Archive for the ‘Bad Science’ Category

Why do enviornmental groups hate desalination?

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Water is one of the most important resources to society.  The availability of water has dictated the locations of some cities and limited the growth of others.  It is also one of the major necessities for agriculture.

Many areas have limited supplies of water and others are prone to shortages or droughts.  Still others do have sufficient water supplies, but in securing necessary water, huge quantities had to be diverted, resulting in ecological disasters such as the shrinking of the Aral Sea.

kennedyquoteOf course, there is an effectively limitless supply of water in the world’s oceans, and many of the most arid regions are located near the coast.  However, ocean water is far too salty for consumption by humans, for irrigation and for most other uses.   Thus, it is not that the world lacks water – we have plenty of it, but that many areas lack fresh water.

Therefore, assuming it could be made economical, desalination would seem like an ideal solution to this persistent problem.  Desalination is the only source of water that can be considered to be, for all intents and purposes, unlimited.  After all, all nearly all water ends up back in the ocean anyway.  With desalination, there are no concerns over droughts or of overdrawing an aquifer.  There are no seasonal shortages or reduction in the availability of water.

It could also be argued that desalination, in and of itself, has virtually no negative ecological consequences.  The need for water has lead to aquifers being depleted, rivers being diverted, lakes running dry and to the construction of massive dams and canals, sometimes with severe environmental consequences.   Therefore, even in areas where adequate fresh water is available, using desalination for basic water needs could greatly reduce the impacts of water sourced from rivers, lakes and aquifers.

The only negative environmental consequence associated with desalination is the need to dispose of the highly concentrated brine that is produced.  Separating the water from the sale of seawater means that salt must be disposed of.  It is usually in the form of a highly concentrated brine, much more salty than the water that was taken in.  This brine is not itself toxic, but the salinity levels are too high for most marine life.   If it were to be discharged directly into the ocean, it would result in the area around the discharge becoming too salty for most marine life.

This is certainly not an unmanageable problem.  The most obvious solution is to dilute and disperse the waste bring back into the ocean.  This is possible, but it can be a major task for large facilities.  Other options include recycling the brine into a useful product.  For example, it can be used to produce saltcrete.  Or, it can be further concentrated and then dried into salt, which can be sold commercially.

desalplantoperationalwThe one major downside of desalination is that it is energy intensive, far more energy intensive than more conventional means of obtaining freshwater. In addition to energy usage, desalination plants can be complicated, and the handling of saltwater requires the use of corrosion-resistant materials.  The water produced often requires additives for PH adjustment and the addition of trace minerals.  All of this adds to the expense of desalination as a water source.

For this reason, it is not generally used if other alternatives exist.  Many parts of the world, including much of the middle east and numerous islands are dependent on desalination to provide for their basic water needs.  While it does work for this, it remains the option of last resort, due to the economics.

That said, the economics of desalination have been improving steadily over the years.  With increasing demand for water, a great deal has been invested in desalination research and development.  New plants are constantly being built with ever-increasing efficiency and improved economics.  In recent years, major improvements have been made to reverse osmosis-based water desalination systems, which are now being deployed on an industrial scale.  The efficiency of distillation systems have also improved with the introduction of better heat recovery and multiple-effect distillation.

Modern desalination plants can now get a large portion of their energy requirements from the waste heat produced by power generation.  The use of co-generation for desalination further improves economics and reduce energy requirements.  Nuclear desalination is an especially appealing option, since nuclear reactors can produce ample process heat without emissions.  The Soviet Union built a highly successful plant to produce water from the Caspian Sea and today, India and China are exploring the use of nuclear reactors to run large desalination plants.

So, desalination is a good thing and we would like to see it continue to improve and become more economical, so it could be put to greater use….right?

(more…)

Don’t Worry, Yellowstone Won’t (Likely) Erupt

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Yellowstone National Park is a true national treasure of the United States and indeed is one of the world’s most unique and majestic natural settings.  The park is home to pristine wilderness and wildlife and to numerous dramatic geothermal features like geysers and hot springs.  The park is visited by more than three million per year and is one of the most popular national parks in the world.

The unique topography and geothermal activity are the result of a massive supervolcano which the park sits above.  It has been more than two million years since the volcano had a “mega eruption” amd 70,000 since it had even a minor eruption event. Still, if it were to erupt, it has the potential to cause devastation to the United States, North America, the Western Hemisphere and even the entire world.  Those outside of North America would likely be spared the most direct effects, although there could be noticeable climate effects.  However, the sheer volume of North American farmland that would be devastated would result in a global food crisis.

