Friday, October 23, 2020

Fact Check - The Real Truth About Global Warming

Global warming is perhaps the most important political issue today, or at least that's the way it appears based on the number of questions the media has asked during the 2020 presidential campaign.    That's why it's really important to get the science right on global warming, aka climate change.   Fortunately, and thanks to the Coronavirus, we have a new appreciation for how science works... and sometimes doesn't work.

As it turns out, there's not always a straight line from ignorance to certainty when it comes to science.  There are lots of twists and turns along the way.  Take the simple issue of whether or not masks work.  There are credible scientific voices on both sides of this debate.  In fact, the top scientist in the U.S. Government on matters of infectious disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has himself been on both sides of the mask issue. Which scientists are we to believe when they often say opposite things?  The same would apply to lockdowns, Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesevir, the value of randomized controlled trials, the value of testing, and more.

Unlike COVID-19, climate change has been around for 4.5 billion years.   Since you may have only heard about the last several decades, here is the rest of the story:

  



A Socratic Guide To The Burning Question Of Our Time


Intro I

There's an old Jewish joke that goes something like this:

No matter what Shlomo did in bed, his wife could never achieve an orgasm. 
Since by Jewish law a wife is entitled to sexual pleasure, they decide to consult their Rabbi. 
The Rabbi listens to their story, strokes his beard, and makes the following suggestion: "Hire a strapping young man. While the two of you are making love, have the young man wave a towel over you. That will get God's attention and he will provide an orgasm."

They go home and follow the Rabbi's advice. They hire a handsome young man and he waves a towel over them as they make love. It does not help and the wife is still unsatisfied. Perplexed, they go back to the Rabbi.

"Okay,' he says to the husband, "Try it reversed. Have the young man make love to your wife and you wave the towel over them."

Once again, they follow the Rabbi's advice. They go home and hire the same strapping young man.

The young man gets into bed with the wife and the husband waves the towel. The young man gets to work with great enthusiasm and soon she has an enormous, room-shaking, ear-splitting, screaming orgasm.

The husband smiles, looks at the young man and says to him triumphantly, "See that, you schmuck? THAT'S how you wave a towel!"
_________________________________________________________________________________

Intro II

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.

In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

Michael Crichton, author of "Jurassic Park", "Andromeda Strain", "Westworld", and numerous other works of fiction and non-fiction. Crichton also held a medical degree from Harvard.
_________________________________________________________________________________

A Brief History of the Theory of Global Warming (aka Climate Change)


It all began back in the 1700s when some rock stars - no, not that kind of rock star, geologists actually - were traipsing around Europe and noticed that some of the boulders in the valleys matched the rocks on distant peaks.  The only plausible explanation for how those boulders traveled so far was that they must have been carried by ice.  This idea was fleshed-out a few decades later by a scientist studying skeletons and frozen remains of large mammals in Siberia.  Thus was born the idea of The  Great Ice Age.  But that opened up a whole new can-o-worms; if ice once covered the Earth, what melted the ice?

In 1824, around the same time these ideas were percolating, a scientist named Joseph Fourier figured out that Earth would be much colder without its atmosphere.  Air was trapping heat from the sun and keeping us warm, he said.  Fourier had discovered the greenhouse effect.

Building on Fourier's work, other scientists found that about 70% of the greenhouse effect was due to water vapor, 20% was due to carbon dioxide (CO2), and the final 10% was due to methane, ozone, and other gasses.  A theory developed that maybe changes in the atmosphere had ended The Great Ice Age.

Water vapor was dismissed as a cause because excess water condenses and falls-out as precipitation.  CO2, methane, and ozone do not cycle as quickly, so the theory of melting ice focused primarily on CO2, which while only .04% of the atmosphere, accounts for 20% of the warming effect.

Two things were going on at the same time as all this.  One was the industrial revolution and the burning of coal in newly invented steam engines.  The other was the observation that the existing glaciers were continuing to melt!   Could they be related and tied back to changes in CO2?

Along came a Swedish scientist named Svante Arrhenius, who in 1898 calculated the hypothetical climate change that would result if atmospheric CO2 was cut in half.  He calculated that the Earth would be glaciated...as it was during The Great Ice Age!  He also calculated that if CO2 doubled, we'd have melting ice and ...global warming!  So, the "modern" CO2 theory of global warming dates back to the calculations Arrhenius did 120 years ago in an attempt to explain the onset and demise of The Great Ice Age.   

Meanwhile, we've been burning progressively more carbon fuels like coal, oil, and gas in the last 120 years.  Finally, in 1960, an American scientist named David Keeling began measuring CO2 levels at an observatory in Hawaii.  What he discovered was that CO2 was trending up at an alarming rate!  

So with Keeling showing CO2 skyrocketing, Arrhenius' saying we are going to fry if CO2 rises, and glaciers continuing to melt, that eventually leads to Al Gore, Kyoto, Paris, The UN IPCC, and a scientific "consensus" saying global warming is an "existential threat". (Meaning, the end is nigh!)

In 2009, the U.S. government under Barack Obama officially declared that CO2 emissions endangered life on Earth.  Whole generations now believe we are doomed.  Some have even stopped having children thinking there is no future.   

All from a gas that humans exhale, that plants inhale, that makes up only .04% of our atmosphere, and that formed the basis of a theory developed in the 1800s to try and explain the The Great Ice Age!

