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Archives - April 2001

April 30, 2001

National Academy of Sciences tries to censor Junkman; Fox News refuses - The National Academy of Sciences demanded last Friday that Fox News take down my April 27 column, National Research Council Poisons Arsenic Debate. Fox News refused and instead offered the NAS an opportunity to rebut. NAS president Bruce Alberts also sent an e-mail to all NAS members trying to smear me for "extremely conservative commentary on his Web site called junkscience.com." I must have hit a nerve.

"Nuclear power may revive" - "Like much of the environmental movement, Sen. John Kerry gets the heebie-jeebies at the prospect of drilling for oil on one one-hundredth of 1 percent of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Unlike most environmentalists, he has an open mind on nuclear power, and we hope more of that movement will listen to him on that score and pay less attention to his unjustified panic about Alaska's flora and fauna." (Boston Herald editorial)

"Bush opens the vault to the oil and gas industry" - "Sunday, April 29, 2001 - For a certain once beleaguered sector of the Colorado economy, the first 100 days of the presidency of George W. Bush have been nothing short of awesome." (Diane Carman hand-wringing in the Denver Post) | Policy a sharp reversal from Clinton's (and Theo Stein doing likewise in the same publication)

"Bush mulls boost for alternative power plants" - "The Bush administration and congressional Republicans are exploring ways to boost production from California's small, alternative-energy power plants, many of which have shut down because they weren't getting paid. Energy legislation expected to be introduced soon in the House would allow such power producers to abandon their long-term contracts with California utilities and sell power on the open market, something the producers claim would increase production." (AP)

"Geothermal Plants Need More Steam" - "MIDDLETOWN, Calif. - Geothermal plants in The Geysers area north of the Napa Valley have tapped steam fields to produce electricity since the 1960s. The 350-degree steam rushes more than 1,500 feet up from the earth, spinning turbines that create a constant flow of electricity. But mismanagement of the steam fields beneath the hilly northwestern California region that straddles the Sonoma and Lake county lines has led to a large decline of pressure - and a drop of more than 50 percent in the amount of power the plants produce." (AP)

"Auto Subsidies Unwarranted" - "Taxpayers would shell out some $10 billion in subsidies to buyers of pricey alternative-fueled vehicles under legislation introduced last week in Congress. But the subsidies provide little public benefit and should be shelved. Senate Bill 760 -- the Clean Efficient Automobiles Resulting From Advanced Car Technologies Act, or CLEAR -- proposes tax credits ranging from $250 to $40,000 for purchasers of cars and trucks powered by fuel cells or electric-gasoline hybrid engines. Additional tax credits also would be awarded if government-mandated mileage standards were met." (Detroit News editorial)

"Kicking the Gasoline 'Cocktail' Habit" - "Motorists need only glance at service station signs to tell that gasoline prices are escalating again, rising 15 cents in just the past two weeks to a national average of $1.62 a gallon in one survey.

They would need to be chemists, however, to discover one of the underlying reasons for rising prices -- particularly in Washington and other metropolitan areas.

Over the past decade, gasoline has become a smorgasbord of grades and ingredients that differ from state to state and even county to county, dictated by a dozen different clean-air requirements.

The distribution difficulties caused by this patchwork of gasolines is compounding a national scarcity of refinery, pipeline and storage capacity, raising the risk of future price spikes if refiners take advantage of supply shortages, the Federal Trade Commission warned recently. (Washington Post)

"UPDATE - N. Hampshire asks to withdraw from gasoline program" - "NEW YORK - New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for an immediate early withdrawal from the federal reformulated gasoline (RFG) program, citing water contamination concerns from a key gasoline additive, state officials said last week.

The discovery of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) - used to make gasoline cleaner but listed by the EPA as a possible cause of cancer - in ground water and surface water throughout the state has prompted the waiver request, state officials said." (Reuters)

"Daschle Backs Off Climate Pact Remarks" - "In the face of an angry reaction from environmental leaders, Senate Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) backed off yesterday from an earlier statement that he would support dramatic changes in a global warming treaty, including a possible shift from mandatory to voluntary compliance with the requirements to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Daschle and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said last week that in light of President Bush's abandonment of the global warming treaty, they would support a whole new approach provided Bush takes the lead in reviving the international talks this summer." (Washington Post)

"A Thorn in His Side, Bush Hurting on Environment" - "WASHINGTON - Most Americans just don't like President Bush's handling of environmental issues in his first 100 days in office, in stark contrast to what polls show is a strong start for the former Texas oilman. No one from the environmental community expected Bush to be an avid earth lover like their candidate, Democrat Al Gore. But many green groups are worried that Bush may be more sympathetic to business interests than even they had expected.

That view has prompted the green lobby to dub Bush the ''Toxic Texan'' and ``worst environmental president ever.''

Supporters of Bush's approach to land, air and water conservation blame botched public relations for the avalanche of criticism." (Reuters) | In Early Battles, Bush Learns Need for Compromises (New York Times)

"Clinton accused of secret meetings in forest case" - "WASHINGTON - Republicans accused former President Bill Clinton's administration last week of secretly meeting with environmentalists and ignoring an energy crisis to protect millions of acres (hectares) of U.S. forest land.

The Clinton administration's ban on road building in federal forests is supported by green groups and bitterly opposed by oil, natural gas and timber companies.

Republicans including Idaho's Sen. Larry Craig, who heads the subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management, and Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski said at Thursday's hearing that Clinton officials secretly met with national environmental groups in early December.

"Contacts between senior Clinton administration officials and environmental group leaders occurred after the close of the public comment period and after the close of the final" environmental impact study, Murkowski said.

This "represents yet another statutory violation which the courts will undoubtedly be asked to review," he said." (Reuters)

"Environmentalists Pay Price for Compromise" - "From the Newport Coast to the Ballona Wetlands near Marina del Rey, environmentalists have sued developers and won huge concessions: preservation of critical landscapes, dramatically reduced developments and even multimillion- dollar restoration projects. In return, however, some activists have negotiated away their most powerful weapon: their voice. The lawsuit settlements were supposed to create compromise, ending decades of high-profile battles over controversial developments. But in some cases, they have become yet another flash point between activists and developers and created a schism within the environmental community. And deals signed more than a decade ago still are making headlines as other groups challenge them." (Los Angeles Times)

"Mineral key to flu suffering" - "Diets low in the mineral selenium may mean people suffer more when they contract flu, research suggests. Researchers found the influenza virus caused more damage in mice lacking selenium than in their selenium-rich counterparts. Those missing the mineral were more prone to harmful lung inflammation, which also lasted considerably longer." (BBC Online)

"Bacteria boon for babies" - "BABY foods laced with bacteria have emerged as the most promising method yet discovered of stopping children from developing asthma and other allergies. United States microbiologist Sherwood Gorbach told a Cairns conference that baby food spiked with lactobacillus LGG had been shown to prevent eczema, an itchy rash which affected up to one in 10 infants. Many children who contracted eczema went on to develop asthma, hay fever or a range of other allergies, so it was possible that the bacterium could prevent those diseases as well." (Courier-Mail, Queensland)

"Salt is Bad This Week" - "The relation of salt with blood pressure is one of the most debated of all among nutrition and health researchers. A study in the March 17, 2001 issue of The Lancet reports that high salt intake predicted risk of heart disease independent of other risk factors, including blood pressure.

More than 2,400 Finnish men and women had the amount of sodium in their urine measured for 24 hours in the mid-1980's; this is a good indicator of recent (but not long-term) salt intake. A total of 180 people died, and 84 deaths were due to heart disease. There was a significant effect for men but not women, although this might have been due to the small number of deaths among the women (only 44 compared with 136 in men).

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Sodium predicted death in men who were overweight but not in those who were of normal weight. The authors suggest that overweight men may be more sensitive to the effects of salt. Mortality from stroke was not predicted from the sodium levels. This may have been due to smaller numbers of strokes. One problem with this study is that a single measure of salt does not reflect changes in diet over years. Another issue with this experiment, and all studies of this type, is that higher salt intake went along with more smoking, more obesity, higher blood pressure, and higher serum lipids. Statistical adjustments for these are based on our current understanding of what we think the contributions of each factor are - and we don't know enough to be sure." (NutritionNewsFocus.com)

"China to Host First International Eco-Hygiene Conference" - "The first international eco- hygiene conference will be held here on November 5-8 this year in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Some 300 experts from both China and abroad will attend the conference and hold discussions on ecological hygiene and sustainable development in the 21st century." (People's Daily)

Eco-hygiene? I suspect this is what we used to call "sanitation" when I was a lad.

"Wheat Farmers See Biotech As Friend And Foe" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - North Dakota farmer Lowell Berntson considers himself a fan of biotechnology. With thousands of acres of rich black Dakota dirt planted in soybeans and canola crops that are genetically modified to fight weed problems, Berntson knows first-hand how beneficial biotech can be. But ask Berntson whether or not he'll welcome the world's first biotech wheat, also altered to reduce weed problems and due to be launched as early as 2003, and he sees trouble ahead. ``Our customers don't want it. That is clear,'' he said from the southeast North Dakota farm where he grows traditional dark northern spring wheat alongside genetically modified (GM) crops. ``We darn well better not send them any.'' (Reuters)

"GM pollution now pervasive: agency" - "Organic produce such as corn and canola imported from North America can no longer be guaranteed free from genetically modified (GM) organisms, according to the Organic Federation of Australia. The federation is warning consumers that GM pollution is now so pervasive in North America that foodstuffs containing imported ingredients cannot be guaranteed GM-free without testing." (The Age, Melbourne)

April 28-29, 2001

"Environmentalists praise Barnes veto, but farm advocates critical" - "Gov. Roy Barnes (Dem. GA) broke out the veto pen Friday, rejecting legislation that would have given farmers more input in environmental matters and motorcyclists more leeway to ride without helmets.

Under pressure from environmental groups, Barnes refused to sign a new law requiring him to appoint a farmer to the 16-member board overseeing the Department of Natural Resources, and to consider naming a physician and a forester, as well.

Such a requirement, Barnes said, would make it "increasingly difficult, if not impossible" to make the board representative of the state and all areas covered by the DNR." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Excuse me? Foresters and farmers have nothing to do with natural resource utilisation? Lest I had been labouring under a misapprehension induced by my Collins English doorstop, I checked the online Encarta®, which states:

natural resource (plural natural resources) noun
naturally occurring exploitable material:  a naturally occurring material such as coal or wood that can be exploited by people. Also called resource

"Resource" is further defined as:

2: nation's natural, economic, or military asset:  a natural, economic, political, or military asset enjoyed by a nation, for example mineral wealth, labour, capital, or military personnel

This board is supposed to oversee the Department of Natural Resources, not the Department of Excluding the Views of Particular Users of Natural Resources. The line "Under pressure from environmental groups, Barnes refused to sign..." says it all really - misanthropists control the Democrat Governors' vote. What is truly bizarre is that enviros are natural resource consumers too. Even their much-touted "low impact" organic veggies utilise natural resources (soil, water, larger agro-footprint...), their extortion campaigns are printed in fibre sourced from natural resources, their internet campaigns are powered by energy derived from natural resources on equipment manufactured using natural resources and so on - everything they consume and everything they do relies on utilisation of natural resources. What gives them the right to insist that the views of other users of natural resources not be heard?

Here's a link for Governor Barnes' contact page in case anyone would like a chat about the "reasoning" involved in this decision.

"Silencing scientists didn't stop with Galileo" - "Two recent incidents cause us to worry about the state of scientific inquiry in Canada, and the freedom of scientists to pursue their research." (Vancouver Sun editorial)

"Unite And Conserve" - "A closely divided government reflects a closely divided populace. In such a climate, issues that do not enjoy broad public support are likely to become enmeshed in gridlock and rancor. Rarely before has our political system needed a unifying theme more than it does today. Why not conservation?" (Mike Dombeck, Washington Post)

Well Mike, how about because "conservation" is perhaps the most divisive issue on the planet? It is rare for any two people to have a clear concept of exactly what "conservation" is, let alone agree on a common definition. Even when there's some agreement on a common goal, the ideas of how best to achieve that goal are highly divergent. Then there's the relative worth, to some, "nature" (as exemplified by the slightly-rusty VW beetle or whatever) has infinite worth, while humans occupy that position in the opinion of others - and there's the entire range of value mixes in between. Worse, people's concept of conservation and attribution of relative merit varies over short, medium and long timeframes.

Unify around an ephemeral concept? That's a good one.

"Former EPA Officials Erased Files" - "WASHINGTON - Electronic computer files of top Environmental Protection Agency officials under former President Clinton were erased in January, despite a court order to preserve records sought in a lawsuit by a conservative legal group. Craig Lawrence, an assistant U.S. attorney, told U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Friday that the computer storage drives of former EPA Administrator Carol Browner and three of her top aides were erased by a contractor just before Clinton left office Jan. 20." (AP)

Unusually for Europe's liberal-left: "Labour should follow Bush, not sneer at him" - "Life is much simpler when you can simply sneer at everything. Learning from those for whom you have little instinctive sympathy is a far more difficult - but ultimately more rewarding - activity. Instead of sneering, a more sensible response would be to put President Bush's ideas at the top of Labour's manifesto - before the Tories get there first." (Stephen Pollard , Senior Fellow at the Centre for New Europe [a Brussels-based think-tank], Sunday Telegraph)

Environmental vandalism? "Your trees begin the greening of Shetland" - "For the last 4,500 years, the windswept landscape of the Shetland Islands has been devoid of woods and forests. Over scores of centuries, due to a deterioration in climate and human interference, the once-rich woodland has declined and only a few trees remain.

Now, thanks to readers of The Independent on Sunday, planting is about to begin on a new forest, the first since the Ice Age. Our 6,000 trees will be on the outskirts of the capital, Lerwick. The site, which is open moorland, is on the edge of a loch to the south." (Independent on Sunday)

"Inquest uncertainty over CJD death" - "Relatives have expressed disappointment after a coroner ruled that a girl was likely to have died of a form of CJD unrelated to BSE-infected cattle. Following an inquest into the death of 20-year-old Vicky Rimmer from Deeside - who had lain in a coma for four-and-a-half years - Coroner John Hughes said the evidence was unclear but suggested she died from sporadic CJD." (BBC Online)

It's by no means certain that nvCJD is connected to BSE either, the two are associated only because the end result appears similar.

"Fraudulent breast cancer study retracted" - "WASHINGTON -- A prestigious U.S. medical journal said Thursday it had taken the unprecedented step of retracting a study on breast cancer after an investigation found the South African researcher had falsified results. The Journal of Clinical Oncology said it retracted the once-promising 1995 study on women with advanced breast cancer after an audit found that South African researcher Dr. Werner Bezwoda faked much of the data." (Reuters)

"Cancer cluster found close to nuclear plant" - "One of the most significant leukaemia clusters in Britain has been discovered among children living near the Oldbury nuclear power station on the banks of the Severn. A study has found that people living near the river, which contains high levels of radioactive particles, are up to twice as likely to die of cancer as people elsewhere." (Observer)

Proof at last? Not exactly - just old "Cluster" Busby up to his dubious data dredging and extreme extrapolation again - this is built out of 3 myeloid leukaemia cases around Chepstow over a 17 year period. In this (unpublished) study, Busby calculates the odds of finding such a cluster in so small an area as 1:1,000 - which is another way of saying that, for every 1,000 such small populations studied you'll find one such cluster.

Busby apparently associates this "cluster" with proximity to Oldbury - note that the association could equally be "those who report seeing ducks on the Severn more than 10 times per year are positively correlated with cancer incidence - therefore, the sight of ducks on the Severn is a cancer risk." [I made that up but could probably support the assertion - if I tortured the data enough]

"World health watchdog warns of addiction risk for Prozac users" - "Prozac, billed for years as a harmless wonder drug, often creates more problems than the depression it is supposed to be treating, warns the head of the World Health Organisation's unit monitoring drug side-effects." (Independent on Sunday)

Not sure whether to put this under paranoia or hypochondria: "Survey finds widespread food worries"  -"Almost nine British people out of 10 asked about their attitudes to food safety expressed concern ranging from slight to considerable. Even more said they were worried about the present foot-and-mouth outbreak." (BBC Online) | Army 'caused original foot and mouth infection' (Telegraph)

"Pyre pollution 'inconsequential'" - "DIOXINS emitted by burning pyres of livestock make an "inconsequential" addition to the annual emissions of industry, incinerators, fires and firework parties, a report by independent scientists said yesterday." (Telegraph)

"Slaughterman foot-and-mouth 'all clear'" - "A Cumbrian slaughterman at the centre of fears over human foot-and-mouth is now believed not to have the infection." (BBC Online)

"Human foot-and-mouth fears fade" - "Fears over the human form of foot-and-mouth disease are diminishing after 13 people suspected of having the illness were given the all-clear." (BBC Online)

"Banned Wagon" - "The foot-and-mouth crisis has spawned plenty of cod theories about agriculture, but few quite as dramatic as that tabled by the Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion, Simon Thomas. He is so convinced that organic food is the solution to the countryside’s woes that he has introduced a private member’s Bill to force us all to eat it. Under the Organic Food and Farming Targets Bill, by 1 January 2010 one-fifth of all food eaten in Britain would have to be organic, and one third of all agricultural land would have to be given over to organic production. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods would be empowered to ensure that the target is met." (Spectator.co.uk)

"Food Safety Practices Decline in American Kitchens" - "Do you wash your hands before you prepare food at home? If not, you are probably among the majority of the U.S. population that violate recommended food safety practices in their own kitchens. Nearly three-fourths of the American population violates basic food-safety practices, according to a study conducted in 2000 by Audits International. Failure to wash hands before handling food is most common mistake." (Agweb.com)

"Another emergency, another scientist" - "Another week, another crisis: this time it's dioxins produced by burning cattle carcasses. On the one hand there are reports that the pyres are set to double Britain's emissions of the "deadly chemical". On the other, a leading scientist points out that there are 210 kinds of dioxin, only one of which is really dangerous ­ probably. As a politician, what do you do?" (Independent on Sunday)

"Some animals have all the luck" - "Phoenix is only the latest in a long line of creatures to be invested with special, even mythical, status" (Independent on Sunday)

See also the graphic at the foot of Professor John Brignell's April Number Watch page (NumberWatch.co.uk)

"This Week's Global Warming Scare" - "True to the now established industry pattern of  producing a weekly scare story to keep the public in a state of permanent anxiety, this week's story is based on a new paper in the journal Science.

