometimes it is interesting to let a story play out for a couple of day to see what’s what.  A couple of days ago I noticed a story on a blog which supports the Goresqe AGW nonsense with a story headlined “Heartland Insider Exposes Institutes Budget and Strategy”.

Listed under the story are a number of documents which Desmog Blog claims to be from an email package sent to contributing members of the Heartland Institute.

I sent the link to Jim Lakely, an old friend and communications director at Heartland.  I’ve known Jim for years and wondered if he’d seen the story at the link.

He wrote back quickly saying “yes” he’d seen it and it appears that one of the documents is a fake. 

That’s about the time I decided to sit back and watch while taking the time to read the documents for myself.  For most of them, nothing was particularly surprising and certainly there was nothing particularly damning.  If you’re familiar with the Institute, everything mentioned in the documents was pretty well known except perhaps some of the donor information Desmog chose to expose.  Obviously it was too important in their opinion to release the information quickly (apparently they released it within hours of getting  it) and to heck with privacy concerns.  These are the “bad guys” for heaven sake.  They don’t deserve the same rights or respect Desmog would most likely demand for themselves.  After all, they take money from the Koch brothers.

But to the fake document.  You can see it here.

What was missing from this collection of documents was something really damning.  Something Desmog and their ilk could point too and condemn the Heartland Institute.

Well, conveniently, there was this “confidential memo” which fit the bill perfectly.  It made statements like this:

Development of our "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms" project [emphasis original].
Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. [emphasis mine]

After reading that, you’re supposed to believe that the dastardly Heartland Institute is against teaching science and, of course the further implication is that AGW is “science” while the skeptical side is anti-science.  Of course that belies the fact that the Heartland sponsored climate conference this year, open to everyone, was billed as “returning the scientific method” to climate science, not abandoning it.

And can you imagine pitching “dissuading teachers from teaching science” to donors who have previously sponsored your effort to get the complete science out there?

Warren Meyer comments at Forbes:

For those of us at least somewhat inside the tent of the skeptic community, particularly the science-based ones Heartland has supported in the past, the goal of “dissuading teachers from teaching science” is a total disconnect.  I have never had any skeptic in even the most private of conversations even hint at such a goal.  The skeptic view is that science education vis a vis climate and other environmental matters tends to be shallow, or one-sided, or politicized — in other words broken in some way and needing repair.  In this way, most every prominent skeptic that works even a bit in the science/data end of things believes him or herself to be supporting, helping, and fixing science.  In fact, many skeptics believe that the continued positive reception of catastrophic global warming theory is a function of the general scientific illiteracy of Americans and points to a need for more and better science education.

Is the Heartland Institute developing such a curriculum?  Yes.  Is it designed to point out that the topic is “controversial and uncertain” and therefor be used to dissuade teachers from teaching “science”.  Hardly … what’s the point in developing the curriculum then?

In fact the curriculum is designed to present those parts of the science of climate change that don’t fit or contradict the faith based nonsense being taught and pushed by the alarmist side.   You know, the “inconvenient truths”.  Controversy and uncertainty have and always will be a part of science, but certainly nothing which would stop it from being taught.  This Rather-gateish attempt is the left trying to discredit an institution which has mounted a threat and is actually taking action against its alarmist creed.

Why do I compare it to Rather-gate?  Two reasons.  One, the fake doc.  Heartland acknowledged the authenticity of all the documents but one.  That document, it unequivocally stated, was a fake:

One document, titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute. It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact. [emphasis original]

Check out Anthony Watt’s analysis here.  You’ll see some Rather-gate like problems with the document.   Then read Megan McArdle’s (who, btw, is not a skeptic) total destruction of the memo

Finally, again to compare it to Rather-gate, at least one journalist has decided to cool it for the moment, given the document that is the most damning is said to be fake.  Heartland is pleased with that, however Warren Meyer made a little bet at the end of his Forbes piece:

If the strategy memo turns out to be fake as I believe it to be, I am starting the countdown now for the Dan-Rather-esque “fake but accurate” defense of the memo — ie, “Well, sure, the actual document was faked but we all know it represents what these deniers are really thinking.”  This has become a mainstay of post-modern debate, where facts matter less than having the politically correct position.

Andrew Revkin, the journalist in question, has indeed backed off for the moment, but:

Is Revkin himself seeking to win my fake-but-accurate race?   When presented with the fact that he may have published a fake memo, Revkin wrote:

looking back, it could well be something that was created as a way to assemble the core points in the batch of related docs.