_________________________________________________________________________________

Pop Quiz:
So, what really ended The Great Ice Age?
A. CO2
B. Mr. Milankovitch
Since this whole CO2 inquiry began as an attempt to explain The Great Ice Age, one of the first questions to ask is, was the premise right?  Have we learned anything new since Fourier, Arrhenius, Keeling, et al?  Do we now know what caused and ended The Great Ice Age?

You are probably certain it was CO2.  After all, you've been told for years that CO2  drives climate.  Since the 1800s and Arrhenius we've believed that changes in CO2 can have dramatic effects.  We still believe CO2 is melting glaciers today.  It's "settled science" after all.

Except, that's not what happened.  It turns out, Mr. Milankovitch did it.  (Yup, our climate has been hacked by the Russians! Actually, he was Serbian, just sounds Russian.)  Milutin Milankovitch was a scientist who figured out in the 1920s that the Earth has a cyclical relationship to the sun.  It tilts. It wobbles. It's orbit changes.  Some cycles take 100,000 years to complete.  Some take 41,000 years.  Some take 23,000 years.  The effect of all this is rather dramatic... ta da... climate change!

MILANKOVITCH CYCLES


Of course, Milankovitch was instantly dismissed as a kook.  Even today as I'm typing this, his name is unrecognized by the spell-check gremlins in my computer.  Fourier, Arrhenius, and Keeling, however, are spell-check VIPs.

Until 1998, Milankovitch got no respect.  But then a funny thing happened down in Antarctica.  Scientists drilled an ice core at a place called Vostok (more Russians!) that gave them a 420,000 year climate history, and voila, there were major ice ages and warmings every 100,000 years.  There were also shorter cycles in between.  Milankovitch could no longer be dismissed, except of course by spell-check.

           


Then in 2000 another Antarctic ice core was obtained at Dome C that goes back 800,000 years.  Again it confirmed Milankovitch.  The Great Ice Age now had a plausible explanation.  The Earth's relationship to the sun caused major climate change - global coolings and global warmings - going back as far as we can see.

Dome C Temperature Estimates


If major climate change happens at least every 100,000 years, as Milankovitch theorized, and the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, then there have been 45,000 of those alone.  The Great Ice Age was just the latest in a countless series of coolings and warmings!

Another name that should get mentioned at this point is Eddy, as in John A. Eddy.   Eddy was one of the most recent astronomers to study the cyclical output of the sun.  He published a groundbreaking study in 1976 and named the most recent solar minimums and maximums.   While Milankovitch cycles play out over tens of thousands of years, solar cycles can be as short as 11 years.  They are also closely correlated with...ta da...climate change!

Here are some of the solar minimums and maximums from recent Earth history that resulted in major global warmings and mini-ice ages:



You can see why glaciers are melting today by looking at the right side of the solar activity graph. We are also near a peak in the Milankovitch cycle.  Something would be horribly wrong if glaciers were NOT melting today!

So between Milankovitch's orbital cycles and Eddy's solar cycles, these are the bases for ice ages and their demise.  These are the bases for perpetual climate change.  In addition, one-time events like volcanoes and asteroids can also produce dramatic and sudden climate swings.

So, CO2 did not cause either The Great Ice Age or any of the many tens of thousands of cyclical coolings and warmings that preceded it.  It's the fluctuating sun and our wonky orbit that cause climate change.

(A newer ice core at Allan Hills, Antarctica claims to go back over 1.2 million years, and it also confirms Milankovitch.)
_________________________________________________________________________________

Pop quiz:
Still, within the Milankovitch and Eddy cycles, we know that:
A. CO2 drives climate change 
B. Climate drives CO2 change
Just because Arrhenius et al were wrong about The Great Ice Age doesn't mean they are also wrong about what will happen if we add massive amounts of CO2 to our atmosphere.  According to the CO2 theory of global warming, as CO2 increases, so will temperatures.
    That's why you are probably certain that CO2 still drives climate change.  A consensus of scientists, academics, politicians, and celebrities have been telling you for years that higher CO2 concentrations will cause the Earth to get hotter.  As we burn more and more fossil fuels, that releases more CO2 into the air.  CO2 is a greenhouse gas, ergo the Earth gets hotter.  It's simple.

    Except, that's not what happens.  Along with temperature records going back 800,000 years, we also got CO2 records for the same time span.

    Here's the CO2 and temperature record from the Dome C ice core: 

    Dome C Temperature and CO2 for 800,000 Years (Red = CO2, Blue = Temps)




    At first glance temperature and CO2 appear to be closely correlated.  One might even conclude that Arrhenius was right and that CO2 caused the ice ages.      

    But when zooming in on this graph, something interesting is revealed; CO2 trails temperature by 1200 years, + or - 700 years!  

    Climate Change (blue) precedes CO2 Change by 1200, + or - 700 Years


    CO2 and the other atmospheric gasses behave somewhat like water vapor, except over a longer timeframe.  We know that hotter air can retain water vapor in greater concentrations than colder air.  There is also a water cycle that is constantly moving water from vapor, to precipitation, to ground, to sea, and then back to vapor.  CO2 has a similar cycle, just not as quick. 

    A number of datasets from ice and sediment cores confirm this finding.  The hotter it gets on Earth, the more CO2 can be found in the atmosphere.  Contrary to what you've been told, CO2 does not drive climate.  Climate drives CO2!  The alleged cause is actually an effect.
             
    _________________________________________________________________________________

    Pop Quiz:
    Still, pumping CO2 into the atmosphere is a new thing, and that's what makes this an existential threat!
    A. True
    B. False 
    As everyone since Keeling knows, CO2 levels are in-fact rising.  And who can forget Al Gore on the scissor lift in his movie showing CO2 going literally off the chart?  And as everyone knows since Arrhenius, more CO2 makes Earth hotter, right?