The usual media circus promoted the story, well orchestrated, and holding the field to itself until next week. See the BBC version here.

This time, it was the turn of those `Gnomes of Norwich', Philip Jones, Tim Osborn and Keith Briffa, all veterans of the doomsayer tradition of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at Norwich, England. If there is a `central politburo' of the greenhouse industry, CRU is undoubtedly it. 

In their latest paper, they claim that  "a thousand years' climate records show the last three decades were the millennium's warmest."

Written numerical records only go back to the late 19th century and then mainly for the northern hemisphere. Proxy indicators such as tree rings, are not really `records' at all but merely fuzzy indicators, some of which - like boreholes - scarcely deserve to be regarded as proxies at all.

For example, tree rings can only hint at whether environmental conditions were favourable to tree growth or not (temperature cannot be separated out from the other environmental factors), they only exist on forested land of course (only about 15% of the planet), and then only in summer, not the whole year.  Yet on that narrow base, some tree ring people claim to be able to calculate annual global mean temperature.  As a global  temperature proxy, tree rings are highly over-rated.

The majority of proxies, particularly the more reliable ones like ice cores and sediments, clearly indicate that the early period of the millennium was warmer than the 20th century. Even human historical accounts confirm that basic fact of early climate.

These more reliable proxies are not confined to only one region, but are present all over the world. In the end, it all comes down to which proxies one chooses to believe - and why.

The CRU trio cited tree rings, ice cores, documentary records, corals etc. and came to the conclusion, (surprise, surprise) that the 20th century was the warmest century of the last 1,000 years, and the last 30 years the warmest of the 20th century. This claim is quite false as there is a mountain of published papers in the scientific literature which contradicts it, all showing that the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today.

This latest CRU claim is identical to the `Hockey Stick' theory first promoted by Michael Mann over two years ago, and now discredited.

It is precisely the hostile reaction by many scientists to the `Hockey Stick' theory which may have prompted this rearguard action to defend it - and thus prop up the latest IPCC report which unwisely committed itself to this bankrupt theory of past climates.

Click here for `The Hockey Stick: A New Low in Climate Science'." (John L. Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

Despite my having stated unequivocally on Friday that I had not read The Evolution of Climate Over the Last Millennium (Jones et al, Science 292, 662-667) - and I still haven't - a number of people have written requesting information on it's content, comment or both.

The comment part is easy - I'm very sceptical of claims about the LIA and MCO having been minimal and/or localised events. The reason I'm so sceptical of these claims is that there is a wealth of credible papers that suggest otherwise.

So how do laymen and those lacking access to journals find out about these papers and what's in them? I'd suggest paying a visit to the site of the brothers Idso at co2science.org. They have reviews of dozens of papers on the topic. Click here for the Little Ice Age (see the summary as well as subsequent reviews) and find a stack of references. Click here for the Medieval Climate Optimum (a.k.a. Medieval Warm Period - don't forget to view the summary for a lot more references).

Great - a virtual solution for a virtual problem: "Climate Change Central to Sponsor Alberta GHG Emissions Trading Simulation" - "CALGARY, April 27 - Climate Change Central announces a request for proposals for the delivery of an Emissions Trading Simulation that will allow Alberta organizations the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in trading greenhouse gases in a virtual trading environment." (CNW)

"Bush Calls In Experts to Help Set Course on Climate" - "In the wake of its rejection of an international treaty to curtail global warming, the Bush administration is seeking advice from a wide array of scientists, economists, business representatives and policy experts as it tries to forge a new approach to the contentious issue." (New York Times)

"Some Climate Research Not So Hot" - "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported that a rising "risk of infectious disease epidemics" is "likely" to result from global warming. As the U.S. takes heat for rejecting the Kyoto Protocols, global warming has become more than an abstract specter; it is considered a tangible threat to public health through a coming plague of infectious diseases like malaria and West Nile virus. However, a new report from the National Research Council (NRC) found little evidence to justify such fears." (Howard Fienberg, TechnoPolitics)

"The Week That Was April 28, 2001 brought to you by SEPP" has been posted.

"New Tack On Climate Treaty Is Possible" - "Senate Democrats who criticized President Bush for disavowing a global warming treaty now say they would support administration efforts to radically alter the document, including a possible shift from mandatory to voluntary compliance for reducing emissions of gases that trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere.

While U.S. allies in Europe and Asia have said they would oppose a dramatic departure from the current global warming treaty, Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said they would support a whole new approach provided the president takes the lead in reviving talks this summer. (Washington Post)

"Panel releases global warming report" - "A Environment Ministry working group studying the effects of global warming on Japan compiled its report on Thursday, blaming global warming for making the cherry blossoms bloom earlier than ever, evidence that climate change has already taken a foothold in Japan. This is the first governmental report that confirmed the warming, although there have been reports on the issue by researchers." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Gene find will help us to regrow limbs" - "Men and women could one day grow limbs lost in accidents or regenerate organs destroyed by illness. The prospect has been raised by geneticists who have revealed the biological secret of creatures that can replace limbs that have been severed in fights or attacks by predators." (Observer)

Maybe one day - but not anytime soon. These "scientific wonders" shouldn't be touted as "breakthroughs" or "key findings" etc., etc. because the general public expect "promises" to be delivered in the near-term and, when nothing occurs in short order, "scientist fail to deliver - again." It isn't true of course, science has delivered quite remarkably for public consumption over the past century. The great failing has been brought about by the creation of completely unrealistic expectation in the general public, mostly by ignorant and hype-mongering media.

Turning to a genuine "miracle:" "Nobel winner reflects on work in food research" - "Science-based agriculture is essential to fighting world hunger and should not be considered a frightening concept, Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug said Wednesday while in Tuskegee. The 87-year-old scientist, who has been called the father of the "Green Revolution" because of his work in food genetics, said research into grain production is nothing new. He said it dates back to the 1940s "and before." (Montgomery Advertiser)

"Scientists Say Yes To GM Food Despite Public Fears" - "Scientists believe the only solution to worldwide food problems is biotechnology, but they face an uphill struggle convincing the public that genetically modified produce is safe to eat. The dilemma generated a heated debate at the 11th World Congress of Food Science and Technology in Seoul this week." (AFP)

Again? "The biotech debate: The monarch butterfly" - "Entomologist John Losey could hardly have imagined the furore that would ensue when he happened to wonder, during a field trip one summer, whether dustings of pollen on milkweed growing in a Bt-cornfield might harm the monarch butterfly." (BBC Online)

"A new reason to celebrate Earth Day" - "It encompasses the soil, the air and supports the plants and animals that give us food. It stretches beyond the largest building and can be smaller than a seed. It's the environment, and it is being honored once again today for Earth Day.

However, this year, as more people around the world begin to realize the impacts of their actions on the environment, they should rally behind a technology that could help lessen the effects from pollution and the loss of biodiversity. This year, the world should celebrate agricultural biotechnology." (Laurence M. Brill, Union-Tribune)

"No legal grounds to stop GM trials" - "The Welsh Assembly has been told that there are no legal grounds to confirm a ban on GM test sites in Wales. Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones emerged from a meeting of the assembly's all-party GM strategy group to announce that he had decided not to confirm a prohibition order banning of growing of GM crops." | Police called to GM protest (BBC Online)

"No Difference Found In Animals Fed GMO Corn And Soybeans" - "Currently, in the United States genetically modified corn and soybeans that have reached the marketplace are approved for use in animal feed. But what does that genetically modified corn and soybeans do to the animals who eat it? According to recent research nothing significant. Jimmy Clark, a professor of ruminant nutrition in Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reviewed the results from 23 research experiments which were conducted over the past four years at universities throughout the United States, Germany and France. In each study, separate groups of chickens, dairy cows, beef cattle and sheep were fed either genetically modified corn or soybeans or traditional corn or soybean as a portion of their diet. Each experiment independently confirmed that there is no significant difference in the animals' ability to digest the genetically modified crops and no significant difference in the weight gain, milk production, milk composition, and overall health of the animals when compared to animals fed the traditional crops." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"MPs to examine plans for GM fish" - "Government-funded programmes to develop genetically modified fish which are sterile and fast-growing are to be investigated by MPs.

The Independent on Sunday revealed last month that three Whitehall departments and the European Commission have spent nearly £3m on creating GM tilapia, salmon, and trout despite mounting concern over the potential dangers posed by GM technology.

Last night, John Horam, chairman of the Commons environmental audit committee, said an inquiry would be held into the disclosures after the election. "It is one of the subjects which we have targeted for investigation," he said." (Independent on Sunday)

"Forage Research Targets Genetically-Enhanced Digestion" - "Canadian researchers are working to breed feed efficiency directly into forage-plant genetics to boost livestock gains and decrease manure production." (AgWeb.com)

"German State Finds GM Material in Maize Seed" - "HAMBURG, Germany - German authorities said on Friday they had discovered genetically-modified maize seed mixed in with normal seeds imported from Chile and Canada. The farm ministry in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein said the discovery had been made during a spot check and urged farmers who had bought the seeds not to sow them but return them to their dealers. The ministry said the seeds from Chile were of a type modified to be resistant to herbicides that were not allowed to be grown for food in Europe, while those from Canada had been found to have several unspecified genetic modifications." (Reuters)

"Jury Still Out on Genetically Modified Corn" - "ATLANTA - Corn genetically engineered to produce insect-killing proteins may have caused several cases of allergic reaction, but it is too soon to know for sure, according to an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia." (Reuters Health)

"US government study shows no link between GM corn and food allergy" - "Researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found no definitive link between allergic reactions to corn products and Cry9C, the genetically engineered pesticide protein used to manufacture StarLink corn, which was not intended for human consumption but found its way into the human food chain last year." (BioMedNet News)

April 27, 2001

"National Research Council Poisons Arsenic Debate" - "One often-heard claim in the controversy over arsenic in drinking water is that the prestigious National Academy of Sciences said the current arsenic standards should be tightened. The NAS, though, never made any such recommendation." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Scientists threaten journal protest" - "Scientists around the world are preparing to boycott scientific journals unless they make old research papers available for free. The strike has been called as part of a larger plan to establish a vast online library of scientific research material, much of which is currently in the hands of the journals rather than the scientists who did the work.

The researchers behind the boycott say the library is needed to preserve academic freedom, stimulate study and creativity and ensure that science stays free of commercial pressures. But the call to set up the library is meeting resistance from publishers and academic associations, which are keen to protect their copyright on scientific papers.

In September this year, many scientists could stop sending in papers to journals and refuse to renew subscriptions to them in support of a plan to create a huge Public Library of Science (Plos) on the internet." (BBC Online)

"Doctors' Group Pushes Anti-Gun Agenda" - "The group Doctors Against Handgun Injury, a coalition of 13 medical organizations, would like Congress to pass a law requiring physicians to inform their gun-owning patients about the risk of injury and death from handguns. As a first step, however, the group is simply encouraging physicians to ask patients if they own guns. "Firearm death and injury is a medical policy issue," wire services quoted Dr. Jeremiah Barondess, head of Doctors Against Handgun Injury, as saying. "We are going to develop a reasoned, rational, careful, medicalized program to reduce unnecessary death from handguns." On the other side of the coin, many other Americans insist gun ownership is not a public health issue, but a constitutional right, and they say doctors who question patients about gun ownership are simply meddling for the sake of advancing a political agenda in the examining room. See Earlier Story" (CNSNews.com)

"State Court Sides With Gunmakers in Liability Case" - "ALBANY, April 26 — The state's highest court ruled today that the gun industry cannot generally be held liable for shootings involving guns bought and sold illegally, a decision that will probably result in the overturning of a landmark verdict won by a firearms victim two years ago.

In 1999, a Brooklyn jury held several gun makers responsible for a shooting based on the way the companies had marketed their products, the only verdict of its kind in the nation. Today, though the Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the plaintiff had not proved his case, the judges did hold out the possibility that such liability could be established in the future." (New York Times) | N.Y. court rules gun manufacturers not liable (Washington Times)

"Chernobyl's deadly legacy -- 15 years on" - "KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine is marking the 15th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, with the Chernobyl power plant finally lying idle. But the former Eastern Bloc country is still dealing with the deadly legacy of the catastrophic explosion and fire on April 26, 1986, which sent a large radiation cloud over much of Europe and contaminated large areas of then-Soviet Ukraine, Russia and Belarus." (CNN) | UN marks 15th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster (Reuters)

See The Truth About Chernobyl Is Told by Zbigniew Jaworowski, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc.

"Nuclear interests anticipate future growth" - "The Bush administration's recent suggestion that more attention be paid to nuclear power has drawn anew some old lines of contention between nuclear advocates and their opponents. Officials from different nuclear power interests say their companies are ready to move forward with reactors' design and construction since the administration said nuclear power might help cut greenhouse-effect gases caused by conventional power plants. Critics of nuclear power, meanwhile, claim that those proposals are potentially disastrous. As the arguments continue, some nuclear interests appear ready to take their plans from drawing board to construction site." (CNN) | Nuclear power, long dormant, undergoes a nascent revival (CSM)

"JAY AMBROSE: Think nuclear" - "If on Earth Day you want to embrace a cause that would really make a positive environmental difference, here is what you ought to do. Think nuclear.

Many Americans already are on that mental track, it seems. An Associated Press poll shows that half of those queried support nuclear power and that, of those, 56 percent would not object to living within 10 miles of a nuclear plant. The support rate is an improvement of five percentage points over two years ago, and represents a shift possibly occurring just in time. This country is now looking at the need of building 65 power plants a year to keep up with energy demand, and if you did that without including nuclear power, you would pointlessly be emitting huge amounts of gunk in the air." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Children Most at Risk From Depleted Uranium" - "GENEVA, Switzerland, April 26, 2001 - The World Health Organization (WHO) today published research on depleted uranium, including guidelines on how to deal with the substance's impact on human health. ... "Depleted uranium has the potential to have chemical and radiological effects on health, but we found in the review that exposure to DU would have to be significant before any health effects are observed," said Dr. Mike Repacholi, WHO's coordinator for occupational and environmental health." (ENS)

"Human Mad Cow Disease Claims Oldest Victim" - "LONDON - More elderly people will fall victim to the human form of mad cow disease, medical experts said on Friday after a 74-year-old man became the oldest victim of the fatal brain affliction. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) was diagnosed after an autopsy was requested for the 74-year-old man on the basis that some of his symptoms were not associated with dementia and he died just seven months after they began." (Reuters)

"Tests show BSE caused by infected sheep" - "Government scientists have found direct evidence to support the theory that the BSE epidemic was originally caused by feeding cattle the rendered carcasses of sheep infected with scrapie.

The theory was dismissed last year as "fallacious" by the BSE inquiry, but preliminary results of an experiment to test it have revealed that cows injected with sheep scrapie fall ill with what appears to be bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Results of the experiment were passed this week to the Government's spongiform encephalopathy advisory committee (Seac), but further work is needed before the evidence can be considered conclusive." (Independent)

Hmm... there's a world of difference between "injected" and "ingested."

"Not all allergy tests are created equal, study suggests" - "COLUMBUS, Ohio - The results of most commonly used blood tests for allergies can vary widely depending on which laboratory does the actual testing - and which laboratory procedure is used, a new study suggests." (Ohio State University)

"Study finds U.S. overestimates heart attack victims" - "The estimated number people suffering from heart attacks in the United States each year may be inflated by as many as 100,000 to 200,000 due to double-counting patients transferred between hospitals, University of Colorado researchers said." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Superbugs 'slow to disappear'" - "Strict guidance to curb the use of antibiotics has had little effect on the strength of existing "superbug" strains, scientists have found. Many different types of bacteria which have the capacity to harm humans are becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics traditionally used to combat them. One culprit is the overuse of the antibiotics themselves which, by wiping out only the weaker strains, accelerates the natural selection of stronger, more resistant strains.

Throughout the 1990s doctors were warned to reduce their antibiotic prescribing to address the problem. A study published in The Lancet medical journal suggests the warnings did influence clinical practice. In 1991 there were 320,000 prescriptions for sulphonamide antibiotics - a common treatment for E.coli bacteria infection. In 1999 this had fallen to 7,000 prescriptions.

But the researchers sampled approximately 360 different strains of E.coli, most of them harmless versions which live in the gut, and found that, if anything, the problem of resistance had become worse, despite the fall in antibiotic prescribing. The number of strains displaying resistance reached 165 in 1999, compared to 143 in 1991." (BBC Online)

"A Prescription for Health: Patient Choice" - "The University of North Carolina's Neurosciences Hospital is offering its patients and medical staff something unusual - hospital food that tastes good. Responding to customer surveys, the hospital closed one of its two cafeterias and leased the space to Wendy's. Said Bill Nadie, director of nutrition and food service, "America loves hamburgers and I'm not serving my customers well if I'm forcing or advocating some eating plan that I think they should have." How are the doctors reacting to the new restaurant? At a recent staff meeting, they asked if they could get a "doctors only" line at Wendy's." (GuestChoice.com)

"Would knowing your genetic risk change your behaviour?" - "The current evidence suggests that providing people with DNA derived information about risks to their health does not increase motivation to change behaviour beyond that achieved with non-genetic information, report the authors. For instance, since the introduction of predictive genetic testing for risk of breast cancer, no significant changes in screening behaviour have been found. For some people, genetic information may even reduce motivation to change behaviour, add the authors. For example, parents who tested positive for high cholesterol levels led to a sense of fatalism, based on the belief that genetically conferred risks are serious and immutable." (BMJ release)

"'Carcinogenic' sleepers seized" - "BRITAIN faced a new health scare last night after it emerged that railway sleepers doused in a toxic chemical may have been used to burn foot-and-mouth cattle. The alarm was raised after Dutch police and customs officials seized sleepers awaiting shipment to Britain. The Dutch Environment Ministry said that the sleepers were treated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — a preservative that damages the environment when burned and can cause cancer." (The Times)

"Toxin tests on food at farms near pyres" - "URGENT tests to check dioxin levels in meat, milk and eggs produced from farms near pyres of foot-and-mouth carcasses have been ordered by the Food Standards Agency. Sir John Krebs, agency chairman, has said the agency must ensure there are no long-term implications for produce entering the food chain. There are no concerns about the safety of vegetables grown near the pyres as dioxins do not pass through the soil to contaminate growing crops." (The Times)

"GEORGE W. GOES GREEN" - "WASHINGTON -- George W. Bush was not only ratifying Bill Clinton's edicts in last week's run-up to Earth Day. Free market activists who consider themselves allies were told to sit down and shut up about the greening of the new president." (Robert Novak, Chicago Sun-Times)

"Canada Ice Core to Yield Clues on Global Warming" - "OTTAWA - A team of Canadian scientists will launch an international expedition next week to extract a long needle of ice from a giant haystack of a mountain that will reveal the secrets of 10,000 years of climate change." (Reuters)

"Records 'show strong recent warming'" - "UK scientists say a thousand years' climate records show the last three decades were the millennium's warmest. They also conclude that natural phenomena like El Nino are unlikely to have caused the unprecedented recent warming. Their findings strengthen the argument that climate change is not produced by natural causes alone." (BBC Online)

Specifically, this refers to The Evolution of Climate Over the Last Millennium (Jones et al, Science 292, 662-667), which I haven't yet read and so can't tell you why this was highlighted when Kerr's The Tropics Return to the Climate System (Science 292, 660-661) was not. Seven items collectively form the feature Earth's Variable Climatic Past. Non-subscribers can see the lead by Jesse Smith and Julia Uppenbrink here and (I think) follow the links to abstracts of the various papers - full text would be available to subscribers only.

