Gotta’ love me some pollution! I’m an expat who’s lived in Asia for about 15 years, and in some of the more polluted parts. I’m also rather health conscious and trying to level up my diet and exercise regimen. I feel like I’ve got some obstacles that might be making that a bit more of a steep incline, and chief among them in the bad air.

Let’s just put this in perspective.

Here’s today’s real time air quality map of Australia, which is having extreme bush fires.

See that purple rectangle. That’s Taree in New South Wales, which is on fire at this moment. Let’s move in closer.

Hot damn! A score of 197 for particulate minutia lower than 2.5. That’s the kind that’s so tiny it can go through the lungs and straight into the blood stream.

And here’s where I live:

Not as bad as Taree, but we’re still in the red. The main problem here is the proximity to Bangkok, which is too highly polluted for my tastes, and having lived in China for nearly five years, I’m somewhat of a connoisseur of thick, soupy pollution. Here’s what Bangkok looks like today:

Lookin’ good! In China they call this “fog”. To their credit, I do think a certain times of the year there are instances where the smog will be blanketed in fog, so the deliberate misnomer isn’t 100% false.

Now let’s compare the pollution map of Australia to that of Thailand:

Holy crap, you’d think the whole country was on fire.

But it’s even worse in China.

By Gad the whole country is a wood-burning stove.

Pan back even further to see the contrast between West and East:

The reason we can compete with Taree with its brush fires is that our farmers are doing a lot of their seasonal burning off of the old crops, and that’s all over the place. And anyone who lives in these parts should know that ordinary people are fond of burning their garbage, and it’s not at all uncommon to see enormous plumes of smoke coming from someone’s backyard. Burning shit is fun. And when I lived in Cambodia, I lived near a clinic which liked to burn its medical waste in the lot next door, by the street, where I’d ride my bike. Call me biased, but I tend to favor burning plants over burning medical waste, household garbage, used toilet paper, and an array of plastics and rubber and anything and everything synthetic.

In China I visited a small city where a friend worked, and each evening there’d be a huge bonfire in the very small center of the city where the locals would throw their diapers, plastic cups, wrappers, shit paper, and, well, you get the idea. I wondered about the people living in apartments immediately adjacent.

OK, OK, I’m not just whinging, I did do some things about it. They have masks that can filter out the super fine particulate at Watson’s for $1, and I got an air filter, and I drink a lot of hibiscus tea (it has the highest concentration of antioxidants of any beverage, and by a good margin). I’m annoyed that I can’t go swimming though.

The Elephant Choking in the Room

Yeah, climate change. That’s a real prickly one. I have a few friends who are convinced a global cabal of corrupt scientists are working in cahoots to fleece the governments and people of the world in order to get funding for their bogus, exaggerated, alarmist “research”. That may seem much more plausible when you are looking at a deep blue sky and white puffy clouds. I had days in China that looked like the Jehovah’s Witnesses were right all along, the second coming was at hand, and hell fire was reigning on Earth. Pollution was so bad in the first city I taught in, one fine summer, that I could see it in the classroom between myself and my students. White powder would collect on my keyboard every few days. And when you are up close and personal with that level of pollution, you believe it has the power to ruin everything, including the atmosphere, which it has completely obliterated.

The city I lived in was so damned polluted — while historically and comparatively being labeled a back garden of Xi’an (home of the Terracotta Warriors) — that you could look directly at the sun most days without hurting your eyes. The sun was a blurry orb seen as if through layers of gauze. Turns out you could pollute lakes, rivers, oceans, and even the sky if you tried hard enough, and if it was profitable.

The flip-side of the argument about the cabal of rip-off scientists is that the cabal of oil and coal companies, which are the richest and most powerful in the world, are colluding to produce fake and skewed science in order to keep business keeping on, profits flowering, and fuck everyone else and the planet. Which one believes may be a bit dependent on what one sees when one looks out ones window.

Global warming or not, everyone agrees that sucking down pollution is horrible for your health. According to the Air Quality Life Index report coming out of Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, if you live in Bangkok you can kiss away 2.4 years of your life (as compared to if the city met WHO guidelines for maximal pollution levels). If you lived in Chiangmai, it’s 3.6 years, and Chiangrai 3.9 years. I’ve lived about 5 years in those cities, and another year in Rayong, which is a little better because it borders the gulf of Thailand. When we’re talking about shaving off years of my life, I can’t just be “whatevers”.

It’s impressive how passionate, motivated, and mobilized people are who denounce climate science (while usually embracing science in every other regard). You’d think, or at least I would, that you’d wanna’ err on the side of caution when dealing with potentially devastating extreme weather, the fiscal consequences, and just the discomfort of living in a hotter general environment. I mean, if this were smoking, and maybe it was bad for your health, where I live it’s the equivalent of smoking with reckless abandon in an elevator stuck between floors. Look at this world map!