    Except, that's not what's happening.  Yes, we are in a warm period due to both Milankovitch and Eddy, and accordingly, CO2 is rising.  That's to be expected.  But the question remains: is this time different because we are burning fossil fuels?  Can CO2 work both ways?  Can it both be driven by temperature and also drive temperatures up?

    If greenhouse gasses both increase as temperatures go up, and then cause even more warming, why is the greenhouse effect not a runaway reaction? According to Arrhenius and modern global warming theory, the greenhouse effect should create a feedback loop.  Why isn't that visible in the ice core data?  

    The answer has to do with the light spectrum and each gasses' role in trapping radiation in the troposphere.  

       

    At the affected upgoing wavelengths, which are the ones involved in global warming, CO2 is already absorbing 100% of the radiation it is capable of absorbing.  Adding more CO2 into the atmosphere can not trap more than 100% of the affected radiation!  This is why the greenhouse effect is not a runaway reaction or a feedback loop.  It's a self-limiting reaction.

    In the 1800s, when Arrhenius was doing his calculations, the instruments for measuring the light spectrum this accurately did not exist. (Then again, neither did antibiotics, airplanes, Model T Fords, transistors...)

    Additionally, as CO2 increases, the CO2 cycle speeds up.  Here's an example of how the biosphere absorbs CO2 at faster rates:



    So, adding more CO2 into the atmosphere will not effect climate, and any CO2 increases will just grow the biosphere.  
    _________________________________________________________________________________

    Pop Quiz:
    Still, there is a scientific consensus that says CO2 is uniquely warming our planet, and no one can prove otherwise.     
    A.  True
    B.  False

    Anyone who's taken a middle school science class knows the value of a control group.  Luckily, scientists have the ability to track temperature and CO2 on some of the other bodies around Earth.  Venus, Mars, and the Moon are particularly close to us and have yielded some interesting data.  If global warming theory is right, temperatures on those bodies should be un-correlated to Earth temps because they are free from the effects of industrialization!

    Except, that's not what's happening.  In an odd coincidence both Mars and the Moon are warming!  (Of course, it's still man's fault!)  Milankovitch is particularly relevant to the Moon, because as goes the Earth, so goes the Moon.  Eddy is particularly relevant to Mars, because as goes the Sun, so goes Mars.

    But there's more.

    In our solar system, only Venus, Earth, and Mars have CO2 in their atmospheres.  In another amazing coincidence, the concentrations of CO2 closely match their relative distances from the sun, which in turn determines their temperatures.  Venus, closest to the sun and very hot, has about 2400 times the CO2 concentration Earth has.  Mars, furthest from the sun and cold, has about 24 hundredths as much CO2 as Earth.  Curious, no?  So, it appears climate drives CO2 even on the other planets!

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    Pop Quiz:
    Still, we know that global warming is true because all the predictions have been right!
    A. True
    B. False
    Real science can accurately predict the future.  If a cannon ball with a known mass, is fired from a cannon with a known amount of force, at a known trajectory, etc., science can predict exactly where it will land.  That's how science works.

    If global warming science is real and quantifiable, scientists would be able to similarly predict the future of climate.

    Except that's not what has happened.  In fact, every single dire prediction has been proven wrong.  100% wrong.  Here's a brief summary of what the experts have predicted:

    • Global famine by the year 2000 - Dr. Paul Ehrlich, Nobel Prize recipient, Professor 
    • Entire nations wiped out by 1999 - Noel Brown, U.N. Environmental Director
    • Ice caps will melt away and oceans will rise causing massive flooding by 2014 - Al Gore, VPOTUS, global warming evangelist
    • End of snow in England by 2015 - Dr. David Viner,  climate scientist at The University of East Anglia
    • Increased tornadoes and hurricanes - James Hanson, professor of climate at Columbia University & the high priest of global warming, and The U.N. IPCC
    • New Ice Age in Europe - Dr. Paul Ehrlich
    • Sub-Saharan Africa drying up - U.N. and World Bank
    • Massive flooding in China and India - Asian Development Bank and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
    • Polar Bear extinction - National Geographic, The New York Times, Guardian, among many.
    • Drastic Temperature Increases - James Hanson
    • The Earth will be in a “True Planetary Emergency” by 2016 unless greenhouse gasses are reduced - Al Gore
      None of those predictions came true.  Not one.  And that is just a tiny sampling.   

      And here are some of the bad predictions from just this past year!
      _________________________________________________________________________________

      Pop Quiz:
      Still, we are under an existential threat because the Earth is progressively getting:
      A: Hotter 
      B: Colder 
      You are probably certain that the Earth is getting hotter.  The name global warming itself describes the danger.  You are probably familiar with the apocryphal "hockey stick" graph featured in "An Inconvenient Truth":



      Except, that's not what's happening in the long run:
        




      The Earth is actually getting cooler! 

      Five million years is not much when you consider the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.  That would take 900 - five million year graphs!  So, here's another graph estimating 65 million years of global climate change, still only a fraction of Earth's life.  Again, it clearly shows Earth is cooling.  

          
      The existential threat is that we will eventually freeze, not bake!

      _________________________________________________________________________________

      Pop quiz:
      Still, in the 200,000 year history of mankind:
      A. It has never been this hot
      B. It's been much hotter before 

      No doubt you are sure it's never been this hot.  It says so on the "hockey stick" graph.  And just consider the melting glaciers!

