Beaches Not Disappearing

John Tamny writes at Real Clear Markets ‘Studies’ Indicate Disappearing Beaches. Markets Think Studies Idiotic. Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

As USA Today recently reported, a new study from the European Union’s Joint Research Center warns that a global catastrophe looms due to “the near-extinction of almost half of the world’s sandy beaches by the end of the century.” Hmmmm. Really?

It seems the only individuals who never get the message about the “near-extinction” of beaches are those who actually live at those beaches, along with those who yearn to live at beaches. Stop and think about it.

Presumably the desirability of Malibu, Laguna, La Jolla, the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Newport (RI), Ibiza, St. Tropez and other glamorous coastal locales has something to do with these destinations existing essentially on the beach. In other words, land and the housing that sits on said land is quite bit more valuable in Malibu than it is in the San Fernando Valley that is just over the hill from Malibu. Malibu is on or near the beach, while San Fernando Valley is, for lack of a better word, inland.

Though houses are expensive in parts of the San Fernando Valley, they don’t fetch anywhere near the amount that “shacks” in Malibu do. To the halfway awake, the previous sentence is a statement of the obvious.

Those of us in possession of passably sound mind understand that property on the beach or near the beach is quite a bit more desirable than cities and towns far from it.

Crucial is that what’s true in California is true around the world. Housing near the water is almost monolithically dear relative to what’s inland from the water. It’s almost a waste of words to write down what is so obvious.

Yet it’s worth writing down in consideration of all the alarmism on the part of climate scientists (and those who aim to mimic them), and who claim that so much of the world’s beaches are set to disappear thanks to the theory that is global warming, or the tautology that’s climate change. Don’t you get it readers, “studies” show us that the world’s beaches are set to disappear.

Ok, but if so, does anyone seriously think Meyer could have fetched so much for his Malibu compound, and does anyone think beach real estate globally would be so eye-wateringly expensive if the world’s beaches were set to disappear? Implicit in this dour, alarmist view is that markets are incredibly dense; that the world’s richest don’t see what climate scientists see all-too-clearly.

To the above, some will say the rich are too rich to care. On its face the previous assertion is doubtful, plus haven’t the perpetually alarmed and offended told us for decades that the rich are “greedy”? If so, why would they place so much of their wealth in harm’s way? And what about insurance companies. Why would they insure properties that are set to be washed away? And again, why did Meyer enjoy such an impressive return on his Malibu house; one whose transfer in the $5 million range was once the stuff of Hollywood legend?

More broadly, all the hand wringing by the climate alarmists must be considered in terms of what the world is enduring right now.

Getting into specifics, politicans around the world are overseeing the shutdown of the global economy based on a theory that millions will die if they get to close to one another. The economic agony these actions have brought about is and will be massively cruel in terms of jobs lost, businesses shuttered, and dreams dashed. Scary about all this is that the global warming true believers view economic growth as a major threat to the planet, and similarly seek economic shutdown by political force to save the planet.

Readers might keep this in mind in consideration of how they feel now, and how they might feel in the future if the warming alarmists get their way.

Ideally before these climate religionists get the chance to commit major damage, the market signals provided by people like Ron Meyer will gain needed attention. Indeed, just once it would be great for the climate alarmists in our midst to answer why, if beaches are allegedly disappearing, beach houses are so expensive.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, Vice President at FreedomWorks, and a senior economic adviser to Toreador Research and Trading ( His new book is titled They’re Both Wrong: A Policy Guide for America’s Frustrated Independent Thinkers. Other books by Tamny include The End of Work, about the exciting growth of jobs more and more of us love, Who Needs the Fed? and Popular Economics. He can be reached at

For an analysis comparing model projections with tidal guage observations see:
USCS Warnings of Coastal Floodings

Real vs. Imaginary Emergencies

The pandemic experience shows us how greatly a real emergency differs from an imaginary one.  Rupert Darwall’s article at The Hill is The coronavirus pandemic versus the climate change emergency.  Excerpts in italics with my bold and images.

Today’s coronavirus pandemic puts into some perspective the climate emergency, which has been running for nigh on 32 years. The climate emergency was first announced in June 1988. “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war,” the Toronto climate conference declared that month.

One way of assessing the reliability of a body of science with major policy implications is whether the experts in the field are prone to over-predicting the severity of the problem. Take smoking: In 1953, Richard Doll, one of the pioneer epidemiologists in discovering the link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer, predicted that, in 1973, the number of deaths from lung cancer in Britain would be as high as 25,000. The actual number was 26,000. Doll’s prediction passed a hard test.

