Readers Respond to the November 2021 Issue


“States vs. Health,” by the Editors [Science Agenda], explains how politicians in a number of states are attempting to forestall the lifesaving work that public well being officers are executing to shield the inhabitants by requiring masking and bodily distancing.

I agree with the presentation of the article and the place that the Editors tackle the significance of letting science and good medical observe lead the approach to cope with the devastating results that the COVID pandemic is having in the U.S. and all through the world. When state legislatures move legal guidelines that take management of public well being and security measures away from native businesses, as the article exposes, the complete inhabitants is liable to contamination and the unfold of the virus that causes COVID.

In the piece, Georges Benjamin, govt director of the American Public Health Association, is eloquent in describing how the well being methods being utilized by the public well being businesses have been proved to be efficient for a whole lot of years and the way what some state legislatures are doing is “equivalent to taking away the ability of doctors to write prescriptions.”

I congratulate Scientific American for publishing this text and invite the readers to replicate on and help the science and public well being methods which have protected lives from many viruses, together with the current one, and to keep away from the intrusion of politics on this important and life-threatening matter.



“Vapor Storms,” by Jennifer A. Francis, describes how elevated moisture in a hotter ambiance is fueling intense hurricanes and flooding rains. Reading the article jogged my memory of an expertise I had tenting on the japanese fringe of Lake Superior, most likely 35 years in the past.

That October I used to be sitting on the shore late in the afternoon. The sky was cloudless a number of hundred meters offshore, with a breeze blowing in from the lake. The sky above the shore was overcast, tending towards drizzle.

This sample stayed fixed for the hour or so I watched; the clouds have been forming over that quick distance. Watching climate change over such a small space gave me some appreciation for a way tough local weather modeling has to be.



“IPCC, Your Job Is Partly Done,” by Naomi Oreskes [Observatory], argues that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has totally established the “physical science basis” of local weather change and will now focus solely on analyzing its impacts and potential methods to cease it.

I’m wondering if Oreskes has heard of the University of Victoria professor Andrew Weaver’s latest remark that limiting warming to 1.5 levels Celsius is now inconceivable. Weaver, whose Ph.D. is in utilized arithmetic, has quite a few accomplishments, together with greater than 200 revealed scientific works and a interval as chief of the provincial Green Party right here in British Columbia. But most pertinent to his remark is that he was a lead writer in a number of of the IPCC’s previous evaluation reviews. I used to be thus considerably shocked that he was publicly rebuked by these offended by his assertion.

I occurred to hear Weaver interviewed on the CBC, and he clarified that his intention was not to advocate abandonment of the objective of limiting warming as a lot as doable. Rather it was to acknowledge that we’ve handed some extent the place, if we have been to repair ranges of greenhouse gases at the moment, we might nonetheless see common international temperatures rise by more than 1.5 degrees C.

My commentary is that, to date, the public has been considerably lulled by the nature of scientific statements. That is, science is cautious; science doesn’t observe hyperbole even when it might be crucial from a social perspective. All the projections of local weather change I’ve seen seem to be underestimates of the severity of this accelerating disaster. It could also be extra in the curiosity of the higher good to converse plainly.

This dovetails with Oreskes’s suggestion that the IPCC’s working group on local weather change’s bodily science foundation must be wrapped up and that the group’s focus must be directed to its working teams devoted to impacts and mitigation. I might add that the urgency be emphasised by all doable means.

RICHARD “DICK” FAHLMAN Tla’amin Nation, British Columbia


In “Painkiller Risks” [The Science of Health], Claudia Wallis discusses the downsides of excessive doses of analgesics, together with kidney injury from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs). I discover it missing, although, that she doesn’t increase on the connection between over-the-counter painkillers and kidney points aside from a short point out of potential adversarial use of NSAIDs throughout being pregnant.

Long earlier than the present opioid disaster, the scientific group and literature knew of the risks of NSAIDs and acetaminophen (Tylenol). NSAIDs have been clearly related to injury to kidneys, and there’s proof that prime doses of acetaminophen can hurt them as effectively. In 1994 the New England Journal of Medicine revealed a research entitled “Risk of Kidney Failure Associated with the Use of Acetaminophen, Aspirin, and Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs.” This 27-year-old paper estimated that up to roughly 10 % of the incidence of end-stage renal illness (ESRD), or kidney failure, may very well be the result of long-term acetaminophen use and that such use of the drug may very well be chargeable for up to $700 million (in 1994 {dollars}) in annual ESRD-related medical prices.

I applaud Wallis for highlighting the total threat of acetaminophen towards the finish of her article: She quotes ache researcher and professor of drugs Erin Krebs as noting the drug “is very safe up to a certain threshold, and above that line it is very hazardous.” Wallis then provides that the similar researcher “says it’s ‘crazy’ that the drug is present in more than 600 products,” which “makes it all too easy to go overboard.”

I consider all merchandise that comprise acetaminophen or NSAIDs ought to require warning labels relating to potential injury to kidneys.

DAVID ROGERS Northport, N.Y.


“Overcoming Gene Therapy’s Long Shadow,” by Tanya Lewis [Innovations In: Gene Therapy], didn’t give Mark Batshaw’s present affiliation. He is now a developmental pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.


“The Power of Agroecology,” by Raj Patel, ought to have described the small Malawian city of Ekwendeni, not “Ekwendi.”

“Painkiller Risks,” by Claudia Wallis [The Science of Health], incorrectly describes acetaminophen poisoning as the most typical motive individuals want a liver transplant in the U.S. It is the most typical motive for acute liver failure, a situation that leads to about 6 % of all liver transplants in the nation.

“IPCC, Your Job Is Partly Done,” by Naomi Oreskes [Observatory], ought to have given the group’s full title as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, not the “International Panel on Climate Change.”


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