Flu outbreaks and warmer winters

From Arizona State University where I really don’t think they understand that warmer winters aren’t necessarily a product of “climate change” but are mostly weather pattern and ocean cycle pattern driven. Then there’s the recent study about waste heat where the researchers found:

“…the extra heat given off by Northern Hemisphere urban areas causes as much as 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F) of warming in winter.”

So, color me unconvinced that “climate change” is the real driver here. It is more like a convenient scapegoat.

Study shows climate change could affect onset and severity of flu seasons

The American public can expect to add earlier and more severe flu seasons to the fallout from climate change, according to a research study published online Jan. 28 in PLOS Currents: Influenza.

Research by Arizona State University scientists tracked the number of flu cases by week for the past 16 years. Their studies suggest there is a trend toward earlier and more severe flu seasons with potential link climate change. Credit: Arizona State University

A team of scientists led by Sherry Towers, research professor in the Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center at Arizona State University, studied waves of influenza and climate patterns in the U.S. from the 1997-1998 season to the present.

The team’s analysis, which used Centers for Disease Control data, indicates a pattern for both A and B strains: warm winters are usually followed by heavy flu seasons.

“It appears that fewer people contract influenza during warm winters, and this causes a major portion of the population to remain vulnerable into the next season, causing an early and strong emergence,” says Towers. “And when a flu season begins exceptionally early, much of the population has not had a chance to get vaccinated, potentially making that flu season even worse.”

The current flu season, which is still in high gear in parts of the nation, began early and fiercely. It followed a relatively light 2011 season, which saw the lowest peak of flu since tracking efforts went into effect, and coincided with the fourth warmest winter on record. According to previous studies, flu transmission decreases in warm or humid conditions.

If global warming continues, warm winters will become more common, and the impact of flu will likely be more heavily felt, say the study’s authors.

Mathematical epidemiologist Gerardo Chowell-Puente, an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, adds that the findings could inform preparedness efforts following mild winters: “The expedited manufacture and distribution of vaccines and aggressive vaccination programs could significantly diminish the severity of future influenza epidemics.”

###

This study was partially supported by the Multinational Influenza Seasonal Mortality Study, overseen by the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center. Other team members are Rasheed Hameed, Matthew Jastrebski, Maryam Khan, Jonathan Meeks, Anuj Mubayi and George Harris of Northeastern Illinois University. The goal of the overarching study is to better grasp the character and trajectory of influenza in all its forms.

About these ads
This entry was posted in Economy-health and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

84 Responses to Flu outbreaks and warmer winters

  1. petermue says:

    “research professor in the Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center ”

    Why does it always make my hair stand on end when I read the word “model” in studies…

  2. Jeremy says:

    I prefer the advice of old fashioned research:

    Cover your mouth when coughing. Wash hands regularly. Stay at home if you are ill. Ensure fresh air in buildings. Get a flu shot if you are old or at risk.

    The advice from this research paper, like all CAGW climate research, seems extremely useful to ONLY researchers seeking to consume large and larger taxpayer grants…

  3. Mike Smith says:

    This study shows (maybe) that weather can influence the course of the flu season.

    The linkage to climate change is pure speculation. Even the title of the article reads “Study shows climate change could affect onset, severity of flu seasons”.

    How much longer will the MSM and sheeple lap up this nonsense?

  4. RoHa says:

    When are you going to get those warmer winters in the Northern Hemisphere?

  5. michaeljmcfadden says:

    “It appears that fewer people contract influenza during warm winters, and this causes a major portion of the population to remain vulnerable into the next season, causing an early and strong emergence,” says Towers. “And when a flu season begins exceptionally early, much of the population has not had a chance to get vaccinated, potentially making that flu season even worse.”

    Interesting thoughts. Anecdotally it would appear true for the current flu season in the Northeast after an unusually warm winter last year, and it sounds like their research did actually pick out the the last few “high incidence in early seasons” episodes to see if they also followed warm winters.

    The second half of the statement is a bit more questionable though: what percentage of the population usually gets vaccinated by the halfway flu season point? Is it large enough to make the difference needed for the hypothesized effect?

    :?
    MJM

  6. Mike Jowsey says:

    Did the study empirically show warming in Arizona over the past 16 years? ‘Cos globally that ain’t the case.

    Anyhoo, a bit OT, but from the Arizona State University website you linked to:
    http://asuevents.asu.edu/great-debate-climate-change

    Great Debate: Climate Change
    surviving the future
    7PM SAT FEB 2

    This event is co-sponsored by: Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives ASU Origins Project
    Location: ASU Gammage
    Campus: Tempe
    Cost: $10 $16 $26

    Join scientists and leaders afflilated with NASA, NOAA, The Earth Institute, E3G, and The Global Institute of Sustainability for what is sure to be a lively conversation on the future of the nation and the world in our changing climate. The Origins Project at ASU is proud to host Prof. Wallace Broecker, Prof. Jim Hansen, Prof Susan Solomon, Mr. John Ashton CBE, and Prof. Sander Van Der Leeuw as they discuss controversial issues in the field of climate change. Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss will moderate the evening.
    A book-signing will follow the event.
    Tickets ON SALE NOW!

  7. daved46 says:

    Somehow this post reminds me of Willis’ Tao of El Nino from earlier today. They both rely on feedback from an earlier time to modulate the current situation. I wonder if Willis could suggest hot these authors might improve their analysis?

