Fan a Granny and Save the Planet

We could fill this blog with hourly examples of media stupidity on climate change, (and maybe we will). From the Conversation, an everyday blog for university folks financed by Australian and UK taxpayers, under the heading of climate change there is this:

Electric fans may not help the elderly in a heatwave

An electric fan cools you down in extreme heat, but not if you’re old.

Researchers have found that when elderly people use an electric fan in extreme heat, instead of cooling them down, it actually raises their core body temperature and increases their heart rate […] Given the impact expected from climate change, and the need to reduce the energy cost of cooling solutions, this topic will undoubtedly get more attention in the future.

The “science” on which this “finding” is based is described in the PhD’s Own Paper thus:

If a fan causes a higher critical humidity, it would imply that it helps to reduce the heat load. But while Ravanelli found that this was the case in young people, in the present study with the older group the responses were mixed. For the older group (looking at the average values for the group), the critical humidity stayed the same, so no benefit or worsening was observed. But, worryingly, in at least two people a substantially worse outcome was observed with the fan on.

At least two, eh? There is a link to the abstract and a first page which gives the methodology:

“Wearing shorts (men) or shorts and a sports bra (women) participants sat in a chamber maintained at 42°C [for] 100 minutes total. No fluid intake was allowed during the protocol. Study participants included 3 men and 6 women…”

So it’s two out of nine? That’s quite percentage. As fully 15% of the abstract was devoted to informing us that “heat-related morbidity and mortality are important health challenges posed by global climate change” we should no doubt sit up and take notice.

Or not. As an elderly person myself, currently suffering temperatures of up to 39°C in the living hell of a cottage on the Mediterranean, and just back from a meal on the beach of squid and frites (but with fluid intake permitted, even encouraged, during the two hour protocol) I can assure the researchers that: if you put nine elderly people in a room, with or without a fan, shorts and sports bra, for a hundred minutes, at any temperature or humidity you like to mention, at least two of them will be feeling poorly by the end of the experiment. And they’ll happily spend another 100 minutes telling you about it. That’s the way we are. And that’s why we’re not too concerned about the temperatures our grandchildren will be suffering in 2050.


  1. Geoff, the protocol used to be to keep the shutters closed and windows open during the day to keep the nasty sunshine out. The evening temps were high but bearable and you can open everything up for the evening breeze.

    In California they have low tech cooling based on a tank of water and stopping the impact of insolation during the day.

    In the absence of common sense solutions, put in solar panels to run air-conditioning when the heat is greatest. Supply – demand matching probably breaks your leftist heart, but it should work.


  2. Where I visit in southern Sicily temperatures get to 40C in August. The elderly women I do see walking around during non-siesta hours are all wearing black. They never heard of climate change and besides, the churches are cool thanks to massive thick walls. Seldom see any men walking around or in church; they must be indoors playing card. They must be covered by a different research study.


  3. If they want to do old people a favour, they need to put aircon in hospitals. They’re horrible places at the best of times but miserable in the heat.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Man In a Barrel
    Yes, that’s the kind of thing we do here to ward off the heat. And my leftist heart has no problem with matching supply and demand – there are far too many other things causing it to break.

    The article’s link to global warming seems suggest that there’s something that could be done to stop those 42°C temperature peaks. A far as I know the only places suffering those kind of temperatures are in the Middle East, where we capitalists have been bombing regularly for the past few decades, with predictable effects on infrastructure, electricity supply etc. Is there some organisation I could join called Brown Lives Matter, which calculates the average shortening of life span caused by living near an oil well? Or maybe Caroline Lucas could calculate the carbon footprint of a US/UK bombing raid?


  5. It would seem that the cloak of a grandiose cause allows the wearer to portray the sloppiest of scientific investigations as important work that deserves not only some respect but also more funding. Lewsome stuff.


  6. Such a startling ‘new’ insight! (not) Time carried an article on this very subject back in 2012, which explains why a fan could be counterproductive in certain conditions. It’s not rocket science.

    That backfires, however, when air temperatures rise over 95°F — using an electric fan when it’s that hot can actually increase your body’s heat stress by blowing air that is warmer than the ideal body temperature over your skin. You may still feel a cooling sensation as the fan’s breeze evaporates your sweat, but increases in hot-air circulation and sweat evaporation can actually speed heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion.

    “An increase [in] sweating can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. If these fluids and electrolytes are not replaced quickly enough, there is a possibility [that fans] may do more harm than good,”

    What would we do without ‘pioneering’ researchers who recreate the results of previous research and get their stuff promoted at politically convenient junctures by the climate-change obsessed Conversation, eh?


  7. Or maybe Caroline Lucas could calculate the carbon footprint of a US/UK bombing raid?

    Or indeed of a Russian or Syrian-government hospital raid, barrell bombs and chlorine gas…


  8. As you say, it could be a 24/7 job, pointing out the media stupidity on climate change.

    For today’s offering we have from the Grauniad, Amitav Ghosh: ‘climate change is like death, no one wants to talk about it‘, coming only a few weeks after another of their favourite clowns had declared that The climate crisis is already here – but no one’s telling us.
    A quick check shows that they carry typically 3-6 articles about climate change every day.

    Why is this guy writing in the Graun? Well, surprise surprise, like Wadhams, he’s got a book to sell, and the far-right neoliberal Grauniad is only too happy to help, kerrching!

    And true to the usual form of the climate hypocrite, like Naomi Klein and Jeremy Leggett, Ghosh “has been travelling the world talking about his new book”.

    The Grauniad lives up to its name by referring to the title of the book as “he great derangement”.
    The article and the vacuous, self-deluding, hypocritical, groundhog-day mindset behind it could easily make another blog post, but life’s too short.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Paul:

    A quick check shows that they carry typically 3-6 articles about climate change every day.

    CliScep staying topical is one thing but that would make the hamster’s treadwheel look purposeful.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. On the little Mediterranean island where my wife’s family originate – old people survive happily in summer temperatures of over 40C, without mechanical cooling, well into their nineties.

    At a family funeral, one stinking hot July, I asked both the undertaker and a local doc whether many old folk there succumb to the summer heat.

    Both looked at me as if I was a bit simple and patiently explained that, just like everywhere else, most people die in winter from cold related illnesses – usually chest infections in the very old.

    We oldies have little to fear from thermogeddon.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The article at the Conversation which is the subject of this article has only received 3 comments. Would some kind reader who hasn’t been banned by the Conversation like to go there and link to this article? This will result in conversation at the Conversation being closed, but it’s the principle that counts.

    Liked by 1 person

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