By contrast, the Toronto climate conference predicted global temperatures would increase by between 1.5 and 4.5°C (2.7°F and 8.1°F) by the 2030s. Since 1988, average global temperature has risen at a rate of 0.177°C (0.32°F) per decade, less than one-half the 0.36°C (0.65°F) per decade implied by a 1.5°C rise by 2030 and only one-sixth of the rate of a 4.5°C rise. If there’s been a mainstream climate scientist who has under-predicted global warming, he or she must have taken the scientific equivalent of a Trappist vow of silence.

More recently, Myles Allen, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lead author, admitted that climate computer models are running too hot compared to the actual climate. “We haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming after 2000 that we see in the models,” Allen told the London Times in September 2017.

The coronavirus pandemic shows what a genuine crisis looks like. No one has to catastrophize it; the facts speak for themselves. Inducing fear and panic is counter-productive.

Global warming is different. For more than three decades, climate change has been the catastrophe that’s always just over the horizon. It moves with glacial speed; there is plenty of time to prepare for it. Humans – the most adaptive species on the planet – have been adapting to a changing climate ever since they first wore animal skins for warmth. The idea that the generation born since 1988 has experienced anything approaching a global nuclear war is preposterous. Even last year’s destructive Australian wildfires were fueled by green policies that prevented controlled fires.


One thing hasn’t changed and won’t change: Catastrophizing climate change for political ends. At one of the secretive meetings in 1987, limited to only 25 key participants that led to the formation of the IPCC, it was recognized that climate change had to be catastrophized to persuade politicians that they should embark on damaging emissions cuts. Earlier this month, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres complained about the attention being given to COVID-19: “Whilst the disease is expected to be temporary, climate change has been a phenomenon for many years, and will remain with us for decades and require constant action.”

Congressional Democrats’ failure to hold coronavirus relief legislation hostage in exchange for the Green New Deal shows poor judgment. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the inability to distinguish between a genuine crisis and an imagined one in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century is a manifestation of a collective psychological disorder.

Two lessons can be drawn. The first is the importance of governments and responsible international bodies focusing on genuine threats that can rapidly overwhelm our capacity to handle them. Something has gone very wrong when the World Health Organization, the lead institution coordinating the response to global pandemics, climbed on the climate bandwagon and called the Paris Agreement “potentially the strongest health agreement of this century” and listed climate change as the No. 1 threat to global health.

The second is resilience. Richer societies are better able to handle a pandemic than poorer ones. After the 2003 SARS outbreak, Singapore invested in a purpose-built National Centre for Infectious Diseases. Of larger economies, South Korea’s response has, so far, been the most successful; like Singapore, it can afford preparedness because it has a strong economy, reflected in its soaring greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 1992, Korea’s carbon dioxide emissions have more than doubled and it is planning to grow them under the Paris Agreement.

Unlike House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her colleagues, South Korea has no intention of sacrificing its economy on the altar of climate change. Nor should America.

Rupert Darwall is a senior fellow at RealClear Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of RealClear Media Group that reports and analyzes public policy and civic issues. He is the author of “Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex” (2017) and “The Age of Global Warming: A History” (2013). A strategy consultant and policy analyst, he was a special adviser to the United Kingdom’s chancellor of the exchequer under Prime Minister John Major.

Footnote:  The recent solar eclipse provided another example that scientific predictions coming to pass prove astronomers’ knowledge of the solar system, while climatists’ failed predictions prove their lack of knowledge.  See: Astronomy is Science. Climatology Not.

On the perversion of medical science by the dash for climate cash, see: Climate Medicine

Climatists Fail to Coerce Exxon and Chevron

Another skirmish ends in activist defeat, as reported in Pension and Investments Exxon, Chevron given OK to dismiss shareholder climate proposal. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Securities and Exchange Commission granted requests by Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. to again reject a shareholder proposal calling for reports on how the companies are addressing climate change goals. Similar proposals filed last year were also allowed to be excluded for Exxon after its challenge.

A document on the agency website noted briefly that SEC staff agreed March 20 with requests by company officials to exclude proposals from a group of shareholders, including the Church of England and As You Sow, asking if the companies will join other oil and gas companies in taking steps to align with the Paris Agreement goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, and calling for reduction targets, long-term business plans and other details.