  8. TBear says:

    Another expensive study to get us to yet another `climate change could’ conclusion. Must be great as a scientist in a rich nation such as the US, where endless amounts of grant money are available to spend on endless pursuits of irrelevant hypotheses. The Bear rolls eyes and logs off …

  9. temp says:

    “where I really don’t they they understand that warmer ”

    I believe you want to replace a “they” with a “think”. Hehe i would know since thats how i write.

  10. Ron Sinclair says:

    These guys should be researching why the vacine worked so poorly this year. A 50% success rate is not worth getting the needle for. Like flipping a coin. I speak as one, of several I know, who got the needle, but to no avail. Most years, it has worked well for me.
    Need some better statistical work on next year’s formulation. Get the Bayes theory guys to work!
    Do something that has benefit to it.

  11. ALVAN says:

    “According to previous studies, flu transmission decreases in warm or humid conditions. If global warming continues, warm winters will become more common, and the impact of flu will likely be more heavily felt, say the study’s authors.”
    It must take AGW logic to understand this.

  12. davidmhoffer says:

    omigod!
    when people catch a disease, they build up immunity to it!
    when they don’t catch that disease, they don’t build up immunity to it!
    omigod!
    omigod!
    nobody knew this before!

    cold is bad for human health!
    omigod!
    omigod!
    nobody knew that before either!

  13. “It appears that fewer people contract influenza during warm winters, and this causes a major portion of the population to remain vulnerable into the next season, causing an early and strong emergence,” says Towers.

    If global warming continues, warm winters will become more common, and the impact of flu will likely be more heavily felt, say the study’s authors.

    Essentially they are arguing that low levels of immunity makes flu outbreaks more severe and this occurs after a warm winter. Of course, the reverse will be true, and high levels of immunity will make flu outbreaks less severe after a cold winter.

    If warm winters alone were the cause of more severe flu outbreaks then we should see more severe outbreaks as we move toward the equator. We don’t see this, therefore warm winters alone are not the cause of more severe outbreaks.

    In fact, influenza mortality has a strong negative correlation with winter temperatures.

    http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=anthro_theses

    Which makes me conclude warmer winters will decrease influenza severity.

    You can file this study under; Another example of AGW money corrupting science.

  14. DJ says:

    …There is nothing that Global Warming can’t make worse. Including “overarching” studies.

  15. dp says:

    Unless this particular flu strain is triggered by a 16-year pause in climate change I’d have to conclude these people are more interested in grant money than health and personal integrity. Dunno why but snake oil is my current ear worm – can’t shake it.

  16. thingadonta says:

    I’ve always wondered why a ‘cold’ is called a cold, where it has little or nothing to do with being cold. I work in the tropics, and have never seen so many people with ‘colds’, and I have never caught so many ‘colds’ myself (probably because I am not used to the local strains) whilst simulateneously sweating with the heat. I suspect flu has little or nothing to do with either warmth or cold either. (And same again for malaria, although cold weather does kill mosquitoes)

    Perhaps people are ever so slightly more susceptible to catching a ‘cold’ when they are actually cold, but a more dominant influence might be basic health and hygiene, which is why so many in the tropics, where I work, where both health and hygiene is poor, catch so many ‘colds’. Same goes for flu I expect.

  17. Eyal Porat says:

    For once and for all: Cold weather causes more flu.
    Don’t believe it? Check the hospitals in summer – no flu patients.
    The colder the weather, more flu and breathing diseases.

  18. NucEngineer says:

    So I take it that the winters of 1918 and 1919 were warmed by global warming, and that caused the severity of the Spanish Flu epidemic.

  19. Rob Dawg says:

    Onset is a function of vector. Aka mobility. When Patient N can be anywhere in the world in 20 hours after interacting with thousands who also exhibit similar mobility any previous propagation model is rendered moot.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    The only thing ‘weather’ related about the flu is that is is carried by migratory birds.

    They mix several Hx Nx types and don’t bother to point out that the remix each year (in pigs and ducks in Asia in many cases) changes the stew. The vaccine is made well in advance of knowing what is coming, so often does not contain the right HxNx type.

    I’ve regularly asked the Dr. what is in the ‘mix’ and what is the type in progress and they are often different. In other words, the ‘magic bullet’ is often wrong. They depend on a lot of folks getting the shots over years to kind of make up for that…

    In summary:

    Important drivers are the Asian reshuffle of antigens, then the match or non-match of that year of vaccine (and whatever was doled out in the prior few years that might accidentally be right this time…)

    Only a tiny bit related to Asian bird migrations, thus weather.

    Heat has little to do with it (other than folks ‘cuddle up and share’ in the cold…)

  21. Joe says:

    But… but… but

    If warm winters have less cases, creating less immunity, then surely they’ll only lead to more cases the next year if the next year is cold again,? Either that or turn the annual flu cycle into a bi-annual one?

  22. Jeremy, you wrote, as a way to reduce flu transmission, “Ensure fresh air in buildings.”

    Heehee… I’ve raised the ire of folks on the net sometimes when I’ve made the suggestion that in terms of the flu you’re probably safer going to a Free Choice bar than a smoking banned bar. The Free Choice place is likely to spend the extra money for increased ventilation/filtration equipment that the banned place skimps on with no one the wiser. We saw a similar problem in airplanes when they banned smoking: airborne bacteria/fungi counts went way up in the aftermath as the planes switched over to recirculation, and now there are all sorts of complaints about lubricating/transmission/fuel vapor in the air of passenger cabins. Don’t know if they ever did an actual study on an increase in flu after the ventilation reductions though: would have been hard to get the data. Consumer Reports *did* run a major cover story titled “What’s Happened To Airplane Air?” with a pic of a gasping passenger clawing at a window two years after the US plane ban though.