There a reasonable possibility that Yellowstone will erupt some time in the next hundred thousand years, but the probability of it erupting in any of our lifetimes is miniscule.

Still, many are becoming extremely concerned after a number of videos showed up online reporting to show bison or other animals fleeing the Yellowstone area.  It must mean the whole thing is about to blow… right?   According to some it does.  Because these original videos were followed by many conspiracy-oriented videos claiming that the government is keeping down the information about the impending eruption.


(more…)

UN Court Orders Japan To Stop Antarctic Whaling

Monday, March 31st, 2014

I have said it before and I will say it again: if you want to persuade Japan to stop whaling, then you must do so through diplomacy and legal methods.  It’s not that I am a huge fan of whaling, but the actions of Sea Shepherd are totally ineffective, counter-productive, extremely dangerous and highly illegal.  They qualify as acts of piracy, as they are a direct attack on the safety of unarmed vessels on the high seas.

For those who actually would like to see Japanese whaling come to an end, there has recently been a major step in that direction.  And no, it did not happen because a group of idiot activists were ramming Japanese vessels.

Via The New York Times:

U.N. Court Orders Japan to Halt Antarctic Whaling

PARIS — The United Nations’ highest court on Monday ordered Japan to halt its annual whaling hunt in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, saying that its present program was not being carried out for scientific purposes, as Japan has claimed.

In a 12-to-4 judgment, the International Court of Justice in The Hague found that Japan was in breach of its international obligations by catching and killing minke whales and issuing permits for hunting humpback and fin whales within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, established by the International Whaling Commission.

Reading a summary of the judgment, presiding Judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia said that the present “research program,” dating to 2005, has involved the killing of 3,600 minke whales and a number of fin whales, but that its “scientific output to date appears limited.” The ruling suggested instead that Japan’s whaling hunt served political and economic reasons.

Lawyers attending the proceedings said there was a gasp in the audience when Judge Tomka ordered Japan to immediately “revoke all whaling permits” and not issue any new ones under the existing program.

“I rarely heard such an unequivocal, strong ruling at this court,” said a lawyer with long experience at the court who asked not to be named because he is working on a case in progress.

The ruling is binding, and Japan cannot appeal. No immediate reaction from Japan was available, although it has said it would abide by any judgment in the case. But a Japanese delegate said in earlier hearings that Japan might consider withdrawing from the whaling commission, which oversees management of the world’s whale populations.

The court left open the possibility for future whale hunting if Japan redesigned its program. Tokyo has said that it needs data to monitor the impact of whales on its fishing industry and to monitor the whale population’s recovery from overfishing.

Unfortunately, the times article went on to quote a Sea Shepherd representative on the issue, which is a shame, because those idiots should not be regarded as a respectable authority on the issue or even legitimate anti-whaling activists. There are plenty of groups out there who oppose Japanese whaling and do so through legal and sane means.

It’s important to note that while this is a big step, it does not mean that Japan won’t conduct any further whaling or that the issue is closed.   First, this only applies to the Antarctic region.  Although that is the most high profile region of Japanese whaling, the Japanese also conduct whaling in the northern Pacific and that is not affected by the ruling.

Another important consideration is that the decision only reflects Japan’s commitment to the International Whaling Commission treaty.  There is no standing international law against whaling in general.  The only reason Japan is restricted from whaling is that the country signed a treaty to abide by IWC rules.  Those rules include a ban on whaling for all but research purposes.  It should be noted that the research clause was, in part, inserted into the general ban on whaling to appease Japan, who wished to continue whaling activities.  Calling it “research” makes it more politically palatable.

Therefore the court has ruled that Japan must cease whaling because their activities do not quality as “research,” and therefore are not in line with the rules of the treaty.  However, because it’s a voluntary treaty, Japan could potentially respond by simply choosing to withdraw from the IWC.  They have the right to do so.   They just might end up doing that, as they have considered withdrawing before.

As a result of these limits, this ruling should not be regarded as an the ultimate victory in the fight against whaling.  What Japan will do next is unclear.  Though they have stated they will abide by the ruling, they may decide to leave the IWC, thus voiding their treaty obligations, or they may simply shift the focus of their whaling program to other ocean regions.   None the less, this is still a major step toward reducing or eliminating Japanese whaling.   If the effort to do so is successful, it will be through diplomacy, appeals to the Japanese public and legal efforts and not through harassing whaling vessels with dangerous and illegal stunts.

