Monthly Archives: June 2021

Heat Wave

As my readers know I live on Vancouver Island right by the ocean. Normally, it is too cool to be comfortable having the evening g&t on the deck. Well, yesterday and today and very possibly tomorrow it will be way too hot.

The thing about heat waves is that they bring out the climatistas ready to ascribe weather to climate change. On #bcpoli Twitter it is a dead heat between the unscientific “I will wear a mask until there is no COVID anywhere on Earth” people and the people who insist that the present heat wave “proves” global warming. Well it doesn’t.

What we are in the grips of is a jet stream excursion. A big loop of hot air is sitting on top of us. It is practically the definition of “weather”. Three weeks ago Victoria set an all time record for coldest June day in the middle of a series of anomalously cold days. This too was “weather”.

The warmists are not deterred. “Well, over all the “weather” is getting hotter because of climate change.” “The jet stream is behaving eccentrically because the Arctic is getting warmer and that’s climate change.” And then they add their policy prescription d’jour – Save Old Growth, Raise the carbon tax, Stop LNG exports and so on.

The brutal narcissism of the climate crusaders is touching. The problem and its solution are all about them. Other than the Pacific North West, the rest of the world is normal to cold. The Eastern US has been wet and cool, South America is freezing, Australia and New Zealand are experiencing an early ferociously cold winter, summer snow is falling in Scandinavia. The fact the major factor in the northern and jet stream’s preignitions is the level of solar activity is borne out by the general coolness of 2021. Guess what, the Sun is very quiet at the moment which is historically linked to cooling rather than warming.

But, for fun, let’s propose that the climate change fanatics are right and there is a direct link between CO2 and the present heat wave – not one of their favoured solutions will make the slightest difference. We could all walk to hug the trees and it would not matter.

Here’s why:

“During the Congress, air pollution returned to Beijing with a vengeance, hitting the highest levels since January 2019, as the economy hummed out of the pandemic. Steel, cement, and heavy manufacturing, predominantly backed by coal power, boosted China’s carbon dioxide emissions 4 percent in the second half of 2020 compared to the same pre-pandemic period the year before. At the same time, the goals in the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan on energy intensity, carbon intensity, and renewables were hazy as well, little more than vague commitments to tackle carbon dioxide emissions.

Coal remains at the heart of China’s flourishing economy. In 2019, 58 percent of the country’s total energy consumption came from coal, which helps explain why China accounts for 28 percent of all global CO2 emissions. And China continues to build coal-fired power plants at a rate that outpaces the rest of the world combined. In 2020, China brought 38.4 gigawatts of new coal-fired power into operation, more than three times what was brought on line everywhere else. (Yale Environment 360)

A generous estimate of Canada’s total contribution to CO2 emissions is about 1.8% of the global total.

The rush to climate arms in the face of the heat wave comes, I suspect, from the same well of narcissism which prompted a pro-masker to tweet, “I’m going to keep wearing my mask because it shows I care about you.” Why not just get a smiley face button? It would allow you to signal your virtue and have exactly the same effect on the virus or climate change as doing nothing at all.

(Yes, I know, Twitter is a swamp and a time suck – but it is way too hot to go out.)

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Canada Day

I have never much liked Canada Day. Oh, the fireworks were a blast but an awful lot of the celebration seemed to me to be less about love of country and more about feeling smug. Last year the celebrations were virtual due to COVID, this year they are to be muted because unmarked graves have been found at the sites of residential schools. Apparently we are to have a day of reflection.

It is precisely this sort of moral preening which put me off Canada Day. I hate to say it but we’ve all known about the residential schools and their failings for decades. “Discovering” the graves of children who went there is horrific but, again, we knew that children died in those schools. But this year we are supposed to “reflect” on this fact.

This is typically Canadian. We’re going to reflect on the fact of the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of children while, essentially ignoring the current, awful conditions on many First Nations reserves.

If this country had any leadership at all, the Prime Minister, the leaders of the Opposition Parties and all of the Provincial Premiers would sit down and figure out how to, in the next year, get potable water to every First Nations reserve in Canada. Never mind the cost. Just get this basic thing done

Reflect on history all you want but start addressing the basic needs of First Nation Canadians as a matter of urgent, national, priority.


One Size fits All

Lauchie Reid: Hyacinths and Thistles. All images courtesy of the artist.

I got into a Twitter fight last night with a person – I think female but can’t tell for sure – who tweeted that she did not want to be in crowded indoor spaces with the unvaccinated and that they should stay outside like smokers.

I suspect we will hear a lot of this sort of thing over the next few months as COVID wanes and the vaccinated become a majority because it is not enough to be “protected”, the vaccinated seem to need to be isolated from the unvaccinated. Thus the call for vaccine passports and vaccinated only events.

