If you haven’t panicked yet about global warming, here comes another study to give us yet another reason to re-enact Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream”:

More Americans are likely to suffer from kidney stones in the coming years as a result of global warming, according to researchers at the University of Texas.

Kidney stones, which are formed from dissolved minerals in the urine and can be extremely painful, are often caused by caused by dehydration, either by not drinking enough liquid or losing too much due to high heat conditions.

If global warming trends continue as projected by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, the United States can expect as much as a 30 percent growth in kidney stone disease in some of its driest areas, said the findings published in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And how do these brainiacs know that global warming will cause increased kidney stones?

The lead author of the research, Tom Brikowski, compared kidney stone rates with UN forecasts of temperature increases and created two mathematical models to predict the impact on future populations.

One formula showed an increase in the southern half of the country, including the already existing “kidney stone belt” of the southeastern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The other showed that the increase would be concentrated in the upper Midwest. [emphasis mine -CM]

Brikowski created two mathematical models to make this claim, and a computer model of future events is just a high-tech guess. As I have pointed out before, just as anything you multiply by zero becomes zero, so anything you multiply by a guess becomes a guess. So Brikowski’s research about future kidney stones is more guesswork than science. Did you notice that his two models return different predictions? The one says the increase will be in the southern half of the U.S., while the other forecasts the increase will be in the upper Midwest. Do you think I would get as much media attention if I were to announce that I had developed two mathematical models for the effect of global warming on the stock market? After much study and analysis, I could announce, my first model predicts that global warming will cause stocks to go down, and the second predicts that global warming will cause stocks to go up. I’d have the utmost confidence that one or both of these models would be right.

My advice is to ignore scientific studies that predict the future based solely on computer models. If you really want to play with computer models, then I suggest you pick up a copy of SimEarth. That game should be about as meaningful as most scientists’ computer models. In the meantime, it’s good to know that kidney stones are part of the list of things caused by global warming.

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