Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Bolt Cola - now with 10% less carbon pollution!

Melbourne columnist, broadcaster and prominent climate change denialist* Andrew Bolt likes Coke. He also has a television show called The Bolt Report. On this television show he has a segment called "Spin of the Week". On this week's show his spin of the week was "carbon pollution". Here is the transcript.
And to our spin of the week. You’ve heard a thousand times that to stop global warming we’ve got to cut our emissions or, as the urgers now put it.

[this is followed by footage of various politicians repeatedly saying "carbon pollution"]

Carbon pollution? Now that phrase is meant to make you think of dirty soot, but it’s a lie. They aren’t talking about carbon, but carbon dioxide, which isn’t black stuff but invisible gas [breathes out]. And carbon dioxide isn’t pollution but plant food for photosynthesis. Now look, this is the sound of carbon dioxide [cracks a can of Coke open] and if that really was pollution would I do this? [takes a mouthful] Ahhh.
Yes, he really did say "ahhh".

It was pretty funny.

I study pollution for a living. The two big ones in my field are nitrogen pollution and phosphorus pollution. These come in various forms, often from fertilisers, and when they end up in the water they cause eutrophication and toxic algal blooms. This is bad.

They are also plant food.
They are also in Coke.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The end is still nigh, goddamit!

There has been a lot of misinformation bouncing around about the end of the world and how it was supposed to be on the 21st of May and how stupid those people who believed it were and how funny it was when it didn't happen and how even more hilarious it was to go up to the believers afterwards and say "cheer up, it's not the end of the world".

Everybody, believer or not, just needs to chill. It hasn't happened yet, but it will.

The actual date for the end of the world is the 21st of October this year, and it always has been. Harold Camping and I have been saying this for months yet nobody seems to have listened. People have simply been misinterpreting the myriad billboards posted around the world. You'll have seen them, they are the ones with a guy crapping in the corner and the seal of approval from The Bible.

Ham-fisted cancer scare

Full disclosure upfront: I like meat. It tastes good. I like steak, ham, salami and sausages. A lot. They are delicious.

They also cause cancer, dammit! Bowel cancer... cancer with shit in it.

Red meat 'increases risk of bowel cancer' - cries the Herald Sun

Warning to stay out of ham's way - puns the Sydney Morning Herald

No ham, say cancer experts - moans The Age

I had a strange sense of déjà vu (is there any other kind?) when reading these headlines. And not without reason.

The World Cancer Research Fund UK has just published a 855 page report on the best available evidence for preventing bowel cancer. This is an update to a 2007 report.

The new report, or should I say the press release*, makes a number of statements about whether particular nutritional and lifestyle factors either increase or decrease the likelihood of developing bowel cancer, or whether there is insufficient evidence. One such statement is:
For red and processed meat, findings of 10 new studies were added to the 14 studies analysed as part of the 2007 Report. The Panel confirmed that there is convincing evidence that both red and processed meat increase bowel cancer risk.
So, nothing new really, just confirming what we already knew. And, if you look more closely at the report (I didn't but these guys did), the stated risks from red and processed meats are actually slightly lower than they were in the previous report.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

It's the (fuel) economy, stupid!

Have you ever bought a new car, admired the impressive fuel economy figures plastered over the front window, got the car home, driven it around for a few months and realised that it is almost impossible to reach those fuel economy figures doing anything like normal driving? Yeah, me too.

I have always assumed that the fuel economy figures were based on some kind of track - one that simulates both city and driving conditions - and that the good people from the government testing laboratories put on their grandpa hats and driving gloves and diligently drive the cars around the track for a few hundred kilometres whilst monitoring how much fuel they are using.