    - MJM

  23. John F. Hultquist says:

    Stay away from groups of people, especially little ones, classrooms, and public school teachers. Get the shot, early. Also get the Pneumonia shot.
    ~~~~~~~

    Has anyone else seen the Feb. 2013 Smithsonian p.10, “From the Castle”? G. Wayne Clough (Sec. of the S.) offers up a grab bag of global warming garbage. He doesn’t mention flu but does get in that the organization hosted a symposium on the Anthropocene (sic).
    { Plastiolithic, please! }

  24. John F. Hultquist says:

    Breaking News:
    See:
    http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/01/28/un-climate-report-models-overestimated-global-warming/

    Draft UN climate report shows 20 years of overestimated global warming, skeptics warn

  25. Jason Calley says:

    When it is colder, people stay indoors more, and when they do go outside, they cover up more. Maybe flu is more easily caught by people who have less sun exposure and hence less vitamin D.

  26. Andy Wilkins says:

    Uh oh – useless model alert!
    Extensive use of the words ‘could’ and ‘maybe’!

  27. John, very true about the deadliness of tiny human disease spreaders. Something ought to be done about them.

    Meanwhile, this is also true: ““The IPCC’s claim is that they are 90 percent sure that humans have ‘contributed to’ the observed warming.”

    Heck, if I sit here and scratch my butt it’s an inescapable scientific fact that the friction I have created by that action has contributed to anthropogenic global warming.

    - MJM, the butt-scratcher

  28. Claes Lindskog says:

    It seems to me that a larger population, better heated houses and more industrial plants must create a temperature rise especially in the winter without any CO2 as a possible driver. The size of the overall change (climate, temperature, whatever you call it) due to this cause must be difficult to assess but some part of it will appear as a local effect close to major population centers increasing throughout the last 100 years (just as Anthony so ably has shown).

  29. GingerZilla says:

    I am applying for funding using the hypothesis that I have more bogers up my nose due to climate change, using “1997-1998 season to the present.” Mainly so I can ignore winter years such as 1968/9 and as I wasn’t born making my theory undisputable. Anyone accusing me of cherry picking may be executed for climate denialism and for the heinous crime of threatening my source of income.

    In my next project I will be looking at stealing candy from a baby and blaming it on climate change

    /sarc

  30. Mike Borgelt says:

    The only thing ‘weather’ related about the flu is that is is carried by migratory birds. “”

    I think some of those birds are named B747 and A380 etc.

  31. Ginger wrote, “I am applying for funding using the hypothesis that I have more bogers up my nose due to climate change, … Anyone accusing me of cherry picking may be executed for climate denialism and for the heinous crime of threatening my source of income.”

    Ginger, cherry-picking is allowed. Boger-picking is not. Please report to the Principal’s office immediately.

    - MJM

  32. Streetcred says:

    They should speak to their buddies at Georgia Tech : Cloud forming bacteria?

    http://joannenova.com.au/2013/01/cloud-forming-bacteria/

  33. Well the BBC did a documentary on flu epidemics last night. This year the norovirus has been the big problem. The spike was much earlier, and the biggest factor in spreading flu are the dates that the schools open and close, which even for the BBC sounded plausible. The peaks build up just after schools open, and dampen down when schools close for holiday.

    Perhaps this another good reason for warmists and environmentalists to hate children

  34. Larry Huldén says:

    It is known in Finland that we have more flu during cold winters. People are then crowding more close together in public transports. May be the PLOS authors have not thought of this causation because of modelling.

  35. Disko Troop says:

    Pol Pot and Mao Tse Tung were right. Take these so called academics out into the fields and give them something useful to do.

    Ivor Ward.

  36. Old Spanky says:

    C’mon people, researchers gotta research, and that costs money. If the climate change money spigot is flowing most freely that’s where the researchers will go. The bargain they make is they gotta give a climate change angle to whatever they publish. I know of a project to develop some graphics software that got funding from a sanitation department by pretending they wanted to map the sewers. They didn’t; they wanted to develop graphics software. No map was ever produced but some keen old software got written.

    Personally, whenever I see “could” in the title of a climate-related paper I nod and think, yep, you held up your end of the bargain but you don’t believe this is climate related any more than I do.

    “Could” is a code word. It’s like seeing the word “drink” after “fruit juice”, or “food” after “cheese”. It’s there tell you the paper has been adulterated for commercial reasons.

  37. Jimbo says:

    If global warming continues, warm winters will become more common, and the impact of flu will likely be more heavily felt, say the study’s authors.

    But we were told to expect colder winters as the Arctic ice declines. If warm winters continue??? Tell that to the Europeans who have in recent years been seeing that thing of the past. I’m just wondering that if indeed warmer winters is the result of AGW then how many lives would be saved?

    Cold also kills

    There were an estimated 24,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2011/12 – an 8 per cent reduction compared with the previous winter.
    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health2/excess-winter-mortality-in-england-and-wales/2011-12–provisional–and-2010-11–final-/index.html

  38. Richards in Vancouver says:

    michaeljmcfadden says:
    January 29, 2013 at 12:06 am

    “Heck, if I sit here and scratch my butt it’s an inescapable scientific fact that the friction I have created by that action has contributed to anthropogenic global warming.”