“That suggests to me that the SEC doesn’t fully understand the issues on climate reporting we have requested,” As You Sow President Danielle Fugere said in an interview. The shareholder group called current reporting by Exxon and Chevron “confusing at best,” and Ms. Fugere said that the companies “are misleading investors by suggesting that they align” with the Paris goals.

Sanford Lewis, an attorney for the shareholders’ group, said that SEC staff have made it more difficult for shareholders to file climate change-related proposals at major oil companies by interpreting them as micromanaging, which allows the companies to be less specific in their reporting.

The SEC action letter is Response of the Office of Chief Counsel Division of Corporation Finance Re: Exxon Mobil Corporation Incoming letter dated January 14, 2020. Excerpts with my bolds.

The Proposal requests that the board conduct an evaluation and issue a report describing if, and how, the Company’s lobbying activities align with the goal of limiting average global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal). The Proposal also indicated that the report should address the risks presented by any misaligned lobbying, and the Company’s plans, if any, to mitigate these risks.

There appears to be some basis for your view that the Company may exclude the Proposal under rule 14a-8(i)(11). We note that the Proposal is substantially duplicative of a proposal previously submitted by Boston Trust Walden that will be included in the Company’s 2020 proxy materials because the two proposals share a concern for seeking additional transparency from the Company about its lobbying activities and how these activities align with the Company’s expressed policy positions, of which one is the Company’s stated support of the Paris Climate Agreement. Accordingly, we will not recommend enforcement action to the Commission if the Company omits the Proposal from its proxy materials in reliance on rule 14a-8(i)(11).

Anti-fossil fuel activists want to force Exxon and Chevron to accept and conform to IPCC beliefs, as shown below by the text of the draft shareholder proposal. (included in the SEC action letter pdf above)

The Proposal

Climate Lobbying Report Shareholders request that the Board of Directors conduct an evaluation and issue a report within the next year (at reasonable cost, omitting proprietary information) describing if, and how, ExxonMobil’s lobbying activities (direct and through trade associations) align with the goal of limiting average global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal). The report should also address the risks presented by any misaligned lobbying and the company1s plans, if any, to mitigate these risks.

Supporting Statement

According to the most recent annual “Emissions Gap Report” issued by the United Nations Environment Programme (November 26, 2019), critical gaps remain between the commitments national governments have made and the actions required to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Companies have an important and constructive role to play in enabling policy-makers to close these gaps.

[Note how many baseless statements are in this paragraph.  UNEP has no legal authority for its claims.  Its carbon budgeting rationale is spurious.  National commitments are voluntary and would not bend the curve in the unlikely event they were achieved.  Companies are not bound by UN bureaucrats.  Even so, energy companies have led to US to outperform other nations in reducing emissions.]

Corporate lobbying activities that are inconsistent with meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement present regulatory, reputational and legal risks to investors. These efforts also present systemic risks to our economies, as delays in implementation of the Paris Agreement increase the physical risks of climate change, pose a systemic risk to economic stability and introduce uncertainty and volatility into our portfolios. We believe that Paris-aligned climate lobbying helps to mitigate these risks, and contributes positively to the long-term value of our investment portfolios.

[Here we have the attack on free speech and the right to voice a different opinion.  Paris Accord documents are sacrosanct, and no dissent is allowed.  Activists object to any effort to ensure the supply of carbon-based energy to consumers who want and are willing to pay for it.]

Of particular concern are the trade associations and other politically active organizations that speak for business but, unfortunately, too often present forceful obstacles to progress in addressing the climate crisis.

[The tactic is guilt by association and social excommunication of contrary viewpoints.  Having failed to convince the public to stop using fossil fuels, they seek to discredit and deny the many social benefits derived from these energy products.]

As investors, we view fulfillment of the Paris Agreement’s agreed goal-to hold the increase in the global average temperature to “well below” 2•c above preindustrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to l.S°C- as an imperative. We are convinced that unabated climate change will have a devastating impact on our clients, plan beneficiaries, and the value of their portfolios. We see future “business as usual” scenarios of 3-4°C or greater as both unacceptable and uninvestable.

[Thus they proclaim their virtuous understanding, without themselves withdrawing from travel and other activities and practices dependent on fossil fuel products.]