"There’s still life after Bush" - "In recent years in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the phenomenon of climate change may have played a role in deadly floods or mudslides that have hit the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Still, we got off lightly in comparison to Mozambique where floods earlier in 2000 left 1,000 people dead and thousands more homeless. Around the world the story is the same. Some 40 tornadoes hit the UK and northwest Europe by the end of October 2000, compared to an average 35. The UK has the highest number of tornadoes per square mile in the world." (Budapest Sun)

Some powerful guy, this American President. Seems he's responsible for planetary weather events - that occurred before the election. Imagine what he'll be able to do from the Oval Office!

Regardless that weather events are, well... weather events and not conjured up at the command of man, shouldn't any finger-pointing be more correctly directed at Slick Willy? I understand the Oval Office was a pretty busy place but he did have eight years to figure out the global thermostat some apparently believe resides in that office...

"Euro Council Criticizes U.S. on Kyoto" - "STRASBOURG, France — The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly questioned on Thursday whether the United States remains a ``reliable partner'' for Europe following President Bush's rejection of the Kyoto climate accord. In a resolution adopted unanimously, the 602-member Assembly said the Bush administration's decision ``casts doubt on the credibility of the United States as a reliable partner prepared to shoulder its share of responsibility.'' (AP)

"Tortured data confesses" - "Recent reports were all a-twitter with the news: The ocean is warming, the warming is consistent with a bunch of climate models, and this proves what a lout George Bush is on global warming. The first is true, but the second is mainly a result of data manipulation. And the scientific paper that presented this news actually shows that Mr. Bush did the right thing on global warming by ditching the Kyoto Protocol." (Patrick Michaels, Washington Times)

"Japan vows to fight global warming, eyes obstacles" - "TOKYO - Japan's environment minister vowed to do her best to achieve a world consensus in the fight against global warming but acknowledged that success would be difficult given U.S. opposition to the Kyoto climate treaty." (Reuters)

"Eco-evangelism" - "When I returned home from the horrendous event that was the New Scientist's UK Global Environment Roadshow, I got very little sympathy from my flat-mates. 'But what on earth did you expect?', they retorted. 'Look at the leaflet. It says it all.'

They had a point. The headline read 'New Scientist presents: Judgement Day - the Global Environment Roadshow'. It went on: 'Find out how wholly unexpected forces, such as global warming, pollution, ozone-layer destruction, water shortages and soil degradation could combine in new and terrifying ways to produce global nightmares nobody predicted.'" (Helene Guldberg, Sp!ked)

"DAN K. THOMASSON: Enviro-hysteria" - "An old friend recently opined only half in jest that if he wanted to commit suicide without raising his own hand he would put on a full length fur coat, go down to a street corner, light a cigarette and loudly proclaim his intention to open a string of wilderness-area restaurant-gas stations where the menu would include indigenous delicacies like bear meat.

Just how close he is to being accurate is clear from the hysterical pummeling the Bush administration has received for even suggesting that government regulations should balance the needs of the environment with those of humans, who after all, occupy it along with the trees and rocks and plants and lower animals.

Bill Clinton, wherever he is these days, must be holding his sides with glee at the mischief he has inflicted on his successor with a series of eleventh hour actions that shut off half of America to development.

Even George Bush's decision to officially declare that the notorious Kyoto Treaty on global warming was being abandoned brought howls of protest from Democrats and environmentalists. Apparently forgotten was the fact that the U.S. Senate, in a 95 to 0 vote, had passed a resolution condemning it as unacceptable long before Bush ever moved into the Oval office. Some of the loudest protesters to the president's announcement had voted for the resolution. (Scripps Howard News Service)

The National Anxiety Center's "Warning Sings", April 30, 2001 ~ Vol. 3, No. 18, has been posted.

"Diesel School Buses Could be Headed for Junkyards" - "WASHINGTON, DC, April 26, 2001 - Diesel buses, a familiar part of many children's school days, could become an endangered species, if a coalition of lawmakers and clean air advocates has its way. After decades of warnings about the health risks posed by diesel exhaust, the coalition launched a national campaign today to phase out diesel school buses." (ENS)

"Greenpeace targets US oil firms on climate change" - "AMSTERDAM, April 26 - The environmentalist group Greenpeace said on Thursday it would seek to hurt the businesses of five U.S. oil companies until they agreed to back an international treaty designed to slow global warming. Greenpeace said it would focus its campaign on oil companies Exxon/Mobil, Chevron, Texaco, Conoco and Phillips and would try to hurt their markets outside the United States until they withdrew their support for President George W. Bush's rejection of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol." (Reuters)

"Senators warn energy crisis could triple US power costs" - "The US is "on the precipice" of an energy crisis which could mean a near-tripling of oil, gas and electricity prices over the next 10 years, according to a Senate report released on Thursday. Current energy woes will seem like "the calm before the storm", say Senators Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat.

Their bipartisan warning comes three weeks before the scheduled release of recommendations from a taskforce headed by Richard Cheney, vice-president. "This isn't simply an energy crisis - it's an economic crisis," said Mr Schumer. "To expect an American family to spend thousands of additional dollars on energy every year is as ludicrous as it is unrealistic."

The senators' report, based on private forecasts, predicts a 21 per cent jump in demand for oil, natural gas and electricity over the next decade. Without action, it says, US natural gas prices could rise 271 per cent to $19.75 per 1000 cubic feet in 2010 and oil prices could climb by almost 125 per cent to $50.50 per barrel." (Financial Times)

"How climate change kills societies" - "WASHINGTON, April 26 — Timing couldn’t have been worse for the group of colonists who came ashore on Roanoke Island in 1587, attempting to establish the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Along with the usual hardships of starting a new society on the edge of the wilderness, the colonists were confronted with the region’s worst drought in 700 years, which caused mass starvation and aggravated tense relations with Native Americans. By 1590, the ill-fated settlers had vanished with little trace. Roanoke’s collapse in the face of harsh climate puts it in distinguished company, a researcher reports in the journal Science." (MSNBC)

"A rage against modernity" - "Mexico's former president, Ernesto Zedillo, once accused the anti-globalization movement of trying to save developing countries from development. That certainly seemed true in Quebec City last weekend. Inside the summit meetings, the democratically elected leaders of 32 developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were making plans for a free-trade agreement that they hope will help lift them out of poverty. Outside in the streets, thousands of well-heeled North American protesters were telling them not to do it." (Marcus Gee, Globe and Mail)

"Clampdown on animal activists" - "Animal rights extremists will be targeted by a special police hit squad as part of new measures unveiled by the government on Thursday. The squad, which will be made up of officers from forces in England and Wales, will target the "small minority of extremists" who attack workers in organisations involved in animal experimentation." (BBC Online) | Police step up war on animal extremists (Independent) | New police squad for animal extremists (The Times)

"U.S. Team Gets Mouse Stem Cells to Make Insulin" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. government researchers said on Thursday they had transformed stem cells from a mouse embryo into cells that produce insulin in a feat that could lead to a revolutionary new way to treat diabetes." (Reuters)

"Benefits Of Biotech Crops Abound" - "As one who considers myself an environmentalist, I have been dismayed that many environmental groups, unlike scientific societies worldwide, continue to withhold support for biotechnology." (Omaha World-Herald)

"Women’s conference warns against genetically modified foods" - "... Islamic teachings should be followed because they emphasise natural breast feeding for the baby for two years. "That's why it is important to give the working woman one hour free to be able to feed her newborn baby because this would protect the child's health." Legislation is needed to control artificial and genetically treated food products, and organic agriculture should be encouraged." (Gulf News, Dubai)

Hmm... I didn't know the Qur'an even mentioned chemically-assisted agriculture or biotechnology.

"Statement Of The American Society Of Plant Biologists On Genetic Modification Of Plants Using Biotechnology" - "Technical advances in agriculture, coupled with time-honored methods, provide the best opportunity for world food supplies to meet the demands of an ever-growing world population, while protecting our environment and natural resources. The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) submits this statement supporting the continued, responsible use of new technologies, such as recombinant DNA technology (hereafter referred to as "biotechnology"), which can add effective tools to those needed to combat hunger and maintain a healthy environment. ASPB also supports the continued use and further development of rigorous and responsible science-based procedures to assess the risks and benefits of the technology and its products." (American Society of Plant Biologists)

April 26, 2001

"NCBA, Scientists Question EPA''s Meat Dioxin Claims" - "Do dioxins in meat products put people at a greater risk of developing cancer? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been studying the issue for nearly a decade. The agency’s dioxin risk assessment, which links potential health risks to eating animal fat and dairy products containing traces of dioxins, has recently come under fire. ... This week, a subcommittee of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), an independent scientific panel that advises EPA, released its review of three chapters of an EPA dioxin risk assessment originally published in 1994. The SAB report criticizes EPA's conclusions and recommends substantial revisions to the assessment. A majority of SAB scientists didn’t think it was appropriate for EPA to characterize the cancer risk as about 1 in 1,000 for the average American eating a diet high in animal fats. SAB’s major criticisms of the EPA assessment are 1) it is unclear whether dioxin is a human carcinogen; and 2) even if dioxin is a human carcinogen, it is unclear what, if any, additional cancer risks can be associated with a high-fat diet containing dioxins at the background levels." (AgWeb.com)

"Study Links Breast Implants to Lung and Brain Cancers" - "WASHINGTON, April 25 — A long- running study has found that while women with breast implants are not at increased risk for most cancers, they appear to suffer higher rates of lung and brain cancer than other plastic surgery patients, researchers at the National Cancer Institute said today.

The study demonstrated only a link between implants and the two types of cancer, not a cause-and- effect relationship, and its significance is unclear, said the lead author, Dr. Louise A. Brinton, chief of the cancer institute's environmental epidemiology branch.

"What the study showed is no difference for most of the cancer sites, which I think is good news," Dr. Brinton said. "And for the few sites which we did find differences, we have no ready explanation. So I would not want to alarm women on the basis of one study." (New York Times)

In the USA Today coverage, however:

Joseph McLaughlin, a scientist at the Rockville, Md.-based International Epidemiology Institute, says, "These are likely just chance findings." No other studies have found a higher risk of brain cancer in women with implants, says McLaughlin, who studies health risks of Scandinavian implant recipients. And previous studies that have found increased lung cancer risk have attributed it to higher rates of smoking, he says.

"Columbine families sue computer game makers" - "Relatives of people killed in the Columbine massacre are seeking damages from computer game makers claiming their products helped bring about the killings. The group filing the lawsuit say investigations into the tragedy revealed the influence violent computer games had on the two teenagers who carried out the shootings. A total of 25 companies are named in the lawsuit and the group is seeking $5 billion in damages. But the legal claim looks unlikely to succeed because similar suits filed in the wake of previous school shootings have been thrown out of the courts." (BBC Online)

"Florida Legislature Votes to Insulate Gunmakers" - "TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida lawmakers on Wednesday voted to help insulate gun makers from lawsuits under a measure that prohibits cities and counties from suing manufacturers and dealers for gun-related injuries and death. By a 78-35 vote largely along party lines, the Republican-led House of Representatives sent the bill to Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of President Bush. If approved by the governor, Florida would join 26 states that have enacted laws to protect gun makers, dealers and distributors from an increasing wave of lawsuits filed by local governments.

Backers of the bill say gun makers produce a legal product that if used properly causes no unintended harm. Taxpayers, therefore, should not be asked to pay for lawsuits filed on their behalf. The measure would not prohibit individuals from filing civil suits against the industry." (Reuters)

"Media show anti-gun bias" - "This month's report from the Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics, ''The Ethics of American Youth: Violence and Substance Abuse,'' received considerable national media play. Stories about the report, based on a national survey of more than 15,000 teenagers, tended to focus on three of its many findings: that one in three students said they didn't feel safe at school; that nearly two-thirds of high school boys said they could get a gun; and that a significant proportion of youths had on occasion brought weapons to school. The connection to school shootings seemed obvious: Deny teens access to firearms and schools will be safer.

Just one problem. As Michael Josephson, the institute's director, told the pro-gun publication Gun Week: ''This (report) was never really about guns. ... The kid at Santee (High School) took the gun out of a locked box. He stole his father's key to get that gun. This is not a question of metal detectors. It is a question of character.'' (Mary Zeiss Stange, USA Today)

"Nuclear Power Looking Better" - "WASHINGTON — Nuclear power is making a comeback two decades after the Three Mile Island reactor accident. Soaring natural gas prices, concerns about climate change and fear that California blackouts will spread have made electricity from the atom more attractive, though critics still worry about safety and what to do with radioactive waste. For the first time in decades, there is serious talk about building a new nuclear power plant in the United States. At least one utility has suggested it may submit a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission within a few years." (AP)

"Ukraine and the West dispute the post-Chernobyl death toll" - "The fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl blast contaminated three quarters of Europe, irradiating millions of people in far-flung corners of the continent, yet the precise toll of the disaster remains hotly disputed 15 years on." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Dear old Aunty spinning their tales of anthropogenic death and mayhem again. The Environmental News Service (not exactly your everyday, pro-technology, just short of Genghis Khan, rightwing organization) published Chernobyl Far Down the List of Global Radiation Sources a while back while The Truth About Chernobyl Is Told by Zbigniew Jaworowski, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., casts things in rather a different light than does Australia's public broadcaster.

"Poll: US Nuke Power Anxiety Easing" - "WASHINGTON - Americans have grown slightly more comfortable with nuclear power over the past two years, an Associated Press poll suggests, with half now saying they support using nuclear plants to produce electricity. Supporters of nuclear power were significantly more likely than they were two years ago not to mind a nuclear plant close to their homes. The poll was conducted for the AP by ICR of Media, Pa." (AP)

"UPDATE - Japan village to hold referendum on nuclear fuel" - "TOKYO - Amid mounting anti-nuclear feeling in Japan, a northern village will hold a rare referendum next month to decide on the use of recycled nuclear fuel in a local power plant, a local official said yesterday." (Reuters)

"A NEW REGULATORY WRINGER" - "April 24, 2001 -- THEY'LL save us trillions of gallons of water and billions of dollars on our energy bills. They may cost more, but their lower operating costs will more than make up for it. They're supported by an alliance of both manufacturers and conservationists, and on April 12 the Bush administration gave them its formal approval.

They're the new generation of high-efficiency clothes washers, and they're so good that federal law will now force consumers to buy them.

If that last wrinkle makes you doubt the hype about these new machines, you're not alone. A dozen-plus organizations, among them senior citizen and consumer groups, had asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to reconsider the regulation mandating the washers." (Sam Kazman & Ben Lieberman, New York Post)

"Small island states step up to combat global warming" - "UNITED NATIONS - The 37-member Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) has called for strong and credible action to tackle the international threat of climate change. "We are least responsible for, but most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and so we find ourselves at the forefront in the fight against global warming," says Aosis chairman Ambassador Tuiloma Neroni Slade of Samoa." (Asia Times)

It must be profoundly disappointing to the small island nations now that it appears certain the massive "compensation" promised them by the UN (and funded mostly by the US) will not be forthcoming. And what was this "compensation" for? Enhanced greenhouse-induced acceleration in sea level rise of course! (Slight problem in that it's not happening but inconvenient facts stand no chance when they come between a politician and a bucket of money.)

"Sea Level Dives in the Maldives" - "The IPCC says sea level has already risen 10 - 25 cm in the 20th century (disputed) and will undergo an accelerated rise of nearly a metre by 2100.

In an article titled "No Noah's flood" in the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet on 15th April 2001, Dr. Nils-Axel Mörner, professor of paleogeophysics and geodynamics at Stockholm University, Sweden (and also president of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution) states - 

"The IPCC arguments of sea level rise is not in accordance with  modern scientific knowledge."

"What happens to temperatures is one thing. What happens to the sea is another matter. The two are not connected in the way the IPCC report claims."

One litmus location has been the Maldives Islands in the centre of the Indian Ocean, a coral group, which the IPCC says will drown under rising seas within a few decades (IPCC TAR chapter 11).

The IPCC prediction is based only on computer modelling, but INQUA sent a scientific expedition to the Maldives last November to find out for sure.

The result: In the Maldive Islands the sea level has risen not so much as a millimetre during the last century. Instead it has FALLEN by at least 10 centimetres (or 4 inches) within the last 20-30 years.

And in the next 100 years the sea level is unlikely to vary more than around 10-20 centimetres. 

Mörner also notes that Chapter 11 on Sea Level Changes of IPCC's TAR report was written by 33 people, none of them involved in actual sea level research.