It sounds like he is saying that while the memo is faked, it may have been someones attempt to summarize real Heartland documents.  Fake but accurate!  By the way, I don’t think he has any basis for this supposition, as no other documents have come to light with stuff like “we need to stop teachers from teaching science.”

Expect to see the argument that the document does indeed expose “the core points” when, in fact, it does nothing of the sort, but instead implies things not in evidence in order to discredit the Heartland Institute and characterize it as an activist organization instead of a think tank.  What this attack essentially says to me is that Heartland has finally achieved the level of “threat” to the AGW crowd.

Some things never change.

Well, except the climate.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

The call to control sugar sure sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

I’ve been writing about attempts like this for over 20 years.  Each time I do I remind people that much of the road to totalitarianism is paved with good intentions – well, at least sometimes.  This would be one of those times.

In this case I’m talking about a study claiming sugar is toxic and should be controlled by government.

I thought immediately of the climate debate (complete with modeling).  This is just a variation of the same sort of argument and solution.

More importantly, I thought of the saying above and reminded myself that since I began writing about these sorts of attempts 20 years ago a lot more paving stones have been laid in that road. 

Like ObamaCare. 

20 years ago an attempt such as this would have, for the most part, been laughed away.  Oh sure, some people have been pushing to have government control many things over the years.  But for the most part, the structure to justify and/or facilitate such grabs really wasn’t in place.  Much more of a totalitarian infrastructure now exists than did back then.

In the case of things like this, ObamaCare changed that game.  Because government has now passed a law which puts it in charge of controlling health care costs and requiring insurance of all Americans, it also is in the position to act to do what this law allows it to do legally – exert more control over our everyday lives.

What would have essentially been laughed away 20 years ago now has to be taken seriously.  We have to remind ourselves that the game has changed to the point that it isn’t at all inconceivable that something like controlling sugar and its intake through government aren’t at all as far-fetched as it once was.

To the details:

Lustig has written and talked extensively about the role he believes sugar has played in driving up rates of chronic illness such as heart disease and diabetes. Excessive sugar, he argues, alters people’s biochemistry, making them more vulnerable to metabolic conditions that lead to illness, while at the same time making people crave sweets even more.

It’s sugar, not obesity, that is the real health threat, Lustig and his co-authors – public health experts Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis – say in their paper. They note that studies show 20 percent of obese people have normal metabolism and no ill health effects resulting from their weight, while 40 percent of normal-weight people have metabolic problems that can lead to diabetes and heart disease. They contend that sugar consumption is the cause.

In other words, not everyone gains a lot of weight from over-indulging in sugar, but a large proportion of the U.S. population is eating enough of it that it’s having devastating health effects, they say.

"The gestalt shift is maybe obesity is just a marker for the rise in chronic disease worldwide, and in fact metabolic syndrome, caused by excessive sugar consumption, is the real culprit," said Schmidt, a health policy professor who focuses on alcohol and addiction research.

Obesity is bad.  Sugar causes obesity.  Control sugar. (Global warming is bad.  CO2 causes global warming.  Control CO2)

Think through that formulation.  Does anyone actually believe that if we “control sugar like alcohol and tobacco” that we’ll suddenly solve the obesity problem?

Is it really obesity or is it more of a rich, indulgent and sedentary lifestyle where many eat well beyond the recommended daily calorie intake each and every day?

The solution?  Well, back again casting a glance at global warming, the same:

But while individuals certainly can make small changes to their diets to eat more nutritiously, that alone is not going to effect major public health improvements, Lustig and his co-authors said.

In their paper, they argue for taxes on heavily sweetened foods and beverages, restricting advertising to children and teenagers, and removing sugar-ladened products from schools, or even from being sold near schools. They suggest banning the sale of sugary beverages to children.

Since these “scientists” are sure you can’t manage your own health or that of your children and since they’re convinced that you have to be controlled, they’ll just use the tax system for what it should never be used for – to control behavior, force change, and penalize you if you don’t comply.  Sound familiar?

Who gets to decide what is “sugar-laden”?  Why?  Who the hell are they to make such a decision for you?

By the way, banning junk food at school simply has no effect on obesity per one study.

Now obviously this is in the beginning stages, the stage where this would have mostly been waved away 20 years ago.  But no more.  You have to take all of these attempts at removing choice, freedom and liberty seriously.   There are forever do-gooders out there who see no problem whatsoever in using the power of government to control your life for your own good (a variation of “for the children”) or at least their definition of “good”.