      Yet, we know that 1100 years ago, when the Vikings first went to Iceland, there were no glaciers there.  Today, glaciers cover much of Iceland.  Similarly, Vikings settled on Greenland around the same time and successfully farmed there for 500 years.  But they abandoned Greenland in the mid 15th century, presumably because it got too cold.  Those two events are known as the Medieval Warm Period and The Little Ice Age. Curiously, you won't find either of those events on Al Gore's graph.

      Here's a graph that shows 10,000 years of climate change from ice cores on Greenland:





      And here's a map of glacial retreat in Glacier Bay, Alaska going back 2 1/2 centuries.  As you can see, glaciers have been in retreat since long before your SUV!





      We have enough data to know that this warm period is nothing new.   It's been hotter than this many times before, even in man's brief 200,000 year history.

      _________________________________________________________________________________

      You are still free to believe in the CO2 theory of global warming.  Heck, you are free to believe in anything you want, including Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy!  But any serious person who looks into global warming must reflect long and hard before blindly waving a towel for the consensus.

      _________________________________________________________________________________

      I was the founder of Kindzone.com, one of the first companies to test market retail carbon credits.  I've been closely following the science and consensus of global warming for over 20 years.

      Ron Reich   

           

        

      Monday, October 12, 2020

      Amy Coney Barrett v. RBG - A Tolkien Analogy



      "Of course my story is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power."

      The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #186



      Well, here we are in another Supreme Court confirmation death-match.  Yay!  It’s so great to see our leaders behaving in such a rational and fair manner.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!  (Oh wait, that’s nausea. Never mind.)


      Last time it was Brett Kavanaugh’s turn in the hot seat.  Democrats went so far as to accuse a highly respected accomplished lawyer and family man of serial gang rape!  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  It defied explanation.   


      And Kavanaugh was just the latest.  This slimy Kabuki theater has played-out every single time a conservative justice has been named, but never when liberal ones are.  Why is that?  And what could possibly turn these seemingly normal looking Democrat Senators into such vile sub-humans? 


      I found my answer in the pages of J. R. R. Tolkien. 


      If you’ll recall, "The Lord of The Rings" is a story that revolves around the fate of a certain magical ring in a fantasy world known as Middle Earth.  Though there were twenty of these rings forged, the story is about one ring that has power over all the others.  Whoever possesses it has super-powers like immortality, invisibility, and under certain circumstances, totalitarian power over Middle Earth.  But there’s a serious downside; so intoxicating and addictive is its power, it can transform its owners into unrecognizable, twisted, slimy, deranged, creatures. 


      And that’s exactly what happens when it comes to the absolute power of the courts.  The essential challenge for anyone who wears a black robe is to subordinate their personal agenda to a document written over two hundred years ago.  Not an easy job.  It takes an extraordinary amount of self restraint to put the original intent of the U.S. Constitution above one's own politics.  Moreover, just like the ring that grants immortality, Justices serve as long as they can breathe.  Even Presidents don’t have that kind of power for that long.


      Imagine how intoxicating, tempting, and corrupting that power can be for a Justice, or for a Senator involved in confirmation?  Don’t like a law or policy;  just change it at the court!  All you need is five like minded Justices and you have totalitarian power over all social, economic, and political policy in the U.S..   No need to go through the icky time-consuming process of passing laws or amending the Constitution.  Just have your allies put on a robe, wave a magic pen, and voila!  Imagine how much strength of character one would need to resist that temptation?  Imagine having the magic ring in your pocket and resisting its allure out of fealty to our founding principles?


      Democrats long ago realized they needed the courts for their agenda to succeed.  And what is that agenda?  It’s often referred to as “progressivism”, which translates to progressively more power to the government, going well beyond what the Constitution envisioned.  Ask yourself this, have you ever seen a Democrat proposal that didn’t grow the power and scope of the federal government?  I don’t think you have.  Just look at the last Democrat administration.  Have a problem with student loans?  Nationalize them!  Have a problem with healthcare?  Nationalize it!  Have a problem with education? Nationalize it under something called Common Core!  Have a problem with the internet?  Nationalize it under something called Net Neutrality!  And this list could go on for pages.  


      The problem with all that nationalization is that a) everything becomes politicized, and b) everything ends-up at the Supreme Court.  The courts become the "sine qua non" for the agenda's success.  But the real problem in the long run is that if you take this progressive power grab out to its logical conclusion, it ends in totalitarian government.  


      So just like the one ring, the Supreme Court is the key that opens the door to infinite power.    


      Which takes us to the current situation in which Ruth Bader Ginsburg is being replaced by Amy Coney Barrett.       


      RBG was certainly beloved by her fans.  Women of all stripes looked up to her as a role model.  No doubt she was a tiny person who left a big mark.  She’s been lauded as a champion for social justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, the downtrodden, etc.  And many called her courageous.  Similarly, ACB looks to be another beloved, courageous, female role model who promises to leave a big mark. Yet among the people who worshipped RBG, she is considered a pariah.   That’s because unlike RBG, ACB is expected to be a champion for only one thing - the U.S. Constitution.    


      We call these two judicial approaches liberal/progressive vs. conservative, or activist vs. originalist.  But what they really represent are two perspectives on the Constitution.  One side sees the Constitution as an obstacle to progress, and the other sees it as the limiting principle that makes us exceptional. Justices are granted the magical power to either abide by the Constitution or ignore it.  There’s no penalty for ignoring it, and no reward for abiding by it.  Sorry RBG fans, it takes no courage for a Justice to ignore the Constitution.  The only courage involved is in resisting the siren song of totalitarian power. 


