Bicarb-drug Combos

Below is a comment I received from an active cancer researcher, who runs an interesting blog called biopolyverse.

As for the bicarb thing, there is a lot of current interest in the microenvironment of solid tumors and its effect on tumor cell growth, survival, and metastasis – and low pH may indeed help them along. Hence a possible role for bicarb or something similar, if they can indeed raise local pH – although as you noted, for bicarb at least other mechanisms might be operative.

I think it unlikely that bicarb alone would offer much of a solution, but it would be interesting to see what its effects might be in combination with other agents. ‘Combo’ treatments are seen as the way to go in oncology trials these days. I had a look at the NIH site for bicarb-related trials, and a combo of bicarb and gemcitabine (a deoxycytidine analog) in pancreatic cancer is currently underway.

(This was just a quick search – may be other relevant things out there).

The thing is, obviously bicarb is of no use as a patentable, profit-making drug – but you can potentially patent a bicarb-drug combo package as a therapeutic entity, if it proved to be valuable. So it would be too early to write off big pharma interest in this area, especially if current trials give interesting results.

Scientific Evidence for Baking Soda Treatment of Cancer

This post will probably cement my reputation as a crank after the one on Rossi. I followed up on claims from some natural health web sites that Sodium Bicarbonate, Baking Soda, NaHCO3 could have a beneficial effect in cancer.

There are no shortage of web sites purportedly by MDs stating there is “no evidence of beneficial effect whatsoever”, etc. etc.

I was therefore surprised when a short search of the medical literature revealed a number of recent studies demonstrating beneficial effects of bicarbonate on tumors. These include:

A study showing tumor reduction and greatly enhanced survival in mice;

However, it remains possible that this effect may be specific for buffers in the bicarbonate/CO2 family through involvement of carbonic anhydrase activity, which is important to pH regulation in tumors ( 46). Notwithstanding these concerns, however, the dramatic effect of bicarbonate therapy on the formation of breast cancer metastases in this model system warrants further investigation.

A simulation study detailing the possible chemical pathways.

In conclusion, our study, using mathematical models informed by realistic parameter values ( 47– 50), finds that p.o. administration of clinically feasible amounts of NaHCO3 may be sufficient to increase the acidic intratumoral and peritumoral pHe in small tumors. Furthermore, the consequent changes in the tumor-host dynamics may inhibit tumor growth and invasion. Our results suggest further experimental exploration of systemic administration of pH buffers as a novel cancer therapy is warranted.


Renewables? Wake up and smell the Rossi

The path UP the carbon tax slippery slope has never been made clearer, than when Greens deputy Christine Milne said “I certainly recognize that you are going to need a price at A$40 or more to shift from coal to gas and then a higher price still for gas to renewables.” The Green’s junior partner, the ALP, has confirmed that the carbon tax will keep increasing.

Subsidies for solar and wind systems are already raising the cost of electricity to consumers, and Milne affirms that renewable energy will not be at parity with coal or gas any time soon. The disadvantages of renewables are insurmountable: environmental costs due to the low power density and the unreliability of the wind and sun. In short, they do not work.

Renewable energy is presented by the Greens as the only viable path to a sustainable, low-carbon emission future. But is this a rosy path, or a yellow brick road? George Monboit has elucidated the futility of the Green agenda and adds: “None of us yet has a convincing account of how humanity can get out of this mess.”

Speak for yourself George.

Granted, a massive nuclear power program, though doable, has nagging waste and proliferation issues. Exotic energy sources such as the under construction $10 Billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, will not be producing electricity until at least 2035.

But the hopelessness of the Greens is in their own minds.

Building on almost 20 years of research, in January this year, fusion-watchers were shocked and skeptical when two Italian scientists Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi demonstrated a small nuclear device in front of a number of independent physicists, producing abundant heat, with little or no radiation or waste, and no carbon dioxide. At an estimated cost of $10 per MWh, 10 times cheaper than conventional power, nuclear, and 20 times cheaper than renewable energy sources.