The logic of this seems to rest on the idea that the “vaccine” is not 100% effective in preventing infection or transmission of COVID. What it does confer, apparently, is a reduction in the severity of the symptoms of COVID in the event that the vaccinated person is unlucky enough to catch the virus. You can see the problem, essentially a vaccinated person may be at the same risk for infection as an unvaccinated person and at the same risk of transmitting the bug as an unvaccinated person.

Now, frankly, I don’t think we have enough data one way or another on the vaccine’s efficacy in preventing infection or transmission – the early data seem pretty encouraging on the vaccine’s reducing the severity of the COVID symptoms and the mortality numbers are falling encouragingly. But separating the vaccinated from the unvaccinated is not at all obvious based on what we know so far.

My Twitter gal did not like that position at all and was eventually reduced to calling me “selfish” for not a) getting jabbed, b) for suggesting that there was no logic in separating people who could be infected and who could transmit the virus but who had the prospect of a better outcome if they did from people who could be infected and who could transmit the virus and only had a 99.9% chance of full recovery.

The COVID conversation usually comes down to people’s perception of the risk COVID presents. The vast majority of people who contract COVID feel badly for a few days and are done. Death from COVID is largely confined to people over 80 with one or more co-morbidities. At a clinical level doctors are becoming much, much better at treating the symptoms of COVID. This is not contested information. The daily statistics show much better outcomes for hospitalized patients. Even the “variants of concern” do not seem to have increased the lethality of COVID.

So a risk calculus with respect to the vaccine needs to begin with assessing an individual’s likelihood of a fatal outcome if he or she were to contract COVID. A 99.9 percent survival rate if you are under 80 and are not significantly compromised is a reassuring place to start. Does it make sense to take a new and untested vaccine to improve those odds? (And before we get into the weeds on testing, the vaccines all are being used based on an Emergency Use Approval which is not at all the same as the full testing which drugs typically undergo. That testing is ongoing and will be completed in late 2022 or early 2023.)

As I have consistently written about COVID, you have to manage your own situation which means being aware of and assessing what your life holds by way of risk. First off, do you live in an area with high rates of infection? Do you interact with strangers on a regular and continuous basis? What is your general health status? Do you get outdoor exercise? Individuals can assess these factors for themselves.

Against your personal risk profile when you are looking at “the jab” you would normally take the advice of the medical community which, in turn, would rely on the peer reviewed results of the drug testing the jab is undergoing. But those results are not yet available. Even the mid-term effects of mRNA based vaccines are more a matter of conjecture than evidence.

So the calculation is not so straightforward. As I happily say when asked, “Not yet, I’m in the control group.”

Which brings us back to “selfish”. I assess my personal risk of contracting – much less dying from – COVID as very close to zero which has meant I have been in no hurry to get jabbed. But my Twitter pal seems to think that is selfish. Somehow, my not being jabbed is going to…what? Make her jab less effective? Nope. Destroy herd immunity? No, at worse it may reduce herd immunity infinitesimally but there is very little evidence either way. Prevent her from feeling confident in enclosed crowded spaces? Maybe, but not at all my problem. Prevent the great re-opening? Possibly. The re-opening is a political decision and various politicians have come up with various metrics – case numbers, outbreaks, hospitalizations, first jab percentages, full jab percentages – to give the appearance of science to a purely political decision. Again, not my problem and not part of any rational, personal, risk calculation.

I suspect that the woman on Twitter was, in fact, driven by the very basic human tendency to want others to do what you are doing. When people are terrified, and COVID and the mass media have scared the Hell out of people, they want the security of the group. When the politicians, media and public health officers all say, “Everybody needs to get the jab,” it is much easier to go along with the crowd. Part of going along with the crowd is trying to herd dissenters into the ranks of the righteous. If they won’t be herded then, well, they’ll have to be ostracized.

The good news is that, as COVID fades, so will the zealous. As the threat recedes the urgency of the group think will diminish. As normal returns, attempts to separate the vaccinated sheep from the unvaccinated goats will lose their moral force.

My Twitter friend will have to find something else to be indignant about.

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Top Men!

Glen Reynolds over at Instapundit points to a story in Medical Express entitled “The dream team: Scientists find drug duo that may cure COVID-19 together“. Yes please and all that but what struck me was this paragraph:

“Although several vaccines have recently become available, making significant strides towards preventing COVID-19, what about the treatment of those who already have the infection? Vaccines aren’t 100% effective, highlighting the need—now more than ever—for effective antiviral therapeutics. Moreover, some people can’t receive vaccines due to health issues, and new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, that can penetrate vaccine-conferred immunity, are being reported, indicating that we need to think beyond prevention.” Medical Express

It is pretty clear from this article that the team has been at work for a while though it is not clear when they started.