    Please scratch you butt a bit more vigorously. I’ve got a slight fever and the sniffles.

  39. Gail Combs says:

    John F. Hultquist says:
    January 28, 2013 at 11:21 pm
    Breaking News:
    See:
    http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/01/28/un-climate-report-models-overestimated-global-warming/
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Looks like a bit of controlled opposition to me.

    Skeptics such as Spencer also say that the chart does not mean that global warming is a hoax.

    “The IPCC’s claim is that they are 90 percent sure that humans have ‘contributed to’ the observed warming. Hell, even I would agree with that innocuous statement.”….

    [The final statement is]
    Huertas said that the criticisms “are an attempt to obscure the bigger picture.”

    “Climate change is happening, it is due to human activities, and the emissions choices we make today will have the largest influence on the extent of future climate change.”

    However at least skeptics are finally making the news.

  40. Gail Combs says:

    Jason Calley says:
    January 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    When it is colder, people stay indoors more, and when they do go outside, they cover up more. Maybe flu is more easily caught by people who have less sun exposure and hence less vitamin D.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
    Do not forget to add a lack of humidity. Colder temperatures mean the indoor air is a lot dryer.
    Researchers have long puzzled over why flu becomes so much more active in winter. A new study reveals that dry air is one likely culprit.

    You might want to include this study at the top of the page Anthony.

    …Dr. Jeffrey Shaman of Oregon State University wondered if absolute humidity—a measure of how much water vapor is in the air—could account for flu outbreaks. Last year, he reexamined laboratory data and found that absolute humidity could account for the airborne survival and transmission of the virus.

    In the new study, Shaman and collaborators at several institutions, including NIH’s Fogarty International Center (FIC), compared death rates attributed to influenza over 31 years to absolute humidity readings nationwide. The researchers used a mathematical model of the influenza transmission cycle that incorporated Shaman’s previous findings of how absolute humidity affects the survival and transmission of the virus…..

    In PLoS Biology on February 23, 2010, the researchers reported that there were often significant drops in absolute humidity in the weeks prior to a flu outbreak. “This dry period is not a requirement for triggering an influenza outbreak, but it was present in 55-60% of the outbreaks we analyzed, so it appears to increase the likelihood of an outbreak,” Shaman says. “The virus response is almost immediate; transmission and survival rates increase and about 10 days later, the observed influenza mortality rates follow.”

  41. wayne Job says:

    These people make an excellent case for the naming of the flu epidemic, the spanish flu, bird flu , swine flu and now we need to alarm every one that the next epidemic is caused by climate change.

    It would be appropriate at this time to have a naming contest, for the next great scare I will start the ball rolling.

    Hansonitic Flubia

    Mannanitis Flubious

    IPCCitis epidemic

    BOMonic plague

    It would seem we have suffered these already any one have a clue of our next plague we have to endure

  42. In the UK we are able to get immunized against the flue virus. Unfortunately it works against last year’s virus not the current one. The flue virus is probably the most active virus at mutation. The current year’s might be less or more virulent than the last and only the first case can tell.

    That study about urban heat altering climate 1000 miles away was total rubbish.

  43. Caleb says:

    In Childcare I get sneezed on every day, and exposed to copious amounts of mucus and worse, and my understanding is that studies shows hand-washing over and over and over is the only thing that truly makes a difference.

    The ‘flu came early to New Hampshire this year, and the ‘flu shot didn’t seem to help much. Therefore some local folk have decided we bred our own strain, which is spreading out across the world, and we deserve either blame or credit, (depending on your feelings about population control.) At the very least it should get a name like “The Hong Kong ‘Flu.” Perhaps “The Granite State Grippe.”

  44. Nerd says:

    Gail Combs says:
    January 29, 2013 at 2:37 am

    You might want to take a closer look at wide spread vitamin D deficiency during the winter for cold and flu. It doesn’t look like humidity has anything to do with flu or cold (lived in Houston). Once I found out about vitamin D deficiency that made it much more likely to catch cold or flu, I started taking the right amount based on body weight 4 years ago, it worked much better than anything I’ve tried. http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/infections-and-autoimmunity/influenza/

    Rule of thumb for the dosage – 1000IU for every 25lbs of bodyweight.

    Guess what the daily recommendation is? 600IU…

    Guess how much you get from the sun during the summer at midday without sunblock lotion? 10,000-20,000 IU for people with light colored skin after 15-30 minutes. The darker the skin is, the longer sun exposure it gets to get same amount of vitamin D. (Be smart about the amount of sun exposure though but apparently you tan faster with high vitamin D blood level which is strange)

    It’s not really a vitamin D but a pre-hormone that your body converts to powerful hormone called calcitriol. It’s often referred as DNA/genetic repair and maintenance by vitamin D experts.

    Sun Scare belongs to trash along with CAGW…

  45. Bob says:

    Why would the drivers for increased flu be very similar to the common cold? Colder temps result in increased crowding in less ventilated spaces, decreased resistance(?) due to exposure to the cold and drier air allowing droplets containing the virus to remain intact. We catch colds in the winter. We can catch our death by getting cold and wet. Seems to me that this “research” isn’t much more than recycling what we already “know” and packaging it as climate change.