Malaysia Airlines 370 and Reporters Who Have No Idea What They Are Talking About

Friday, March 21st, 2014

The disappearance

of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is, without doubt, one of the strangest episodes in recent aviation history.  Though it has not been found, the current evidence seems to indicate that someone on board the plane, most likely a crew member, shut down most of the on board communications systems and then flew the plane in a direction away from its flight plan.  Given that the 777 aircraft has exceptionally long range capabilities and that it appears to have been headed toward a large area of open ocean, with no radar coverage, the search has been very difficult.

The reporting on this event has ranged the gamut from pretty good to absolutely horrible.  One of the worst things seen is the numerous glaring errors in major publications about basic technical facts regarding aviation and the aircraft in question.

Reporters, of course, don’t generally know a lot about commercial aviation, aerospace technology, search and rescue or any of the other specialized topics involved.  Degrees in journalism don’t usually requite training in basic aircraft systems.   That’s a given, as it is with most highly technical topics.  However, it’s not exactly difficult to find people who are real experts in the area.  So if you are reporting on a story for a newspaper or other publication, why not track down an actual expert before writing about transponders or ACARS or ETOPS requirements or anything of that kind?   In fact, I’d advise tracking down more than one, just to make sure the one you find first is not BS’ing you.

Here are some examples:

 

(more…)

The Problem With Not Having a Manned Space Program

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

The United States has the worlds most accomplished manned space program.  Not only has the US sent men to the moon, but for decades the United States was the most capable space-faring nation, launching several missions per year and leading the world in manned space capabilities.  Even the Space Shuttle, for all its expense and flaws, was a highly capable spacecraft.

Today, however, the US has no ability to send humans into space.   China has a limited manned spaceflight program and Russia is now the primary space program for crewed spacecraft.  The US, however, does own a large portion of the International Space Station and is under treaty obligation to provide crew and support to the space station.  To fulfill its need to send crew members to the Space Station, the US must pay the Russian government tens of millions of dollars for a seat in a Soyuz space capsule.

Obviously, this is a pretty embarrassing place to be.  Just 20 years ago, it was NASA coming to the rescue of a floundering Russian space program, when, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia found itself unable to support a full roster of missions to its own space station.  Now the tables are turned, and the US is starting to look more like a fallen superpower.

But there is a more practical and problematic issue that arises with the dependence on Russia for space transportation.  When international tensions flare, as they now are, things become highly uncertain for space access.


Via NBC News:

Russia Crisis Raises Space Station Questions, But NASA Has Options

OUSTON — Thanks to its reliance on Russia, NASA is once again confronted with the nightmare of a diplomatic roadblock in a project originally made possible by diplomacy: the U.S.-Russian partnership in space exploration.

And if Russia’s confrontation with Ukraine and the West turns into the worst diplomatic crisis of our generation, as feared, it could have equally profound and disturbing consequences for space exploration.

This month’s comings and goings at the International Space Station highlight the interdependence of the U.S. and Russian space efforts: Next week, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins is due to return from the space station aboard a Russian capsule, alongside two Russian cosmonauts. A couple of weeks after that, NASA’s Steven Swanson is to ride another Russian Soyuz craft up to the station, again in the company of two Russians.

Under the current arrangement, NASA astronauts cannot get to and from the station without Russian help, due to the retirement of the space shuttle fleet. The ticket price for each astronaut is $70 million, payable to the Russians.

The United States and Russia are not just “joined at the hip” on the space station. Numerous other rocket projects rely on either Russian or Ukrainian space hardware and services. Even U.S. national security satellites are powered into orbit on an American rocket with a Russian-built rocket engine.

What if the Soyuz spacecraft suddenly became unavailable for use by American astronauts, contract or no contract? Would it be the end of U.S. human spaceflight? Would it kick off a new round of extortionary price-gouging, both fiscal and diplomatic?

Well, maybe not.

Moving away from co-dependence

It’s cold comfort that the Russians rely on NASA almost as much as NASA relies on the Russians. If Russia monopolizes up-down transport, the United States essentially controls the only space destination: Russia’s orbital hardware couldn’t function without U.S. electrical power and communications services.

However reluctant the partners may be in such an awkward “space marriage,” it has until now provided an astonishing degree of robustness and flexibility.