Science vs Plausible Sounding Arguments:

There’s a world of difference between actual scientific, peer reviewed findings published in scientific journals, and what this or that politician or celebrity extrapolates from half-baked news articles encapsulating those findings. If Al Gore made a claim that didn’t come true, or exaggerated something, or got something wrong, that doesn’t mean that the underlying, international, historical science is bankrupt. It means he’s not a scientist. And for the record, climate change is even more difficult to predict exactly than the weather, because you can’t put the biosphere of the Earth in a petri dish, with multiple other biospheres in other Petri dishes, and conduct repeatable controlled experiments with limited variables. It’s impossible to perfectly predict the future. This doesn’t mean that we shit-can science in lieu of feel-good statistical gymnastics performed by non-scientists, and more specifically non-climate scientists.

For us people who are shit at math, which means we aren’t good at science either — we can’t perform the experiments, do the research, compile or analyze the data — there’s a little bit of faith involved, as in who do we believe.  Do I believe NASA or Lord Monckton (an outspoken critic of climate science, who has an MA in classics, and a diploma in journalism studies). He’s also kinda’ bug-eyed, which is on par with his highest qualification, but a bit low of me to bring up. Do I believe every significant scientific body in existence, or industry funded fringe scientists (or pseudo-scientists) who get equal billing in TV debates, because each side should get half the time, even if one side represents a consensus of scientific opinion, and the other a tiny sliver of naysayers.

I’ve worked with people who believe in the flat Earth, shape shifting inter-dimensional reptile aliens (and that George Bush was one of them), and that we evolve from aliens who combined their DNA with primates in order to create a slave colony to mine gold for planet Nibiru. There are plausible sounding arguments issued from credible seeming people for just about any belief, no matter how patently ridiculous. You’d almost think people were conducting experiments to see what cockamamie idea they could pass off. And this is coming from someone who once spread his own conspiracy theory in order to see how long it would take for someone to email it back to me (back in the days when we mostly communicated by email). And that’s not mentioning my hoaxes on the art world, some of which have been unwittingly picked up by supposed authorities on art, and more than once. And there are others. I’m even featured in Snopes in connection with the infamous KFC mutant chicken hoax, because somebody ,in order to bolster the hoax (and without my knowledge, mind you) used a mock mutant chicken photo-manipulation I made, and it went viral. The short of this is that it’s not so hard to fool people with utter bullshit.

But when millions or billions of dollars, and some geniuses in statistics and marketing get together to hoodwink the public, they can really pull one over on us. Our only defense is to be able to sift through the arguments ourselves, and choose the side with the best and most comprehensive arguments and evidence, that’s if we can find it. This is further complicated when people we might trust as authorities on some issues are not equipped to tackle whether climate change is real or not. You might trust me on some art matters, but don’t listen to me when it comes to science. In the end, no matter who we listen to, anyone and everyone is going to appeal to the facts, and those are ultimately of a scientific nature. Not surprisingly in the least, theories of global conspiracies and the fact that nearly every conservative is a denier aside, the best arguments come from the real scientists themselves.

When there’s an argument, such as about volcanoes or cow farts, all we need bother to do is look up what the rebuttal is. It may go a step or two further, but the last and winning argument always belongs to the side of the scientific community. In order to not believe the international scientific community, including every significant scientific body, we need to believe that science itself is bankrupt and it’s all just a bunch of frauds milking the government dole. “They want to keep their jobs”. Or we can look at the actual arguments, findings, and scientists’ refutations of every one of the arguments put forth by the deniers. Just find whatever you think is the silver bullet that can finally kill the myth of climate change, type it into your search bar, plus “response” or “refute” or “debunk” or “rebuttal”, and see what comes up before congratulating yourself for having your feet planted firmly on the ground with a full grasp on reality.

Here, for example, is a science reporter explaining why climate change indeed exacerbated the incidence of brush fires in Australia. What makes his video more convincing than that of the one by, say, Paul Joseph Watson, which blamed it on environmentalists, is he tackles Watson’s grievous errors, as well as those from various politicians and wannabe authorities online. In other words, you get the better arguments, which are more comprehensive as they give more context, and take the oppositions best arguments into account.

If you can’t watch the video, or don’t want to, the short of it is that the fires are being caused by lightning strikes in remote areas which are very difficult for fire fighters to get to. This is happening more because the brush fire season has become longer, there’s less rain to combat it, and that is because of climate change. Arson is not the main cause, because there aren’t any more arsonists this year than any other, on average, and they set first where they can get to, which is also where firefighters can get to. And no it’s not because environmentalists opposed controlled burning, because the controlled burning happened to a great degree.

We can all be forgiven for falling for this or that very carefully crafted bit of misinformation, because that’s exactly what some of the best minds and most motivated people are engineering to occur. I, for one, believed that eggs were a perfect protein, and only recently learned that is just a slogan cooked up by the egg industry. Somehow it slipped into my common sense folder without me realizing it was just advertisement. It comes as no surprise that people who have something or everything to gain from molding public opinion do so in their own self-interest. There’s a bit of a war over what we are supposed to all believe, and how we are supposed to act, and science is taking hits from both the left (when it says biology is real) and the right (when it says we actually can affect the temperature of the planet). Speaking of the latter, last time I was in a plane looking down on a city, nothing is more obvious than the fact that we can radically alter a landscape, rivers, and even the sky. It seems more nutty to believe that the only thing we can’t change is the atmosphere, especially when we remember how the ozone layer was growing, until we banned or limited chlorofluorocarbons, and that fixed it. So, we can put a hole in the atmosphere with chlorofluorocarbons, and we can fix it by scaling them back, but no matter how much CO2 we pump into the atmosphere it won’t make any difference?!