  46. Peter Miller says:

    Air borne viruses live longer at lower temperatures.

    Consequently, warmer winters have a tendency to have lower numbers of flu victims.

    That’s logical. The conclusion of this study about the myth of CAGW causing warmer winters and therefore more flu victims is complete and utter BS – typical alarmist nonsense.

  47. David L. says:

    History starts in 1997? Let’s see the graph for the influenza outbreak of 1918 which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

    Interesting quote: “It is an oddity of history that the influenza epidemic of 1918 has been overlooked in the teaching of American history. Documentation of the disease is ample, as shown in the records selected from the holdings of the National Archives regional archives. Exhibiting these documents helps the epidemic take its rightful place as a major disaster in world history.”

    from: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/influenza-epidemic/

  48. David L. says:

    This is another correlational study that attempts to show causation. In a stats class years ago we learned that homicide rates are correlated with how nice the weather is: more homicides in the warmer days of summer than other colder seasons. The explanation was because in the summer there are more people out and about interacting with each other and not because the warm weather drives people to murder. Maybe the same effect is going on here. Warmer winters have more people going out and interacting with each other. I know the amount of traffic on my sleepy little road is dramatically higher on warmer days than on very cold and/or rainy days.

  49. Richie says:

    Although I doubt warmer weather is coming anytime soon, I also doubt that catching the flu is such a catastrophe it should be treated as a public-health casus belli, like polio: It’s been known for 100 years that a severe fever, such as one might experience with a really bad strain of the flu, can cure terminal cancer.

  50. Tom O says:

    John F. Hultquist says:

    January 28, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Stay away from groups of people, especially little ones, classrooms, and public school teachers. Get the shot, early. Also get the Pneumonia shot.
    ~~~~~~~

    John, most of the people I know that DID get the flu shot also got the fl\u. Most fo the people that I know that did NOT getthe flu shot, likewise, did not get the flu. Are you suggesting we all need to get flu shots so we can be sick and make the medical professionals more wealthy?

    As an Arizonan, I am very much disappointed in this sort of flimsy research.

  51. “… the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences”

    Am I correct in thinking that “Liberal Sciences” do not require empirical evidence?

  52. Gail Combs says:

    Nerd says:
    January 29, 2013 at 4:01 am

    Gail Combs says:
    January 29, 2013 at 2:37 am

    You might want to take a closer look at wide spread vitamin D deficiency during the winter for cold and flu….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I make sure I get my vitamin D, but this winter I finally figured out my ‘Coughing never get over’ that I get every winter responded very very well to a simple tray of water in the bedroom sitting on one of these. (we no longer use the central heat)

    Humidity is Vital

    Airway Defense
    Primary mechanical defense mechanisms are sneezing, coughing, gagging and the use of natural filters, i.e. nasal hairs. The second line of defense is the mucociliary transport system which traps and neutralizes inhaled contaminants (in mucus) and transports them up and out of the airway, keeping the lung free from infection-causing pathogens. This critical defense system is very sensitive to humidity…..

    This is the point I was trying to make.

  53. Ed Barbar says:

    So what happens when massive solar plants are built in deserts, the energy converted to electricity, and then back to heat in areas where radiation isn’t reflected back into the atmosphere as readily?

  54. Robuk says:

    The Influenza Pandemic of 1918,

    The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as World War I (WWI), at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four-years of the Black Death Bubonic Plague from 1347 to 1351. Known as “Spanish Flu” or “La Grippe” the influenza of 1918-1919 was a global.

    1918 Rather Wet. A Cool Summer and Autumn.
    In the year that an estimated 25 million people died in the ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic, Russia switched from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar and moved it’s Capital from Petrograd to Moscow; and World War One ended with an agreement signed in a railway carriage near Compiegne (France).
    Weather Notes:-
    17th May – Severe thunderstorms, with heavy hail, affected the Midlands and parts of eastern England. Several places had over 50mm of rain in one hour. An area north of Luton (Bedfordshire) was particularly badly hit.
    16th/17th July – Severe thunderstorms over Surrey and parts of south London produced hailstones the size of pigeon eggs near Kenley (Surrey), and Bermondsey (Southeast London) had nearly 53mm of rain in 30 minutes.
    15th September – In this exceptionally wet month, Douglas (Isle of Man) recorded over 120mm on this day.

    http://www.london-weather.eu/article.58.html

  55. Caleb says:

    RE Gail Combs: Another thing about the air being dry, which effects chronic hand-washers, is that skin gets chapped, which means there are tiny cracks in the defensive wall created by our skin. So hand-lotion is wise, as well as keeping the air in your house moist. (We always keep a kettle on our wood stove.)

    If the air is cold and dry to begin with, and you heat that air from below freezing to room temperature, its humidity can drop as low as 10 percent, or even lower, which is hard to match even in summer deserts. Therefore it is likely unnatural to be in air so dry, and you are wise to recommend humidifying.

    On the other hand, nature seems to want kids to ingest germs and build up their immune systems. Watch a small child some time, and see how often they bring their hands up to their mouths. Around once every 5-10 seconds. (Some adults aren’t much better.) Dealing with kids exposes me to so many germs I seldom get sick at all, because I’d be dead as a doorknob without an immune system like Fort Knox

    We are actually under attack by germs from all sides and angles. So eat wisely, sleep wisely, live wisely, and cross your fingers.