Recent developments have brought the space station closer to the point where it could be operated without Russian involvement if necessary. The current crisis provides good reasons to accelerate that shift and even to push for one crucial near-term capability: crew rescue.

Already, two U.S. commercial cargo delivery projects — SpaceX’s Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule, as well as Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule — have replaced the justifiably retired space shuttle. European and Japanese robot freighters can also resupply the space station. Even though some parts of the Antares come from Ukraine and Russia, and even though the European cargo freighter must dock at the Russian end of the station, Russia’s cargo monopoly has been broken.

….

 

(more…)

No, An Earthquake Did Not Create the Shroud of Turin or Skew Carbon Dating

Friday, February 21st, 2014

shroud-2_1The Shroud of Turin is one of the most revered and famous artifacts of Christianity.  For centuries, it was claimed to be the burial cloth of Jesus, having been left with a haunting image of the the very face of the savior mysteriously imprinted on it.   The cloth, which is kept in a church in the city of Turin, Italy, gained great attention when it was first photographed, in the late 1800′s.  It was revealed that the image on the cloth is far more easily discerned in a photographic negative than in the normal “positive” direct view.

shrouddateIn 1988, however, enthusiasm for the shroud took a major hit when samples were subjected to radiocarbon dating and revealed the cloth to be of more modern origin.   The final result put the age of the cloth at less than one thousand years old.  The period it was dated to, in fact, turned out to coincide perfectly with the historical record of when the shroud first appeared on the record – about 1350 AD.   The procedure was done by multiple laboratories, using the most reliable radiocarbon dating protocol available, and all analysis was in agreement.  The shroud was thus far too young g to be the burial cloth of Christ.

Almost immediately, objections were raised.  Many of the faithful would go to extreme lengths to explain why the tests might not be accurate.   Some claimed that the samples were contaminated with external organic material.  While this may be possible, it’s a well known issue with radiocarbon dating and procedures therefore exist, and were used, to remove surface contamination.  Others said that the cloth was taken from an area where newer cloth had been added for repairs.  This seems to be at least semi-plausible, but there is no hard evidence that the material was not original to the cloth and the examination conducted at the time indicated that the samples were well representative of the entire cloth.  Others claimed that the cloth could have been contaminated by soot or smoke from a fire or that there had been errors made in the calculations.

In the end, none of these claims have much hard evidence to back them.  Radiocarbon dating has been well tested and is a mature science.  The laboratories that tested the shroud samples were well qualified and followed the highest protocol standards.  Radiocarbon dating does not produce an exact year of origin, but gives a range of probable years.  It’s possible that the actual origin could be outside this period and could be skewed by some environmental factors, but for it to be more than 1,200 years off, there would have to be a major procedural error or confounding factor and no evidence of this has been produced.

Now a new claim has begun to make the rounds.  It’s so unfounded, so unsupported, so speculative and so absurd that it really is not news.  But, despite this, the news media has jumped on it.

(more…)

Bill Nye Debates Creationist Ken Ham

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

For those who don’t know, science advocate and educator Bill Nye recently debated young earth creationist Ken Ham in a highly publicized internet-broadcast event.

There have been many mixed feelings from the scientific community on the event.  Many of which, I would tend to agree with.  Debating a creationist really won’t do much of anything.  Believers will continue to believe in what they want, regardless of the arguments or evidence.  Those who look at things objectively will have no choice but accept evolution as a well tested and established scientific fact.

Some might say that the debate raises creationism to a level it does not deserve.  It is not a matter of debate for the scientific community; it was closed long ago.  If we were to assume the earth were thousands of years old, biology were the result of a being simply willing it to be so and the bible could guide all scientific thought, we would have to throw away most of the advancements of science.  Evolution is key to our understanding of biology.  We have seen it happen and have fossil evidence of how it has shaped life over the long term.

Some warned that Bill Nye could end up losing the debate, or just come off looking bad, if Ham backed him into a corner using contentions that were too illogical to easily and directly refute or by forcing Nye to waste his time providing a class in biology 101 in order to simply explain where he is coming from.  Given that creationism has no scientific evidence, only religious faith, it seems likely that a creationist would fall back on appealing logical fallacies.   It should be noted that one can be factually correct and still lose a debate if faced with a skilled opponent.

Thankfully, Bill Nye seems to have held his own.  Still, I tend to side with those who think it was unnecessary and generally unproductive to even bother engaging in the debate.   It didn’t change anyone’s mind.

