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.

July 14th is Bastille Day. This means my French-speaking sister-in-law ran the Tricolor up the pole today, instead of the normal Stars and Stripes (or the occasional Jolly Roger). Bastille Day is, of course, the day the French celebrate their twin successes of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and the invention of cheese.

OK, so that’s not really the reason for Bastille Day, but I just couldn’t pass up teasing my sis about France. It’s my raison dêtre.


So much for the Stuff. Now on to Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. In computer circles, this is often shortened to FUD. TWikIWeThey summarizes FUD this way on its FudFighters page:

FUD is short for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, combining to form the preferred marketing tool when your product doesn’t have any “real” advantages. Well, that’s not strictly true. Given the choice between RedHat 7.2 and Bob’s Latest Distro 0.4.1a-test, most people would choose the RedHat distro. Bob’s might actually be better, but we’re uncertain of that. We doubt that he has tested it as thoroughly as RedHat have, and fear what might happen to our systems if we installed it.

However, when used as part of an agressive [sic] marketing campaign, FUD can be thrown at software and/or systems that are demonstrably better than the version you are pushing. It relies on the target market not knowing as much about the products as you seem to.

While this page deals mainly with the computer industry and provides great examples of FUD and how to do it right, FUD is not just limited to the computer world. When Aljazeera posts the video of a kidnapped victim being beheaded, they are willing accomplices of terrorist FUD. When Democrats toss out lies like “this is the worst economy since Herbert Hoover,” they are engaged in political FUD. And when environmentalists bemoan the destruction and death of 50,000 to 100,000 species every year due to mankind’s actions, they are engaged in environmental FUD.

One commonly-used environmental FUD rallying cry is the threat of global warming. According to these green Chicken Littles, Earth will soon burn up because we drive SUVs. Yeah, OK. When confronted with one of these enviro-nuts, I usually ask them to identify the primary cause of global warming. Since they know all about this subject, you’d think they could provide the correct answer, but in the dozen-plus times I’ve presented this question to environmentalists, no one has successfully answered correctly. The #1 cause of global warming is the sun. This simple answer is not what environmentalists want you to consider when they are pushing their agenda.

The BBC recently posted this article announcing that the sun is at a 1,000-year high for sunspots and solar activity. In the article, they provide a fact and then a opinion: “They say that over the last century the number of sunspots rose at the same time that the Earth’s climate became steadily warmer. This trend is being amplified by gases from fossil fuel burning, they argue.” Imagine the sun tossing many 50-pound sandbags on a scale, and then hearing people claim that your few grains of sand are tipping the balance. While we are a nifty species, man cannot affect the earth’s temperature anywhere near as much as the sun can.

During 1645 and 1715, scientists counted only a few sunspots. The prolonged cold weather during this time was termed the “Little Ice Age.” Few sunspots; cold weather. There seems to be a link, and while scientists are loath to declare a direct correlation, sunspot activity and Earth’s overall temperature do coincide.

NASA posted an article this month about the sun’s “blast wave” — the coronal discharge of our active sun. During the two-week “Halloween Storms” of last year, the sun erupted in 17 major flares, including the strongest one yet on record. “In two weeks the Sun released more Earth-bound [coronal mass ejections] than it had all year.” Sounds like a pretty active sun to me, and well worth paying attention to.

Thanks to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft (SOHO), you can see images of the sun taken at different wavelengths. I particularly like the blue images taken at 171 angstroms, and one of these images is usually my desktop image. You can access these images at this SOHO image webpage or by clicking on the links just below the nifty blue sun:

Look, Ma!  It's the Sun!

(512 x 512)(1024 x 1024)

As long as people have strongly held opinions, there is the chance that they will use fear, uncertainty, and doubt to push their agenda. When someone dishes out a heaping helping of FUD, the truth will be your best defense. That, and a good 2×4 to smack ‘em upside the head.