Two hundred institutional investors managing $6.5 trillion recently wrote to ExxonMobil, seeking information on how the company is managing this critical governance issue. Insufficient information is presently available to help investors understand how ExxonMobil works to ensure that its lobbying activities, directly, in the company’s name, and indirectly, through trade associations, align with the Paris Agreement’s goals, and what ExxonMobil does to address any misalignments it has found. The investors received no response to their letter.

[Now the appeal to “consensus” shared by woke investment managers that they can put their beliefs above the interests of investors needing to raise income for their future needs.]

We commend the company for recent positive steps, such as public support for strong methane regulations and the decision to withdraw from membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) because of ALEC’s positions on climate change. However, information we do have on ExxonMobil’s ongoing lobbying efforts through trade associations still presents serious concerns.

Climate Activists storm the bastion of Exxon Mobil, here seen without their shareholder disguises.

[Someone’s deep pockets are behind all this legal activity and surveillance intending to constrict and financially damage energy companies.]

Thus, we urge the Board and management to assess the company’s climate related lobbying and report to shareholders.

[As members of modern society our health and prosperity depend heavily upon carbon-based energy that has raised so many out of poverty and deprivation.  We urge the company to maintain and extend the supply of reliable and affordable energy, and to engage with private and public partners to that end.]

Don’t Confuse The Virus and the Disease

Over several decades since 1981 we have learned to distinguish between one virus and the disease it can cause:

HIV: Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and
AIDS: Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome.

And of course over time scientists have identfied two main virus strains:
HIV-1 is more virulent, easily transmitted and is the cause of the vast majority of HIV infections globally.
HIV-2 is less transmittable and is largely confined to West Africa.

In the rush to inform people during this current pandemic, the terminology for public consumption has glossed over important distinctions between coronavirus, the Wuhan novel virus and the disease fatal to some people.

Some technical terminology from WHO: Naming the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the virus that causes it.


First characterized in the 1960s, these are a group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that can be mild, such as some cases of the common cold (among other possible causes, predominantly rhinoviruses), and others that can be lethal, such as SARS and MERS.

Novel coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China.

SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus 2)

WHO’s International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)announced “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” as the name of the new virus on 11 February 2020. This name was chosen because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003. While related, the two viruses are different.

2019 Coronavirus Disease Pandemic

COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease 2019)

WHO announced “COVID-19” as the name of this new disease on 11 February 2020, following guidelines previously developed with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

A Timeline of Historical Pandemics
(link goes to visualization by Flourish team)

Technical accuracy with these terms is important to understand testing and reports of the pandemic progress. A helpful guide is published in Scientific American today Here’s How Coronavirus Tests Work—and Who Offers Them. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

PCR-based tests are being rolled out in hospitals nationwide, and the Food and Drug Administration is fast-tracking novel approaches as well

Virus Testing

The first step in any coronavirus test is collecting a sample. Doing so involves placing a sterile swab at the back of a patient’s nasal passage, where it connects to the throat via the nasopharynx, for several seconds to absorb secretions. Scott Wesley Long, a clinical microbiologist who directs Houston Methodist Hospital’s diagnostic microbiology lab, says the swab is thin—less than three millimeters in diameter at its tip. “Once you place it in the back of the throat, it’s uncomfortable, but you can still breathe and talk,” he says. “It’s not as bad as it looks.” After a sample is collected, the swab goes into a liquid-filled tube for transport.

To determine whether a nasopharyngeal sample is positive for the coronavirus, biotechnicians use a technique known as reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR. The World Health Organization’s and CDC’s test kits both use this method, as do all of the kits the latter has approved to date. [This detects signs of the virus’s genetic material.]

Stephanie Caccomo, a spokesperson for the FDA, says the positive predictive value, or likelihood a positive test result correctly reflects that a patient has COVID-19, depends on how widespread the disease is—and that situation is changing quickly. “Based on what is known about the pathophysiology of COVID-19, the data provided and our previous experience with respiratory pathogen tests, the false-positive rate for authorized tests is likely to be very low, and the true-positive rate is likely to be high,” Caccomo says.

Person loads a Mesa Biotech cartridge into a dock for testing. Credit: Mesa Biotech

On Saturday Cepheid, a Silicon Valley–based molecular diagnostics company, said the FDA had granted it authorization for a COVID-19 test that can deliver results in about 45 minutes. And on Tuesday Mesa Biotech in San Diego announced it had received the go-ahead for a handheld test kit that Hong Cai, the company’s CEO, says can deliver results at bedside in about half an hour. Cai says the tests will begin shipping this week to “several hospitals” and that her company has tens of thousands of units ready to go, adding that Mesa is planning to triple its production capacity.

Antibody Testing

Another approach relies on identifying antibodies to the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in a patient’s bloodstream to determine whether that person previously had COVID-19. Florian Krammer, a microbiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, recently developed one of these tests, which is described in a preprint study posted last week on medRxiv. “This is not a test for [ongoing] infections,” he says. “It basically looks for antibodies after the fact, after you had an infection.” Like other serological, or antibody-based, diagnostic assays, it uses an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which employs a portion of the target virus to find antibodies. Although serological tests are not useful for quickly identifying whether a patient currently has COVID-19, Krammer says they can help researchers understand how humans produce antibodies to the virus.

Additionally, serological tests can also help determine if a person has been infected whether or not the individual had symptoms—something an RNA test kit cannot do after the fact, because it only looks for the virus itself. That means serological tests could be used to survey a population to determine how widespread infection rates were. It also could allow public health agencies to figure out who is already immune to COVID-19. “So if you would roll this out on a very wide scale, you could potentially identify everybody who is immune and then ask them to go back to their regular life and go back to work,” Krammer says. This approach could be especially useful for health care providers who are working with COVID-19 patients. “They might feel much more comfortable working with those patients, [knowing] that they can’t get sick anymore, knowing that they can’t pass on the virus to others,” he says.


In common discourse, we talk about “disease” or “illness”, refering to how we feel, that is our awareness of symptoms.  In fact, the entry of a virus (or other pathogen such as bacteria, fungi or parasite) sets up a battle with our immune system even before we know it.  When the virus is defeated quickly, we have mild or no symptoms, and at least in the case of seasonal flus, we can be immune to further infection.  In some cases, people weakened by fighting other pathogens will need hospital help and may not survive.  The subtle point is that presence of the virus and the state of the disease are two different things.

This video is helpful in getting the basics right (published March 9, 2020)

See also: Progress on Covid19 Antibodies

Progress on Covid19 Antibodies

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell infected with SARS-COV-2 virus. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NIH

Matthew Herper writes at Stat.Vir Biotechnology reports early progress in antibody treatment for Covid-19 Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Vir Biotechnology, a San Francisco-based biotechnology firm, said Wednesday that laboratory testing showed two of its antibody drugs appeared to neutralize the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 and that it would pursue testing them in people.

The company said that human tests of the drugs could begin in three to five months, putting it roughly in line with two other efforts to produce anti-coronavirus antibodies. Regeneron, based in Tarrytown, N.Y., has said that its antibodies could enter trials by early summer — and that its treatment, if it proves effective, could be available for some uses in the fall. Eli Lilly, which is developing anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies with AbCellera, a Vancouver biotech, has said it hopes to begin human tests in four months.

“Stopping this disease will take a combination of prevention and treatment approaches,” Vir CEO George Scangos said in a statement. “At Vir, we are fortunate that our existing antibody platform gave us a running start against COVID-19, and we have the internal and partnered capabilities to work on multiple approaches.”

Antibodies are a part of the immune system that drug companies have learned to weaponize as treatments for diseases. An antibody drug against SARS-CoV-2 might either treat infection in very sick patients or prevent infection. It is one of many techniques researchers are attempting against Covid-19. For a rundown of approaches, see this story.

Vir is taking a somewhat different approach from Regeneron. While Regeneron is going to choose two antibodies to use together, Vir has picked a single antibody. But Vir is modifying it in two different ways and testing the resulting two experimental drugs in parallel.

The first modification should make the antibodies last longer in the body, and is being done to both candidates. The second, in animal models, leads to long-term production of white blood cells that might lead to long-term immunity, as with a vaccine. If this proves effective, the antibody could be used to prevent infection.

Vir said it has also identified other antibodies that work differently, so that they might be combined with the two it is testing. And it is continuing to search for antibodies in the blood or patients who have survived SARS-CoV-2.

Vir is pursuing antibody treatments for Covid19.


Fight Coronavirus with Global Warming

An important study of our experience with the covid19 pandemic shows that warmer, more humid weather works against transmission of the disease.  The paper is High Temperature and High Humidity Reduce the Transmission of COVID-19 by Jingyuan Wang, Ke Tang, Kai Feng and Weifeng Lv. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Abstract: This paper investigates how air temperature and humidity influence the transmission of COVID-19. After estimating the serial interval of COVID-19 from 105 pairs of the virus carrier and the infected, we calculate the daily effective reproductive number, R, for each of all 100 Chinese cities with more than 40 cases. Using the daily R values from January 21 to 23, 2020 as proxies of non-intervened transmission intensity, we find, under a linear regression framework for 100 Chinese cities, high temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce the transmission of COVID-19, respectively, even after controlling for population density and GDP per capita of cities. One degree Celsius increase in temperature and one percent increase in relative humidity lower R by 0.0383 and 0.0224, respectively. This result is consistent with the fact that the high temperature and high humidity significantly reduce the transmission of influenza. It indicates that the arrival of summer and rainy season in the northern hemisphere can effectively reduce the transmission of the COVID-19.

Discussion: Rough observations of outbreaks of COVID-19 outside China show a noteworthy phenomenon. In the early dates of the outbreak, countries with relatively lower air temperature and lower humidity (e.g. Korea, Japan and Iran) see severe outbreaks than warmer and more humid countries (e.g. Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand) do. Considering the natural log of the average number of cases per day from February 8 to 29 as a rough measure of the severity of the COVID-19 outbreaks3 , in Figure 1, we show that the severity is negatively related to temperature and relative humidity using 14 countries with more than 20 new cases during this period.

Figure 1: Severity of COVID-19 outbreaks v.s. temperature and relative humidity for countries outside China.

Inside China, the COVID-19 has spread widely to many cities, and the intensity of transmission and weather conditions in these cities vary largely (shown in Table SI 1), we can, therefore, analyze the determinants of COVID-19 transmission, especially the weather factors. In order to formally quantify the transmission of COVID-19, we first fit 105 samples of serial intervals with the Weibull distribution (a distribution commonly used to fit the serial interval of influenza[8]), then calculate the effective reproductive number, R, a quantity measuring the severity of infectiousness[9] , for each of all 100 Chinese cities with more than 40 cases.

Figure 3: Effective reproductive number R v.s. temperature and relative humidity for 100 Chinese cities

Figure 2 shows the average R values from January 21 to 23 for different Chinese cities geographically. Compared with the southeast coast of China, cities in the northern area of China show relatively larger R values and lower temperatures and relative humidity. The scatter plots in Figure 3 illustrate two negative relations between the daily air temperature and R value and between the daily relative humidity and R value, respectively.

Our finding is consistent with the evidence that high temperature and high humidity reduce the transmission of influenza[10-14] , which can be explained by two possible reasons: First, the influenza virus is more stable in cold temperature, and respiratory droplets, as containers of viruses, remain airborne longer in dry air[15, 16] . Second, cold and dry weather can also weaken the hosts’ immunity and make them more susceptible to the virus[17, 18] . These mechanisms are also likely to apply to the COVID-19 transmission. Our result is also consistent with the evidence that high temperature and high relative humidity reduce the viability of SARS coronavirus[19,20] .

If omitting control variables, 7 the fixed-effects model of Table 2 provides an estimation of the R value for a certain city given its temperature and relative humidity:Assuming that the same relationship of Equation (1) applies to cities outside China and that the temperature and relative humid of 2020 are the same as those in 2019, we can draw a map of R values for worldwide cities in Figure 4 by plugging the average March and July temperatures and relative humidity of 2019 into Equation (1). This figure cautions people of the risk of COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, in March and July of 2020, respectively. As expected, the R values are larger for temperate countries and smaller for tropical countries in March. In July, the arrival of summer and rainy season in the northern hemisphere can effectively reduce the transmission of the COVID-19; however, risks remain in some countries in the southern hemisphere (e.g. Australia and South Africa). If we plug the normal summer temperature and relative humidity of Tokyo (28oC and 85%, respectively) into Equation (1), the transmission of the COVID19 in Tokyo will be seriously reduced between March and the Olympics: the estimated R value decreases from 1.914 to 0.992, a 48% drop!

Postscript:  Some Context on US Situation from Conrad Black

The United States is now outdone only by Germany and Canada, among countries with sophisticated public-health systems that publish believable numbers, in the small proportion of reported cases who die from the coronavirus. This is 674 people out of 51,542 cases reported, as of late afternoon Tuesday, or 1.25 percent of identified cases, and if those who are immune-challenged are removed from that figure, the percentage descends to less than half of 1 percent of the identified cases. Even though most of the people tested appeared to have possible coronavirus symptoms, only a little more than 15 percent of those tested have tested positively. Because the United States is ramping up its treatment capabilities so quickly, it has an inordinate number of the world’s reported cases, 23 percent of the world’s new cases reported on Monday, though it only has about 4 percent of the world’s population, but the world fatality rate is about 4 percent, more than three times the American rate. The disease is still spreading unavoidably, but if care is taken to insulate the elderly and infirm from contact, the mortality rate descends to a point not greatly above seasonal flu fatality numbers.

Though it is hard to be precise about it, less than 1 percent of the adult population of the U.S. have apparently reported coronavirus-like symptoms; of those, about 20 percent have been tested; of those, about a quarter have tested positive; and of those, apart from clearly vulnerable people, fewer than half of 1 percent have died. In epidemiological terms, this is a very serious penetration of the population by a very nasty virus, but it does not justify continuing the extreme restrictions on the economic life of the country, and specifically this lethal threat to the economic well-being of tens of millions of Americans.


California Newts Suffer, Because Climate Change

Two newts from Southern California, the newt on the left showing 20% reduced has the story:  As climate change messes with temperature and precipitation, California newts suffer by David Colgan, University of California, Los Angeles.  Excerpt in italics

That’s bad news for Los Angeles’ only newt, California newt, Taricha torosa, and other newts in the Taricha genus, particularly in the southern half of the state south of Big Sur.  A UCLA-led study, in the Nature journal Scientific Reports examined body condition of newts across their entire range, from San Diego to Mendocino. In the south, researchers discovered that body condition—a measure of health that compares weight to length—decreased by an average of 20% from 2008–2016.

Independent confirmation of the study comes in the form of California Governor Gavin Newtsom seeming to shrink before our eyes as he declared martial law on the pretext of coronavirus.

Pandemic Good News Hidden in the Media

Given the mass media bias for amplifying bad news and speculating about the worst possibilities, it is hard to find news of any positives happening. I just watched a tv anchor interviewing a doctor and displaying a concerted effort to get the expert to say scary things confirming the anchor’s fears. The doc held his ground (No, droplets from sneezes or coughs do not stay in the air; No, surfaces are not infected for some fixed time; many factors affect how long the virus can live. )

There are hopeful things happening, and thanks to Peter Diamandis for posting these good news reports on his Tech blog and Doug for emailing me. All links can be accessed freely without any paywalls.

How about some good news for a change?

There have been A LOT of facts going around regarding COVID-19, and a flurry of “positive news” items to lift our spirits.

Here are a number of major victories from the Pandemic line. I’ve had my team fact-check these wins with links you can follow up on.

(1)Vaccine development: An experimental vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. began the first stage of a clinical trial on Monday, with testing on 45 healthy adults in Seattle. [link]

(2) China’s new cases plummet: China has now closed down its last temporary hospital built to handle COVID-19. Not enough new cases to warrant them. [link]

(3) Drugs that work: Doctors in India have successfully treated two Italian patients with COVID-19, administering a combination of drugs — principally Lopinavir and Ritonavir, alongside Oseltamivir and Chloroquine. Several are now suggesting the same medical treatment, on a case-by-case basis, globally. [link] [link]

(4) Antibodies to the rescue: Researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center claim to have found an antibody that can fend off infection by COVID-19. [link]

(5) 103-year-old recovery: A 103-year-old Chinese woman has made a full recovery from COVID-19 after being treated for 6 days in Wuhan, China, becoming the oldest patient to beat the disease. [link]

(6) Stores re-opening: Apple has reopened all 42 of its Apple retail stores in China. [link]

(7) Test results in 2 hours: Cleveland’s MetroHealth Medical Center has developed a COVID-19 test that can now deliver results in just two hours, rather than in a matter of days. [link]

(8) South Korea’s dramatic drop in new cases: After its peak of 909 newly reported COVID-19 cases on February 29th, South Korea has now seen a dramatic drop in the number of new cases reported daily. [link]

(9) Mortality rates inflated? Experts predict that Italy has seen a higher mortality rate of COVID-19 given its significant aging population, as well as its higher percentage of COVID-19 patients with pre-existing health conditions. This might suggest that COVID-19’s fatality rate may have been slightly more inflated than previously thought for the general population. [link]

(10) Israeli vaccine development: More than 50 scientists in Israel are now working to develop a vaccine and antibody for COVID-19, having reported significant breakthroughs in understanding the biological mechanism and characteristics of the novel coronavirus. [link]

(11) Full recoveries: Three patients in Maryland who tested positive for COVID-19 have now been reported to have “fully recovered.” [link]

(12) Isolated virus: A network of Canadian scientists isolated the COVID-19 virus, which can now be replicated to test diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. [link]

(13) Yet another vaccine in the works: San Diego biotech company Arcturus Therapeutics is developing a COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with Duke University and National University of Singapore. [link]

(14) Treatment protocols: Seven patients who were treated for COVID-19 at Jaipur’s Sawai Man Singh (SFS) Hospital and Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital in India have recovered. The treatment protocol will be widely scaled to other hospitals. [link]

(15) Another treatment: Plasma from newly recovered COVID-19 patients (involving the harvesting of virus-fighting antibodies) holds promise for treating others infected by the virus. [link]

Some of COVID-19’s hardest hit nation victims are already emerging strong after peak infection, and biomedical innovators are tackling the virus at unprecedented speeds.

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER… While everyone is concerned about the super-high mortality rate of this virus — which is calculated by the “number dead” divided by “the number who have tested positive” (currently ~14,450/388,000) — the denominator, i.e. the number infected is actually VERY hard to know because so few people have been tested.

It may well be that 10x more are infected but subclinical. So is the mortality rate 4% or 0.4%?

We will find out as large scale-testing comes reliably online.

Wishing you the best. Remember that our most important tool during times of panic and crisis is our mindset.  -Peter Diamandis

Footnote (Update March 23) Senior vets recover from Covid19:

12 Of 14 Infected With Covid-19 Recover At Oregon Veteran’s Home

A home for senior veterans has been the hot spot in Oregon for positive coronavirus diagnoses, with 13 residents and one caretaker coming down with the virus.
However, as time has gone, 12 of the 14 are doing well, with one showing no symptoms anymore. It also looks like the virus isn’t transmitting as easily as we were led to believe, with 137 people who live and work at the facility testing negative.

Persisting March Arctic Ice

Previous posts showed 2020 Arctic Ice breaking the 15M km2 ceiling, while wondering whether the ice will have staying power.  “Yes” is the answer, at least through the first two-thirds of March. The animation above shows ice extents over the first 20 days of March 2020 in the Pacific basins.  Bering Sea on the right grew ice until peaking at 819k km2 on day 71, 44% higher than 2019 Bering maximum.  It then declined losing 274k km2 by day 80.  Meanwhile Okhotsk Sea on the left lost 100k km2 by day 72 before gaining back 65k km2.

The animation above shows ice extents on the Atlantic side fluctuating and helping offset Pacific ice losses. On the left Baffin Bay and Gulf of St. Lawrence fluctuate but end the period with nearly the same ice as at the beginning. In the center Greenland Sea ice was steady the first week and then added 116k km2 up to day 80.  On the right Barents Sea lost 130k km2 up to day 73, then gained 140k km2 back by day 80.

By end of February, ice extent this year was well above the 13- year average, then dipped lower before growing again to match the average and surplus to other years including 2007.  This is important since March monthly average is considered the ice extent maximum for the year. Note also that SII is matching and at times exceeds the MASIE estimates.

The chart below shows the distribution of ice across the various regions comprising the Arctic zone.

Region 2020080 Day 080 Average 2020-Ave. 2007080 2020-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14901276 14873303 27972 14547397 353879
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070207 448 1069711 944
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 966006 965780 226 966006 0
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087135 3 1087137 0
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897799 46 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 934902 917684 17218 912117 22785
 (6) Barents_Sea 749134 620285 128849 583698 165436
 (7) Greenland_Sea 688025 628250 59776 606689 81336
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1494573 1537332 -42760 1392468 102105
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 852953 1330 852767 1516
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260903 1260407 497 1259717 1186
 (11) Central_Arctic 3248013 3223120 24893 3239953 8060
 (12) Bering_Sea 543951 757159 -213208 836184 -292233
 (13) Baltic_Sea 13401 80508 -67107 83894 -70492
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 1083325 958236 125089 739985 343340

As of yesterday, Day 2020071 matches the NH 13-year average and also most regions.  Bering Sea is the main deficit to average along with Baffin Bay and Baltic Sea. Offsetting surpluses appear in Barents and Okhotsk Seas, as well as Greenland Sea and Central Arctic and Barents Sea. Note Okhotsk sea ice is almost 50% more than the extent in 2007.