Science can’t answer everything, but for the stuff that falls well within its terrain, like biology or climatology, I think we’d all be a little wiser to be inclined to believe science rather than its detractors. In any case, if you live in this part of the world, it would be nice to be able to go outside without gacking on fine particulate matter.

And, honestly, I’m a little annoyed that I have to dole out cash to combat pollution which is being made by other people brazenly out of selfish self-interest.

~ Ends

22 replies on “Runaway Rant: Mo Pollution Blues

  1. Damn, I thought we had bad air quality in LA, you win! You are so correct about the misinformation that we are force-fed by those who profit from the cause that chokes us. I really don’t see it ever improving, maybe it’s the mask companies behind the whole debacle?


      1. Some of my most disheartening memories are of flying into or out of LA and seeing no city below, just thick brown clouds. I lived there a few decades and it never did seem to get much better.


  2. Hey! So many thoughts, so little time to write them.

    I have been there. My husband and I lived in Indonesia for a total of about 6 years. Bandung was your basic SE Asian city, but a little higher in altitude, hence cooler and more pleasant, than average. If you got up into the mountains surrounding the city, you could see that the pollution was trapped down in the bowl of it. But if you had to go anywhere in town – say, on a motorbike or public transport – you were in the thick of it. It certainly exhausts you faster to walk, say, a mile in pollution than to walk a mile in the forest. Between the pollution and the adjustment stress of that year, my husband developed asthma.

    We also spent a good deal of time in Jakarta, which is much, much worse. Jakarta has some botanical gardens, and if you ride in to the gardens (say, on a motorcycle), you can feel the moment when you leave the pollution of the city and a veil of cool oxygen descends over you from all those trees.

    Finally, we lived for some years in central Borneo, which as you may know has a “smokey season” problem every dry season. The smoke comes when underground peat dries out, catches fire, and smolders like a mattress. The reason central Borneo is infertile scrub and not rain forest is deforestation, which has many causes including simple agriculture, but if you wanted to pick one villain you’d have to say palm-oil companies. Anyway, during the years we lived there, visibility would get so bad that it was dangerous to take boats on the river for fear of crashes. You could see the smoke inside your house. I had a friend who had lived there for a year go for his annual medical checkup in Singapore. The doctor asked how many years he’d been a smoker. He wasn’t.

    So I definitely appreciate the problem.

    I’m all about data, but nevertheless I don’t usually accept the consensus of the scientific community (whether or not I think they have an agenda). There have been times when a conclusion has been unanimously backed, seemed to be backed by solid data, and was dead wrong. For example, over my entire youth it was established nutritional science that eating too much meat, cholesterol, and fats were what made people fat and caused related health problems. Also that the main way to control your weight was to restrict calories. Now, all of that turns out to have been almost the opposite of the truth, because the tools for measuring cholesterol were crude and that early nutritional science was completely unaware of the huge role of insulin and how it interacted with other hormones. (I’m drawing on Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.)

    Human biochemistry is just too stinkin’ complicated for anyone to claim they understand it. And it’s not the only one. It seems like every other day an article comes out that upends what we thought we knew about genetics, or even something like the size of the universe.

    So, basically, I accept individual scientific snapshots, but the bigger the system that the scientific community is making a claim about, and the more comprehensive an understanding they claim to have, the more skeptical I become. I definitely accept that air pollution is bad and usually its cause isn’t far to seek. I can also accept that the earth’s climate is changing … but I’ve heard that it has been doing so since, what, 20,000 years ago? Well before industrialization.

    The other problem I have is with the proposed solutions. I now live in an advanced industrialized nation. A truck comes and gets my trash and takes it to a landfill. If it didn’t, I’d have to burn it. We heat our home through the long winters with natural gas. If we didn’t, I’d have to cut down trees and burn them, and also burn wood for cooking. The end result would be more air pollution here than there is now.

    I am as attracted as anyone by the idea of all of us becoming self-sufficient subsistence farmers (I even wrote a blog post about it). But beyond the fact that trying to move everyone to subsistence farming would cause a huge death toll, it would also mean we’d each produce our own little trash pile in our back ravine and our own little haze of smoke over our homes, as still happens in rural villages today.

    So, I guess, in summary: as a lay person, I agree that the earth’s climate is changing in different ways all over the globe. I can’t confirm that we know the details of how much humans are impacting such a big system. I am VERY skeptical that we can stop this train, even by throwing ourselves in front of it. But I would definitely like to see less pollution. I think the best solutions to this are probably going to be technological. (As industrial countries continue advancing, their tech gets more efficient and cleaner.) In an ideal world, I would love to go back to a living-off-the-land, Edenic utopia, but in the real world I can’t see how we’d get there without huge die-offs. And I am suspicious of American politicians who make it sound as though it would be fun and easy to give up all the energy sources that our way of life currently depends upon, and who add that anyone who has an issue with this is a blockheaded denier who hates the earth and the poor.