Of course, it sounds like one of these energy scams and many have said it’s “too good to be true.” But a number of successful verifications have followed, including with the skeptic society of Sweden. Now, Rossi has signed a contract with a large firm with a history of contracting to the US Department of Energy.

Of course, we won’t know for certain until they deliver on their promise of an operating 1MW power-plant by October 2011.

According to Rossi’s patent, his Energy Catalyzer (ECat) consists of a heated tube of powdered nickel (Ni) and proprietary catalysts, through which hydrogen (H) is pumped at high pressure, surrounded by boron and lead shielding, and encased in a water jacket. Rossi claims the power results from conversion of nickel to copper and other lighter elements. Full conversion of 58g of nickel would produce the energy equivalent of burning 30,000 tons of oil. The radiation emitted during operation of ECat was barely detectable above background.

Transmutation of elements would leave little doubt of the nuclear origins. Understanding all the details of the reaction may not be far off, as NASA has initiated a project to study the reaction, and the smart money is on a Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) called the Widom-Larsen reaction, involving the weak nuclear force, absorption of naked H atoms into the Ni lattice atoms and subsequent low-energy beta-decay processes.

Ironically, Rossi developed his devices without the assistance of government programs or grants, and in the face of the opposition from the establishment academics, who have seen Ni-H reactions in the same light as ‘cold fusion’. But this is how great leaps are made: with imagination, persistence, and occasional flashes of success – the same problems faced in the development of semiconductors, now a trillion dollar industry that has changed our lives.

Fortunately, if Rossi’s device is genuine and scales up, as appears to be the case, it no longer matters what the Greens say or do, and whether government or academia supports this or not. Due to the low cost, transition to a zero-emission super-abundant energy future will be inevitable.

The entire raison d’être for renewable energy will be history.

Australia may be lucky in not adopting nuclear or renewable energies on a large scale, and be uniquely open to a new source of power at a fraction of the price, with a tiny fraction of the pollution. The science community in Australia, purveyor of all things green, could initiate a Manhattan-style LENR project overnight if it wanted too.

Or we could continue down the slippery slope with dirgeful anti-industrial pipers. This is the challenge for the Greens: will they embrace a new, clean energy source which can preserve the current standard of living? Or will they ignore it, continue to promote the chimera of renewable energy and be revealed as just being intent on reducing living standards?

We Australians are by nature a practical, direct and industrious people, but we are falling behind. According to a 2009 US defense department review, Japan and Italy are leaders in this field, and Russia, China, Israel, and India are also devoting significant resources to this work.

The Green’s carbon tax will simply gut existing industries, that may soon be powered by a new energy source.

Human innovation infuses the future with hope, the Greens with their own personal despair. Which do you choose?

Rejoinder to Geoff Davies at ABC Unleashed

Hansen Redux: service and disservice.

We thank Dr Davies for his response to our recent Drum article, as it provides an opportunity to discuss additional elements of the long, but interesting paper by Dr James Hansen.

There are many areas where we agree: the main being that most computer models of climate (1) have over-estimated the rate at which heat is being absorbed by the oceans, and (2) that the corresponding net human-made climate forcing is unrealistically large. Davies explains “All climate modellers know there are inaccuracies and poorly-constrained factors in the models.” Part of the reason for our original article was to inform the general reader, who is not a climate modeller, and is in general not accurately informed of the uncertainties, that these are very significant, pressing issues with the models. For instance from Hansen’s paper:

“A substantial effort is underway to isolate the causes of excessive vertical mixing in the GISS ocean model (J. Marshall, private communication)” [page 20]

“Continued failure to quantify the specific origins of this large forcing [from aerosols] is untenable” [Abstract]

By Hansen’s own account, the magnitude of the error by the models is almost half the entire forcing generally attributable to warming from human emissions of CO2 [AGW].This is a new development. It is not ‘business as usual’ as Davies portrays.

