American Elephants

A Vaccine For A Virus: Burying Ebola by The Elephant's Child

How about a little good news for a change? An invention has come along that has changed the landscape completely.

A vaccine invented in Canada was tested in a large scale inoculation in Guinea and Sierra Leone by the World Health Organization to assess just how well it protected people against Ebola—the dreadful virus that ravaged Africa in 2014, killing 60 percent of the people who were infected. What happened? It succeeded spectacularly. It protected 100 percent of the people who received it. This is the first and only therapy for Ebola other than the previous supportive measures.

The vaccine, which is a glycoprotein (1) called rVSV-ZEBOV, was tested in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The group gathered samples from an individual, either alive or dead who had a positive lab test for Ebola, and then identified a cluster of their contacts, contacts of the contacts, and the contacts of the contacts who weren’t around when the team arrived. Each uninfected person got a single injection of the vaccine in the arm. The results are stunning.

The group identified a total of 4539 people in 51 clusters between March 2015, and January 2016. About half (2119 people) received the vaccine immediately, and another 2041 got it 21 days later.


The name of the vaccine sounds daunting, but it’s really not. The “r” means recombinant—formed by alteration of viral DNA, which can be done using standard molecular biotechnology techniques. VSV stands for vesicular stomatitis virus—the virus that was modified (2). ZEBOV is short for Zaire Ebola virus, which was the most deadly circulating strain.

This is a very big deal. The safety profile is excellent, and only two adverse effects were attributed to the vaccine itself. It is an enormous achievement, and could rid the world of a very scary, very dangerous disease.

The epidemic in 2014-15 claimed the lives of 11,300 people in West Africa, spread the virus as far as New York and Texas, and demonstrated the failures of the world public health system.”The public health bureaucracy resists therapeutics, which threaten traditional manpower-heavy quarantines and tracking.” By 2015, cases were low and declining and researchers were able to gather real world information on an accelerated schedule. The study was so successful that it was stopped early since not providing the vaccine to the control group was unethical.

Ebola is a complex and mutating pathogen, and no scientific triumph is ever final. But the public-health bureaucracy demonstrated no such humility, and its overconfidence showed how unprepared the world is to respond to biological threats. Developing and deploying more vaccines like rVSV-Zebov may be the best defense.

It Snowed in the Sahara Desert! by The Elephant's Child


This image was taken Monday afternoon. The Sahara Desert experienced its first snowfall in 37 years. It is the first time since February 1979 that snow has fallen in Ain Sefra, Algeria. The last time it snowed in the area, the snow only lasted for about an hour. Told you it was getting colder.

Adding to the Legacy at Taxpayer’s Expense. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama, basking in Hawaiian sun and sand, has this week issued a flurry of environmental rules, and is planning to gift us with another set of “midnight regulations” right before he leaves office. Cost? Just another $6 billion. The new ones include four from the EPA and one from the Interior Department.

“These five measures alone could impose $5.1 billion in costs and more than 350,000 paperwork burden hours. In addition, three other rules in proposed form could add $898 million in burdens and 146,000 paperwork hours, for a cumulative total of nearly $6 billion in potential midnight costs and nearly 500,000 burden hours from the two agencies. Consider, EPA and Interior have already imposed $349 billion in previous burdens since 2009, 2009,”according to the American Action Forum.

AAF’s Sam Batkins suggested that “The magnitude, $5 billion in long-term costs, and timing could raise suspicion in Congress.”

When you start thinking of  a billion dollars as chump change, you might rile up some taxpayers as well.  Obama’s Hawaiian Christmas vacation last year cost around $3 million, and the total bill for vacations and travel for the Obamas is around $80 million.

Did You Think “Fake News” Was Confined to Politics? Try the Realm of Science! by The Elephant's Child


From the Independent, a British paper:Manhattan Project-sized effort is needed to create artificial Arctic ice ‘to prevent climate catastrophe’ The loss of sea ice ‘represents one of the most severe positive feedbacks in the climate system’

Wind turbines could be used to create more sea ice in the Arctic in a massive geoengineering scheme on the scale of the Manhattan Project, scientists have said.

The increasing loss of ice, which reflects much of the heat from the sun, and the release of currently frozen stores of potent greenhouse gas methane threaten to create runaway global warming that would affect the entire planet.

Experts believe the Arctic could be essentially free of sea ice for the first time in about 100,000 years within the next few decades. The famously impassable North West Passage is already open to shipping and fossil fuel companies are considering drilling in the region.

Forbes: by James Taylor. Updated NASA data: Global Warming Not Causing Any Polar Ice Retreat”

Updated data from NASA satellite instruments reveal the Earth’s polar ice caps have not receded at all since the satellite instruments began measuring the ice caps in 1979. Since the end of 2012, moreover, total polar ice extent has largely remained above the post-1979 average. The updated data contradict one of the most frequently asserted global warming claims – that global warming is causing the polar ice caps to recede.

The timing of the 1979 NASA satellite instrument launch could not have been better for global warming alarmists. The late 1970s marked the end of a 30-year cooling trend. As a result, the polar ice caps were quite likely more extensive than they had been since at least the 1920s. Nevertheless, this abnormally extensive 1979 polar ice extent would appear to be the “normal” baseline when comparing post-1979 polar ice extent.