    1. Hi Jennifer:

      Fascinating stuff about your life in Indonesia and Borneo. I really enjoyed reading that.

      Of course the Earth’s climate has changed. Every climatologist with tell you the same thing. The sun’s rays alone have heated up 4% in the last 500,000,000 years. Tectonic shifts have created glaciers. But we humans have changed it in the present by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, and quite simply CO2 captures heat that is reflected back from the Earth from the Sun. Without CO2 we’d freeze. It’s out contribution that’s tipping the balance.

      The proposed solution here isn’t moving everyone or anyone to subsistence farming, getting rid of trucks to take garbage to landfills, etc. The solution is enforcing emission standards on vehicles, forcing industry to spend a bit more to filter and otherwise minimize the amount of pollution they belch into the air (the methods are there, they just cut into profits), and probably implementing any other system of getting rid of the old crop than burning. The culprits are usually powerful industries, and they are the ones resisting making changes. In China it’s largely the coal industry, or at least was when I lived there, and there were ways of modernizing their smokestacks that would have seriously curbed the pollution, but they didn’t want to compromise their revenue flow.

      In short, it’s the big polluters, mostly the fossil fuel industry that needs to change. There doesn’t need to be some radical revolution of the average person’s life.

      “I accept individual scientific snapshots, but the bigger the system that the scientific community is making a claim about, and the more comprehensive an understanding they claim to have, the more skeptical I become.”

      I hear ya’, but science doesn’t have opinions. That’s not how the scientific method works, and objectivity is the primary truth. Sure, we make adjustments over time, but usually they are adding a layer on prior science, not denying it. You probably aren’t skeptical that the Earth revolves around the sun, and all scientists agree on that.

      “over my entire youth it was established nutritional science that eating too much meat, cholesterol, and fats were what made people fat and caused related health problems.”

      And THAT is still the REAL science! Taubes is an outlier making similar claims to the Atkins, Keto, and Paleo diets. Yikes! If you are on that diet, I gotta’ ask how your blood pressure and BMI are. You might want to look into criticisms of that diet, because, if you are following those dietary guidelines, those animal fats are very likely clogging your arteries. A lot of the pro-meat, pro-butter type research and related articles, including the feature ones in Time magazine, were indeed funded by the meat and dairy industry. Even the same companies as gave us the cigarettes-are-good-for-you propaganda of the past are involved. It’s shocking and appalling how much misinformation is legitimized by leading news sources.

      “And I am suspicious of American politicians who make it sound as though it would be fun and easy to give up all the energy sources that our way of life currently depends upon, and who add that anyone who has an issue with this is a blockheaded denier who hates the earth and the poor.”

      Again, it’s not about the average person giving up much (you might have to endure more bike lanes and green spaces), but rather the biggest and most powerful energy companies on the planet trimming into their enormous profit margins by respecting regulations and implementing methods to reduced their emissions. And politicians are not scientists. Most deniers or “skeptics” are simply misled by the enormous, and enormously persuasive, industry-funded disinformation campaign. I don’t blame the individuals, I blame the people spreading the lies out of pure, unbridled, selfish self-interest. And it’s only gotten worse with the internet. Now it’s very difficult to even find the real science, which is (deliberately) buried in a deluge pseudo-science and utter bull crap. Real science doesn’t have the time or will to game the search engine system to get their findings at the top. They aren’t going to pay to get top billing. They aren’t going to hire people to flood comments sections, etc. You can go directly to NASA, the National Geographic, or ANY actual scientific body to find out what science really thinks about climate change.

      My unhealthy breakfast oatmeal is ready, so I better go consume it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I guess it depends who you listen to, to get the “proposed solution.” The loudest voices seem to be the ones telling us to give up fossil fuels altogether, tomorrow.

        I don’t mind altering my lifestyle. (“Endure more green spaces” … very funny! 😀 Of course I love green spaces, who doesn’t? Lack of green space was one of the difficult things about living in Jakarta.) What I do mind is being demonized for living that lifestyle, when I don’t have any alternative. (And no, not demonized by you, friend!) I’ve been hearing about environmental catastrophe, and how it’s all my fault, ever since I was a kid. That’s what I was taught in the public schools and by the scientific establishment (NASA, National Geo, etc.) When I was 11, I was told there wouldn’t be any Amazon rain forest left by the time I grew up.

        I certainly agree about the need for reforms within industries, etc. I think the quickest way to get these companies to improve is to go after what in Indonesia we used to call K.K.N. (Korruption, Kollusion, and Nepotism).

        “You probably aren’t skeptical that the earth revolves around the sun, and all scientists agree on that.”
        Yeah, but there was a time when the best science of the day, didn’t. 🙂 That’s how scientific revolutions work, right?