Here’s the video for those interested (Starts at roughly 13:00)



The ELF Solar Bike-Car-Hybride Thingy: Another Vehicle That Makes Me ask “WHY?”

Friday, January 31st, 2014

The Organic Transit ELF has been getting a lot of attention recently.  It’s another vehicle that claims to be poised to revolutionize the way we get around.

Granted, in this day and age of global warming concerns, congested cities and high gas prices, it might seem natural to go looking for alternatives to automobiles.  Using human power also seems like a good idea, given the way to go, since many of us can use exercise anyway.

Via the Wall Street Journal:

Elf Electric Pedal Car: When 1 Horsepower Is Enough

Mr. Cotter is the founder and CEO of the Durham, N.C.-based Organic Transit, which makes the Elf: an ovoid, semi-enclosed, solar-chargeable, plug-in, bike-lane-legal, electric pedal car. Got that? With a 1-hp (750-watt) electric motor in the rear wheel hub and a lithium battery pack, or two, snugged into the center frame rail aft of the front wheels—and a plastic canopy to keep the weather off drivers—the Elf proposes a solution for urban commuters who want to leave the car at home but can’t quite hack the rigors of a conventional bicycle.

“We’re creating our own consumer product category,” said Mr. Cotter, whose operation in a downtown storefront in the former tobacco capital is bustling. The company has 1,500 orders in hand—more than enough to reach profitability, said Mr. Cotter, a TED talker who Kickstarted much of the original funding—and soon the company’s retinue of bike gurus and production staff (including some volunteers) will be moving to larger quarters downtown. Prices just went up: the Elf costs $4,995, more if you want the backup battery, the continuously variable transmission rear hub or the better solar panels.

The Elf’s capacity is 350 pounds; top assisted speed is 20 mph (it goes faster downhill); and the 10-amp-hour batteries offer a range of up to 30 miles, but the batteries last longer the more riders pedal. It takes one whole sunny day to charge a fully depleted battery with 60-watt roof-mounted solar panels.

Mr. Cotter and I took a couple of Elfs for a tour of Raleigh recently, and according to the vehicle’s smartphone-app instrumentation, I traveled 15.4 miles at an average speed of 15 mph; burned 586 calories (by pedaling) and displaced 15 pounds of CO2 (using solar watts). It’s a start.

elfbikecar

The vehicle has gotten a huge amount of press and attention. It even managed to raise nearly a quarter of a million dollars on Kickstart – apparently from a large group of people who are genuinely convinced this is an amazing and revolutionary concept.   It’s even touted as the “Cleanest, most efficient vehicle on the planet”

 


I do not mean to rain on this parade, but I just don’t get it.  Not only is it not revolutionary, game-changing or the next big thing, but it seems to me that this is just a vehicle which serves the same roll as the bicycle, while being inferior in most respects and considerably more expensive.

Let me know if I am missing something or just wrong…

(more…)

Radiation Claims by US Sailors

Friday, January 24th, 2014

A story has been making the rounds recently about a number of sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan who are suing the US Navy and TEPCO for symptoms they claim are related to exposure to nuclear radiation on board the ship.   The Reagan did not land in Japan at the time of the tsunami or the ensuing problems at the  Fukushima nuclear power plant.  However, it did participate in the transfer of relief supplies, a mission which resulted in the Reagan spending several weeks in an area about one hundred miles away from the crippled reactors.

The lawsuit has been dismissed, but those who brought it are vowing to continue their fight, attempting to appeal or refile their claims.
WUSA has heart-wrenching the story of one of the sailors:

Maryland sailor blames Fukushima for radiation poisoning

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — He served his country, but has his country turned its back on him? A Maryland sailor says he’s now wheelchair-bound, and he blames it on radiation he was exposed to while representing his country at what’s been called the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Steve Simmons spoke to WUSA9′s Debra Alfarone exclusively.

Simmons never needed any help getting out on the golf course, “Even if it is a bad shot, I’m still happy.”

Golf, hiking, he’s always been the guy that never stops, “I love P90X, in fact after I did P90X, I also ordered the insanity workout.”

Until November 2011.