Updated NASA satellite data show the polar ice caps remained at approximately their 1979 extent until the middle of the last decade. Beginning in 2005, however, polar ice modestly receded for several years. By 2012, polar sea ice had receded by approximately 10 percent from 1979 measurements. (Total polar ice area – factoring in both sea and land ice – had receded by much less than 10 percent, but alarmists focused on the sea ice loss as “proof” of a global warming crisis.)

Nobel Laureate Ivar Glaever “Global Warming Revisited” by The Elephant's Child

Nobel Laureate Ivar Glaever spoke at the Noble Laureates meeting on July 1, 2015, pointing out the mistakes which Obama makes in his speeches about global warming and shares other facts about the state of the climate. Dr. Glaever is a Norwegian American physicist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics shared with Leo Esaki and Brian Josephson for their discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in solids.

He endorsed Obama, but now says: “Global warming is a non-problem. We have to stop wasting huge, I mean huge amounts of money on global warming. Glaever speaks with an extraordinary measure of plain old common sense, which doesn’t appear often in the debate on climate. And he’s correct. It is a religion, and as such, unassailable.


The Climate is Not Warming, it’s Cooling! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama knows full well that much of his legacy is going to be erased by the next administration. The Left is already raging over the nomination of Scott Pruitt, the former Attorney General of Oklahoma to head the EPA, and Former Governor of Texas Rick Perry to head the Energy Department. The EPA is struggling to flood the country with every rule they can squeeze out, and President Obama is not going to go quietly.

One of Obama’s final acts will be to try once again to shut down the fossil-fuel industry. He hopes to block the sale of offshore drilling rights in both Alaska and parts of the Atlantic, using a somewhat obscure 1953 law that allows the  president to make more or less  peremptory decisions on oil and gas leases off the coast. He is twisting the law to do so. Up till now, the law has been used sparingly to preserve coral reefs, walrus feeding grounds and marine sanctuaries. But then Obama has never had much respect for law or for the Constitution.

Apparently he wants to preserve his reputation as a champion of climate change. Yesterday he issued  new regulations on coal mining—if you recall, he said early on that he wanted to bankrupt the coal industry, which is already struggling, as are mining communities who have lost crushing numbers of jobs. Congress can reverse regulations proposed within the previous 60 legislative days. Federal rules on fracking on public lands will be reversed, and Republicans will have some allies across the aisle as well.

Obama recently gave his final address to the troops as commander-in-chief, so he blamed President George W. Bush, climate change and the Second Amendment as the reasons why ISIS (He calls it ISIL) keeps getting stronger.

When the all-encompassing panic about increasing CO2 in the atmosphere started it was thought that anything more than 350 ppm would mean catastrophe. But then it breezed  past 400 ppm with no problems and has continued climbing. And what happened? CO2 is a natural fertilizer for plants and essential to life. We have a greening world, increasingly able to feed the hungry. When was the last time you heard about famine (other than in Venezuela)?

The alarm about global warming exists only in the computer climate models, relied on by the IPCC. But once they had entered what we really know about climate, (and we’d made lots of mistakes, like thermometer locations next to air-conditioner vents or surrounded by concrete walls reflecting heat) and confusion about arctic ice that melts in the summer and grows in the winter, and no idea about the action and meaning of clouds.

Then there’s El Nino and La Nina. Currently there has been a record drop in global temperatures as the El Nino warming ends. “Global average temperatures over land have  plummeted by more than 1ºC since the middle of this year—the biggest and steepest fall on record. According to satellite data, the late 2016 temperatures are returning to the levels they were at after the 1998 El Nino. The earth is cooling—not warming.

In February, I think, of 2015, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nation ‘s Framework Convention on Climate Change admitted in a news conference that the goal of environmental activists was not to save the world from ecological calamity—but to destroy capitalism.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

Well  yes, works well in Venezuela, and a few other such places.

Francis Merton, the Manhattan Contrarian has written a good summary.

Henry I. Miller at National Review: “Trump ‘s nominee for the EPA Administrator could—and should—abolish the agency.”

It ‘s going to be very interesting.

Green Dreams Cost the Democratic Party by The Elephant's Child

Patrick Moore was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace and is a former president of the organization. He has sharply and publicly differed with many of the policies of the Green groups, including Greenpeace itself, and is a spokesman for common sense.

From the Wall Street Journal’s “Notable & Quotable” column: Being Green Costs the Democrats

Josh Kaushaar: “Democrats Pay a Price for Being Green” in the National Journal on Dec.6:

Let me offer a piece of unsolicited advice, one that Democratic strategists have discussed privately but are reticent to promote publicly for fear of alienating green activists. Taking a more moderate stand on energy policy—whether it’s supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, championing the fracking boom that’s transforming regional economies, or simply sounding a more skeptical note on the Obama administration’s litany of environmental regulations—would do wonders for the Democratic Party’s ability to compete for the working-class voters who have drifted away from the party.

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