Laura Schmidt, one of the authors of the study which recommends controlling sugar uses those battles of 20 years ago, and the losses to good effect in her plea to us to voluntarily give up more choice and freedom:

We need to remember that many of our most basic public health protections once stood on the same battleground of American politics as sugar policy does today.

Simple things like requiring a seat belt and having an airbag in your car to save you in a crash were once huge political battles. Now, we take these things for granted as simple ways to protect the health and well-being of our communities.

Pretty straight forward plea, no?  And she has precedent with which to justify it.  While you may agree that seatbelts and airbags are good things, you may not agree that a government mandate for each is.

That’s where we are on this.  Her solutions seem benign and certainly a product of good intentions:

First, we think that the public needs to be better informed about the science of how sugar impacts our health.

Second, we need to take what we know about protecting societies from the health harms of alcohol and apply it to sugar.

What doesn’t work is all-out prohibition — that’s very old-school and often creates more problems than it solves.

What does work are gentle "supply side" controls, such as taxing products, setting age limits and promoting healthier versions of the product — like making it cheaper for a person to drink light beer rather than schnapps.

After the “light beer rather than schnapps” remark she says:

The reality is that unfettered corporate marketing actually limits our choices about the products we consume. If what’s mostly available is junk food and soda, then we actually have to go out of our way to find an apple or a drinking fountain. What we want is to actually increase people’s choices by making a wider range of healthy foods easier and cheaper to get.

Corporate marketing “limits our choices”?   Really?  I must have missed it then.  When I enter the local Kroger, the first section I walk into is produce – apples abound.  Its not hidden away somewhere with very few choices.  It’s a cornucopia of good stuff. 

In reality, there’s no limiting of choice by corporate marketing.  This is a false assertion.  But she knows the language of freedom and tries very hard to spin this attempt to limit yours.

And after that she gets to what she really wants.  “Gentle supply side controls?”

– Contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Congress to encourage them to take sugar off the Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) list. This is what allows food producers to add as much sugar as they want to the products we eat.

– Support our local, state and federal officials in placing a substantial tax on products that are loaded with sugar. Ask them to use the proceeds to support a wider range of food options in supermarkets and farmer’s markets.

– Help protect our kids by getting sports drinks and junk food out of our schools. Ask our school boards to replace those vending machines with good old-fashioned drinking fountains. Ask local officials to control the opening hours and marketing tactics of the junk food outlets surrounding our schools. That way, kids can walk to school without being barraged by advertising for sugary products that taste good but harm their health.

Again, follow the pattern set by the global warming crowd.  Get a normal respiratory gas which is naturally occurring declared a pollutant and then tax the crap out of it while mandating all sorts of controls on its emission.  Some pattern here.

Rick Moran wonders:

Why do liberals insist they are the only ones smart enough to not run out and buy everything being advertised on TV and the rest of us are just sheep being led to the slaughter by evil corporate marketers?

It is the premise under which much of this attempt to control founds itself.  There seems to be an innate belief that government must do much more than it does in order to protect the poor, dumb proles from themselves and their urges.

If you listen to the liberal side of the house, the Puritan ethic of self-discipline, delayed-gratification and hard work seem to have somehow died in the early 20th century to be replace by a self-indulgent, live-for-today bunch of slackers who need a controlling hand from above (it occurs to me that this study will probably be used to justify the sugar tariff).

Unfortunately there are always those ready to oblige. 

The real answer is the same as it has always been.  Again, Moran:

The answer is better parenting. Don’t indulge your children’s natural desire for everything to be sweet. The answer is balance – giving your kids healthy food while recognizing that kids adore sweets and, in moderation, are actually good for them. Keep an eye on processed foods and the sugar content. If you don’t know how to read a list of ingredients, learn.

People taking responsibility for their own health and the health of their families is what is needed. Not some draconian regimen that puts sugar in the same class as whiskey.

Unlike 20 years ago, you’d better take this seriously.  Again, it’s a fairly simple formula – freedom equals choice.  Limiting choice means limiting your freedom. As odd as this may sound, it’s an important principle:  Freedom means the right to make stupid mistakes or do stupid things of which other may disapprove.  Freedom means the right to fail.  As long as your stupidity and failure don’t violate the rights of others, then it is really none of their business.

This and all other attempts like it are designed to make this the business of others.  And, as usual, their solution is to limit freedom.

Fight it with everything you have.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO