Once upon a time there was a government that actually listened to the scientific community…
Nope. Never happened.
What actually happens is a lot more mysterious than the twists and turns of scientific inquiry. You see, those bits of information come from squinty-eyed lab coats that ask uncomfortable questions and get answers even they don’t like. But I digress.
In the 1950s some researchers had found that a diet rich in animal fats seemed to raise serum cholesterol. Ancel Keys firmly believed that this led to more heart attacks, so he studied diet and health in seven countries from 1958-1964. He chose not to include France and Switzerland, two countries likely to contradict his theory. Instead he used Greece, Italy, and Yugoslavia, countries that were undergoing massive dietary changes due in part to post World War II economic changes. In Finland 992 men per 10,000 died of heart attacks. In Crete only 9 of 10,000 did. It had to be the olive oil on Crete instead of the animal fats in Finland that made the difference.
True scientists would note that Keys didn’t prove anything about animal fats and heart attacks. First, his “selection bias” led to an experiment designed to support his beliefs. Second, East Finland had three times as many heart attacks as West Finland, in spite of all other factors being equal. But let’s leave the terrible design of the Seven Countries Study for the moment.
In The Big Fat Surprise, Nina Teicholz tells about Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a Harvard trained anthropologist who lived with the Inuit in the Canadian arctic in 1906. He lived their life style, with 70-80% of all calories from animal fat. Red meat was dog food. Vegetables were added only when they were unsuccessful at hunting. (“Vegetarian” is an Inuit word for “bad hunter.”) During the polar night, light was so poor that they could not do much outside safely, so they didn’t even exercise much. Yet, in Stefansson’s 1946 book Not by Bread Alone, he noted that the Inuit were the “healthiest people I had ever lived with.” They had no obesity and almost no disease.
In 1928, Stefansson and a colleague, under rigorous supervision, ate nothing but meat and water for a full year. After the year, the two men were carefully examined, and found to be fully healthy. They didn’t even get scurvy, since they ate the whole animal, including bones, liver, and brain, which have Vitamin C. So thirty years before Ancel Keys, we already knew that he was wrong.
The problem is simple. There’s no such thing as “settled science.” But anyone who wrote contradicting Keys got such a tongue-lashing in the journals that they tucked their tails between their legs and slunk away.
“Science” is not an answer, it’s a method. First, a researcher sets up a test designed to prove his theory wrong. You read that correctly. Every good piece of science is set up to show that the researcher’s idea is bad. Only good ideas can survive that sort of inquiry. Then, when the first researcher says, “My study showed that the ‘null hypothesis’ is wrong,” another researcher sets up a different way to prove the idea wrong. Only when the experimental hypothesis is confirmed by repeated experimentation can we have real confidence in our answer. By the way, most studies can’t be confirmed.
As a physician, I have lived this process for decades. There are many ideas in medicine that have been promoted as “gospel truth,” just to be disproved later. But this kind of uncertainty is simply not good enough for the political class.
The Political Prime Directive is “Do Something!” It doesn’t have to work. In fact, you don’t really have to do anything. You just have to look busy. That will tell gullible voters that you are “fighting for them.” Reality is unimportant.
In the case of diet, we find that the McGovern Committee of the Senate created in response to an overhyped 1967 CBS “documentary” titled “Hunger in America” was the prime mover. The Committee pushed for federal guidelines on nutrition best exemplified by the “food pyramid.”
The “bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group” makes up half of the dietary recommendation. If we add fruits, which have lots of sugar, that portion increases. Add in “use fats and oils sparingly,” and we have the High Carb/Low Fat modern dietary recommendations. And as Dr. Jason Fung shows in The Diabetes Code, high carbohydrate intake causes Type II Diabetes. The only cure is a High Fat/Low Carb diet with intermittent fasting. When I titled my YouTube video on the subject Your Government is Out to Kill You, I meant it. Let’s consider the facts.
Scientific inquiry is never finished, and even such simple ideas as Newton’s three Laws of Motion are never fully explained. Quantum theory continues with more and more detailed understanding, at times contradicting what was proposed before. We thought that general relativity required time dilation at high speeds, but now we believe that space itself may be able to move through space. And if that’s confusing, then imagine how legislators must feel when they consider scientific questions.
Most legislators are trained in law, not science. So when a “scientist” comes to them with an apparent answer to a supposed problem, they are, like most gullible people, ready to buy into the proposed solution. After all, they’ve been hired to “do something,” and when someone with the right letters after their name comes to the Emerald City, the Great and Powerful Oz must follow their recommendations.