        Ha ha, no, I am not eating a pure meat diet! But I do have insulin issues and have encountered the very problems with the standard weight loss advice that Taubes describes in his books. I’ve always had low blood pressure and low cholesterol, but issues with blood sugar and sugar cravings which lead of course to a higher BMI.

        After reading his books, I gave myself permission to drink whole milk, eat more butter, buy more bacon. I wouldn’t say I’ve seen huge results, because I didn’t make a huge lifestyle change, but I do feel better. The proteins and fats are more satisfying and help ward off sugar cravings, which are my downfall, for reasons described on a biochemical level in Good Calories, Bad Calories. I certainly haven’t put on a bunch of weight since eating more fats, nor developed any new health problems.

        Sure, maybe food studies are sponsored by industries, but that cuts both ways, doesn’t it? The “low-fat” products they sold us, for all those years, that were sending our insulin through the roof! The mind boggles! And people were living on game, with good results, for many generations before there was a beef industry (now I’m on Michael Pollen). Based on both my reading and life experience I’m more and more convinced that refined sugars and carbs are the big problem and that as long as we minimize them, it’s possible to be healthy on either a plant or an animal based diet (Pollan again).

        Anyway, I don’t know whether you’ve read Taubes’s book, or just read about him and that he’s an outlier. If you haven’t, and if you’re interested in the topic, I encourage you to read it. He’s a journalist, not a scientist, and he came to the topic originally without any agenda in particular and just researched the heck out of it. GC,BC traces the history of what Taubes calls the “positive caloric balance hypothesis” over the last fifty or so years, and how different historical factors caused competing evidence to get buried so that the hypothesis became dogma.

        So yeah, I mention Taubes because I picked up his book in the library and read it and it jived with my life experience, not because I read about him in Time magazine. I don’t get Time and didn’t know he’d been featured in it. I don’t think magazines are the greatest place to get nutritional advice, since they are so prone fads and give the advice without any context and change it every five minutes. I can see you’re ticked about misinformation on the Internet, but that is not primarily where I get my information (mis- or otherwise 🙂 ), despite the impression that might be given as I have just left this super long comment.

        Best to you!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Jennifer:

        They were making you feel guilty for the environment when you were a kid? Kids are NOT responsible for the condition of the environment! Individual carbon footprint isn’t the main problem. China produces more than double the CO2 than does America, but the Chinese per-person carbon foot print is half that of Americans. I lived in China, and I can tell you first hand what the research also shows. It’s coal burning!

        I mentioned all the pollution in Thailand. The solutions, which they aren’t implementing, are to force industry to reduce their polluting, and to clamp down on vehicles that are pumping out black smoke. We also desperately need to figure out what to do about the farmers burning their seasonal crops. There’s nothing on the table about individuals having to change their lifestyles. Though, my local Tesco has plastic-bag free days, which is no biggie. So, it’s not on the consumer end so much. It’s the richest and most powerful industry in the world that needs to make sacrifices, and that’s the fossil fuel industry. For us consumers, we’ll just be buying out energy from somewhere else and switching to electric vehicles. Note that most every motorbike in China is electric. And it’s the fossil fuel industry that is fighting this, and it really is precisely like when the tobacco industry used every trick in the book to fool the public into thinking smoking wasn’t really bad for you. Some of the same players are even involved in the marketing war.

        The public has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Not surprisingly, scientists and entrepreneurs are coming up with brilliant alternative energy models, technology, and devices. There’s new ways of farming and everything. We have the solutions, and it’s all good shit. And it doesn’t mean losing jobs either, in general, because green energy tends to require more small distributors, and a variety of means. Solar panels have to be designed, assembled, and installed, for example.

        As for diet, well, I’ve been no-meat and no-dairy for 82 days. I eat all the carbs I want, and as much as I want of plant-based whole foods. I’ve lost enough weight that I can wear pants from 8 years ago, and without trying (I exercise, but no more than before). My heartburn went away. My blood pressure is so low it’s borderline “athlete”, but it was already low. I even look younger. I don’t like to say I’m “vegan” because people have bad associations with proselytizing vegans, so I like to say I’m on the “no shit” diet. Really, I don’t usually say anything unless the topic comes up, because most people aren’t going to like what I have to say. Meat, dairy, and eggs all have deleterious effects on the body. I switched them out when I learned how bad they actually are, despite all the marketing that says otherwise.

        There is overwhelming evidence that a plant-based diet can not only arrest chronic diseases – especially high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes – but also reverse them. It can unclog arteries. If interested, I’d recommend just watching a documentary or two, the main one being “Game Changers”, which is new, and you can find it on YouTube (if you have Netflix, it’s on there):

        People have tried to debunk it, including an expert on Joe Rogan, but they lost the debates, so far. Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson are currently on all-meat diets. I think they fancy themselves carnivores and predators. However, we are much closer to the great apes than to lions or wolves, and the great apes are overwhelmingly vegan. Our intestines are very similar to theirs, and completely different from tigers. Gorillas are about as tough and macho as any animal – and note the enormous “canines” – but unless it’s the occasional insect, they don’t eat meat.