He says that sea level change in the IPCC report is based purely on models, not observations (a point made forcefully in this report on sea levels ). When it comes to sea levels, the models have proved to be hopelessly wrong.

It seems the `Isle of the Dead' is not the only graveyard for IPCC sea level predictions." (John L Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

Oh dear, today's "we'll all be ru'ned" piece: "Climatic changes to impact on buildings" - "CAIRNS and Mackay building codes may not be tough enough to stand up to Queensland's stormy future climate. Projected increases in cyclone wind speeds beyond 2050 "exceed current building design standards" in Cairns and, to a lesser extent, Mackay, an annual CSIRO report on Queensland climate change has found." (Courier-Mail, Brisbane)

"A 'four-piston engine' drives earth from the inside, new study shows" - "Deep beneath Earth's surface, continent-sized plumes of hot rock are floating upwards, providing a driving force for such phenomena as the movements of whole continents, earthquakes, volcanism, and even climate change, according to a new theory by two earth scientists in Ontario." (University of Toronto)

Ah! British diplomacy: "Bush called 'Toxic Texan' in British parliament" - "British politicians attacked the environmental credentials of President George W. Bush Tuesday, calling him a polluter and a fool. Fielding questions in parliament, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott heard one member of his ruling Labor Party label Bush the "Toxic Texan" and was urged by another to make "the fool on Capitol Hill" mend his ways." (Reuters)

"Redford hits out at Bush over oil" - "Robert Redford has branded George W Bush a puppet of the oil industry. The actor, a keen campaigner on green issues, claims Bush has used oil money to get elected and is no friend of the environment." (Ananova)

Well that settles it. How could anyone dispute the impeccable scientific credentials of Robert Redford?

"Sounding false ANWR alarms" - "I am hoping Christie Todd Whitman´s recently expressed ambivalence about drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a false alarm. Now is not the time for fecklessness from the Bush administration on energy policy. It is important that President Bush stick with his campaign pledge to increase domestic oil production generally and tap into ANWR specifically. There are no new facts that would justify an about face by Mr. Bush on these issues. The only thing that has changed is that Mr. Bush has taken some courageous stands on environmental issues and thereby aroused the public ire of environmentalists." (David Limbaugh, Washington Times)

"U.S. Republican submits plan to battle global warming" - "WASHINGTON - Republican Sen. Sam Brownback released on Tuesday a plan to combat global warming through voluntary, pro-market means in legislation designed to replace U.S. involvement in the Kyoto climate change treaty. The Kansas lawmaker said his bills demonstrate "a better way to deal with important environmental concerns" than by pitting pro-environment measures against "hard-working small business and state interests." (Reuters)

"EPA sees no change in US low-sulfur diesel rule" - "WASHINGTON - The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday her agency has no plans to reconsider a new federal regulation to reduce the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel, despite a lawsuit from refiners to block the rule. "We have no plans to re-look at the diesel rule," EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman told reporters. "I have no intention of re-thinking that," she added." (Reuters)

"Putting down the walking class revolution" - "... But what's the alternative? Even if public transport were improved people would still want to drive. Research for the Australian Automobile Association found 69 per cent of motorists are "not likely at all" to use public transport. Nothing but their own cars can provide today's uber-parents with the flexibility, security, reliability and comfort they need to manage their increasingly complex lives.

The only solution to is to give up having children altogether. Wiping out the human race is a sure-fire way of eliminating the need for cars." (Miranda Devine, Sydney Morning Herald)

Here's the link to pop-science rag New Scientist's editorial "Bolt from the blue". Apart from hand-wringing that "fixing" the conceptual ozone layer will actually gas us all to death because we really need the UV penetration of the atmosphere to create hydroxyl radicals (which shorten the atmospheric life of some undesirable gases), NS furthers the myths about "hazardous" DDT and PCBs. They shouldn't worry, there's still no indication that the ozone layer is broke, or that we're "fixing" it, and there's no sound science underpinning the DDT and PCB hysterias either. | Repair to ozone layer threatens air quality (The Times)

"Shift to right as Tory attacks green tax" - "The Tories are to end their support for green taxes in a victory for the rightwing of the party. Oliver Letwin, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, has repudiated the decision of John Gummer, former Tory environment secretary, to introduce Britain's first green tax in 1994. He also pledged the party to fight any new green taxes introduced by a future Labour government." (Guardian)

"Environment, Inc." - "In this ongoing series, Tom Knudson, The Bee's environmental reporter, examines the high-powered fund raising, the litigation and the public relations machine that has come to characterize much of the movement today." (Sacramento Bee)

"Political pollution" - "By almost any measure, this country´s environment is cleaner and safer than it was 30 years ago. There is less air and water pollution, less urban sprawl than expected and greater energy efficiency than ever. Only when measuring progress by political yardsticks is there a shortfall. So guess which category is getting all the attention of the media?" (Washington Times editorial)

"A Well-Deserved Earth Day Toast" - "Raise a glass for the Earth!

Festivities hailing the 31st Earth Day will fade too soon from our memories. But the Pacific Research Institute gives everyone something important to remember about our environment. Its annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators lays out a foundation of facts documenting the long strides Americans have taken to protect their natural surroundings. A sampling of results:

  • Since the first Earth Day in 1970, air pollution has dropped 64 percent;
  • In the dozen years since 1988, the amount of toxics introduced into the environment have fallen 45 percent; and
  • The percentage of Americans living in counties that meet Clean Air standards rose from barely 50 percent in 1988 to 80 percent by the late ’90s.
Accomplishments like those have hastened a new era of weighing environmental choices more carefully. For instance, officials in California say that one windpower site there kills an estimated 39 golden eagles annually -- or about eight times the toll from 1989’s Exxon Valdez oil spill. This sixth edition of the Index also features a special section on Energy and the Environment, as policymakers get set to grapple with the current energy crunch." (TechCentralStation) | Click here for the study.

"Good Times" - "Are we making progress? Ignore the gloomy intellectuals and look at the facts." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Gross domestic stupidity" - "You probably thought Alberta was booming, you naive, materialistic, environmentally-insensitive boob. No, in fact, things are just going from bad to worse, according to a report this week from the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development. Seems that Albertans' economic output might have quadrupled in the past forty years, but their "Sustainable Well-Being Index" has been drifting downwards. Today's typical Albertan is a suicidal version of Ralph Klein, overweight and divorced.

The Pembina Institute is a typically alarmist environmental NGO think-tank. A spokesman declared last month that, without drastic steps to address climate change, we are facing an "eco-catastrophe train wreck." Nevertheless, it has managed to create a kind of Cartesian intellectual rationale for its existence: We are quoted by the CBC and the Globe and Mail, therefore we must be saying something worthwhile.

Hardly. (Peter Foster, National Post)

"Protesters getting it wrong again" - "It´s hard to imagine a group of people more ignorant than the protesters who demonstrated against free trade at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Despite overwhelming economic evidence to the contrary all around the globe, these anti-free-trade Luddites argue that hemispheric free-trade agreements only make the rich richer and the poor poorer, inflict incalculable damage on the environment and worsen labor conditions." (Donald Lambro, Washington Times)

"HIV chimp vaccine theory dismissed" - "Scientists have proved that it is highly unlikely that HIV was spread by contaminated polio vaccine. It has been suggested that HIV was initially transmitted to humans in the late 1950s through the use of an oral polio vaccine. In his book The River, journalist Edward Hooper alleges that the vaccine was grown in chimpanzee kidneys and became contaminated with the simian form of HIV known as SIV. However, three independent studies published in the journal Nature have cast serious doubts over the controversial theory." (BBC Online) | Scientists dismiss theory linking Aids to contaminated polio vaccine (Independent)

"Immune system helps prevent tumors after all" - "St. Louis, April 25, 2001 — Researchers have obtained the first conclusive evidence that the immune system helps prevent tumor formation. They discovered that white blood cells called lymphocytes and a protein produced by immune cells work together to find and eliminate tumor cells." (Washington University School of Medicine)

"Africa tackles Malaria scourge" - "Events marking the first Africa Malaria Day are taking place across the continent focusing attention on efforts to combat the disease, which kills more than a million people every year, many of them children." (BBC Online)

"Studies In Five African Countries Show Few Use The Most Effective Malaria Prevention Method Currently Available" - "WASHINGTON, April 24 -- While malaria continues to ravage sub-Saharan Africa, few Africans use the most effective form of malaria prevention available, primarily due to access, cost and low levels of awareness, research by the Academy for Educational Development (AED) shows.

Mosquito nets treated with insecticide to prevent mosquito bites are being used too rarely to substantially reduce malaria rates, according to a comprehensive series of public health and market research studies conducted from July to November 2000. Nightly use of treated nets is currently the most effective means of preventing malaria." (U.S. Newswire)

Yes and no. While chemically treated barrier techniques are certainly effective in achieving the desired outcome, they are beyond the fiscal means of those most in need of protection. Something which renders them ineffective. There is a vastly more effective alternative, one that can be rendered for a few pennies per household per year and it's call dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane - DDT for short.

"UC Davis study investigates health effects of paraquat, a herbicide commonly used throughout the world" - "(Sacramento, Calif.) -- A popular herbicide in use in more than 130 countries in the world for weed control is the focus of an important health study conducted by physicians and researchers at UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Paraquat is one of the top three herbicides in use in the world. Valued for its effectiveness, rapid decomposition in soil, and lack of a toxic residue, it is commonly used in California." (University of California, Davis - Medical Center)

"Rare British butterfly in danger from foot and mouth cull" - "One of Britain's rarest butterflies may be threatened by the foot and mouth cull. The Marsh Fritillary's last stronghold is around Holsworthy, in the heart of the Devon outbreak. The butterfly lives in wet pasture and depends on grazing animals to keep its habitat of tussocky grass from becoming rank and overgrown." (Ananova) | Butterflies across Britain threatened by shrinking habitats (Guardian) | UK butterfly decline steepens (BBC Online)

So farming is really bad for wildlife and an absence of farming activity is... really bad for wildlife.

"No air pollution threat from pyres" - "Environmental experts have confirmed that air quality at the Eppynt ranges in mid Wales has not been harmed by carcasses being burned during the foot-and-mouth crisis." (BBC Online)

"Paris Wants to Impose Precaution Principle" - "Codex Alimentaires, a UN organisation in charge of food safety, held a meeting yesterday in Paris that was opened by France's Agriculture Minister, Jean Glavany. The minister emphasised that this year more than ever, it was necessary to "seek a global agreement on precaution and openness" and for all countries to apply these concepts within a united framework." (BMC)

"EPA Reviewing Registration of Corn Rootworm Control" - "The EPA is currently reviewing registration of the new biotech product to control corn rootworm – a significant pest problem in the United States. If approved in the United States, this new biotech rootworm product would be a much needed, environmentally friendly tool that growers could use." (AgWeb.com)

"Exposure to biotech corn lower than once thought, EPA says" - "WASHINGTON - New research on biotech corn that mistakenly got into the food supply shows the potential exposure to consumers was ``significantly lower'' than previously thought, the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday.

Studies performed at the request of StarLink corn's developer, Aventis CropScience, showed that food manufacturing destroyed much of a unique protein found in the biotech corn.

The findings show that the corn poses no possible health concern, the company said, even though trace amounts of the corn are likely to be found in foods for several years.

Discovery of the corn in taco shells last fall led to nationwide recalls of corn products, and more recalls may be necessary unless the EPA agrees to allow a minimal amount of the corn in food, Aventis said.

The EPA issued a statement saying it would ``carefully evaluate'' the new research. The agency is still awaiting results of an investigation into complaints of people who think they may have been sickened by products containing the corn." (AP)

"A Glowing Achievement, or a Can of Worms?" - "The pink bollworm project represents the furthest advance in an explosion of research worldwide into how insects can be genetically modified to benefit humanity. Major projects are underway to create mosquitoes that can control malaria, honeybees that can better fend off disease, silkworms that will produce more silk, and dozens of other normally destructive crop pests that will exterminate their wild brethren. ... The researchers involved with the project are aware of the public discomfort about their work, and they say they are taking great precautions to eliminate risks from their experiments. "We are prepared to address every fear and concern as it comes up because we really care what the public thinks of this project," said John J. Peloquin, part of the team at UC-Riverside. "We're not doing this because we don't care what happens to our environment, but because we do care so deeply and want to produce something of real public benefit." (Washington Post)

"Monsanto replacing GM canola seed in Canada" - "WINNIPEG, April 25 - Monsanto Co. said it will replace its Quest canola seed variety in Canada this spring after quality tests on the genetically modified seed showed trace levels of an alternative version of the seed. ... ``Routine quality testing this spring determined that some Quest seed lots contain trace levels of an alternate version of the Roundup Ready trait,'' Monsanto said. ``Both versions are fully approved in Canada and completely safe, but the companies are acting to avoid any trade issues with other countries.'' (Reuters)

April 25, 2001

"French soil remains contaminated after Chernobyl: study" - "An independent scientific institute says some French soil is still contaminated by radiation from the Chernobyl disaster, 15-years after officials declared the country had not been touched." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"U.N.: Ozone has recovered" - "GENEVA -- The protective ozone layer over the North Pole appears to have stabilized after years of thinning, but the gain may be temporary, U.N. weather experts said Tuesday.

Scientists from the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization said the recovery may be attributed to a warmer than usual winter and the current peak in the 11-year cycle of the sun, and not to global cuts in the use of harmful chemicals.

"At the peak of the solar cycle there's an intensity of radiation that produces more ozone," said Michael Proffitt, a senior scientific officer at the organization. "Therefore you're going to find less sign of ozone depletion." (AP) | Ozone Depletion Drops Over N. Hemisphere (Reuters)

We'll be ru'ned!: "Cut pollution or world faces doom, magazine warns" - "A top scientific magazine is warning that the greatest environmental "repair job" in history, the rebuilding of the ozone layer, may be the atmosphere's ultimate undoing. New Scientist magazine says that in a cruel twist of ecological fate, a repaired ozone layer of the future could hamper the world's ability to cleanse itself of deadly pollutants. The results for the planet could be catastrophic, dramatically reducing human life expectancy and covering whole civilisations in a blanket of smog within 50 years.

The magazine warns that by mending the ozone layer mankind could hamper production of the world's natural detergent, the hydroxyl molecule which mops up the gases which cause city smog. Its creation is encouraged by ultra-violet radiation. But with the ozone layer repaired, UV levels would drop and hydroxyl levels will slide, leaving the planet at the mercy of suffocating pollution." (Ananova)

"Not Even Skin Cancer Threat Deters Some Sun Seekers" - "LONDON - Some people are so determined to look good that not even the threat of skin cancer can deter them from seeking a perfect tan, according to a survey released on Wednesday. Firm in the belief that a suntan makes them look healthy and attractive, they are willing to risk premature aging and cancer in their quest for that bronzed glow." (Reuters) | Cancer risk fails to deter sunbathers (Telegraph)

"Arctic sea ice not melting: new research" - "IQALUIT, Nunavut -- A Canadian scientist is pouring cold, unfrozen water on the notion that global warming is melting arctic sea ice like a Popsicle at the beach. Greg Holloway galvanized an international meeting of arctic scientists Tuesday by saying there is little evidence of a rapid decline of the volume of ice in the northern oceans.

Despite breathless media reports and speculation of an ice-free Northwest Passage, he suggests that it's far more likely that the ice has just been moved around in the cycles of Arctic winds. "It's more complicated than we thought," said Holloway, a scientist with the Institute of Ocean Science in Victoria." (CP)

"An Unfortunate Statement from the Editors of Nature" - "The table of contents of the 29 March 2001 issue of Nature calls its readers' attention to the eminent science journal's primary opinion piece of the week: "The trouble with Bush." The actual editorial on page 499 carries a slight variant of this title - "Problems with the president" - perhaps to make sure no one misses the point of their carping. Carping? Yes, carping, for like their editorial counterpart at Science (see our last week's editorial), the editors of Nature have chosen to discard the detached and impartial methods of the scientific enterprise for the more subjective implements of politics. And like the impetuous child who stamps his feet and shouts when he loses at his favorite game, the editors of Nature attack the character and motives of those who do not bow to their intellectual and ethical eminence when they lose at theirs." | Permafrost Degradation in Central Alaska  | Recent Unprecedented Glacial Retreat in the Swiss Alps? Not During This Interglacial! | Itching for Global Warming? | Sea Turtles Stunned by Cold (co2science.org)

"Most-serious greenhouse gas is increasing, international study finds" - "Scientists know that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide have risen sharply in recent years, but a study released today in Paris reports a surprising and dramatic increase in the most important greenhouse gas – water vapor – during the last half-century.

The buildup of other greenhouse gases (those usually linked with climate change) is directly attributable to human activity, and the study indicates the water vapor increase also can be traced in part to human influences, such as the buildup of atmospheric methane. However, other causes not directly related to humans must also be at work, said Philip Mote, a University of Washington research scientist who is one of seven lead authors on the report." (University of Washington)

"Here Comes the Sun to Further Cloud Global Warming Theory" - "Debate on the causes of predicted global warming usually revolves around climate models scientists construct. But can those models account for all the variables the universe has to offer? Not really, according to Dr. Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who puts forth the sun as a variable not to forget.

“The science altogether is unsettled, but we know for sure that the models that make the predictions into the future are exaggerating the warmth,” Dr. Sallie Baliunas tells TechCentralStation Host James Glassman." (TechCentralStation.com)

"Tortured Kyoto Data" - "Recent reports were all a-twitter with the news: The ocean is warming; the warming is consistent with a bunch of climate models; and this proves what a lout George Bush is on global warming. The first claim is true; the second is mainly a result of data manipulation. And the scientific paper that presented this news actually shows that Bush did the right thing on global warming by ditching the Kyoto Protocol.

The paper was written by Sydney Levitus and published in Science on April 13th. I read Levitus's paper and I would hope that everyone else who wrote a news story about it did, too. But it is painfully apparent that either they didn't, or, if they did, they didn't read very carefully." (Patrick J Michaels, National Review)

"Time's Warming Retreat" - "IT took a reader to remind Time magazine of the basic flaw in "Feeling the Heat," its April 9 environmental manifesto on global warning - and to win an important admission from the report's author." (New York Post)

"Global Warning: global cooling" - a few home truths from Dr Benny Peiser, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool .

"EU's Wallstrom Slices Kyoto Birthday Cake" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union's top environment official affirmed her determination to push ahead with the troubled Kyoto accord on climate change on Tuesday by cutting a ''birthday cake'' marking the EU's signing of the deal." (Reuters)

"Japan, U.S. remain divided over Kyoto Protocol" - "WASHINGTON April 23 - Japanese Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi on Monday failed to narrow differences with top U.S. officials over ways to reduce global warming. Kawaguchi urged the United States to remain committed to the 1997 Kyoto protocol on global warming in separate meetings with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Whitman, White House chief economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. The three officials reiterated President George W. Bush's opposition to the Kyoto pact, maintaining it exempts developing countries from compliance while it would harm the U.S. economy, Kawaguchi told a news conference." | Preparatory meet to be held in Stockholm ahead of COP6 confab (Kyodo)

"Prescott accused of 'macho bluster'" - "The Conservatives have accused John Prescott of "macho man bluster" over his attempts to persuade the US to rethink its policy on climate change. Shadow environment secretary Archie Norman attacked the deputy prime minister in the Commons on Tuesday for "diplomatic ineptitude" on his visit to America last week." (BBC Online) | Tories condemn 'inept' Prescott's failure on Kyoto (Independent)

"Congress isn't ready to open ANWR" - "Washington -- No one is admitting defeat or dancing in victory. Few are willing to publicly pronounce it dead. But the proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge doesn't look good. Even Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, among the most ardent supporters of allowing oil drilling in ANWR, concedes Congress doesn't have the votes, not yet." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Bush aide corrects EPA chief" - "WASHINGTON - White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said yesterday that the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Christie Whitman, was speaking in ''confusion'' Sunday when she announced that a White House energy task force would not recommend oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Fleischer then directly contradicted Whitman, saying the task force will recommend that oil drilling be allowed in the refuge." (Boston Globe)

Yeah, well... not exactly Christie's first confused moment is it? Remember this?

After being nominated, Whitman was asked: “Global warming, what is your thought on what the state of science is and what can be done to address it?” She responded, “Still somewhat uncertain. Clearly there's a hole in the ozone, that has been identified. But I saw a study the other day that showed that it was closing. It's not as clear, the cause and effect, as we would like it to be.”

Certainly she’s headed in the right direction questioning cause-and-effect relationships, but confusing global warming and ozone depletion is inexcusable for the EPA Administrator. Constantly misstating the intent of the Bush-Cheney Administration isn't doing anyone any good either. Get with it Christie, or get out.

"Rising Gasoline Prices Pose Threat to Slowing Economy" - "The price of gasoline has soared 15 percent in the last month, and in a seeming replay of last year's run-up many economists and industry analysts say the price is likely to remain high through much of the summer. But this year the causes are different and the economic impact could be more severe. In the past, gasoline prices tended to rise and fall in the United States based largely on production decisions in oil-exporting countries. This year, experts say, the blame lies closer to home. Refineries are already operating at or near capacity, so increasing the supply of gasoline will be difficult. Also, the nation's patchwork of clean air rules, which limit the types of gasoline that can be sold in some parts of the country, could make some regions vulnerable to shortfalls and price spikes." (New York Times)

Starting to realise the problems with boutique fuels?

"Reformulate Fuel Policies" - "Gasoline prices have shot up more than 8 percent on average in the past two weeks, fueling concern that a replay of last spring's pump shock is under way. Action by the Bush administration is needed to modify the ineffective regulations that are largely to blame for the price hikes." | Rising gas prices fuel need for change (Detroit News)

"Dounreay receives safety award" - "The Dounreay nuclear plant has received an award as one of the safest places to work in Britain. The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) - which runs the plant - won a gold award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents." (BBC Online)

"Industry Gives Nuclear Power a Second Look" - "CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 20 — Some regions of the country are short of electric power, and the price of natural gas, the most popular fuel for new power plants, has doubled. Windmills look promising but still produce only a tiny amount of power; solar power is even less significant. Nuclear reactors are now so desirable that when old ones go on sale, bidding wars have broken out. And the Bush administration's energy plan, scheduled for release soon, is expected to include strong support for new reactor construction." (New York Times)

"Energy deregulation: So many alternatives, so little green" - "Sadly, Ontario has little wind. You are thrilled to hear, no doubt, that the Mike Harris government has set a new target date of May, 2002, for opening the province's electricity market to competition. You, of course, are committed to cleaner air and a healthier environment. It pains you that the electricity flowing through your walls comes from such foul spewers of noxious fumes as Ontario's Nanticoke coal-fired plant -- reportedly the single greatest source of pollution in all of Canada. As soon as the market opens, you intend to buy your electricity from a company that buys its electricity from clean sources. Oh sure, you may pay an estimated 50 per cent more than you would pay for dirty energy -- but it will be worth it, to know you're doing your bit for clean air." (Globe and Mail)

"The Arsenic Ruckus" - "We've recently learned a lot about arsenic, thanks to the ruckus the environmental/safety folks raised when the Bush Administration withdrew regulations the Clinton Administration issued three days before leaving office. What we learned, though, is not what the ruckus is supposed to teach us, and everyone else.

First, it seems that cost-benefit analysis, the bane of the green movement everywhere, has reared its ugly head. Under the relevant law, the Environmental Protection Agency is not merely charged with determining whether arsenic is dangerous, which depending on the dose it certainly is. The law says that in determining what level of arsenic is safe in drinking water, the EPA should find a level "that maximizes health risk reduction benefits at a cost that is justified by the benefits." Hmmm." (WSJ)

"Bush Defends Environmental Policy" - "WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) said Tuesday he's committed to clean air and clean water but will ``make decisions based upon sound science, not some environmental fad or what may sound good.'' (AP)

"Wallstrom Stars in Her Own Creation: European Green Week" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, April 24, 2001 - The European Commission's most ambitious attempt yet to engage with European citizens on environmental issues began today in Brussels. Devised by people friendly Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, the Green Week conference and exhibition includes four days of seminars and debates on European Union environmental policy and an exhibition showcasing success stories in member and candidate states." (ENS)

"Protesting for Whom?" - "It's interesting listening to Africans talk about globalization. While the protesters in Quebec were busy denouncing globalization in the name of Africans and the world's poor, Africans themselves will tell you that their problem with globalization is not that they are getting too much of it, but too little." (New York Times)

"Poverty for all" - "Despite the worst efforts of violent protestors in Quebec, leaders of countries throughout the Western hemisphere concluded their Summit of the Americas by proposing a broad free-trade agreement. Bringing more of the world´s poor into the global economy is the best hope for raising them out of poverty. Curiously, globalization has become the latest cause celebre of left-wing activists. These First World demonstrators self-righteously pose as defenders of Third World peoples, even as they advocate leaving the latter destitute." (Doug Bandow, Washington Times)

"Good-bye Seattle, hello Chapter 11" - "The utter, terrifying hell of living in a tyranny such as Canada is that, once in jail, you may end up looking straight into the menacing jaws of a baloney sandwich. That is just one of the horrific stories demonstrators told of their experience under arrest in Quebec City. In this case, the woman was a vegetarian; the baloney sandwich no doubt a form of violence. Turkey was never this bad. Another tale of official oppression was that people released from jail after, say, eight hours of detention, were simply shown to the door and left on the steps of the institution to fend for themselves. What? They don't even call you a cab? No free public transit?" (Terence Corcoran, National Post)

"Solutia to pay $40 million in toxicity suit settlement" - "ANNISTON, Ala. - A company accused of poisoning the community with toxic chemicals for several decades and then covering it up has agreed to pay $40 million to settle a lawsuit brought by nearly 1,600 residents. The chemical contamination allegedly was spread by the Monsanto Co., which manufactured PCBs in Anniston until 1972. Monsanto changed its name to Solutia Inc. in 1997." (AP)

"Dioxin: a toxin for our times" - "The only surprising thing about the great dioxin scare now surrounding the foot-and-mouth funeral pyres is that it has been so slow to take off." (Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, Sp!ked)

"Doctors: Nearly all asthma deaths preventable" - "HONG KONG -- Nearly all deaths caused by asthma could be prevented if sufferers and their doctors had a better understanding of the disease, according to an Asia-wide survey released Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Working women: indicators of workplace health" - "Women who are exposed to chemicals while working in research laboratories are less likely to become pregnant than women who work in other professions, a Swedish research team concludes in a new study." (ENN)

"Sins of Emission" - "In a study carried out at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Western Human Nutrition Research Center in San Francisco in collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley, a team led by scientists Lynn Wallock and Bruce Ames discovered that low folic acid levels in semen may lead to decreased sperm count and low sperm density. The researchers hypothesize (but do not prove) that these conditions may contribute to chromosome damage, which could cause birth defects or even cancer if passed to the fetus. The work was published in the February issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility." (Washington Post)

"Without DDT, malaria bites back" - "According to Professor Wen Kilama of the African Malaria Vaccine Testing Network in Tanzania, 'Malaria is equivalent to crashing seven jumbo jets filled with children every day'.

Malaria halts economic development, places huge burdens on a country's health resources, and causes massive productivity losses. It also scares away investors from developing countries, who are not keen on having their workforce suddenly become ill and unable to work. Professor Jeffrey Sachs of the Harvard Centre for International Development reckons that the disease destroys around one percent of Africa's wealth every year." (Roger Bate, Sp!ked)

Letter of the moment: "Health debt owed to animal research" - "Sir, April 24 is known as World Day for Laboratory Animals and in recent years has become a focal point for the protests of radical animal rights groups (leading article, April 24).

This year has been marked by aggressive demonstrations and the intimidation of pharmaceutical companies, research institutes, individual scientists and their families.

We believe that this day should become an occasion to recognise the huge contribution that laboratory animal research has made to medical science, the development of new treatments and the increased wellbeing of patients throughout the world.

History shows that animals have played a vital role in the development of antibiotics, vaccines, insulin, organ transplantation, open-heart surgery and many other important medical advances.

Equally, there is no doubt that laboratory animal research will continue to be required if we are to find new treatments for medical problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, stroke and the major diseases of the developing world.

The debt we owe to laboratory animals places a duty on us to en- sure that they are only used when necessary and that we maintain high standards of welfare in our labratories. In the United Kingdom we can be proud of our record in this area. UK laboratories are recognised as having the most stringent and effective animal welfare controls in the world.

As representatives of the UK’s medical researchers, we unreservedly support the need for such high standards of laboratory animal welfare. (Director of the Wellcome Trust and others, The Times)

"Birth-defect statistics questioned in new study" - "ATLANTA - A government study says because so many new mothers lie when asked whether they drank alcohol during pregnancy that some national statistics on birth defects should be thrown out. Only about one in 20 women who drink during pregnancy admits it on her child's birth certificate, according to a study presented Tuesday." (AP)

"The pitfalls of political correctness" - "The written word can anger and offend people in ways the author, immersed in her story, cannot necessarily anticipate. That is why my publisher, Key Porter, employs a Cold Reader to read the manuscript after the editor, the line editor, the proof reader, the formatter and the lawyers have finished with it. Cold Reader scrutinizes the manuscript for political correctness. Cold Reader's flinty-eyed edit of my recently published memoir Trade Secrets was both a chilling and inflammatory experience." (Pat Carney, National Post)

"Is there a future for GM livestock? Yes and no" - "EDINBURGH - British experts from the fields of genetic modification of animals, animal welfare, ethics, and consumer affairs faced the public here this evening to debate the implications of biotechnology for animal production in the UK. "We've been trying to identify what would be an appropriate use, if indeed there is one, for this technology," said Anna Bradley, the convenor of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC)'s Animals and Biotechnology subgroup, who had organized the debate." (BioMedNet news)

"Doctors hope pig-cell injection will repair quadriplegic's spine" -"ALBANY, N.Y.  - Fetal pig cells were injected into the spine of a 50-year-old quadriplegic man in an experimental procedure that doctors say is the first of its kind. If it works, the cells will grow as they would in a developing pig and create a new connection in Charles Dederick's spine, damaged in a 1997 motorcycle accident. If electric impulses can again flow from his brain, they could send signals to the muscles and possibly allow him to walk again." (AP)

"You've Probably Already Had Biotech Corn" - "A genetically engineered variety of corn that caused massive recalls of taco shells last year has spread further through the food supply than had been thought and is present in a much wider range of processed foods, according to The Washington Post. ...

In "Taco Terrorism," Steven Milloy dismisses concerns that the genetically engineered corn is dangerous. He argues that some groups are creating a scare from the "firm possibility of a definite maybe." The accused protein, CRY9C, "isn't derived from a source containing any known allergens, its protein sequence does not resemble other known allergens and none of the other biotech corn proteins are allergens," he writes." (Cato Institute)

For those who missed the PBS broadcast of "Harvest of Fear," transcript & video can be found on this link.

"AP Plans Sops To Boost Biotech Ventures" - "Aimed at luring major private sector investments into the State in the field of biotechnology ahead of some of the competing States, the Andhra Pradesh Government is currently drafting an attractive incentive package for biotech ventures as a part of its biotechnology policy to be announced shortly." (Hindu Business Line)

"Curbs on genetically altered crops sought" - "Scientists, farmers and environmental groups yesterday called for Massachusetts to lead the nation in curbing the dissemination of genetically modified crops until research can establish their safety. Critics charged yesterday in testimony at the Massachusetts State House that federal agencies and Congress have failed to enact the necessary safeguards, so the Commonwealth should take the lead instead. Advocates of genetically engineered crops countered that any regulation of the industry should be at the national level, and that existing federal policies are adequate to ensure safety." (Boston Globe)

"World demand too great to ignore GM" - "WORLD agriculture can’t afford to ignore any system which will help it meet the demands of an increasing world populations, say scientists. Genetically modified crops able to deal with low water supply will be needed increasingly in arid areas, while other countries may demand extensive or organic agriculture for ethical and environmental reasons. A three-day meeting of 200 scientists at the John Innes Centre in Norwich - a research station at the leading edge of GM research - tried to reach consensus on how global farming could meet the likely food and other demands of 2020." (The Scotsman)

"Monsanto working on GM grain channeling" - "WICHITA, Kan., April 24 - Biotech crop leader Monsanto Co. is working to improve special handling of genetically modified (GM) crops but favors a limited role for government in the process, a Monsanto official said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Farmers To Plant More Genetically Modified Beans" - "According to the Associated Press, Illinois soybean farmers told the government that they will plant more than half of their acreage with genetically modified seed this year, despite the controversy about bioengineered foods.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reporting that Illinois farmers plan to plant 59 percent of their soybean acres with modified crops, up from 44 percent last year. ‘We eat the products we produce,’ said Phil Corzine, who farms near Decatur. ‘We believe they're safe.’

AP also reported that experts said other varieties of genetically modified corn and soybeans have won government approval for human consumption in the United States, Europe and Japan. And the opposition to modified soybeans has waned, they said." (TKC)

"Shareholders Push Hershey to Report On Genetically Engineered Ingredients" - "SAN FRANCISCO - Shareholders concerned that Hershey Foods is exposing the company to unnecessary financial risk by using food ingredients derived from genetically engineered materials are taking their case to fellow shareholders at the company's annual meeting today." (BUSINESS WIRE)

"Aventis: Biotech traces inevitable in food supply" - "WASHINGTON - According to the company that developed StarLink, the nation's food supply is likely to contain trace levels of the unapproved biotech corn "for the foreseeable future," but contamination is so low that it poses no possible health concern." (AP)

"Response To WSJ Agbiotech Article" - "To the editor of Wall Street Journal: Three important issues were ignored in the rambling and repetitive article by Patricia Callahan and Scott Kilman ("Laboratory Tests Belie Promises Of Some 'GMO-Free' Food Labels,") about foods obtained from "GMOs," or genetically-modified organisms." (Henry I. Miller, MD; Hoover Institution; Stanford, CA)

"Engineering our future" - "... What's perhaps harder to understand is why so little anti-GM guerrilla warfare is going on, considering that the difference in outlook between the extreme pro and anti movements is as fundamental as that of any political revolution." (Natal Witness)

April 24, 2001

"JunkScience.com report is accurate" - Here's the JunkScience.com response to the Roll call article about the JunkScence.com report, "Radiation Sources at the U.S. Capitol and Libary of Congress Buildings." (Steve Milloy, Roll Call)

Oh puh-lease! "Brockovich Attorney Takes on American Dental Establishment" - "Allan Sigel, one of the attorneys involved in the now famous Erin Brockovich case has upped the ante and is making history again through a class action lawsuit that is sure to change the face of dentistry in America.

At a news conference scheduled for Tuesday morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., details of a class action lawsuit will be released that will shake the foundation of the American dental establishment.

According to Sigel, "at issue is the patients' right to informed consent and the right of the patient to know if a well known toxic substance is being put into his mouth." (US Newswire)

"More Dumb Lawsuits" - "THERE IS NOW a new way to satisfy the bemused foreigner who asks why a nation so proudly founded upon the rule of law is marked by such contempt for lawyers. Just tell the foreigner about the litigation against cell-phone makers that Peter Angelos began on Thursday. Here is a case in which a trial lawyer goes after an industry that produces gadgets people love and that is central to the high-tech future. He goes after it, moreover, claiming not that the industry definitely has caused harm, but that it may potentially do so. And to complete the lesson for the foreigner, the lawyer seeks to punish the industry by assembling millions of unconsulted consumers into a vast "class" and demanding a remedy that makes no sense." (Washington Post editorial)

Stop global warming ... by cutting down the forests? "Researchers prove past cooling trend caused by move from forests to agriculture" - "Livermore, Calif.—Researchers in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Atmospheric Science Division have demonstrated a cooling of up to 2-degree Fahrenheit over land between 1000 and 1900 AD as a result of changes from natural vegetation, such as forests, to agriculture." (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

"EU June summit to discuss anti-US sanctions - Prodi " - "The European Union is to discuss imposing sanctions against the US for refusing to implement the Kyoto climate change treaty. European Commission chairman Romano Prodi says sanctions will be on the agenda at the next summit in Sweden in June, but he doesn't want to harm relations between the US and the EU." (Ananova)

"Stormy Weather? Says Who?" - "It's politically driven hokum, but it has a lot of believers blaming global warming for typhoons, tornadoes, even frigid winters. A lot of people think there's more "extreme weather" out there. The reality is that there are more extreme environmentalists." (Dan Seligman, Forbes Magazine)

"Greenpeace activists detained after anti-Bush protest" - "Police have detained 16 Greenpeace activists in Turkey who staged a protest and climbed on a building to unfurl a banner that called George W Bush a climate killer. ... The activists scaled up an empty building facing the US embassy gates in Ankara and unfurled a banner that read: "Wanted: Climate Killer Bush." (Ananova)

"GREENHOUSE GASES MAIN REASON FOR QUICKER NORTHERN WINTER WARMING" - "Greenhouse gases are the main reason why the northern hemisphere is warming quicker during winter-time months than the rest of the world, according to new computer climate model results by NASA scientists." (NASA/GSFC)

Uh-huh... of course, residents of the eastern and central Asian landmass may take some convincing following particularly bitter winters but, hey, the model says...

