Thursday, July 2, 2015

Eric Worrall mistakes native cattle breeds for mutants @wattsupwiththat

Eric Worrall is someone who Anthony Watts uses to fill his daily quota of denier nonsense at WUWT. Mostly his "guest articles" are short and silly. Take today for example. Eric is equating two cattle breeds from India with deliberately bred featherless chickens (archived here). I expect cattle breeds is a topic dear to the heart of Eric "eugenics" Worrall.

Eric knows which buttons to press to get the WUWT-ers all a go - mix guvmint with money and CO2 and scientists and Paris and toss in a mutant and Bob's your uncle:

Meet the Mutants – the latest Government effort to defeat Climate Change
It would be wrong to think that the governments of the world are solely focussed on reducing CO2. Just in case the Paris conference fails to deliver, our selfless government scientists are spending your money, exploring a diverse range of strange mutant varieties of every day farm animals, to ensure world stays fed in the midst of soaring temperatures.

Thing is, the dwarf cattle he wrote about aren't mutants.

Eric read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about how dairy cattle owners in India are looking for ways to combat heat stress in their herds. One suggestion is to shift to breeds that are more heat tolerant, namely Vechur and Kasargod cattle, which are smaller in size than ordinary cows. Eric Worrall thinks they are mutants. He's got it back to front. These small cattle native to India would probably be regarded as less "mutant" than other more common domestic cattle that have been selectively bred over centuries and then cross-bred. There are more articles about Vechur cattle and Kasargod cattle. From the Sydney Morning Herald article: "Dwarf cows, on the other hand, appeared to carry a "thermometer gene" that allowed them to better tolerate high temperatures, researchers said."

In Australia, heat stress is a problem too. See the Cool Cows articles from Dairy Australia. Heat can kill cows just as it can kill people.

From the WUWT comments

Like I've said before, WUWT is just a notice board where people post their random denier "thoughts". They may or may not relate to the topic of the article.

Someone pointed out to Pamela Gray that strawberries and peaches aren't animals:
July 1, 2015 at 5:41 pm
Animal engineering has such a long successful history.
Bulldogs who can no longer birth their big-headed pups.
Toy white poodles that are now dumb as a post.
Animal skin and eye cancer because we don’t like dark colored animals (how stupid is that!).
Inbred diseases because we want the perfect example of a species.
Honey bees that aren’t so sweet because we want more honey.
Tasteless strawberries and peaches because we don’t want bruised ones shipped from far away places.
The list goes on.

No-one pointed out to her that the very same "animal engineering" brought the Friesan and the Holstein and the Labrador and the Kelpie and the Thoroughbred and the Burmese and.... Not to mention the plant engineering that resulted in bananas and grapefruits and tomatoes and lettuces and carrots and strawberries and peaches she buys at the Farmers' Market.

Alan Robertson is disdainful of agricultural researchers and extension officers. If he were a farmer he'd be labelled the laggard, or late adopter (or the never adopter) and would probably use maximum tillage and spray irrigation and forget about soil conservation:
July 1, 2015 at 5:36 pm
If any of these ideas can fill a niche and can be used to meet demand and create wealth, then go for it. Hair brained ideas in the real world either fall apart or make something out of nothing, all the time. These ideas aren’t part of the real world, but are coming from academia, so if past is prologue, their chances of viability are slim without further rifling through the pockets of taxpayers.

fossilsage says the tigers are the problem in India anyway, so why worry about heat stress in cattle.
July 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm
In India the issue is Tigers. Doesn’t much matter what kind bovine genes you try to stack up against that.

Speaking of tigers, papiertigre used the article to post a "thought" about the hot weather:
July 1, 2015 at 5:46 pm
The weather girl blew the forecast again. They called for between 105-109 for today in Sacramento. Here it is 5:42 and the thermometer hasn’t reached 100 yet.
A piddling 98 degrees. Day after day it’s the same thing. Make a forecast, predicting doom as per the prevailing political position, spectacularly fail, but never revisit the blown call.

u.k.(us) posts the same thought that enters his or her head whenever he or she visits WUWT:
July 1, 2015 at 6:47 pm
Eric Worrall says:
“It would be wrong to think that the governments of the world are solely focussed on reducing CO2.”…………
Wrong is the wrong word, it doesn’t capture the extent of the assumed gullibility of the unwashed masses.