I would have thought that as soon as COVID-19 was a thing – say March 2020 – there would have been dozens of teams all over the world looking for treatments. (There were, by the way: lots of clinicians were developing treatment protocols involving HCQ, ivermectin, various anti-biotics and other drugs. But these treatment protocols were under reported if not outright censored in the mainstream and social media.)

I have always had a mental image of researchers, medical scientists, public health officials, health ministries, hospital administrators, world health people, the Center for Disease Control and a myriad of other agencies quietly working in the background to prepare for the next, great, health/disease challenge. Ready to isolate the bug, test treatment protocols based on clinical experience, develop isolation and containment strategies based on the epidemiological characteristics of the illness.

I also had a naïve view of the ability of politicians to step up. While the clinical and research side of COVID was the province of doctors and researchers, the overall response to the virus was a matter for political leadership. People in positions of political power certainly need to lean on experts but they also have to allocate resources, examine alternatives, make decisions based on limited information.

Very little of this actually happened.

The first response of most of our political class was to doggedly claim to be following the science, turn day to day decision making over to “public health experts”, follow the guidance of the WHO and the CDC – guidance which was, to be charitable, inconsistent – and to largely avoid questioning the experts. (Trump seemed to make some attempt to raise questions but made little headway in the face of his own public health bureaucracy.)

“Wipe everything” (which the CDC now concedes is pointless because the virus is rarely, if ever, transmitted by contact, “wash your hands” (good advice at any time), “social distance” (hilarious when in effect outdoors where there is next to no transmission), “walk this way” in the essential grocery and liquor stores, “wear a mask”, “wear two masks”, “stay home” (logical for two weeks, insane for six months), “curfew” (no known benefit, Quebec ended up being under curfew for five months), “no indoor dining” (despite next to no evidence that restaurants were significant sources of infection), “don’t travel” (with a vast list of exceptions), “don’t gather outdoors” (unless BLM protest)” (ignoring entirely that the virus rarely spreads outdoors): it was all COVID theatre and, to paraphrase Dr. Bonnie Henry, “There’s no science to it.”

What the politicians did was simply to panic. They abdicated their responsibility to lead to “experts” who seemed to all be reading from the same “mass lockdown, masks everywhere, hang on for the vaccine, there is no treatment” script.

The key political failure was the acceptance of the “there is no treatment” story. Back in February/March 2020 there were suggestions that there might well be treatments of some sort. HCQ was trotted out and, partially because Trump mentioned it and partially because of very badly designed studies, dismissed. The very idea of a COVID treatment regime was, essentially, made illegal in Canada and much of the United States.

The idea of boosting immunity with things like Vitamin D and C and a good long walk every day did not come up at most of the Public Health Officer’s briefings across Canada. And, again, not very well done studies were cited showing that “Vitamin D does not cure COVID”. A claim which was not being made. A healthy immune system, to which Vitamin D can contribute, most certainly does cure COVID in the vast majority of cases.

Citing privacy concerns, public health officials were unwilling to give many details as to who was dying of or with COVID. Age, co-morbidities, race, and the socio-economic status of the dying were disclosed reluctantly and long after the fact.

I don’t think most of this can be blamed on the public health officials. They had their jobs to do and, to a greater or lesser degree, managed to do them. They are hired to apply current best practices – often mandated on a world wide basis by the WHO – to the situation before them. Public Health officials are not expected to be imaginative nor innovative.

Imagination, leadership, thinking outside the proverbial box is what we elect politicians for.

A smart Premier or even a clever Prime Minister, after the first shock of the arrival of COVID, would have immediately found creative people to think clearly about, “What else can we do?” In a matter of a week or two, along with driving vaccine research, a full scale treatment research effort would have been organized. Everything from clinical protocols – which clinicians were constantly innovating – to drug treatments to immune system boosting and health optimization would be on the table. And those efforts would have been supported and discussed by the politicians pushing them.

About the only politically innovative thing we saw in Canada was the Maritime bubble where the Maritime provinces essentially closed themselves off from the world New Zealand style. (I don’t think it will make much difference in the long run but it certainly was different from the rest of Canada.)

Leadership is about considering options. It is also, critically, about creating options to consider. Not a single political leader in Canada and very few in the United States created a single option to the relentless “lockdown, wait for the vax there is no treatment” story.

Which cost tens of thousands of deaths, the destruction of 100,000s of businesses, a general decline in mental health and trillions of dollars in debt.

Top men!

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