  56. Jeff Norman says:

    So people in Atlanta are more susceptible to influenza than people in Chicago? More in Paris than in Helsinki? Sounds like BS to me.

  57. Chris Edwards says:

    In Salisbury UK there was a cold and flu research place but it was closed to save money! how much has been scammed since by the agw crowd! to me adequate ventilation helps, adequate moisture helps and when I lived by the sea and often walked the dog with sea spray in the air I seldom had colds or flu, so common sense is the answer! as to warmer winters there might be many reasons, not warm enough to have the windows open but huddled together! does breathing cold air destroy any virus in your nasal tract? does it kill any you breathe out?

  58. polistra says:

    Synopsis of the “study”:

    We know how to get grants.

    6 words.

  59. Robuk says:

    New Look at 1918/1919 El Niño Suggests Link to 1918 Flu Pandemic.

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2009BAMS2903.1

  60. Gibby says:

    This year is going to blow their whole idea out of the water with the almost 2 week long cold snap in AZ (coldest 5 day strech in N. AZ since 1990) coinciding with a resurfacing of the influenza virus that had mutated to the point at which the vaccine was not very effective at all.

  61. JohnH says:

    I generally call these “me too!” studies, since they don’t require anyone to understand anything about climate science. These get done by scientists who would work in obscurity, but get a little publicity by jumping on the bandwagon. They also get an easy route to publication by simply applying some basic knowledge from their field to one of the projected (but never observed) effects of climate change.

    Someone pays for these studies, and they’re an unbelievable waste of money. If they were really serious about staving off a global calamity they could use the resources that are devoted to useless studies like this one, and instead provide food, water or shelter for people who are dying now. Even if climate change is real, does anyone really need to know that the cold and flu season might be a little worse in 100 years? (Is there anyone who thinks that influenza will still be a problem 100 years from now?)

    Funny that I love science, but I’m really starting to despise scientists.

  62. Robuk says:

    Ron Sinclair says:
    January 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    These guys should be researching why the vacine worked so poorly this year. A 50% success rate is not worth getting the needle for. Like flipping a coin. I speak as one, of several I know, who got the needle, but to no avail. Most years, it has worked well for me.

    How do you know it works, did you have flue on a regular basis prior to your jabs,

    Both my wife and I suffered more with the jabs than without, we no longer have them.

  63. Mr O'Brien says:

    I am seventy two years of age and in all those years I had the flu only once. That one experience of all the aches and pains and being laid up for about a week was enough to convince me that a flu shot is well worth the cost so I get one every year and have never been bothered with the flu since.

    Why get excited about the flu? Spend a few buck; an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.

  64. Tim Ball says:

    They should have consulted Charles the Second of England who, according to Samuel Pepys, ordered a one day holiday so everyone would go to church and pray for cold winter weather. They believed that warm winters were causing outbreaks of the plague. It didn’t work as the plague struck with ferocity in 1665.

    The weather for several years was similar to today with increased meridional flow leading to extremes of temperature and precipitation. This is a pattern seen in the previous extensive plague outbreaks in the 1340s.

  65. DesertYote says:

    The convoluted abuse of logic needed to derive the mechanism of causality trumpeted by the reporting of this study makes my heard hurt. But what is frightening, is that so many public school puppies blindly fall for this nonsense, mindlessly being led to their doom. Marxism really does cause brain damage.

    BTW, ASU, in the heart of Red State Arizona, has been dominated by Marxist since at least the early 70. I gave up on trying to get a degree there during the 80s because of the idiocy that was being crammed down my throat by everyone including the profs of the supposedly hard sciences. “Social Responsibility”, oy!

  66. John F. Hultquist says:

    Mr O’Brien says:
    January 29, 2013 at 7:44 am
    “. . . all the aches and pains and being laid up for about a week . . .

    Reminds me that I’ve sensed a bit of “common cold” characteristics seeping into this set of comments. I’ve had flu. If I’m asked by someone how they can tell if they’ve got a flu or a cold, my response is “If you are capable of asking, it’s a cold.” Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but flu puts you out of commission, so you have trouble getting out of bed and, if you manage that, standing.

  67. John F. Hultquist says:

    Tom O says:
    January 29, 2013 at 5:05 am
    “. . . most of the people I know that DID get the flu shot also got the fl\u. Most fo the people that I know that did NOT getthe flu shot, likewise, did not get the flu.

    I will assume extreme reporting bias regarding the above phenomena. If a person gets a flu shot and then also gets flu, expect to hear about it. If they got a flu shot and did not get flu, expect to learn of this only if you ask directly. Finally, a majority of people do not get flu in any given year with or without a shot.

    The 2013 ‘Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness’ ** [meaning: “laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection”] was determined to be 62%. Who wouldn’t take such odds to Vegas? Along with the possibility that one might not be exposed to influenza, most people will not become ill with flu.

    ** http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6202a4.htm?s_cid=mm6202a4_w
    and:
    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2012-2013.htm#still-get

  68. James at 48 says:

    I thought the whole basis for “The Flu Season” was that when it’s cold and dark people are indoors more, in close quarters, and therefore more prone to exchange of pathogens. The premise of the research group’s thesis falls apart immediately.

  69. Sun Spot says:

    @ Mike Jowsey says: January 28, 2013 at 8:53 pm
    How can you have a debate when all the participants are of the same ilk ???