      Did you ever wonder why so-called Conservative judges often start out that way and then transform into activist or progressive ones?  Recent cases include the current Chief Justice, John Roberts, who has single-handedly re-written major laws to advance the progressive agenda. And have you ever noticed that it never goes the other way?  Activist judges never eschew their power and turn originalist.  There are many ways temptation and power can corrupt an individual.  But self restraint can only result from a courageously strong character, and that's either present or it's not.  


      So why does a Justice like RBG sail through confirmation with bipartisan support including almost every Republican, while the equally qualified Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t get any Democrat support?  Why does it always go that way and not the other?  Democrats need the courts in a way Republicans do not.  They have pinned their hopes on subverting the limits laid out in the Constitution, and that can only be done with activist judges.  Republicans are either oblivious or ambivalent to this strategy.  


      So why did RBG stay on the court knowing she had cancer?  Why not retire while Obama was President and have him name a successor?  Recall that Tolkien’s character Smeagol starts out as a mild mannered Hobbit type character, but is corrupted by the ring’s power into the twisted, slimy, deranged creature called Gollum. That metamorphosis is the same one that affects Democrats who embrace the corrupting power of activist courts.  One can picture RBG in her later years mumbling to herself:



      With John Roberts and even Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh as unknown quantities, it’s safe to say that ACB will not be a “fires of Mount Doom” event for the activist Supreme Court.  The Constitution will never be safe.  It will always take tremendous self restraint, strong character, and courage to hold this Republic together.  The enemies of constitutionally limited government will never rest.


      For now, the best we can hope for is that ACB is confirmed, has the courage of Frodo, and never transforms into Gollum.  

      Tuesday, October 6, 2020

      Georgia H. #WalkAway Video

      An articulate young woman explains her transformation from a liberal Massachusetts upbringing to her current conservative politics based on her life experiences as a teacher, a nurse, and a rational person:   


      Saturday, October 3, 2020

      Fact Check: How to Survive Coronavirus in Three Easy Steps [BUMPED & UPDATED]

      [UPDATED from the original which posted on 8/5]

      As if Coronavirus isn’t bad enough, our "experts" are all at war with each other!  One scientist says one thing and another says the exact opposite. One doctor expresses an opinion and the next day is fired for heresy. New studies come out and their results are contradicted by the very next study. Respected journals of science and medicine publish peer reviewed papers and have to retract them a week later. The WHO, FDA, and CDC take definitive positions and then reverse them shortly thereafter. Doctors are forced into suing the FDA for not allowing them to use drugs they say save lives. 

      If the experts can’t sort this out, what chance do you and I have? Well,  it turns out we have a pretty good chance.  Here's why:  Coronavirus hit every country in the world with the same unique challenge, and each country took a different approach.   By studying which countries were successful and which ones weren't, we can benchmark the things that work.  No, it’s not perfect. There will always be data issues, timing issues, and hidden variables.  But real world results have a story to tell, and we should probably listen closely when people are dying by the thousands each day.  

      With that in mind, I took a deep dive into the country data to see if I could untangle three big controversies swirling around the pandemic:

      • Do masks work?
      • Does Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) work?
      • Which healthcare systems are handling Coronavirus the best?

      And finally, how are we measuring-up in the U.S.? 


      #1 Do Masks Work?




      Masks are not a consensus issue even today.  There are still scientists and doctors who claim they are useless and even harmful.  But as the above graph shows, the five countries that first embraced masks in Europe have much lower infection rates than their neighbors that never did. The five with the highest infection rates were either very late, or still do not wear masks today.

      Think of Coronavirus as a car accident. The first strategy for surviving a car accident is avoiding one in the first place, right?  For Coronavirus, wearing a mask is like having good tires and brakes. Masks keep infection rates down, and that is job one when dealing with a deadly new pathogen that we don’t fully understand.

      So why limit this analysis to European countries?  Here's why:  The following graph appeared early in the pandemic comparing Asian countries to the rest of the world.  Sure enough it suggested Asian countries had lower infection rates due to masks. Some Asian countries have been wearing masks since the 1918 Spanish Flu! Critics, however, pointed out that other variables such as genetics, diet, culture, etc. could be at play. I wanted to reduce those variables by just looking at European countries.




      Of course, masks are just the last line of defense against Coronavirus infection.  A healthy immune system full of Vitamin D,  proper distancing,  proper weight, good diet,  etc. are all equally important.  But if all else fails, masks buy time and keep viral loads to a minimum.

      So what happened in the U.S.? Why were we so late to the masked ball? 

      Here's a compilation of "experts" , The W.H.O., Dr Anthony Fauci, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams, all telling us in March that masks were unnecessary and even harmful! First impressions matter, and we got off on the wrong foot. We currently have one of the highest infection rates in the world. The W.H.O., Dr. Fauci, and Dr. Adams cut our brake lines and gave us bald tires at a critical stage in the pandemic.





      President Donald Trump blew this one. He should have overruled the experts.  Recently, he and Fauci et al. have reversed course, and we are now belatedly on track to be fully masked.

      #2. Does Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) work?




      If you somehow do get infected, what should you do? Or, keeping with the car accident analogy, is there an equivalent to a seatbelt and airbag for Coronavirus?  It turns out there is, and it’s called Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Countries that use it have lower Case Fatality Rates than those that don't, and it's not even close.  

      The effort to discredit HCQ may the biggest health hoax in history. Nearly 700,000 people have died globally and far more have permanent organ damage as of this writing. How many could have been spared if there hadn't been a coordinated and thus far successful attempt to prevent this cheap, available, safe, effective therapy from gaining traction? We'll never know, but the case needs to be adjudicated publicly.  Instead, one side is being systematically blocked and censored.  