"Global warming still causes some scholarly debate" - " ... Obviously, Bush isn't buying into the idea that reckless human behavior will cause a global meltdown. Perhaps surprisingly, despite everything said and written recently, neither are some well-respected atmospheric scientists.

In fact, the world is getting warmer. It is generally agreed that the world's temperatures have inched up 0.5 to 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last century. Beaches all over the world are eroding, the result of rising sea levels due in part to melting ice.

But a heated debate continues over whether humans are contributing to the warming and whether it will accelerate and become a natural catastrophe." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"World warming said melting Australia's alpine snow" - "SYDNEY - In an early warning to the rest of the world, Australia's snowy alpine regions are shrinking and could disappear in 70 years because of global warming, Australian scientists say." (Reuters)

This refers to a study suggesting that subalpine trees are now growing at altitudes 40mtrs (about 130') higher than a few decades ago. Given that Australia's alpine regions are remnants of the last great glaciation and that the world is not currently in the grip of the LIA (Little Ice Age), this is not a particularly surprising find. In these days of "global warming" orthodoxy, however, such a big yawn is trumpeted as a big deal.

"Scientist wants to drill in Arctic Ocean" - "IQALUIT - Two hundred scientists from around the world are trying to fill in the gaps in information on climate change. The scientists are meeting at the Arctic Science Summit in Iqaluit this week. One project they're looking at is a proposal to deep-sea drill into one of the world's last frontiers, the Arctic Ocean." | Scientists feel need for urgency in Arctic climate research (CBC)

Why the "urgency" for Artic climate research? Cynics might suggest it has more to do with securing grants before the global warming cash cow runs dry than any specific human good. At $1,800,000,000 annually, the US is the world's big ticket spender in the search for "global warming," but for how much longer will this waste be tolerated?

"African nations plead for US help on global warming" - "UNITED NATIONS - African environment ministers scolded the United States on Friday for spurning the Kyoto treaty on climate change, saying the move left Africa vulnerable and helpless in the face of global warming." (Reuters)

"Environmentalists bash US global warming stance" - "UNITED NATIONS - Environmentalists warned on Friday against delaying the fight against global warming just to give the United States more time to come up with a new policy after it spurned the Kyoto treaty on climate change." (Reuters)

"US sparks hope for Kyoto treaty" - "New hope has emerged of salvaging the Kyoto global warming treaty after the United States indicated it would rejoin the formal talks at the next scheduled meeting of participating countries. The US has not stepped back from its decision not to sign the treaty, but Bush Administration officials told an international climate change meeting in New York that it would remain in the discussions to ensure they did not fall apart." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Sweden May Host Talks on Kyoto Compromise" - "STOCKHOLM - Sweden said on Monday it may host a meeting next month to discuss a U.N. compromise proposal on the Kyoto treaty to cut emissions of greenhouse gases and to prepare for broader talks on climate change in July." (Reuters)

"EU finmins move at snails pace on energy tax law" - "MALMO, Sweden - European Union finance ministers failed on Friday to make significant progress towards creating an EU-wide regime for taxing energy products as a step towards reducing global warming. The ministers said they had agreed in principle to re-open a debate on a common structure for the taxation of energy products in order to reduce distortions in the 15-nation bloc's internal market. ut Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said the agreement lacked substance as the ministers were not going to address minimum tax levels in the first phase of the discussion." (Reuters)

"Mass. governor sets new rules for old power plants" - "NEW YORK, April 23 - Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift said Monday the state has set new regulations for its six oldest and dirtiest power plants, requiring reduced emissions linked to air pollution, acid rain and global warming." (Reuters)

"A.I.M Gravely Concerned About Power Plant Regulations" - "BOSTON - Richard Lord, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts (A.I.M.), an employer association of more than 5,400 Massachusetts companies, issued the following statement in response to power plant emission regulations unveiled today by Governor Swift." (BUSINESS WIRE)

"Waste Plants" - "ENERGY: Want to recycle some dollars and turn them into garbage? Invest in a biomass energy boondoggle.

When it secured financing for its $400 million garbage-to-energy plant in Robbins, Ill., Foster Wheeler could barely contain its enthusiasm. "This will be the most modern waste-to-energy installation in the world," puffed a 1994 company press release.

Seven years later the plant is in bankruptcy. Workers are stripping what's left to pay off a portion of the $320 million in outstanding revenue bonds. If they're lucky, bondholders will get 35 to 45 cents on the dollar.

Foster Wheeler has taken $261 million in charges so far for the misadventure. "Waste-to-energy is no longer a part of our business plan in the U.S.," says its chief executive, Richard Swift.

But it's still part of the environmentalist creed. What more saintly activity could there be than to dispose of waste and produce renewable Btus at the same time? The only problem: paying the bills." (Rishawn Biddle, Forbes Magazine)

"Alaska oil remains in energy plan" - "The White House yesterday said oil drilling in Alaska´s arctic will be included in their energy plan, and dismissed contrary statements by the administration´s environmental chief as "confusion." (Washington Times)

"Bush aide signals shift on Arctic oil drilling" - "WASHINGTON - In an Earth Day surprise, a top Bush administration official announced yesterday that a White House task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney will not recommend oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

''As far as our report goes, we didn't specifically say you must drill in ANWR. We didn't recommend that to the president,'' said Christie Whitman, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, on CBS's ''Face the Nation.''

Late yesterday, however, the White House distanced itself somewhat from Whitman's comment. ''The report hasn't been finalized,'' White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said in a telephone interview, suggesting that President Bush himself could rewrite the final version. ''We will continue to support opening part of ANWR as one of the broad array of diverse [energy] supply alternatives.'' (Boston Globe) | EPA chief says Alaska drilling remains option (Washington Times)

"Bush Task Force Will Recommend Alaska Drilling" - "WASHINGTON - Seeking to clarify a muddied message on oil exploration in the Alaska wilderness, the White House said on Monday President Bush's energy panel would call for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." (Reuters)

"ANWR Is Off the Table, for Now" - "... But opening up ANWR probably wouldn't make a difference anyway. In "Bush's Energy Babble," Cato Director of Natural Resource Studies Jerry Taylor writes, "Putting a big ANWR field into the market would be a sizeable addition to global supply as far as these things go. But not one that will radically change the dynamics of the world oil market, particularly when that oil is about 6 times more expensive to produce than Persian Gulf oil. Even if America had opened up those reserves a decade ago, we'd still be in the same boat today. OPEC's ability to manipulate the world market wouldn't be significantly attenuated by the Bush plan." (Cato Institute)

"Energy crisis fears rekindle debate about oil and gas drilling in Great Lakes" - "TORONTO -- Canadian environmentalists are nervously guarding the Great Lakes from America's search for relief from rising fuel prices. The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush is so gripped with fears of an energy crisis that even the continent's most environmentally sacred areas are being considered for oil and gas exploration, they say, including the Great Lakes." (CP)

"Fat of the land: Movement's prosperity comes at a high price" - "As a grass-roots conservationist from Oregon, Jack Shipley looked forward to his visit to Washington, D.C., to promote a community-based forest management plan. But when he stepped into the national headquarters of The Wilderness Society, his excitement turned to unease.

"It was like a giant corporation," Shipley said. "Floor after floor after floor, just like Exxon or AT&T."

In San Francisco, Sierra Club board member Chad Hanson experienced a similar letdown when he showed up for a soiree at one of the city's finest hotels in 1997.

"Here I had just been elected to the largest grass-roots environmental group in the world and I am having martinis in the penthouse of the Westin St. Francis," said Hanson, an environmental activist from Pasadena. "What's wrong with this picture? It was surreal."

Soon, Hanson was calling the Sierra Club by a new name: Club Sierra." (Sacramento Bee)

"The New Face Of the Left" - "April 30 issue — It seems pointless to rebut, one more time, the arguments made by the protesters in Quebec City, to note their misunderstanding of basic economics, to show that their slogans are confused and contradictory. By taunting the police, beating drums and throwing rocks, the rioters make it pretty clear that they want not a rational debate but the world’s attention—and they have succeeded once again." (Newsweek)

"EARTH TO ENVIRONMENTALISTS: GET A GRIP " - "`As a political movement, environmentalism was invented by a conservative Republican. He loved wild animals. He particularly loved to shoot them."

This, of course, was in reference to President Theodore Roosevelt, who in establishing the nation's first environmental ethic led us down the path, through no fault of his own, to today's overbearing, faith-based, dogmatic and sometimes destructive form of environmentalism so glaring during this year's Earth Day celebration. I selected the Roosevelt quote from Peter Huber's conservative manifesto "Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists," because we need a reminder that everything didn't begin with the current generation and those who have different views aren't evil.

That's certainly the feeling you get from the condemnation heaped on President Bush for his refusal to blindly accept every item in the environmental agenda laid before him at the last minute by Bill Clinton.

And that's certainly the feeling you probably got when you read that some full-of-themselves local environmentalists announced they wouldn't participate in Chicago's recent Earth Day Festival because bad ComEd was participating. How precious. How childlike." (Dennis Byrne, Chicago Tribune)

"Green machine: Mission adrift in a frenzy of fund raising" - "... No allies of industry, they have become industries themselves, dependent on a style of salesmanship that fills mailboxes across America with a never-ending stream of environmentally unfriendly junk mail, reduces the complex world of nature to simplistic slogans, emotional appeals and counterfeit crises, and employs arcane accounting rules to camouflage fund raising as conservation.

Just as industries run afoul of regulations, so are environmental groups stumbling over standards. Their problem is not government standards, because fund raising by nonprofits is largely protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment. Their challenge is meeting the generally accepted voluntary standards of independent charity watchdogs.

And there, many fall short." (Sacramento Bee)

"Going green: When guilt is no longer enough" - ``Yes, we will tell pollsters we really care. And we'll say so as we sip coffee from a Styrofoam cup while leaning on our idling SUV,'' says Keil. ``I'm not making a moral argument. This is not about blame. I'm just trying to point out our amazing capacity for contradiction.'' Keil is not alone in his bleak assessment of which way the eco-winds are blowing. We may care more than ever before, but the link between caring and actually doing something beyond simple blue-box recycling remains as flimsy as ever." (Toronto Star)

"Earth Day horror story" - "If environmental regulators get their way, small-business man John Thoburn will spend this Earth Day weekend in jail. The Northern Virginia father of three has already been behind bars for more than two months, including a stint in solitary confinement. Did Mr. Thoburn dump raw sewage into a stream? Sprinkle asbestos in his employees´ coffee? Spray DDT on unsuspecting customers? No. Mr. Thoburn is locked up because the county government nitpicks of Fairfax, Va., didn´t like the landscaping, food or music at his family-owned golf course. Call it a case of tree-hugger thuggery." (Michelle Malkin, Washington Times)

"Protectionist protests ludicrous but predictable" - "Since the world's anti-globalization forces gathered over the weekend in Quebec City, it might be asked whether the protesters have given any thought to the positive effects on media globalization.

Impassioned voices of the radical left doubtless would denounce global media conglomerates as a corporate conspiracy to inflict a sterile mono-think culture on the planet. Yet we see the same protesters jockeying for airtime on CNN to get their message out." (Matthew Fraser, Financial Post)

"Their only concrete argument" - "Protesters know their projectiles; less so their principles" (Mark Steyn, National Post)

"Antis and other animals" - "Animal testing's supporters must stand up and be counted. Tired of financial organisations buckling to intimidation by animal rights terrorists, scientific organisations are finally giving them a taste of their own medicine. The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) has announced that it is closing its account with HSBC, the bank which severed links with the drug-testing group Huntingdon Life Sciences following threats from protesters." (The Times)

"Standing up to terrorism" - "AT last a financial institution is being called to account for its surrender to terrorism. HSBC severed all ties with Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), the drug-testing group, after some of its staff received threatening letters from animal rights activists. It now refuses even to hold shares in Huntingdon on behalf of its clients. The bank does not pretend that it has taken this decision on a point of principle." (Daily Telegraph)

"Banks face animal protest backlash" - "BANKS were warned yesterday that they risk losing investment worth billions of pounds if they continue to bow to pressure from animal welfare extremists. The threat of concerted action by charities, universities and some of the world’s biggest drug companies came after it was revealed that the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) was severing its financial ties with HSBC, the world’s second biggest bank. AMRC, whose 112 member charities have combined assets of more than £25 billion, said that the move followed HSBC’s failure to guarantee that it would not withdraw banking facilities from the association if it became a target for protesters against animal experiments." (The Times)

"No link found between MMR vaccine and autism" - "WASHINGTON -- A new report finds no link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), frequently referred to as autism.

The update, "Immunization Safety Review: Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine and Autism," was prepared by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Safety Review Committee. The panel concluded that there was no epidemiological evidence of a relationship at the population level between the MMR vaccine and ASD, but added that it does not exclude the possibility that the MMR vaccine could contribute to autism in a small number of children." (CNN)

"Bush administration wants to create Internet-based clearinghouse of medical mistakes" - "WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is trying to create an Internet-based clearinghouse of medical mistakes made by doctors and hospitals, with the intention of helping them avoid such errors in the future. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson planned Monday to announce a task force of department officials to develop the system, officials said." (AP)

"Supersonic flight "doomed"" - "Keep on packing your paperbacks when you are taking a long-haul flight because supersonic planes are never going to take off. Sceptics say plans to use aircraft that fly faster than the speed of sound to slash journey times are "doomed". Environmental objections will severely limit the routes the futuristic planes can fly, making them uneconomic to develop and operate. Former activists who campaigned against Concorde say any attempts to run a supersonic service would provoke the same level of protests that dogged the earlier jet." | Hypersonic jet prepares for test flight (BBC Online)

"Does the media circus make disasters worse?" - "BBC man accuses camera crews of endangering lives in race to get best Mozambique flood pictures" (Guardian)

"Mad cow disease theory challenged" - "An amateur British scientist's belief that mad cow disease is caused by cattle being exposed to the metal manganese and a common insecticide has gained acceptance from members of Britain's scientific community. Mark Purdey, an organic farmer, has spent 15 years collecting evidence that the British Government's explanation for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) - that it is caused by animals being fed infected meat and bone meal from sheep infected with scrapie - is wrong. It is widely believed that variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease - the human form of mad cow disease - is caused by eating BSE-infected beef. But Mr Purdey believes high levels of manganese in the environment and exposure to the pesticide phosmet don't just affect cows, but also make people susceptible to CJD. His findings were detailed in a BBC Panorama special on the ABC's Four Corners last night. (The Age, Melbourne)

"Cancer fear on fire uniforms" - "VICTORIAN firemen believe their protective uniforms may be killing them. A "secret" report claims cancer-causing toxins from fires are being trapped in uniforms. Fire brigade management has been accused of hiding the report, prompting a series of work bans by the state's 1600 fire officers today." (Herald Sun)

"Human 'may have foot-and-mouth'" - "The Department of Health is investigating a report that a contract worker in Cumbria may have contracted the foot-and-mouth virus. If confirmed, the case would be only the second ever recorded in this country, although experts say the illness is only mild in humans, and that no cases of human to human transmission have ever been recorded. The man is a temporary contract worker employed by Maff to assist with the culling of animals." | Human foot-and-mouth: The history (BBC Online) | Possible Human Foot-and-Mouth Case Has Implications (Reuters) | Forty people have caught it before (The Times)

"Foot and mouth virus spreads to wild deer" - "The foot and mouth virus has passed into Britain's wild deer population, making the Government's policy of mass slaughter of farmyard livestock futile.

There have been several cases of vets clinically identifying the disease in wild deer, some of which have died from it. There have also been many reports from Devon, Cumbria and Northumberland of deer limping and exhibiting other unusual behaviour linked to the disease.

Veterinary experts say it is impossible to vaccinate or cull wild deer and once infected they will act as a reservoir for the virus, repeatedly re-infecting livestock. It will make it almost impossible for Britain to rid itself of the virus, until it dies out naturally in wild deer, which could take years." (Observer)

the Indy begs to differ: "There is no alternative to the mass burnings" - "Whether the foot-and-mouth crisis really is under control (and there are encouraging signs that the rate of new cases is slowing), the aftermath of the disease, in terms of disposing of the carcasses of both diseased and healthy animals, will remain with us for some time. The scale of the task can scarcely be overstated. There are some 1.8 million animals currently awaiting destruction. Difficult questions remain about the best way to destroy the carcasses." (Independent)

"Cancer fear from animal pyre chemicals" - "Foot and mouth pyres are releasing more potentially cancer causing chemicals to the atmosphere than all of the country's most hazardous factories put together, it emerged yesterday." (Guardian) | Health fears over burning pyres | Foot-and-mouth pyres: Dioxin danger? | Protesters win battle over burning (BBC Online)

"Giant pit will hold 500,000 carcasses" - "A VAST grave is being built in the Devon countryside for nearly half a million animals slaughtered to control foot-and-mouth disease. Fifteen 80-metre-long barrows, each larger and far more elaborate than anything marking the grave of an Iron Age chieftain, will eventually contain the remains of nearly half a million animals. Flares lit by the gases of decomposition will illuminate the night sky above the tombs and teams of maintenance engineers will be required to service the site for at least a decade. It is death on a scale that even those involved in its construction find staggering." (The Times)

"Rotten smell could be the big problem" - "NOTHING quite like the Ash Moor barrows has been designed before. Human burial is a custom that dates back to prehistory and has done no detectable harm to people living near by. Nor does the odd dead sheep in a Lakeland ghyll pose much of a risk to ramblers drinking the water downstream. But never have so many animals been buried so close together as they will be at Ash Moor." (The Times)

"American Farm Bureau Addresses Eco-Terrorism" - "U.S. Plans to Beat Foot-and-Mouth Disease In its efforts to help keep the United States free from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to address threats from eco-terrorists. “Incredibly, there are people who would threaten our food supply and the economic underpinning of our industry to attain their personal goals,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “An animal rights group leader, for example, told a reporter that she hopes foot-and-mouth disease would be introduced in America, claiming resultant weakened livestock production in this country would be good for animals, good for human health and good for the environment. Such comments encourage those who in the past have vandalized, burned and destroyed university buildings and private animal production facilities.” (AgWeb.com)

"Overkill On Schools" - "While two years have passed since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's rampage through Columbine High School, the memory of their act continues to influence the national debate on school safety and discipline. Unfortunately, the panic created by Columbine and other highly publicized school shootings threatens to undermine rational educational policy.

