Thursday, December 1, 2022

BIG Exclusives

Power struggle – data analysis puts Texas energy debacle in perspective

There has been a lot of heated discussion about the recent weather-related electricity crisis in Texas. In case you somehow missed it, the temperature in much of the southern United States dropped to very unusual lows for several days in a row in February 2021. The low temperatures caused snowfall and freezing rain in many areas, creating havoc on the roads for drivers with neither winter driving experience nor snow tires. Much worse, however, were...

COVID-19 collateral – strained mental health a global concern

Physical health has come under great scrutiny during the COVID-19 crisis, but related mental health factors may have a longer-lasting, further-reaching, and more significant impact on societal norms and demands on health-care systems. A review of studies conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly in China but including the United States, Canada, and European countries, has highlighted alarming trends regarding mental health markers associated with elevated suicide rates. It is important to keep in mind that...

The business of cancer: a growing concern

When one digs deeply into the sweeping sphere of cancer there is an abundance of misinformation and an endless stream of puzzling dilemmas and unanswered questions. We have a cure; “Big Pharma” is preventing that cure from making it to market. Cannabis cures cancer. There is no cure for cancer. Can anybody truly say they are an expert on cancer if they can’t cure it? Can you really understand the cause if you cannot...

Renewables Part 2: cost and economic viability

With files from Brad Hayes An oft-cited criticism of wind and solar is that they are expensive and uneconomic in comparison to the incumbent generation sources (coal, gas, hydro, and nuclear) that make up the bulk of global electricity generation. Higher electricity prices are, of course, undesirable to most consumers, but they would also hinder widespread adoption of wind and solar. To date, this issue has been addressed with subsidies and incentives put in place...

Scientific and realistic views on climate policy – a lesson from Scott Tinker

Photo courtesy Smithsonian Magazine   We are constantly bombarded with contradictory views not only on the magnitude and effects of future climate changes, but on the best ways to address the issues. It is very difficult for even the best-read layperson to make sense of the widely disparate and often hostile viewpoints. To start out, it is important to distinguish between the scientific investigations addressing climate, and the actions we undertake to deal with climate-related problems. Scientific...

Social influencers – following the money

Top male gamer influencer Dan Middleton (aka DanTDM)   “Social media influencer” – it is a real job title, and many in the profession are making real money. Some influencers make more in one sponsored post than many of us make in an entire year. We dig into how they make their money and how much, who is paying them, and whether or not the investment into someone’s influence offers a significant return. Influencing consumers to purchase goods...

Vaccines – a historical perspective

Vaccines were created to elicit an immune response to a disease-producing pathogen. We typically know them as containing either pieces of – or a weakened or dead form of – the pathogen itself, but this has changed in recent years. The initial round of approved COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna represents a new class of vaccines, called mRNA vaccines. These vaccines contain no element of the original pathogen itself, only blueprints, which allows...

Polar bear population analysis presents balanced picture

We’ve all seen it – the stark image of a gaunt polar bear stranded on a slab of ice, drifting away from shore. Many wildlife advocates and government officials cited this particular photo as more evidence that human-driven climate change is pushing this species to the brink of extinction.   https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/20/climate/polar-bear-extinction.html  Is this an accurate depiction of the plight of the polar bear? Before we answer this question, let’s take a step back. The majority of polar...

Renewable energy – renewing hope or struggling to cope?

Like much of public debate today, discussions on renewable energy, especially as presented in the media, can be dominated by starkly polarized viewpoints. Depending on one’s political or personal views, a vista of towering wind turbines can be construed as a credit to human ingenuity and problem solving, harvesting nature’s abundant energy for a marginal cost of near zero and using it to build a more sustainable future … or as a blight on...

Sources of contention: is citing a reputable journal article really enough to end the argument?

All research is not created equal. Just because a study is published in a journal, even a reputable one, does not mean it is reliable. In fact, there is research to show that the quality of the study and prestige of the journal have an inverse relationship. What should you look for in finding a reliable source? Trust and confidence in media is near an all-time low, with 44% in the United States, 52% in...