        But we have to go back to science and find out, regardless of whatever our ancestors ate (mostly fruits, nuts, etc.), what effect the foods actually have on our bodies. There’s a lot of controversy, but a growing consensus, that only a plant-based, whole food diet can reverse chronic diseases, and the only diet where people have a normal BMI is vegan. Everyone else if fat.

        But, I”ll see how I (and my girlfriend) are doing on this diet down the road. If my teeth start falling out, or I can’t do my strength training (anything cardio I can do better), or something else, I will definitely reevaluate.


        Liked by 1 person

  3. Eric,
    I’m undecided on the issue myself. When I’m told that if I question it at all I’m a climate denier my inner radar starts going off. Like when the church told me not to ask so many questions, just have faith. I understand CO2 levels have gone up about 100 parts per million or so over the last 100 years from 300 to 400 ppm. But CO2 has been Over 5000 in the past and that was when no humans were here. When the dinosaurs lived it was over 2000 ppm and people function on submarines at 3000-5000 ppm. So the world is ending in 7 years scare mongers are just trying to freak people out. Also CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas so that’s not the pollution you see in the air. That is a separate issue that needs to be addressed. Same as garbage being dumped in the ocean. Another thing that should be addressed. But these things should be looked at separately in my opinion. With CO2 it does seem possible to me that humans do have some effect on the level, but it isn’t a main driver of CO2. Also CO2 isn’t a main driver of warming. The sun is the main driver of temperature. Also where the solar system is in the galaxy is huge. I could name 10 drivers of temp that influence it more than CO2. If you lay a chart of the history of CO2 levels on top of a historical chart of the earth’s temperatures you will see that rising CO2 has not been a leading indicator of rising temperatures. Also most scientists are not in agreement on the issue, that’s just what you’ve heard. Freeman Dyson started a list that now has over 2500 leading scientists who question the IPCC on how much of an issue it really is. The fact that green energy is the 2nd largest industry on earth just behind fossil fuel makes me realize that they have a lot of reasons for the global warming issue to be furthered. If you get time look up IPCC fakes the hockey stick chart. Also look up NASA faked the global temperature data. Also Greta Thunberg interview where she said it’s not really about global warming but about redistribution of wealth. These things make me at least say to myself that it’s not settled science. If that makes me a denier I’m fine with that. Do you have any solid science that I’m missing that would make me say ok yes CO2 is very bad and not just plant food?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Matt:

      The guy who makes those videos is Peter Hadfield, a seasoned reporter on science issues, and he’s about the best source for very calmly analyzing the arguments and giving the more comprehensive, rational argument with the best evidence and counterarguments (all wrapped up in modestly entertaining educational videos). His degree is in geology, which he humbly admits is not the same thing as climatology (the real experts), but he has enough of a foundation in science to know how it works, what’s real and what’s not. He always defers to the real, peer reviewed science published in scientific journals.

      People who say you aren’t allowed to question science are not scientists, since that’s their job as well if they want to further science. We can’t blame scientists for the second and third hand interpretations of science, and extrapolations of it made by politicians and activists. I’m sure you’re aware there are lunatics on both sides of the issue, and any issue, on the front lines screaming their heads off. Here’s one of Hadfield’s videos where he criticizes AOC and other fear mongers for exaggerating the science, in which case people don’t believe any claims about warming:

      You’d really do yourself a favor to watch some of his videos so you can see what actual scientists really have to say. You might start with this one:

      In the mean time, let me tackle a few of your arguments. There are far too many for me to address them all.

      “The fact that green energy is the 2nd largest industry on earth just behind fossil fuel makes me realize that they have a lot of reasons for the global warming issue to be furthered.”

      There is no green energy company in the top 50 largest companies by revenue, and 6 of the top 8 are “Oil and Gas”:

      “But CO2 has been Over 5000 in the past and that was when no humans were here.”

      So, you’re asking why was there an ice age back then? The sun was much weaker back then. Over the last 500,000,000 years there’s been a slow and steady increase in solar output. During that infamous ice age [The Late Ordovician period] the sun’s output was 4% less than today. In fact, it was much hotter than today for hundreds of millions of years on either side of the ice age you are likely referring to. The ice age was during a period of lower CO2 in the atmosphere due to tectonic collisions leading to a period of mountain building that sped up chemical weathering and took a lot of CO2 out of the atmosphere. So, when there was more CO2 it was hotter, for the very simple scientific reason that CO2, whatever its source, traps heat in the atmosphere.

      “Also CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas so that’s not the pollution you see in the air.”

      That all depends. If, as in China, what you can see is from burning coal, which it overwhelmingly is, “Coal and other fossil fuel-fired power plants emit billions of tons of CO2 each year and account for about 26 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions — double that of the transportation sector”:

      Similarly, open agricultural burning releases lots of CO2. Just because you can see it, doesn’t mean it’s not bundled with CO2. It’s a really good sign that it is.

      “With CO2 it does seem possible to me that humans do have some effect on the level, but it isn’t a main driver of CO2.”