Steve was 33. That’s when life started changing for this U.S. Naval Administrative Officer. It was eight months after Simmons served on the USS Ronald Reagan when it was the first ship to respond to what’s been called the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl – the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. It was the result of being slammed by a powerful tsunami, triggered by the most violent earthquake Japan had ever seen. Steve started feeling tired, not himself. Then, he blacked out while driving to work, and drove his truck up on a curb. Steve said his list of ailments was puzzling,

“You’re starting to run fevers, your lymph nodes start swelling, you’re having night sweats, you’re getting spastic and you’re losing sensation in your legs, and you can’t feel your legs when you’re getting 2nd degree burns on them, and how do you explain those things?”

Doctors could not. Steve’s leg muscles eventually just gave up, and he’s now confined to a wheelchair to get around.

Steve’s then-fiance, now-wife, Summer, had just moved cross-country to Maryland with her three children to start their lives together. She says she was shocked, but quickly made a plan, “Things change, I started calling around, borrowed a wedding dress, we started looking for a chaplain and we were married the day before Easter in 2012 in a borrowed wedding gown and his dress whites. It was the last time Steve was really able to spend the day on his feet.”

It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Simmons. People do occasionally unexpected medical conditions, some of which are difficult to diagnose. However, there’s simply no reason to think this is radiation-related.

But this is my favorite part:

Steve explains, “As far as the big picture we still don’t have a diagnosis of what this is, still struggling to even get a doctor to acknowledge that radiation had anything to do with it.”

That diagnosis is critical. Without the Navy acknowledging that Steve wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for his time in Operation Tomodachi, his retirement and pension are at stake. Plus, he doesn’t qualify for aid in the same the way he would if he lost his legs in an IED explosion.

No doctor will say it is radiation related? Probably because they have medical training and understand what radiation does and does not do to the body. It’s just not consitstant with that. Granted, the man may be convinced that something as demonic as radiation must be the casue, that’s not going to hold up in court.

The Department of Defense says radiation levels were safe, and were the equivalent to less than a month’s exposure to the same natural radiation you pick up from being near rocks, soil and the sun.

Steve doesn’t buy that, “How do you take a ship and place it into a nuclear plume for five plus hours, how do you suck up nuclear contaminated waste into the water filtration system and think for one minute that there’s no health risk to anybody on board.”

Again, we have an emotional response. Whether an area is dangerous depends on a number of factors, like there intensity of the radiation and whether there are particles that can be inhaled or ingested. Other important considerations include the time spent in the area and whether it was indoors or outdoors. It’s not a binary safe-unsafe kind of question.

(more…)

In India, Homeopaths Now Can Write Prescriptions

Monday, January 13th, 2014

I hate to pick on the nation of India all the time for bone-headed homeopathy policy, but it’s hard to avoid.  For a nation which has been growing technically, by leaps and bounds, even sending probes to the moon and beyond, India still seems to have healthcare regulations from the middle-ages.

It also should be seen as a warning to the rest of the world.  In India, homeopathy has taken hold an is respected more than perhaps anywhere else in the world.   Contrary to popular belief, homeopathy is “western” medicine, as it was dreamed up in Germany.  Modern science has long rejected it, and, indeed, it never really gained much of a following in mainstream medicine.  Yet in a few places, most notably India, homeopaths have become a strong and organized force.  They have demanded the same respect and privileges as real doctors and have often gotten it.

Via FirstPost India:

Homeopaths can do one-year course, prescribe allopathy drugs: Maha govt

In a move that could benefit over 60,000 homeopaths practising in Maharashtra and one that has invited shock and anger from MBBS doctors and others, the Maharashtra government has given its nod to a proposal to permit homeopaths to prescribe allopathic drugs after they complete a year-long course in pharmacology.
The Indian Medical Association has opposed the decision, threatening to approach the Bombay High Court and calling it a move to promote quackery.
Homoeopaths first made the plea to allow “combined practice” almost three decades back, according to a report in The Times of India.
“Their fellow practitioners in Ayurveda and Unani are allowed to prescribe allopathy medicines,” said the report.

The pharmacology course, to be offered first at Nashik’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, could be one way to tackle the shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas, it has been argued.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

The pharmacology course, to be offered first at Nashik’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, could be one way to tackle the shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas, it has been argued.

Shocking as it may sound, homopathy doctors are often appointed as housemen in hospitals, an official was quoted as saying, adding that this pharmacology course would only improve their education. IMA honorary secretary Dr Jayesh Lele said the move was “nothing but legalising quackery”. Pharmacology was usually studied by MBBS students over three years, doctors said. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) will also approach the courts against the decision, reported DNA. Dr Santosh Wakchaure of MARD was quoted as saying: “It is a disrespect to science and we will approach court to get a stay order on it.”