  70. Power Grab says:

    I haven’t had the flu or a cold in many years. I haven’t had the flu shot in many years. My 16 year old kid has never had a flu shot. The only time so far this winter their either of us have had what might have turned into either a cold or the flu, came after we took a carload of young people to see a movie in a town about an hour away. It kept us up many hours past our normal bedtime. When we got up the next day, we both were feeling sniffly and draggy. Rather than dose up on OTC meds, we took several generous doses of vitamin C and D and cod liver oil. We had plenty of liquids and some chicken soup that had been enhanced with generous amounts of hot spices. We also went to bed earlier that night. We did not need to do anything more to stave off the symptoms of cold/flu.

    So in our experience, it appears that a lack of cold/flu “cures” (rest, nutritious food, and fluids) must have caused our symptoms.

    I have noticed that colds/flu generally appear after the holidays when many sweets are consumed. They also seem to arise once we start using our heaters a lot. So we generally don’t overdo the sweets during the holidays, and we try to minimize the drying effect of our heater by not setting the thermostat so high. I also like to keep up our intake of vitamin D, in case depression has a part to play in development of colds/flu, since D is a known mood elevator.

  71. John H, you wrote, “I generally call these “me too!” studies, since they don’t require anyone to understand anything about climate science.”

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking that climate science in unique in this regard. In my own area of study I see this sort of thing all the time. After Stan Glantz’s highly headlined “Miracle of Helena” study (a 2003 conference/press-release study claiming a 60% instant reduction in heart attacks after a smoking ban — and then a pop-up back to normal rates when the ban ended after six months) over a dozen, probably more like two or three dozen “copycat studies” were done along the same lines. They’re all amazingly flawed and I’ll be examining a number of them in some depth in a sequel to Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains.

    I’ve also seen exactly the same in the “Air Pollution Drops In Bars After Smoking Bans!” studies. Again, copycats in dozens of cities, sometimes getting up to $75,000 to simply “discover” that there’s 77, 83, or even 92% less smoke in the air when no one is smoking. Seriously. All the same methodology, pretty much all the same simple little sniffer equipment and results… and tons of publications and grants.

    Just as with what you’ve seen here with climate science, the constant repetition of “New Study Findings!” creates a generalized public belief/attitude/expectation that then allows the activist-researchers to claim “All legitimate researchers agree” and “The science is settled.” and “Anyone who disagrees is in the same category as a Holocaust Denier.” Since people simply remember that they’ve seen dozens of mentions of different studies on the news and in talk shows, ALL of which came up with the same sort of results, they’ll believe those statements to be fact.

    Only the people with the time, attention, and some level of expertise to examine and evaluate the research itself or criticisms of it are going to be open to giving a fair hearing to “the other side.” The Internet currently offers at least some degree of a “level playing field” for these discussions, but we’ll have to wait and see how long that lasts. The Free Choice movement is threatened by the shadow of being thrown into .xxx bucket along with porno as a means of censorship. I think they’ll have a harder time with the climate discussion though — heh, are they going to claim you’re “corrupting children” or “normalizing skepticism”? Still, be on guard: the Internet “window” is under attack from a lot of folks who are unhappy with it.

    - MJM

  72. Mike Rossander says:

    Boy, I hope this press release is a misrepresentation. If not, the authors’ conclusions are absurd.

    Accepting all their premises, what they found boils down to:
    - If winter A is warm, fewer people get the flu in winter A.
    - Having not gotten the flu during A, they have fewer antibodies and are more susceptible to catching the flu during winter B than they would have been otherwise.

    In a cyclical environment, that analysis is entirely plausible. It assumes, however, that winter B will be cooler than A on average (because of regression to the mean). Throw in the assumption of global warming, however, and winter B will on average be warmer than winter A. The extra “protection” of the warmer weather during winter B will offset the loss of protection from not catching the flu during A. It is not plausible that warmer winter in one year reduces the incidence of flu but warmer winters in two years will somehow increase it.

  73. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    Dr. Chuck here….I’m an infectious disease epidemiologist who’s worked in the field for 30 years or so, presently with the University of Illinois School of Public Health. Posters are correct about the natural history & ecology of the virus (waterfowl migration patterns from Asia carry this virus), and this bit of news just floated & helps to explain why so many (but not all) outbreaks originate in China:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/29/swine-flu-chinese-gene-variant-h1n1_n_2574100.html

    It is a fascinating virus, if you want to learn more, the CDC website has excellent materials. The H1N1 pandemic strain we had in 2009 emerged from some swine herd in Mexico, possibly one of the ConAgra herds I was working with in Veracruz, MX. Life is strange.

    BTW, I’m highly trained in the H5N1 “bird flu” pandemic science and response principals, and this is at least as much of a scam as CAGW. The most likely way we (as a society) will contract H5N1 is when it escapes from a virology research lab, see:

    http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_28-1-2013-15-6-41

    My peers are nuts….talk about playing with fire! Get your seasonal flu vaccine, one day there will be a universal flu vaccine that will be highly effective (next ten years or so). Wash your hands and be healthy, there is a nasty Norwalk agent (norovirus) spreading around.

  74. Anthony, your attempt to summarize the research findings needs work to match Alan Mulally’s line in a tribute to a renowned Boeing engineer who was head of a union when Mulally ran the commercial airplane division. “I never had any difficulty diagraming his sentences.” IOW his point was always quite clear.