      It doesn’t need to be. There are natural sources of CO2, obviously, and nature has a balance. The overproduction on the part of humans tips the balance and causes small increments of warming that have much larger effects. Things like destroying the rain forests similarly undermine the ability of the biosphere to absorb CO2. So, for example, your normal body temperature is about 98%. If you get a flu virus that pushes your temperature up to 104%, it’s a medical emergency. Using your argument, we could say that the virus isn’t the main cause of your high temperature, it’s your own body, which, in fact, needs to be warm to survive. Therefore the fever is helping you! In both the body and the biosphere, it’s the temperature above the right balance that leads to dire consequences.

      “The sun is the main driver of temperature.”

      Do you think scientists don’t agree with this? Of course the heat comes from the sun. And then it’s reflected back off of the Earth, and CO2 traps it in our atmosphere. Without that CO2, the planet would freeze. It’s all a question of how much CO2, and how much is too much.

      “Also most scientists are not in agreement on the issue”.

      That’s disinformation. 97-98% of “published climate scientists” agreed in the past. Dyson’s list is just signatories, not real, published scientific experts in the field. “only a small handful of the signatories could be considered “even remotely ‘qualified’ or ‘eminent’ — but not in the field of climate science.” The list included individuals “interested in climate,” and one signatory who only identified as an “emailer who wished to sign the petition” while some signers provided no affiliation or address whatsoever”:

      In reality, the agreement among real scientists is now 100%.

      “A November 2019 study showed that the consensus among research scientists had grown to 100%, based on a review of 11,602 peer-reviewed articles published in the first 7 months of 2019.”

      You see the difference. One survey is done based on actual research in professional, peer-reviewed scientific journals. The other is names signed on a list by people who have some education in science. Dyson is a physicist, not a climatologist.

      Again, the disinformation is extremely persuasive and has taken over the internet. It’s not hard to even find the real science in the sea of bullshit.




  4. Eric,
    One other thing I forgot to mention. I read that over 180 people have been arrested in the last six months in Australia for starting forest fires. I have to assume this is above average. I watched the video and I was wondering who the announcer is. He lives in Australia so this information would be known to him yet he says the fires are mostly started by lightning strikes.
    On the temperature chart they make it look a hockey stick and we’re all going to fry in the very near future. But the degree Change on the chart is about one degree. With a one degree margin of error. Also if you look at a 2000 year temperature chart our recent rise is within the normal range. The digital thermometer was inverted in 1973 and started in use in the mid 70s around the world. So they are much more accurate now than in the past. Before that they mostly used mercury Thermometers that were not as accurate. Someone would look at it and write down the temp for the day. They also were not as strict about the time the temp was taken as they are now. It takes about 5 minutes for the mercury to get up to temperature. So if taken too early they could have been too low.
    If I were to guess the temperature going forward for the next 20 years I would guess it will get a bit colder. Our orbit around the sun as well as the gas giants are all going to be further away from the sun. The sun will be having less sun spots as a result. These further out orbits have typically lead to cooler temperatures in the past.
    I do think it’s worth looking at both sides of the argument on global warming.
    You don’t need to post this, I just wanted to give you some information to the opposing side of the argument. That said I do believe humans do have an effect on the climate. But if the plan is to kill off a large percent of the population to possibly reduce the temperature I think we can do better. Trying to make cleaner energy is not a bad thing but destroying society like a lot of people are advocating isn’t the answer either.


    1. Hi Matt:

      “One other thing I forgot to mention. I read that over 180 people have been arrested in the last six months in Australia for starting forest fires.”

      You must have missed the part in the video where Peter Hadfield – who has been writing about science for 25 years, and is a geologist, incidentally – addressed this specific claim. Only 24 of those people were charged with arson. 53 had failed to comply with a fire ban (ex., having a barbecue in a restricted area). 47 were guilty of disparaging a lighted cigarette or match on the road. Check the video at about 12 minutes in. It’s really worth watching the whole thing to see how well he disentangles the hype from the actual reality.

      He extensively shows clips of actual firefighters and related experts, on the ground in Australia, on the issue of the cause of the fires. They say it’s lightning, and arson isn’t the real issue because even if someone does start a fire, they do it on the periphery of the forests where firefighters can easily get to the fire and put it out. Lightning strikes where there are no roads, in thick forest, where it’s undiscovered and very difficult to get to.

      No real scientists are advcocating killing people or destroying society. Those are hysterical outpourings from radical activists and have nothing to do with science, quite obviously.


  5. ‘If you get time look up IPCC fakes the hockey stick chart. Also look up NASA faked the global temperature data. Also Greta Thunberg interview where she said it’s not really about global warming but about redistribution of wealth.’… rolls eyes. All your actual, real-science, peer-reviewed, easily verified answers to that guy’s credulous blathering, despite their being presented pleasantly… I get a feeling you needn’t have bothered, but excellent effort, all the same. I’d LOVE to see that guy and Greta have a televised discussion about climate change (:


    1. I think nowadays we are bombarded with more disinformation than anything real, and it’s increasingly hard to not be misinformed on one thing or another. Every so often I discover my common sense conclusion about something is actually just propaganda I’ve been served up by advertising or some other social engineering. These days people don’t even know where they can go to find the truth, or the closest approximation of it. We end up choosing the worldview we are most comfortable with, and subscribing to it hook, line, and sinker.