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

Shocking as it may sound, homopathy doctors are often appointed as housemen in hospitals, an official was quoted as saying, adding that this pharmacology course would only improve their education. IMA honorary secretary Dr Jayesh Lele said the move was “nothing but legalising quackery”.
Pharmacology was usually studied by MBBS students over three years, doctors said.
The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) will also approach the courts against the decision, reported DNA. Dr Santosh Wakchaure of MARD was quoted as saying: “It is a disrespect to science and we will approach court to get a stay order on it.”

The pharmacology course, to be offered first at Nashik’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, could be one way to tackle the shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas, it has been argued.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

Homoeopaths first made the plea to allow “combined practice” almost three decades back, according to a report in The Times of India. “Their fellow practitioners in Ayurveda and Unani are allowed to prescribe allopathy medicines,” said the report. The pharmacology course, to be offered first at Nashik’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, could be one way to tackle the shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas, it has been argued.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

In a move that could benefit over 60,000 homeopaths practising in Maharashtra and one that has invited shock and anger from MBBS doctors and others, the Maharashtra government has given its nod to a proposal to permit homeopaths to prescribe allopathic drugs after they complete a year-long course in pharmacology. The Indian Medical Association has opposed the decision, threatening to approach the Bombay High Court and calling it a move to promote quackery. Homoeopaths first made the plea to allow “combined practice” almost three decades back, according to a report in The Times of India. “Their fellow practitioners in Ayurveda and Unani are allowed to prescribe allopathy medicines,” said the report.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

In a move that could benefit over 60,000 homeopaths practising in Maharashtra and one that has invited shock and anger from MBBS doctors and others, the Maharashtra government has given its nod to a proposal to permit homeopaths to prescribe allopathic drugs after they complete a year-long course in pharmacology. The Indian Medical Association has opposed the decision, threatening to approach the Bombay High Court and calling it a move to promote quackery. Homoeopaths first made the plea to allow “combined practice” almost three decades back, according to a report in The Times of India. “Their fellow practitioners in Ayurveda and Unani are allowed to prescribe allopathy medicines,” said the report. The pharmacology course, to be offered first at Nashik’s Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, could be one way to tackle the shortage of qualified doctors, especially in rural areas, it has been argued. Shocking as it may sound, homopathy doctors are often appointed as housemen in hospitals, an official was quoted as saying, adding that this pharmacology course would only improve their education. IMA honorary secretary Dr Jayesh Lele said the move was “nothing but legalising quackery”. Pharmacology was usually studied by MBBS students over three years, doctors said. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) will also approach the courts against the decision, reported DNA. Dr Santosh Wakchaure of MARD was quoted as saying: “It is a disrespect to science and we will approach court to get a stay order on it.”

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/india/homeopaths-can-do-one-year-course-prescribe-allopathy-drugs-maha-govt-1332985.html?utm_source=ref_article

There may indeed be a legitimate shortage of doctors in rural areas, and if that is the case, then it is a problem which is not easily tackled. However, this is certainly NOT the way to address it!

In fact, if you are going to solve the problem of lack of prescribers this way, you may as well give up the whole system of prescriptions and just let all drugs be sold over the counter.  After all, the entire reason prescriptions exist is that it is understood that certain drugs are too hazardous, too prone to miss use or too complex in administration to be given without advanced medical knowledge.  Other drugs treat conditions which should not be treated without a doctors supervision.

A year of training in pharmacology is a poor substitute for years of college, medical school, internship and residency.   Even with this background, real doctors do occasionally make errors with prescriptions.  This is why many doctors will not prescribe medications that they are not familiar with or which treat areas outside their specialty.  Having less qualified practitioners write prescriptions is certainly not going to help the situation.

Other countries should not be so quick to dismiss this as a uniquely Indian problem.  In the UK, for example, homeopaths have been trying to get more standing in the medical system and have their procedures compensated by state-run health programs.  In Canada, naturophaths and homeopaths have demanded the right to be considered “doctors,” and in the US homeopathic institutions have been lobbying for government-sanctioned accreditation in the same way medical schools are accredited.

The risks from this lunacy, which is not beyond possibility outside India, are pretty obvious:  more improperly treated conditions, greater risks of prescription drug abuse and addiction, more drug interactions, fewer conditions treated by qualified doctors, more improperly administered antibiotics.

Besides, if homeopathy actually worked, why would they need anything else?