The widening gap between models and reality is shown by comparing the projections of Hansen’s 1988 paper where he predicts the future temperature from 3 scenarios of CO2 emissions. These 3 temperature scenarios were: (A) a rate of CO2 concentration growth at about 1.5% per annum; (B) decreasing CO2 growth rates and (C), growth of CO2 ceases after 2000. While CO2 levels have increased at a rate even greater than in Hansen’s scenario A, which should have led to temperatures increasing at a rate greater than scenario A, temperature has actually increased at a rate LESS than offered by scenario C.

Davies’s main complaint is that our article does not adequately highlight Hansen’s so-called “Faustian bargain”. This is that humanity has been getting away with CO2 emissions because aerosol cooling has been masking the CO2 heating. While we did mention it in the interests of balance, the problem is that the trade-off is a classic strategy of irrefutability of an auxiliary hypothesis, ala Popper, by correcting other errors such as ocean heat uptake and ocean warming with unmeasured aerosol cooling.

At this stage Hansen’s remedy of greater cooling from aerosols is only speculation; speculation that contradicts Hansen’s previous work which concluded some warming from aerosols. We wholeheartedly agree with Hansen on the need for direct empirical measurements of aerosols to diminish this major source of uncertainty. But this has not been done and in fact nearly all the forcings that Hansen relies on to support the worsening of AGW are, according to the IPCC’s 4th report, either unmeasured or very uncertain. Yet we are told by Davies that he and Hansen are certain of their effect, in conjunction with CO2, on the climate. How can that be?

This blurring of the distinction between fact and speculation is habitual in climate science and in our opinion tends to exasperate scientists from other fields.

Our article did not review well-known views, such as Hansen’s argument for CO2 climate sensitivity. It focused on the new information, which was the overestimation of heat absorption in the ocean by Hansen’s computer models. This is not in dispute. Davies concedes this. Like Hansen, Davies assumes that the estimation of the cooling effect of aerosols by the computer models must be less than the actual cooling by aerosols. Why? Because, he claims, the evidence for global warming by CO2 is NOT supplied by the models, but by other ‘real’ evidence.

In making the claim that the case for AGW does not rest on computer models and is therefore not vulnerable to the aerosol uncertainty, Davies unfortunately reverts to the churlish falsehood:

This misconception is part of the disinformation put about by the professional deniers funded by the likes of ExxonMobil.

If this is the case, then why then have IPCC computer modelling studies been used to determine the contribution of CO2 to global warming in the last half-century and why has Hansen been at the forefront of that process?

As noted, in our original article we did not deal with the wider issue of AGW, but in respect of Davies’ distinction between the computer models and ‘real’ evidence we can say that the ‘real’ evidence shows even greater departure of models from reality, as the most recent forcing estimates of 0.23 Watts per meter squared is significantly below the 0.6 Watts per meter squared predicted by Hansen from the GISS model for the time period 1993 to 2003 (see here).

In addition we are not professional deniers funded by anyone.

We are, however, familiar with Hansen’s palaeoclimatic ‘real’ evidence for 3C ‘fast’ climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling, as we are with a number of other findings of ‘fast’ climate sensitivity of less than 1.5C: Douglass, Shaviv, Spencer, Schwartz, Lindzen, Idso, McKitrick, and Scafetta to name a few.

The main palaeoclimatic ‘real’ evidence put forward by Davies concerns the infamous CO2 lag where CO2 changes supposedly follow temperature changes. Using the same graph, which Davies does to illustrate this supposed lag of a few hundred years, Frank Lansner, also retired, shows that, in fact, there is no relationship between CO2 and temperature. The supposed lag of CO2 disappears when the graph is examined properly. The graph shows that temperature actually drops when CO2 is at its maximum levels and therefore maximum warming capacity. Davies like other people makes the mistake of only looking at the graph when both temperature and CO2 are increasing not when CO2 is increasing and temperature is DECREASING. This lack of a relationship between CO2 and temperature is also seen in the recent record with temperature going the opposite direction to CO2 from 1940 to 1976. Then, as now, an unmeasured human aerosol cooling effect is invoked.