      But, uh, the guy you’re referring to and I agree on lots and lots of things. This is one we don’t agree on, er, yet.


  6. Yes, we are totally bombarded with crap.
    My human (not me, I’m a Second Life avatar) works with (as in, does the same job as them) people who are mostly barely literate (the human has a degree, with honours), many of these people are quite bright, very practical people, but most of them don’t vote, they don’t read, they have zero skills in critical thinking… what they have, is smart-phones, Facebook, endless clips of people having horrible accidents, that kind of thing… these people get China and Japan mixed up, several of them think the Earth is only 5000 years old, one of them is a flat-earther… you get the picture. Most of them are around thirty years old. The human feels that these people are merely a micro-cosmic sampling of the macro-cosmic reality of the state of critical thought in the world in general, these days. The internet did NOT make people cleverer, unfortunately.
    It’s similar to how Americans, those who can think, are just discovering that their fabulous constitution only works when those who actually have the power choose to abide by it. The internet is this vast pool of amazing knowledge, but if you only use it to reinforce your own narrow thinking, that’s all it will ever do. Sadly, just as television devolved from a medium with similar potential to purveyor of ‘reality’ shows, because the reality is that that’s what most viewers wanted, the internet is the same, most users just want mindless titillation.
    When both the human and I read statements like ‘Also look up NASA faked the global temperature data’, this just totally reinforces our theory that the human race is becoming stupider through technology, not cleverer. It just blows our mind… why on earth would NASA fake global temperature data? If your ability to critique your own reality begins somewhere where a statement like that has any credibility, it’s all downhill from there.
    Sorry, got triggered by that particular piece of pseudo-intelligent ‘fact’.
    I appreciate what you said, he and you have lots of common ground, which is interesting in itself.
    Ok, done ranting. Excellent post, I don’t usually get so involved, so, from that point of view, if ‘reader re-active rant’ is a measure of success, very successful.
    Also, it was lovely to see that your global pollution map actually has New Zealand on it… another source of constant dis-belief for the human and I, is seeing, usually American, world maps that don’t have New Zealand on them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just looked it up. There’s even an entry at Snopes:

      Apparently NASA revised a model of the UX temperature between 1880 and 2000. Thus people assumed they were fudging it to bolster an agenda, and they got caught “red handed”.

      In reality, they refined their study by taking into consideration the changes and differences in the stations collecting the date. They accounted for stations relocating, “urban heat effect”, altitude, and other factors. They did this publicly, with full transparency, and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. There was no secret, everything was above board, no conspiracy, and nothing to be caught at.

      It just so happens that after making their findings more accurate, it turned out that the temperature was 0.03% higher than on the previous chart.

      But, a lot of people, like Freeman Dysan, are highly intelligent, persuasive, and have a scientific background. If one only saw his take on the issue, it would seem rock solid.

      Your point about confirmation bias echo chambers is true. We tend to look at stuff that substantiates our own worldview. I need the right person to twist my arm, sometimes, to look at opposing views, because I tend to assume that at 54 years old, I probably sorted stuff out reasonably well by now.

      I’m trying to be less political in 2020, and focus more on my art, and perhaps more personal stuff. I thought gacking down smog was personal. But this is an argument I kinda’ know I can win, because I’m just siding with science here. Politics and art are so much more subjective that you can lose an argument merely by being outnumbered or shouted down.

      I can’t be hard on people who believe some of the stuff we are spoon fed, because I know I’ve swallowed so much of it myself and am probably going to vomit up more of it in the future.

      It’s kinda’ like all the disinformation that was circulated about smoking in the past, including that doctors recommended this or that brand, which they themselves smoked. People believed it because seemingly wholesome authorities said it was true.

      I don’t blame the people. I blame the think tanks, marketing geniuses, and propaganda machines deliberately misleading the public. They are tricking us into sacrificing our own health and futures in order to allow them to keep business going as usual. They spend hundreds of millions to lobby the government to do their bidding as well.

      Those are the individuals who deserve my scorn.


      Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a really interesting mid-afternoon read. I’m curious about what you said about creating an email hoax… did it ever end up circulating back to you?


    1. Yup! This was back when people forwarded a lot of stuff via email, rather than jFB or Twitter or whatever. And I lived in China so we didn’t have access to most those platforms anyway. It’s not all that difficult to spread a hoax. Of course, in my case, there’s no victim or malicious intent. It’s just for humor, or more recently to mess with the art world and the idalogues.


    1. It’s my most famous artwork! More eyes have seen that than everything else I’ve made put together, and many times over. It’s also disgusting and just something I slapped together for an English lesson about “urban myths” for my university students in China. So, what I made to help dispel a myth [“you see, students, the photographic evidence can be faked in Photoshop, which I can prove, becaue I did it myself.”] ended up being used to help spread the myth on a global scale.

      Liked by 1 person

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