      Despite what you’ve been told, the science unequivocally supports early use of HCQ:


      According to every known scientific study of HCQ so far100% of the pre-exposure, post-exposure, and early use studies have shown HCQ to be effective when results were conclusive.  100%!  It's most effective when given early and combined with ZINC plus Azithromycin or similar antibiotic.  So why have you been told otherwise? 

      There are three possibilities:

      One is that there may have been an early misunderstanding about HCQ.  We have known since 2005 that HCQ is effective on SARS coronavirus in vitro (in a test tube). Yet most of the early HCQ studies were done with patients who were well beyond the viral stage of the illness. It was like studying the effectiveness of airbags by deploying them days after a car accident!  And we know that zinc plays a crucial role with HCQ, yet almost none of the studies bothered to include it!   

      Another possibility is that HCQ is a direct threat to Big Pharma, which hopes to cash in on expensive newly patented therapies like Remdesivir, anti-bodies, and vaccines. As if by magic, very favorable things always manage to be amplified regarding these profitable options, and very damaging things are amplified about generic HCQ. The amplification NEVER goes the other way. And this imbalance goes all the way up the chain of command to government health officials around the world. It's like they are all paid spokesmen for Big Pharma!

      And finally, there are the politics of HCQ. The moment President Donald Trump spoke hopefully about HCQ it became a political imperative for his opponents to stop this drug from ever being accepted. The earliest Western HCQ proponent was a French doctor named Didier Raoult. Success for Dr. Raoult and HCQ meant success for Trump, and that could not be allowed regardless of the collateral damage. Hit pieces like this one in The New York Times popped-up like mushrooms bad-mouthing Dr. Raoult. He was dubbed a "barking mad dangerous witch-doctor". Every subsequent proponent of HCQ has suffered a similar fate. 

      In the end, negative media reports on Hydroxychloroquine outnumber positive ones by orders of magnitude. The message is clear, and it has worked wonders at hurting Donald Trump's poll numbers and raising death rates around the world:



      Many others have studied the correlation between HCQ use and low CFRs.  Below is a vivid example:



      Source: Anonymous Twitter user @gummibear737

      The following graph is from a lawsuit filed against the FDA by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS):





      and finally, this very recent randomized study using Adjusted Deaths per Million, which shows HCQ countries have 79.1% lower deaths:   (Hat tip -Twitter user @CovidAnalysis)



      So what went wrong in the U.S. with HCQ? Like with masks, it starts with the most influential voice in the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci.  And again he blew the call. 

      When the subject of HCQ first came up, Dr. Fauci pooh-poohed it saying he needed a time-consuming peer-reviewed double-blind study. After all, that is the gold standard in drug testing.  But, does that make sense during a deadly pandemic with a centuries old class of medicines that have been proven safe,  proven efficacious in vitro, and have proven clinical results against this very Coronavirus?  Fauci had the burden of proof completely backwards! With no viable options and people dying, the burden of proof was on the skeptics.

      Then Dr. Fauci and the NIH applied a completely different standard to a new medicine called Remdesivir. Here was a medicine that had no peer-reviewed double-blind study, no track record, no safety profile, and no history with Coronavirus, yet Fauci touted it as a "game changer".  Unlike HCQ, there were billions of dollars to be made with Remdesivir.  It later turned out that several of the scientists reviewing Remdesivir for the NIH had financial ties to Gilead Sciences, the holder of the Remdesivir patent!       

      Nevertheless, on March 28th the FDA reluctantly issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for HCQ.  Next came a slew of negative late-stage studies. Almost all of them were done on hospitalized patients long past the viral stage of the illness and nearing death.  And none of them included zinc.  An antiviral like HCQ, even with zinc, cannot resuscitate patients with severe lung, brain, heart, and kidney damage!     

      What followed next was truly a "Theater-of-the-Absurd".

      On May 22nd, the highly respected British publication, The Lancet, published a huge negative study on HCQ.  It was so devastating that The W.H.O. immediately dropped all attempts to test the drug and recommended it not be used.  The FDA followed suit shortly thereafter. 

      Except there's one small detail I skipped: The influential Lancet study was completely discredited and retracted! The data was entirely made-up!  It was all fake!  But that has not stopped The W.H.O,  FDA, NIH, CDC, nor Dr. Fauci from proceeding with their campaign against HCQ.  This all stinks to high heaven.  Meanwhile, six thousand people die globally from Coronavirus every single day.

      Here's what has happened in the U.S. since the FDA ended the EUA for HCQ:





      The saddest piece of data in the U.S. is that the two states that make up about a third of all deaths, NY and NJ, totalling 48,725 dead as of 8/5/2020, took decisive action to make sure no one could possibly be saved by HCQ.

      On March 3, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that among other things strictly limited the use of HCQ:

      No pharmacist shall dispense hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine except when written as prescribed for an FDA-approved indication; or as part of a state approved clinical trial related to COVID-19 for a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19, with such test result documented as part of the prescription. No other experimental or prophylactic use shall be permitted...

      This effectively banned HCQ use in NY when it could have been most effective against the disease. Waiting for test results could mean a possible 14 day delay in treatment when patients would be well beyond the viral stage of the illness.