  1. In your list of plant engineering successes, you left out one of the most economically important crops: corn. Pamela is a twit, virtually all of human agriculture is based on selectively bred varieties whether of plants or animals.

    1. Is that "corn" as in "maize"? Or wheat or oats? See comments under "Elegant Terns" article.

    2. I've learned to never, ever comment about a woman's intellect, because behind every man is a woman rolling her eyes...

      Edward Martin

  2. Are you suggesting that the Venn Diagram of people who delight in WUWT, and of people who delight in farmer's markets, is not simply two non-intersecting circles?

    1. My guess would be a very small intersection, because the human brain is a remarkable thing. Certainly far smaller than the intersecting set of HW-regular 'warmists' and Farmer's Markets aficionados, anyway, I'd wager.

  3. Sou, thanks, what I really 'like' about WUWT is that their articles LACK scholarship. Prior art as it were. Climate science is quite interesting and very multidisciplinary.

    A few links I found:

    Influence of various environmental factors on dairy productionand adaptability of
    Holstein cattle maintained under tropical and subtropical conditions


    African Indigenous Cattle: Unique Genetic Resources in a Rapidly Changing World

    Adaptation to hot climate and strategies to alleviate heat stress
    in livestock production

    I would conjecture that BMI might play a role.


  4. FWIW papiertigre's handle is apt to her/his claim. The Sacramento Wednesday forecast was for 99F. On Tuesday it was for 105F and reached 107F. (I'm so happy I live near the ocean.) These figures vary by a degree or two depending on forecast source and station location.

    Can't these people get anything straight?

  5. Is a "thermometer gene" necessary?

    A smaller cow has a greater surface : volume ratio than a larger cow and will naturally lose metabolic heat more easily.

    1. Maybe, maybe size alone is not enough. (Think how some dogs suffer in the heat. Think how big Brahman and Santa Gertrudis cattle are - though their saggy skin helps.)

      Here's an article on small breeds of cattle. One is noted for it's heat resistance.

    2. From a faded memory, 'heat shock' proteins or 'm-RNA thermometers' unfold at high temperatures helping protect enzymes and enabling cells to function and survive at high temperatures. Don't know if this is the case with the biology of the cows in question.

  6. This might be helpful for the WUWTers to understand cattle and their sizes:

    1. "These are small; but the ones out there are far away! ...... Small. ...... Far away......."


  7. Just astonishingly stupid on Worrall's part. He is surely the most incompetent person at WTFUWT (hon mention Ronnie V) and that's some feat. Even Watts must realise he is a complete idiot.

    R the Anon

  8. Consider a spherical cow.

    (I have always wanted to say that. 😀)

    Assume that each cubic foot of volume produces one unit of heat
    Assume that each square foot of surface area can dissipate up to one unit of heat.

    A spherical cow 6.02ft in diameter produces 113.9 units and dissipates 113.9 units. She is right on her limits.

    Another spherical cow is 10% smaller.
    Her diameter is 5.28ft. She produces 83.2 units and can dissipate 92.3 units.
    She has ~10% of heat dissipation capacity in hand, and can handle some further temperature rise.

    I know this is grossly oversimplified, but it shows that even a small difference in size can considerably affect high temperature tolerance, even before you add in other genetic or physiological effects.

  9. "Her diameter is 5.28ft...."
    "She has ~10% of heat dissipation...."

    Isn't that a tad sexist? What about the male cows?

  10. Chris

    A male cow is a bull.

    If yoIu have trouble distinguishing between them, count the number of dangling bits.

    If there are four it is a cow.

    If there is only one, it is a bull and you had better run ☺


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