There is no dispute that the risk of being killed in school is extraordinarily low and getting lower. School shootings have declined throughout the 1990s, to the point at which a child now has less than a one-in-2-million chance of being killed in school. Today a student is more likely to be killed by lightning than in a school homicide. And it is not just school shootings that have declined: According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, fights, gun possession and overall school crime are down, too." (Washington Post)

"Alcohol warning labels debated" - "OTTAWA -- Canadians could see graphic warning labels on their booze bottles if the federal government listens to MPs urging action to address the hazards of fetal alcohol syndrome." (CP)

"Why Hasn't Food Irradiation Caught On?" - "Government-approved irradiation technology allows food manufacturers to kill pathogens like E. coli, extend the shelf life of raw meat and delay spoilage of fresh foods, but there’s still a problem. Consumers and food processors have shown great reluctance to accept the technology, despite its benefits.

Just-Food.com examined the reasons why this is occurring. According to a 2000 survey by the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), only half of U.S. consumers were willing to buy irradiated ground beef or chicken, and only a fourth were willing to pay premium prices for the products." (AgWeb.com)

"Snack Attack, CSPI-style" - "There they go again. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) complains to the New Orleans Times-Picayune that snack foods are to blame for rising obesity numbers. Michael Jacobson, CSPI's executive director, says that anyone who claims otherwise (including university researchers) must be bankrolled by evil snack corporations. CSPI has even added a new shingle to its collection, the "Integrity in Science Project," to root out and expose the funding sources of any research that Jacobson finds suspect.

Of course, CSPI has its own financial baggage; perhaps it should first focus its new magnifying glass inward. Take CSPI's opposition to Olestra, for example. You'd think that the Food Police would support alternatives to saturated fat, especially one that the FDA declared was "safe for use in savory snacks." But CSPI has been a long-time opponent of this fat substitute, claiming again and again that its own "independent" research uncovered the product's harmfulness. Perhaps CSPI's surprising anti-Olestra position was influenced by the $40,000 in grants it accepted during 1998 and 1999 from the Helena Rubenstein Foundation for "public education on [the] health effects of olestra." Food cop, heal thyself." (GuestChoice.com)

"Initiative promotes more exercise, less TV for youth" - "WASHINGTON - A new campaign beginning Monday encourages youngsters and their families to turn off their television sets and exercise more. "This is the most overweight, obese generation of children in our history," Surgeon General David Satcher said in an interview. "The message this week is about saving lives." (AP)

"AUSTRALIA: Organic market grows amid debates over nutrition" - "A new report by the Organic Food Association has revealed that consumption of organic food in Australia is rising by about 25% a year. At this rate, the organic sector could be worth A$1bn by 2006.

There is still a debate on the benefits of organic food in the country, however. It has been difficult for organic crops to ditch the negative reputation acquired in 1998 when Denis T Avery claimed that consumers increased their chances of contracting fatal bacteria eight-fold through eating organic food. Apparently this statistic came from studies carried out at the US Centre for Disease; however others dismiss the figure as biased speculation because the multinationals fund research into agriculture.

Another debate surrounds the consumers organic goods reach and whether the produce will remain a luxury or become a standard feature of the mainstream food market." (just-food.com)

"Food Fight" - "Genetically modified food is the perfect issue for our self-involved, rightfully paranoid age. And we might as well acknowledge now that there is no right response to it -- we can't put the technological genie back in the bottle, as some would have us do, but we can't let all the genies run around loose, either. It is, as a two-hour "Frontline"/"Nova" special airing tonight at 9 on Channel 26 says, "a moral quagmire." (Washington Post)

"Brazil court battle for GM soya" - "Consumer and environmental groups are fighting a rearguard action in the Brazilian courts to try to prevent the government legalising the cultivation of genetically modified soya. Brazil is the last large-scale producer of soy beans not to introduce GM varieties - making many European retailers, which want to remain GM-free, come here to buy. At the same time, the Brazilian Government is funding a multi-million dollar research programme to use genetic modification on a wide variety of tropical crops, which it says could be of benefit to developing countries around the world." (BBC Online)

"Biotech Corn Found In Variety of Foods" - "A genetically engineered variety of corn that caused massive recalls of taco shells last year has spread further through the food supply than had been thought and is present in a much wider range of processed foods, officials reported yesterday." (Washington Post)

"Biotech crops feeding debate" - "LONDON - The debate over genetically modified, or GM, crops in Europe has taken a back seat to more immediate concerns about foot-and-mouth disease, but for those involved in the fight, the issue of biotech foods looms as large as ever. With the spring planting season rolling on and the latest farm-scale trials for GM sugar, fodder beet and oilseed rape getting under way in Britain, a perennial crop of questions sprouts all along the supply chain about whether there really is a market for GM products. Tony Combes, director of corporate affairs for Monsanto U.K. Ltd., has heard the doubts before, and said they`re answered by U.S. agriculture department data about the planting intentions of U.S. farmers." (Dow Jones)

"Concern over Sri Lanka GM ban" - "Food importers in Sri Lanka say they will not be able to comply with a comprehensive ban on all types of genetically modified food. The ban comes into effect in Sri Lanka at the beginning of May. It was announced earlier this month, despite concerns from the importers that they will not be able to meet the requirements for scientific testing." (BBC Online)

"Greenpeace claim to have "prevented" GM rice is erroneous" - "The environmental lobby Greenpeace has not, as it claims, "prevented" release of genetically modified rice in the Philippines, BioMedNet News confirmed today. Rice researchers there say it would take that long to complete their research in the first place." (BioMedNet News)

"Japan adamantly against biotech wheat - US report" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Japanese wheat industry players remain adamant in their stance against genetically modified (GM) wheat, a team of U.S. wheat industry leaders learned on a trip to Japan last week." (Reuters)

"Seeds Contain Biotech Contamination" - "WASHINGTON - More than one quarter of the nation's seed suppliers have found corn seed contaminated with traces of a biotech variety wasn't approved for human consumption, the government says. The Department of Agriculture agreed to buy the contaminated corn to ensure that it doesn't get planted. So far, 77 of the nation's 281 companies have asked for the purchase contracts, USDA spokesman Kevin Herglotz said Monday." (AP)

"Kenyan in SA Biotech Policy Team" - "A Kenyan scientist and policy expert was yesterday appointed by the South African government to help formulate its policy on biotechnology and genetically modified products. Dr John O. Mugabe, the executive director of the Nairobi-based African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), will be on a panel of experts to formulate laws on the use of biotechnology." (AllAfrica.com)

April 23, 2001

"Kyoto chairman to propose global warming alternatives" - "Most countries want to push ahead with talks for a legally binding international treaty to combat global warming despite the opposition of the United States to the Kyoto Protocol, conference chairman Jan Pronk says." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) | EU won't budge on Kyoto treaty (AAP)

"Global Climate-Change Talks to Continue, With or Without U.S." - "New York, April 21 -- Representatives of more than 40 nations agreed during a meeting in New York City to continue negotiations over the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global climate change, with or without further U.S. participation." (Bloomberg) | U.N. climate conference laments U.S. opposition (CNN) | EU presses on with Kyoto (BBC Online)

"Environment ministers to Bush: Kyoto still alive" - "As a prelude to Earth Day, which is being celebrated around the world Sunday, the head of international negotiations on climate change said after a Saturday ministerial-level meeting that, despite United States rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, it is alive and although "not completely healthy, it is recovering." (UPI)

According to the `peas, the US is "isolated in the world in its rejection of the protocol." Guess that means Australia, Canada, Argentina and probably Japan make up the 51st-54th states now - oddly, I hadn't heard anything about their joining the Union.

"Not so hot" - "In his class at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Al Gore told students the case for his alarmist view on global warming was so strong journalists should ignore the opinions of skeptics. Meanwhile, the National Weather Service was reporting that last November and December constituted the coldest two-month period since the federal government began keeping temperature records 106 years ago. Siberia's winter was the coldest in a century. Data from NASA's weather satellites indicate that since 1979, global temperatures have been falling about 1 degree Fahrenheit every 10 years." (Jack Kelly, Post-Gazette)

"Beyond Kyoto's sound and fury" - "BBC News Online's environment correspondent Alex Kirby takes a personal look at the issues underlying attempts to rally support for the global climate treaty. (BBC Online)

"Bush may not be wrong to reject Kyoto" - "U.S. President George W. Bush has announced his opposition to an international global-warming treaty, citing the harm it could do the U.S. economy and the costs it would impose upon its workers. Predictably, this decision not to pursue approval of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change generated a firestorm of criticism around the world. Given the outcry, it would seem that there are few arguments to support the American position. This is incorrect." (Japan Times)

"Trittin to Explain Benefits of Climate Protection" - "F.A.Z. NEW YORK. Although the United States announced over the weekend that it would attend the Bonn summit on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, German Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin warned against unrealistic hopes that Washington could be persuaded to rejoin the climate protection process." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

"Atmospheric carbon: The litter we can't see" - "On Earth Day 30 years ago today, Iron Eyes Cody, a self-described "Hollywood Indian," paddled a canoe before belching smokestacks, watched litter fall at his moccasined feet and turned a tear-streaked cheek toward America's television audience. "People start pollution," a narrator intoned. "People can stop it." The ad, funded in part by the soft-drink and food-packaging industry, became an icon of America's early environmental stirrings.

More elusive may be an icon for the litter of a new century: atmospheric carbon, the chief culprit in the warming of our atmosphere." (Eric Sorensen, Seattle Times)

I wasn't aware that soda cans and plastic food wrappers nourish plant life, although atmospheric carbon most certainly does. Dubbing atmospheric carbon dioxide "litter," as this piece does, is a truly bizarre description for an essential trace gas.

As far as has been ascertained to date, rising level of atmospheric carbon has historically been a response to, not a cause of, planetary warming. Just because the anti-fossil fuel brigade keep saying it heats the planet catastrophically doesn't make it so and this position remains a vague hypothesis, devoid of empirical support.

"U.S. Wants to `Reengage' Others on Global Warming, Whitman Says" - "Washington, April 22 -- President George W. Bush wants the United States to be part of an international response to global warming, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman said." (Bloomberg) | US may be ready to resume climate talks (Financial Times) | US may still cut gases, Hill claims (The Age, Melbourne)

"Pittsburgh perspective" - "If the grand bargain of the hurry-up Kyoto Protocol of 1997 wasn't the right strategy for the problem of global warming, what might constitute a more promising approach? If you look to the history of successful environmental cleanups, two lessons quickly emerge." (David Warsh, Boston Globe)

"Energy tax 'futile and unfair to business'" - "CBI Scotland claims the new energy tax is flawed and will raise funds for the exchequer rather than change environmental attitudes in industry. In an unpublished report, Fred McDonogh, chairman of the CBI's Scottish environment taskforce, has also questioned the timing of the climate change levy." (Sunday Times)

Labor/Green alliance not winning too many friends after all? "Union warns of blue over greens" - "A senior union figure yesterday warned of a stoush with the Labor Party over greenhouse policy, as the ALP, with a federal election looming, tries to win green preferences. Opposition Leader Kim Beazley said Australia should stay engaged with the Kyoto agreement despite American opposition to it. Labor's stance, which Industry Minister Nick Minchin has said could cost jobs amid tightening of environmental controls on manufacturers, is aimed at helping win crucial green votes. But Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Doug Cameron warned that his members would take issue with any ALP policy that threatened jobs. "We would want to talk to Labor about the effect of any protocol or any treaty on manufacturing jobs," he told the Ten Network yesterday." (The Age, Melbourne)

"Earth Day: A grass-roots effort hijacked" - "Today is the 31st anniversary of Earth Day, the 1970 happening that has become a sort of Easter of the environmental movement. Earth Day marks the resurrection of the planet after its near-murder at the hands of evil humans. In the green view, nature is God, the forest primeval is the cathedral and the Environmental Protection Agency is the source of the gospel. As always, however, the devil is at hand: this time in the form of George W. Bush and the corporate cabal that is scheming to resume its rape of the planet. Already, the Bush administration has visited a series of "atrocities" on nature, according to the Sierra Club." (Thomas J. Bray, Detroit News)

"Environmentalists united in anger at Bush" - "Washington --- George W. Bush's presidency is three months old. Already, it has produced a string of budget proposals and policy actions that, on today's 31st observance of Earth Day, industry is applauding and environmentalists are condemning." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) | Earth Day celebrations bring criticism for Bush (AP) | Bush's Green Record Defended; Subpoena Threatened (Reuters) | Congressional leaders take Bush to task on environment (AP)

"Hearts and Heads" - "There is an old European saying: anyone who is not a socialist before he is 30 has no heart; anyone who is still a socialist after he is 30 has no head. Suitably updated, this applies perfectly to the movement against globalization — the movement that made its big splash in Seattle back in 1999 and is doing its best to disrupt the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City this weekend." (Paul Krugman, New York Times)

"Lasting Earth Day lessons for the new president" - "President George W. Bush has upset millions of Americans who place a high value on a clean environment. Today, on Earth Day, the new president's record is smudged." says this Seattle Times editorial

"ECO-HOLICS ARE JUST TRUST-FUND TRASHERS" - "April 22, 2001 -- THEY are whitebread trust-fund trashers and traitors who are a bull's roar away from the hippies of another generation of demonstrators. Molotov cocktails, slingshots, helmets and gas masks have replaced guitars. Combat boots have replaced sandals. The command of the late '60s and early '70s to "be cool" has been replaced by the call to destroy." (Steve Dunleavy, New York Post)

"Colorado of two minds about our environment" - "How green are we? It's a conundrum. Colorado has more than 4 million acres of wilderness but more than 4 million people, too - with seemingly as many ideas about the state of the environment. Many of us describe ourselves as environmentalists, but we're the world capital for SUVs, we haven't embraced mass transit, and our developments are gobbling up the Front Range and mountain valleys in a surging tide." (Denver Post)

"Environmental meltdown in the White House" - "Despite my disappointment about the election results, I thought in January that there were a few specific reasons for hope on environmental policy under Bush. Hadn't he promised to take significant new steps to fight global warming, promoted an ambitious plan to save the world's threatened tropical forests, and campaigned on ''compassionate conservation'' and a ''humble foreign policy?" (Ian Bowles, Boston Globe)

"Poison Control: It’s Toxic Texan versus Clean Greens" - "TODAY is Earth Day 2001. The theme this year, ‘Safe Power? Against Nuclear Energy', has a special significance vis-a-vis the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for a cleaner and safer environment. Nuclear power though presenting itself as a "cleaner" energy source is not, unlike wind, geothermal and solar power, safer, because of radioactive waste.

Hence simplistic solutions to construct nuclear power plants can generate intractable environmental problems.

More immediately, however, the 2001 Earth Day is presented with an urgent dilemma following the apparent US rejection of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to control carbon dioxide emissions, a worldwide initiative to check impending global warming. This is even now more urgent since some countries willing to dump the Protocol are already calling for a new process following Washington's rejection." (New Straits Times)

"BP no longer 'Beyond Petroleum'" - "BP was forced into an embarrassing u-turn on Thursday on its much touted new slogan, Beyond Petroleum, as campaigners took the company to task over its record on environmental issues and human rights.

Speaking at the annual meeting in London, Peter Sutherland, the chairman, and Sir John Browne, the chief executive, in effect admitted that the time had come for the company to ditch the advertising slogan.

Introduced during last summer's rebrand of its petrol stations, the slogan drew derision from other oil companies and excited embarrassing hopes from world environmental groups that BP was going out of the hydrocarbon business.

One of the shareholder resolutions, tabled by green groups, called on the company to chart a timetable for reducing or eliminating fossil fuel production.

"When we use the words beyond petroleum, it does not mean we are pulling out of oil," said Mr Sutherland. "Merely that we are taking a broad vision - not a tunnel vision - of the energy business."

Sir John joined in the same endeavour to empty the slogan of precise content. Far from giving up oil, "Beyond Petroleum just means we are giving up the old mindset, the old thinking that oil companies had to be dirty, secretive and arrogant." (Financial Times)

Dopey green pitch a really bad idea, eh fellas? Don't take it too badly, it doesn't matter what concessions are made to the enviro-flake brigade, in order to remain "relevant" they must constantly shift the goal posts to make ever more extreme demands or admit "success" and go out of business. Pandering to the whackos is a guaranteed loser.