      On March 9th, NJ Governor Phil Murphy also issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency, and by March 29th NJ had strict restrictions on prescribing HCQ:
      All dispensing of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 shall be limited to prescriptions supported by a positive test result, which must be documented on the prescription.
      The reason for these limits was ostensibly to prevent Lupus and other Autoimmune patients from running out of HCQ.  But those patients are not in danger of dying and have many treatment options. Coronavirus patients are in mortal danger and have no other options. This ensured no NJ or NY resident could get early outpatient treatment with HCQ when it was the only thing that could have saved them.

      Here's the bottom line:  The W.H.O, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Big Pharma, the media, and anti-Trumpers, slashed our seat belts, disabled our airbags, and made this pandemic much, much worse than it needed to be.  To his credit, Donald Trump had the right instincts on HCQ, but was unable to overcome the forces against it.

      HCQ is not the only cheap, available, and safe treatment being looked at for Coronavirus. Some others are Ivermectin, Artemisinin, Quinine, Quercetin, and Green Tea.  All of these share one thing in common with HCQ - they are all zinc ionophores.  Here's how it was explained to me: zinc ionophores facilitate the transport of zinc ions into cells.  Zinc is particularly good at interfering with all sorts of mischief by cellular invaders.  A useful analogy is this; the ionophore is the gun and zinc is the bullet. (H/T Dr. Zelenko)  Doing tests on zinc ionophores without zinc is like testing guns without bullets.

      [UPDATE: Ivermectin may be a miracle drug.  The success of this drug against SARS-COV-2 appears to be stronger than any other single therapeutic.  Keep and eye on Ivermectin.  Interestingly, it shares a trait with Azithromycin: both are derived from bacteria in soil!]   

      (The countries in my HCQ graph were chosen from this study published in April, with one exception.  Costa Rica's outbreak was late and therefore was not included, but they famously responded using the S. Korea model and have had dramatic results.  Since I could only include ten countries before the graph got cluttered, I chose the ten with the most and least success.)      


      #3 Which healthcare systems are handling Coronavirus the best?





      The pandemic presents a unique opportunity for comparing healthcare systems around the world.  As it turns out, the healthcare systems that performed well were the ones that had a robust free market component, and the ones that did poorly were the most bureaucratically socialized ones. (Like with masks, I kept this mostly to European countries to minimize variables.) 

      I don't mean to pick on France, Italy, UK, Belgium, etc., but there’s a pattern. These countries, in addition to being late on masks and Hydroxychloroquine, also have the most highly socialized healthcare systems in the world. Ask yourself this, if you had a life-or-death shipping problem and needed a quick innovative solution, would you go to the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, or UPS?  These socialized countries had only their post-offices to turn to.

      I first stumbled on this correlation while studying economic freedom and death rates.  Early in the pandemic I found a strong correlation between economically free countries and low CFRs,  but the correlation faded as the pandemic progressed. What never changed were the outliers - free countries with very high CFRs. After looking into it, I found that these countries all had highly socialized healthcare systems with no significant free market components.

      Ironically, The W.H.O., also wrong about masks and Hydroxychloroquine, ranks healthcare systems.  Lo and behold, France and Italy take first and second place respectively!

      To be clear, having some socialized healthcare is the norm around the world. Even in the U.S. we have tons of socialized medicine. In fact, if you take Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and SCHIP together, they comprise the largest government healthcare program in the world. And yet our CFR is in the low range. That’s because we also have a robust free market in healthcare alongside our socialized system.  

      President Donald Trump again has the right instincts here.  He's tried to increase free market healthcare in the U.S., but has been thwarted by both Republicans and Democrats in congress. 


      Conclusions - How to Survive Coronavirus in Three Easy Steps: 

      • Masks correlate with low infection rates. Wear a mask when in close quarters.
      • HCQ correlates with low fatalities. Make sure your doctor understands HCQ, zinc, and zinc ionophores in general.  [UPDATE: plus Ivermectin!] 
      • And free market healthcare correlates with low fatalities. You don’t want to be stuck in post-office healthcare when your life depends on it.  
      I suggest you contact your doctor and make sure they are up on these issues.  Mine was not, and I’m glad I found out early.  [UPDATE: I was able to obtain everything I wanted through telemedicine.  This link works well for getting a referral:  https://speakwithanmd.com/americasfrontlinedoctors/ ]

      As noted above, there are plenty of herbal over-the-counter zinc ionophores like quercetin and green tea.  And of course, zinc is readily available.

      I wonder what would happen in the presidential race if one of the candidates pledged to make HCQ w/zinc over-the-counter?  Many drugs, like ibuprofen (Advil) are OTC in low doses, but require a  prescription for higher doses.  Could that be done with time-tested drugs with proven safety records like HCQ and Ivermectin?    


      (One final note on why these analyses use Case Fatality Rates (CFRs) and not Fatalities per million population.  Since these analyses compare treatments and outcomes (ie: HCQ & healthcare vs. deaths), only those that are treated are included. Using Fatalities per million population would introduce widely variable infection rates into the analysis and infection rates have nothing to do with treatments.  Infection rates are also important, but they are a function of masks, distancing, culture, lifestyle, age, etc., which is why they were used in the mask analysis above.  (original charts are based on data from www.ourworldindata.com))

      Tuesday, September 29, 2020

      Opinion: RBG vs ACB - A Tolkien Analogy



      "Of course my story is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power."

      The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #186



      Well, here we are in another Supreme Court confirmation death-match.  Yay!  It’s so great to see our leaders behaving in such a rational and fair manner.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!  (Oh wait, that’s nausea. Never mind.)


      Last time it was Brett Kavanaugh’s turn in the hot seat.  Democrats went so far as to accuse this highly respected accomplished lawyer and family man of serial gang rape!  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  It defied explanation.   