The remainder of Davies’s article are obvious non sequiturs.

He thinks the statement that “the world’s most prominent expert on the use of computer models for understanding of the Earth’s climate” implies “that Hansen is a great believer in the accuracy of computer models.”

He thinks the statement “free from the restraints of peer review” implies “that Hansen was engaging in a sly trick.”

It is not clear why, but Davies repeatedly draws attention to the draft status of Hansen’s paper (which has since been published at the Cornell archive), and so creates the impression that it contains significant inaccuracies. We simply found it refreshing that uncertainties raised by climate sceptics over the years are beginning to be acknowledged by someone like Hansen – that sea level rise has decelerated from 3.1 to 2.3 mm/year, the importance of enhanced indirect solar influences proven in recent cosmic ray studies, that CO2 sinks are not becoming less efficient, the large uncertainty associated with aerosols, clouds, and of course, that the climate models are more uncertain than are usually portrayed – but fear these may fail to make the final version.

Once again, we ask the question, based on the poor performance of the models against observations in recent years: do we really have an adequate scientific case that demands a policy response? More generally if policies are implemented on the back of a one-sided presentation of the science, then it is those policies and science which do society a “disservice”, not us.

It is not as though Climate sceptics do not have much of a case, as Davies implies; he should read the views of around 80 prominent climate scientists, geophysicists and related hard scientists expressed in a letter to the US Congress 8th February 2011:

Do the 678 scientific studies referenced in the CO2 Science document, or the thousands of studies cited in the NIPCC report, provide real-world evidence (as opposed to theoretical climate model predictions) for global warming-induced increases in the worldwide number and severity of floods? No. In the global number and severity of droughts? No. In the number and severity of hurricanes and other storms? No.

Do they provide any real-world evidence of Earth’s seas inundating coastal lowlands around the globe? No. Increased human mortality? No. Plant and animal extinctions? No. Declining vegetative productivity? No. More frequent and deadly coral bleaching? No. Marine life dissolving away in acidified oceans? No.

Quite to the contrary, in fact, these reports provide extensive empirical evidence that these things are not happening. And in many of these areas, the referenced papers report finding just the opposite response to global warming, i.e., biosphere-friendly effects of rising temperatures and rising CO2 levels.

Dr Davies should rethink his position.

Climate Sceptics Vindicated

Two articles in two major journals validate the sceptic’s efforts to improve scientific processes.

Nature: After months of soul-searching, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has agreed on reforms intended to restore confidence in its integrity and its assessments of climate science.

Scientific American: Scientific American has just published an interview with physicist Dr. Richard Muller in which he states that Michael Mann’s infamous hockey stick graph, the fallen icon of the IPCC, was “…in fact incorrect. It had been affected by a very serious bug in the way scientists calculated their principal components.”

Brilliant Thinking

Families burned by solar subsidies…

Quakers Hill father Steve Gross is one of 120,000 families across the state who thought he was onto a winner when he signed up to the then Labor government’s solar bonus scheme last September.

The maintenance fitter and his wife, Angelina, decided that with the government’s subsidy and the promise to buy the energy back at 60c per kilowatt hour, they could not only one day have their power bills paid for by the sun but do their bit for the planet.

So the family of five invested in a mighty six kilowatt solar panel system for $35,000, which was reduced to $28,000 with a government subsidy. They put down a $5500 deposit and took out a loan for $22,000, which would largely be paid for by the money generated by the system.

“We signed a contract with the government which stated that they would pay us 60c per kilowatt hour for the power we generated until 2017. We thought, ‘What could be more secure than a government-backed scheme?

UPDATE: More solar problems.

Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts has ordered the safety checks after an audit of panels installed in 55 homes in Port Macquarie revealed 16 were problematic.

Three were found to have “serious” flaws.
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Issues encountered included potentially dangerous wiring and signage defects.

Others were found to be non-compliant with building regulations.