I’ve got a little unexpected time this morning, so at breakfast I scanned the free copy of USAToday that was waiting outside my door.
The headline that struck me first was this:
No, I’m not kidding. The story states:
Global warming could do more than hurt polar bears: It could force a rise in kidney stones, scientists warned Monday.
“We see a relationship between kidney stones and temperatures everywhere,” says study co-author Margaret Pearle of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. “Even in places with air conditioning, warmer temperatures mean more stones.”
Kidney stones result from salts crystallizing in the kidneys, often triggered by dehydration, causing famously painful blockages. Nationwide, kidney stones strike about 12% of all men and 7% of women over their lifetime.
Warm southeastern states get 50% more cases than northeastern ones. The new research says global warming will drive this so-called kidney stone “belt” north triggering at least 1.6 million new cases by 2050.
The United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year warned that industrial emissions of greenhouse gases very likely would raise average global temperatures 3 to 7 degrees this century, raising risks for heat stroke and expansion of tropical diseases such as malaria.
The kidney stone finding, reported Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, combines the panel’s projections of higher U.S. temperatures with Medicare and Veterans Administration health records stretching from 1982 to 2005 to estimate how many extra U.S. kidney stone cases will result from global warming.
In tomorrow’s paper Chicken Little will be quoted stating that the sky is falling – also backed by a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and an SUV will be indicted for deliberately killing its passengers in a rollover. GM will be named as a co-conspirator.