      And Kavanaugh was just the latest.  This slimy Kabuki theater has played-out every single time a conservative justice has been named, but never when liberal ones are.  Why is that?  And what could possibly turn these seemingly normal looking Democrat Senators into such vile sub-humans? 


      I found my answer in the pages of J. R. R. Tolkien. 


      If you’ll recall, "The Lord of The Rings" is a story that revolves around the fate of a certain magical ring in a fantasy world known as Middle Earth.  Though there were twenty of these rings forged, the story is about one ring that has power over all the others.  Whoever possesses it has super-powers like immortality, invisibility, and under certain circumstances, totalitarian power over Middle Earth.  But there’s a serious downside to bearing the ring; so intoxicating and addictive is its power, it can transform its weaker owners into unrecognizable, twisted, slimy, deranged, creatures. 


      And that’s exactly what happens when it comes to the absolute power of the courts.  The essential challenge for anyone who wears a black robe is to subordinate their personal agenda to a document written over two hundred years ago.  That's the  job of a Justice under our system. It takes an extraordinary amount of self restraint to put the original intent of the U.S. Constitution above one's own politics.  Moreover, just like the ring that grants immortality, Justices serve as long as they can breathe.  Even Presidents don’t have that kind of power for that long.


      Imagine how intoxicating, tempting, and corrupting that power can be for a Justice, or for a Senator involved in confirmation?  Don’t like a law or policy?  Just change it at the court!  All you need is five like minded Justices and you have totalitarian power over all social, economic, and political policy in the U.S..   No need to go through the icky time-consuming process of passing laws or amending the Constitution.  Just have the right people put on a robe, wave a magic pen, and voila!  Imagine how much strength of character one would need to resist that temptation?  Imagine having the magic ring in your pocket and resisting its allure out of fealty to our founding principles?


      Democrats long ago realized they needed the courts for their agenda to succeed.  And what is that agenda?  It’s often referred to as “progressivism”, which translates to progressively more power to the government, going well beyond what the Constitution envisioned.  Ask yourself this, have you ever seen a Democrat proposal that didn’t grow the power and scope of the federal government?  I don’t think you have.  Certainly not under Obama.  Have a problem with student loans?  Nationalize them!  Have a problem with healthcare?  Nationalize it!  Have a problem with education? Nationalize it under something called Common Core!  Have a problem with the internet?  Nationalize it under something called Net Neutrality!  And this list could go on for pages.  


      The problem with all that nationalization is that a) everything becomes politicized, and b) everything ends-up at the Supreme Court.  The courts become the sine qua non for the agenda's success.  But the real problem in the long run is that if you take this progressive power grab out to its logical conclusion, it ends in totalitarian government.  


      So just like the one ring, the Supreme Court is the key that opens the door to infinite power.    


      Which takes us to the current situation in which Ruth Bader Ginsburg is being replaced by Amy Coney Barrett.       


      RBG was certainly beloved by her fans.  Women of all stripes looked up to her as a role model.  No doubt she was a tiny person who left a big mark.  She’s been lauded as a champion for social justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, the downtrodden, etc.  And many called her courageous.  Similarly, ACB looks to be another beloved, courageous, female role model who promises to leave a big mark. Yet among the people who worshipped RBG, she is considered a pariah.   That’s because unlike RBG, ACB is expected to be a champion for only one thing - the U.S. Constitution.    


      We call these two judicial approaches liberal/progressive vs. conservative, or activist vs. originalist.  But what they really represent are two perspectives of the Constitution.  One side sees the Constitution as an obstacle to progress, and the other sees it as the limiting principle that makes us exceptional. Justices are granted the magical power to either abide by the Constitution or ignore it.  There’s no penalty for ignoring it, and no reward for abiding by it.  Sorry RBG fans, it takes no courage for a Justice to ignore the Constitution.  The only courage involved is in resisting the siren song of totalitarian power. 


      Did you ever wonder why so-called Conservative judges often start out that way and then transform into activist or progressive ones?  Recent cases include the current Chief Justice, John Roberts, who has single-handedly re-written major laws to advance his agenda. And have you ever noticed that it never goes the other way?  Activist judges never eschew their power and turn originalist.  There are many ways temptation and power can corrupt an individual.  But self restraint can only result from strong character and courage, and that's either present or it's not.  


      So why does a Justice like RBG sail through confirmation with bipartisan support including almost every Republican, while the equally qualified Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t get any Democrat support?  Why does it always go that way and not the other?  Democrats need the courts in a way Republicans do not.  They have pinned their hopes on subverting the limits laid out in the Constitution, and that can only be done with activist judges.  Republicans are either oblivious or ambivalent to this strategy.  


      So why did RBG stay on the court knowing she had cancer?  Why not retire while Obama was President and have him name a successor?  Recall that Tolkien’s character Smeagol starts out as a mild mannered Hobbit, but is corrupted by the ring’s power into the twisted, slimy, deranged creature called Gollum. That metamorphosis is the same one that affects Democrats who embrace the corrupting power of activist courts.  One can picture RBG in her later years mumbling to herself:



      With John Roberts and even Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh as unknown quantities, it’s safe to say that ACB will not be a “fires of Mount Doom” event for the activist Supreme Court.  The Constitution will never be safe.  It will always take tremendous self restraint, strong character, and courage to hold this Republic together.  The enemies of constitutionally limited government will never rest.


      For now, the best we can hope for is that ACB is confirmed, has the courage of Frodo, and never transforms into Gollum.