    In BC the conventional wisdom is that influenza is spread by people spending more time in rooms with each other. Hence a push for good hygiene in elementary schools, as children contract the disease and bring it home. Hence the recommendation that individuals of aboriginal genetics get vaccinated, whether living on a reserve or off, because they are more likely to be in crowded conditions or visit into them. (A study in MB showed genetics is not a factor, crowding is.)

  75. Mark.R says:

    Why do we get more influenza in winter any way.
    “warm winters are usually followed by heavy flu seasons” so summers should be worse?.

  76. Tim Clark says:

    When it’s cold outside in the winter, I spend more time inside at work and home, with less air ventilation. There’s your correlationship.

  77. Jeff C says:

    Do yourself a favor, skip the flu shot and take vitamin D instead. Multiple studies have shown that vitamin D status has a dramatic impact on immune system efficiency and susceptibility to colds and flu. Studies have also shown that most Americans have low vitamin D status due to the fact we spend so much time indoors (our skin manufactures vitamin D from UV exposure). The overuse of sun blocks from skin cancer concerns has also contributed.

    It’s no coincidence that flu season occurs in the Winter as was mentioned above. Shorter days, the lower sun angle, and cold weather keeping people indoors all lower UV exposure and subsequent vitamin D status. Vitamin D levels (as 25(OH)D) have been shown to drop dramatically in the Winter but can be raised by supplementation. Vitamin D status can easily be measured, a doctor can order it or it can be ordered online from several organizations. Blood 25(OH)D target levels should be 50-80 ng/mL. Lots of good info at the Vitamin D council, a non-profit research organization (they are not drug or supplement industry shills).

    http://www.vitamindcouncil.org

    As to the flu shot, the independent Cochrane Collaboration did a meta-analysis of the existing literature and concluded flu shots are largely ineffective. Surprise, surprise, they also found that studies conducted by the drug manufacturers show far greater efficacy for the flu shot than those conducted by independent groups. In interviews, the lead author Dr. Tom Jefferson suggested people skip the flu shot and wash their hands instead.

    http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD001269/vaccines-to-prevent-influenza-in-healthy-adults

    Last of all, unless you specifically demand the flu shot from a single-dose vial, your shot will contain around 25 mcg of mercury as thimerosal. (Thimerosal is in all multi-dose vials as a preservative.) Single dose vials are in short supply and typically reserved for pregnant women and kids who request it, so the majority of adults will get the mercury with the shot whether they like it or not.

  78. WISE Math says:

    Wow. Talk about a nonsequitor. This is like saying “seatbelts don’t save lives because people who wear them feel more secure and so they drive more dangerously”

  79. michaeljmcfadden says:

    WISE, there’s always this alternative: http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Steering-Wheel_20Spike and here’s a pic to go with it: http://www.carbibles.com/images/steering_spike.jpg

    Happy driving!

    - MJM, the bicyclist…

  80. Hold on here!

    I understand this is a bad flu season on the mid West coast of North America (Seattle-Victoria-Vancouver), yet it seems to have been an unremarkable winter (certainly had negligible snow, did have many dry days below freezing but I don’t think extreme). People may visit more when weather does not impede transportation, visiting spreads infection.

    I understand that a key reason for this bad flu season is a strong strain of the flu. Fortunately it is in the vaccine cocktail. Perhaps different where Ron Sinclair lives.

    Fortunately more nurses are getting vaccinated this year. (Idiot nurses union was against vaccination despite they being in contact with people whose reserves are low – the sick and elderly. Irresponsible!)

  81. Anthony’s summary statement that fewer people get the flu in a warm winter so remain vulnerable into the next season must be founded on somehow getting natural resistance without getting sick. How can that be?
    Or is it that people get complacent so don’t get vaccinated for the next season?

    Factors for vaccines include the very long lead time from when the cocktail mix is decided to flu season (probably to allow for production), perhaps diminishing effectiveness of the vaccine with time after vaccination, mutation of the extant strains, and prior exposure to a train.

    Good news is that efforts are increasing to:
    - improve production of vaccine (getting away from eggs as host)
    - add a fourth strain to the vaccine cocktail
    - longer term broaden the vaccine further

  82. greg2213 says:

    If anyone’s interested, here’s the study. It doesn’t quite say what the press release says it says. Maybe that’s why they didn’t include a link.

    http://currents.plos.org/influenza/article/climate-change-and-influenza-the-likelihood-of-early-and-severe-influenza-seasons-following-warmer-than-average-winters/

  83. Keith Sketchley says:

    Meanwhile, Associated Press reports on studies showing that many east Asians have a genetic factor that may lead to more severe illness when they catch the flu. It’s a small study however, only 83 patients admitted to a hospital. Perversely, the problem is immune system over-reaction to the disease, causing organ damage or blocking airways. (Study published on a recent Tuesday in Nature Communications online edition.) OTOH, European genetics may be more susceptible to G-B syndrome from vaccination.

    The study highlights a factor – severe illness resulting from influenza, pneumonia being a common result. I have not checked what the MB study that checked for difference from genetics covered in severity of illness, nor Inuit versus more southerly genetics. (IIRC the thrust of it was aboriginal versus European genetics, the only difference found was greater probability of crowded living conditions (dysfunctional tribal reserves) whether living in them or visiting them. I presume MB’s northern coastline has people with Inuit genetics, given the climate and marine mammals there, though people mix. While people think of Inuit/Eskimo as living in the far north like Alaska, the coastline and Arctic climate are relatively far south over by Greenland.)

Comments are closed.