There are many others with proper academic credentials who present information that contradicts the High Priests of Carbohydrates. But those researchers don’t represent farmers who “need” protection from crop failures and can contribute to political campaigns. So our benevolent CongressCritters vote for wheat and sugar subsidies that kill us with obesity and Type II Diabetes in exchange for a never-ending stream of money for them. All this is justified under the General Welfare clause of the Preamble to the US Constitution.
Not surprisingly, wheat and sugar subsidies result in more wheat and sugar being grown. To prevent a glut in these commodities, Congress passed various bills to limit the acreage devoted to them. So now farmers could get paid for not growing crops. A series of “fixes” has followed, but no one seems willing to challenge the wisdom of promoting crops that kill us. Or for that matter, promoting anything from DC.
And that brings us to another imagined pending apocalypse. We’ve been serenaded by a chorus claiming that 97% of scientists agree that we are facing a man-made crisis in our climate. The carbon dioxide we make as a by-product of fossil fuels is somehow turning the earth into an oven. Alexandria Airhead-Cortez has declared that we have only twelve years left, and every Democrat Presidential Candidate has taken up the refrain.
Rather than debunk of the 97% myth again, let us simply realize that it is “a lie of epic proportions.” So is almost everything else about “global warming.” Remember the nature of science. It makes predictions. If the UN IPCC predictions fail, then the ideas that support those predictions are scientifically wrong.
Certain facts are abundantly clear. Our current global temperature is cooler than it was during the Roman Climate Optimum or the Medieval Warm Period, yet the prophets of climate doom deny this fact to create a “hockey stick” graphic supposedly showing a catastrophic warming trend. They use this “garbage in, garbage out” starting point to create a set of computer models that predict massive warming if we did not reduce our CO2 output.
But the recent path of temperatures hasn’t been so supportive of their predictions. Since 1998, there has been no net warming. The UAH (light green) graphic is the gold standard of the data, and its average (dotted line) is flattening. Ditto for the HadCrut data.
In short, the IPCC has been crying “Wolf!” And when we plot actual global temperatures, we find that they have nothing to do with CO2.
In particular, the medieval warm period ended in the Little Ice Age about 1250AD. And it was only one of several warm periods unrelated to industrial activity or burning of fossil fuels. In short, something bigger is going on.
Is that big thing solar cycles? El Nino/La Nina? Cloud dynamics? Ozone holes? Volcanic activity? Cow farts? There are so many factors and so many possibilities that no one has anything close to a complete understanding. About the only thing we can be sure about is that CO2 isn’t a problem. The Gospel of Man-Caused Global Warming is a religion, it’s not a scientific truth.
The current level of atmospheric CO2 is far below the level easily identified in ancient times. And life was flourishing then, just as it is now. If CO2 levels were to rise, as greenhouse operators do artificially, plants would grow better. And they would use less water, making sub-Saharan Africa into a garden. If CO2 falls by a third, most plants would die. Then what would all those carbon-free vegans eat?
CO2 isn’t even a potent greenhouse gas. It’s easily outstripped by methane, which is utterly dwarfed by water vapor. In short, the tiff over CO2 is about as important as worrying about what Congress will do when it isn’t in session. If you want to control the earth’s temperature, control its clouds.
But we have a spectacle every few weeks where uninformed and overexposed Democrats blather on about a non-existent catastrophe that has been perpetually just around the next corner. New York and Miami are about to be flooded by a rising sea level. Reality simply can’t enter their bubble for the same reason that crop subsidies don’t die. “Climate Change” creates massive donations to political campaigns. Once elected those ignorant legislators create subsidies to their favored researchers and businesses who return the favor with more money and alarmist projections.
The Law of Subsidy is again proven. When you subsidize climate hysteria, you get more of it. It becomes more expensive because its rent-seekers promote rules that cost you and me money through CAFE standards, eagle-killing windmills, and loan guarantees to Solyndra. There are lots of Tesla cars on the road because the Feds gave Tesla over $700 million in subsidies, just in the third quarter of 2018. (Who said Elon Musk wasn’t smart?) The possibilities are endless. As Ronald Reagan said, “The closest thing to immortality is a federal program.” The reason is simple. The Law of Subsidy creates harmful and perverse incentives.
Subsidies create financial gains for donors and power for those inside the Beltway. If Congress were to eliminate subsidies to climate hysteria or agriculture, CongressCritters would lose mutually beneficial relationships with those donors. What’s not to like?
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