"Tradeoff for summer power could be increased pollution" - "Pollution regulators worry a surge in emergency diesel generator use in this summer of predicted power outages is going to spew tons more pollution into the skies, and slow California's struggle to clean its air." (Contra Costa Times)

"Oil drilling in refuge appears dead" - "WASHINGTON, April 22 — As activists around the country observed Earth Day, word came Sunday that the Bush administration no longer intends to push for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Christine Todd Whitman, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, told NBC News that the plan was essentially dead because it would be too hard to win congressional approval." (MSNBC) | Arctic safe from oil drilling proposal (Independent)

"Spanish study makes genetic link to phobias" - "EDINBURGH, Scotland - Preliminary research suggests panic attacks and phobias may be linked to an unusual genetic abnormality. A Spanish scientist reported Sunday at a meeting of the Human Genome Organization that among a random sample of people with anxiety disorders, 97 percent had a duplication of genetic material on chromosome 15 - compared with 7 percent in a comparison group of healthy people. Experts say the finding could lead to better drugs for the condition, which afflicts about 10 to 20 percent of the population." (AP)

"Lying around is 'good for you'" - "The thousands taking part in Sunday's London Marathon may be disappointed to hear a German scientist's view that lazing around is more beneficial than exercise. Doing as little as possible is better than forcing yourself to go to the gym, according to Professor Peter Axt. He says lying about is the key to a long life and an antidote to professional stress." (BBC Online)

Provided always that your calorie intake matches your expenditure. Those who laze around but eat to suit marathon running are headed for obesity and health problems.

"Human evolution is heading in a new direction claims study into childbirth" - "Natural selection is continuing to exert a powerful influence on women's reproduction, with teenage girls becoming more genetically predisposed to having babies earlier in life, according to a pioneering study that shows human evolution is taking a new direction." (Independent)

"Fears over disposal of carcasses" - "Concerns are being voiced about the effect on the environment of both burning and burial of animals slaughtered in the foot-and-mouth cull." (BBC Online) | Inquiry on health risk of burning carcasses (The Times)

"Dioxin dangers still unclear" - "THE foot-and-mouth epidemic is likely to reverse a decade-long decline in pollution by dioxins, among the most controversial of pollutants. Burning millions of animals on pyres of wood and coal will generate hundreds of ounces of dioxins, and may even double Britain’s annual output. The amount produced will, however, fall far short of the output of ten years ago. Dioxins have a fearsome reputation, dating largely from the anti-Vietnam War protests when they were identified in the defoliant Agent Orange, used against North Vietnam. Evidence of human harm is, however, harder to find. ... Acute exposure produces chloracne, a hard-to-treat disfiguring skin condition. This was the main symptom after an explosion at a chemical factory at Seveso, Italy, in 1976." (The Times) | Ministers claim pyre pollution is 'no greater than two bonfire nights' (Independent)

"Scientists identify 'the sweet tooth gene'" - "The secret of a sweet tooth may have been solved by scientists, who believe they have found the gene responsible for creating the most sought-after sensation of the taste buds." (Independent)

"Comment: Biotechnology Weathers Storm" - "Despite a blizzard of negative news, U.S. farmers will not shy away from crop biotechnology when planters roll this spring. Some corn growers who were stung in connection with the highly publicized taco shell recall last fall may avoid modified seeds, but overall acres of engineered crops are expected to climb about 10 percent from a year ago, according to government data. Genetically modified corn, cotton or soybean varieties are expected to grow on 76.7 million acres, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. For the three crops combined, biotech seeds are expected to grow on about 45 percent of all planted acres. That's likely surprising to some outside of farm country, especially to activists waging an ongoing war against the technology." (Modesto Bee)

"Philippine president reverses course on transgenics" - "The president of the Philippines made a 360-degree turn on transgenic foods. Cropchoice reported two weeks ago that the Crop Protection Association of the Philippines (CPAP) and members of the National Academy of Science and Technology of the Philippines (NAST) were pressuring President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to reconsider her stand against transgenic foods. It worked. She now wants to move ahead with the commercial planting of transgenic crops and sales of food with ingredients derived from the technology." (Cropchoice news)

April 21-22, 2001

"Kyoto accord hangs over UN as diplomats look to Rio+10" - "UNITED NATIONS -- “Let Rio+10 [next year’s scheduled World Summit on Sustainable Development] not be a repeat performance of Rio+5.” That ad-lib exhortation, delivered by Svend Auken, Denmark’s Minister of Environment and Energy, at the ninth annual meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) Thursday, drew a gasp from his listeners.

Although the official preparatory committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2002 Summit in Johannesburg is not scheduled to begin until after the CSD has ended, it was clear that the delegates shared Auken’s concern that next year’s summit might well be a repeat of the 1997 special session of the UN General Assembly convoked for the five-year review of implementation of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit -- a review that is widely regarded as a failure because its participants did little but bemoan the lack of implementation." (Earth Times)

Given this quote:

"Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" -- Maurice Strong, head of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and Executive Officer for Reform in the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations. [The Environmentalists' Little Green Book, ISBN 0-615-11628-0]

why would any rational individual want to see the rotten thing implemented at any time? It's a blueprint of misanthropic malice that should be incinerated along with the Kyoto Protocol.

Today's pick dodgy climate figures: "U.S. needs major steps to overtake European climate research, UW scientist says" - "The United States seriously lags behind England and Germany when it comes to computer-driven climate research, and a University of Washington scientist says it is time to take dramatic steps toward leadership in the field.

"I find it extraordinary that England does more focused and more extensive climate modeling than the United States does. That shouldn't be," said Edward Sarachik, a UW atmospheric sciences professor who headed a National Research Council panel that recently examined the issue.

Although the United States spends $1.8 billion a year on climate research, only 6 percent goes to modeling that can provide a much clearer picture of long-term changes, Sarachik said. England, on the other hand, has focused its spending, with $50 million for the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting and another $25 million for Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. The centers use data and small-scale research generated in the United States to synthesize large-scale climate information." (UW release)

The US spends $1.8billion annually on climate research, 6% of which ($108m) goes into computer games. The UK spends $75m on 2 research centres, some of which is modelling budget. How is the US lagging behind? Even more importantly, how much does the UK spend on real climate research as opposed models, which are basically imagination and wishful thinking. Unfortunately, what passes for climate research these days is based on equally dubious calculation.

"That sinking feeling" - "Most of the world is being spared the effects of global warming, because the ocean is absorbing the heat, with disastrous results for Pacific nations." (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

Actually a shameless promo for "Rising Waters: Global Warming and the Fate of the Pacific Islands", 6 p.m. Sunday on KHET/PBS.

Regarding the touted studies, see The Return of `Moby Dick'. - Two new papers about the deep oceans in the journal Science have the media all abuzz. But the papers make lots of questionable assumptions which renders their conclusions equally rubbery. This report critically examines their procedures and conclusions.

Sea level rise in the Pacific? "Dr Wolfgang Scherer, director of the National Tidal Facility (NTF) of Flinders University, South Australia, which undertook the review, told BBC News Online that the much larger increases in global sea level predicted by some climate models were not apparent in their regional data. "There is no acceleration in sea level rise - none that we can discern, at all," he said." ['No acceleration' in Pacific sea rise]

Sigh... another model: "Thawing Permafrost Threatens Northern Hemisphere" - "LONDON - Global warming is thawing permafrost in the northern hemisphere and making large areas vulnerable to subsidence, American researchers said on Wednesday. The disappearance of permafrost, soil that has been below freezing point for long periods, has accelerated in recent decades and is threatening infrastructure in northern regions, including nuclear power stations.

``A zone in the high-risk category (of thawing permafrost) extends discontinuously around the Arctic Ocean, indicating that there is a high potential for coastal erosion,'' said Frederick Nelson of the Department of Geography and Center for Climactic Research at the University of Delaware. In a report in the science journal Nature, Nelson and his colleagues used a mathematical model to map areas at the greatest risk." (Reuters)

"Surging glacier surprises researchers" - "Glaciologists watching for a surge on the Muldrow Glacier on the north side of Mount McKinley got a big surprise this week when they learned the Tokositna Glacier on the south side of the mountain had unexpectedly taken off. ... Adema said the toe of the glacier down in a valley near the Tokositna River has yet to move, but the glacier that winds back toward the base of McKinley has been rapidly folding up behind that plug like an accordion. ... The Tokositna, according to Adema, "has historically surged occasionally, but they were always small surges that historically start in the upper Y," below Mount Huntington. ... Glaciologists are hoping that the monitoring will enable them to spot the factors that trigger glacial surges. They doubt, Adema added, that weather changes are much of a factor, because glaciers are so thick that the effects of a single year have little impact. ... The only real climate factor that seems to have much to do with galloping glaciers is the one that undermines research on them, Adema added. "Because it's a surging glacier," he said, "it really doesn't get much research. Once you can't predict how fast a glacier is moving, it's not worth monitoring" for climate data, and in the midst of the continuing debate on global warming, attempts to collect climate data are getting all the research money." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Study Says Earth May Be Growing Dimmer As It Warms" - "LOS ANGELES - The Earth, as seen from space, may be growing dimmer as it warms, according to a study released this week at southern California's Big Bear Solar Observatory that could ultimately lead to a new way to test for global warming. ... The key question now is whether the slow decline in earthshine over the past five years is the result of global warming or tied instead to the well-documented 11-year cycle in the sun's magnetic activity, said Koonin." (Reuters) | Scientists Find Way to Gauge Earth's Glow Methods (New York Times)

"Trittin Will Stand Up for Kyoto Agreement" - "WASHINGTON. In the aftermath of President George Bush's statement that the Kyoto Protocol was dead, environment politicians are looking for ways to resuscitate it." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) | Global Steam Released on Kyoto (Wired News)

"Environment figure tells Blair to get tough on US" - "A TOP environmentalist yesterday urged Tony Blair to "stand up to the US" in the row over climate change. Charles Secrett, the executive director of Friends of the Earth, said the Prime Minister had to get tough with America following President George W Bush’s pledge to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, which sets a legally binding 5 per cent reduction on greenhouse gases by 2010. He urged Mr Blair to stop his spin doctors from undermining Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who is currently at the United Nations in New York representing Britain at an environmental conference." (The Scotsman)

"Prescott cools row over climate treaty" - "Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has sought to cool the row over America's rejection of the Kyoto Treaty on global warming by adopting a "wait and see" approach. Mr Prescott said he was prepared to accept US "goodwill" and its willingness to negotiate the treaty's future later in the year." (BBC Online)

"Australia vital to survival of greenhouse treaty: UN" - "Australia, Canada and Japan were crucial to the survival of the Kyoto global warming treaty after the United States had threatened to pull out, a key United Nations negotiator warned yesterday. Mr Jan Pronk, the chairman of the UN's climate change negotiating panel, told a conference on global warming in Washington it would be "very, very difficult" for the Kyoto accord to proceed if those countries backed out." | Greenhouse pact too important to start over again says Jan Pronk | Push US on greenhouse, Australia told (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Warm welcome for Hill in the US" - "Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill received a warm reception in Washington yesterday as Australia took a conciliatory approach to the United States' rejection of the Kyoto protocol on global warming. While officials from Europe and the United Nations were criticising the US position, Senator Hill said he was convinced the Bush administration was committed to fighting global warming, but was realistic in its assessment that the Kyoto protocol lacked public and congressional support." (Melbourne Age)

"Australia snubs European calls to back Kyoto" - "CANBERRA - Australia insisted again yesterday that an international pact to control greehouse gas emissions would have to be renegotiated if the United States stuck by its decision to reject the so called Kyoto treaty." (Reuters)

"Howard refuses to sign Kyoto without US" - "Australia risked economic damage by ratifying the Kyoto protocol without United States support, Prime Minister John Howard said. Mr Howard said the international protocol would fail in reducing greenhouse gas emissions if it excluded developing nations. The US recently withdrew from the protocol and Australia has said it won't ratify the agreement until the US does. "The question of ratification is dependent upon the actions of others, there is no point in believing an agreement like this can be ratified if the United States is not part of it," Mr Howard told reporters in Adelaide. If the protocol applied only in developed countries "the dirty industries will leave industrialised countries and go to developing countries and the air will still be polluted", he said." (AAP)

"Patten rejects Australian greenhouse gas initiative" - "THE EU: The European Union's Commissioner for External Relations, Mr Chris Patten, yesterday criticised Australia's decision to seek a new process to control greenhouse gas emissions after the United States abandoned the Kyoto protocol.

"I don't see how it helps simply to say, well, because America isn't going to go along with it . . . the rest of us can tear it up and go back to base," Mr Patten told diplomats in Canberra.

Australian Environment Minister Robert Hill said on Sunday the international community needed to start a new process for cutting global greenhouse gases following last month's decision by Washington to reject the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming." (Irish Times)

"Most Australians back Kyoto protocol - poll" - "SYDNEY - The vast majority of Australians believe their government should ratify the Kyoto agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions despite U.S. rejection of the treaty, according to a Greenpeace-commissioned poll released yesterday." (Reuters)

"Howard dismisses poll showing Kyoto support" - "Prime Minister John Howard dismissed a poll which found more than 80 per cent of Australians believed the government should ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Mr Howard said anyone who was asked their opinion about the protocol would have taken it as a question about their support for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. "Anybody would say yes to that - I say yes to that," Mr Howard told Melbourne radio 3AW. The poll specifically asked respondents if they supported ratifying the protocol. "I support a worldwide agreement effectively controlling the growth of greenhouse gas emissions," Mr Howard said. "What I don't support is an approach that doesn't include the developing countries." (AAP)

"Canberra's Kyoto stand gives comfort to US" - "Anyone in doubt about the crucial role Australia is playing in the desperate efforts to save the Kyoto global warming treaty should peruse the Web site of the Global Climate Coalition. The coalition is a powerful group of mostly American multinationals providing a "voice for business in the global warming debate". President George Bush's abrupt decision this month to pull out of Kyoto was labelled "irresponsible", "sabotage" and dangerous" by most world leaders. The coalition applauded Mr Bush." (Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Melbourne, version here)

For the benefit of those not familiar with SMH (New South Wales) and Fairfax companion publication, The Age (Melbourne, Victoria), they stand to the right of The Green Left Weekly, but not, perhaps, beyond comfortable conversation range. The articles about which Gay Alcorn whines in this piece are from The Australian (News Limited national publication) and Associated Press.

"Downer adamant on gas emissions" - "Australia would not confront the United States on climate change and wanted to work with it, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday, despite continuing pressure from Europe for Australia to help push the US back into the Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions." (also by Gay Alcorn, this time in The Age)

"Europe pins its hopes on trying to prise open the umbrella" - "Australia has a key role to play in shaming the US on climate control, writes Michael Millett in Tokyo. Frustrated by Washington's obstinacy on climate control, the European bloc is trying the fallback strategy espoused by the Chinese tactician Sun Tzu more than 2,000 years ago: "Isolate your opponent from his allies". The European Union's appeal this week to Japan, Australia and Canada to rescue the Kyoto protocol is a blatant attempt by the bloc to split the "umbrella group" that acts as its main foil on greenhouse reform. It is also a tacit recognition that confronting Washington head-on would be fruitless." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Europe despairs of United States ever backing treaty limiting global warming" - "UNITED NATIONS -- The European Union said Wednesday it is losing hope of U.S. support for an international global-warming treaty but it pledged to keep the accord alive. Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said the 15-country group intensified its campaign this week to persuade Washington to accept the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty aimed a reducing heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide." (AP)

"Critics Attack US Treaty Rejection" - "UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Nations around the globe kept up an attack on the Bush administration Thursday for its rejection of a global-warming treaty, ignoring the president's announcement of U.S. action against nearly a dozen pollutants.

Top environment officials from Latin America, the South Pacific and the Caribbean joined the European Union in vowing to move ahead to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty aimed a reducing heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide that are the prime cause of global warming.

Mexico views ``with great consternation'' the decision by President Bush to reject the previous U.S. commitment to reduce emissions, said Francisco Szekely, undersecretary of the planning and policy of Mexico's environment secretariat.

Chile, speaking on behalf of a number of South American nations, expressed hope ``that the government of the United States will reconsider its position not to participate.'' Chile's U.N. Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdes accused Washington of abandoning its international responsibility.

Environment ministers are in New York this week for the ninth annual meeting of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development." (AP) | U.S. EPA chief defends records on environment (Reuters) | Little Change in Views of Bush 3 Months Into His Presidency (New York Times)

"Canada says EU approach may hurt climate fight" - "Refusal by the head of U.N. climate change talks to deviate far from the hard-line European stance on emissions could actually slow the fight against greenhouse gases, Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson said Friday. Anderson, speaking to Reuters from the United Nations, where he has been discussing global warming with other ministers, said Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk was unwilling to give enough credit to innovative ways of limiting greenhouse gases. "The ... reasons have not been properly explained to us — if they exist — for doing less in cleaning up the atmosphere, which the European plan is," said Anderson, who has often sided with the United States in battling the European Union." (Reuters)

"A Dangerous Game" - "FRANKFURT. The wrath of the environmentally motivated over the U.S. president's pulling out of the multilateral climate protection process has yet to subside. In Canberra, in the southern hemisphere, the first Global Greens Conference was held over the Easter weekend, and no journey was too long and not a liter of kerosene too dear for the standard-bearers of the world's ecological conscience, be they from Brazil, North America, Europe or Japan, to put up a united front in Australia against unbridled "economic rationalism," and to threaten a worldwide boycott of U.S. petroleum products. At the same time, the Green rank-and-file got itself organized on the Internet, namely to launch a 100,000-e-mail campaign against George W. Bush, aimed at jamming up the White House's computer lines for a little while." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

"Boycotts target friends of Bush" - "Efforts to change the president's mind on the Kyoto treaty may affect US firms in Europe." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Equity Arguments Entangle Climate Change Negotiations" - "WASHINGTON, DC, April 18, 2001 - Environment ministers, climate change scientists, businesses leaders and activists from around the world met Tuesday to discuss a complicated issue - how can nations ensure that actions taken to combat climate change are fair? Their dialogue raised more questions than it answered, but it also raised hopes that informed debate may yet lead to a successful international climate treaty." (ENS)

"US decision heats up eco-political climate" - "About 80 environmental activists demonstrated outside the US Embassy against the recent announcement by President George W Bush of the United States’ intention not to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. "He is effectively saying that the US economy is more important than the global environment," said Viola Ferencsics of the Foundation for Human and Natural Protection." (Budapest Sun)

"UN debates Kyoto future" - "Forty world environment ministers are meeting in New York on Saturday to discuss the future of the Kyoto protocol. The United Nations' summit has been called in an attempt to salvage a deal following US withdrawal from the agreement last month. Ministers must now decide whether to press ahead with Kyoto's targets on emissions without the US, the world's biggest polluter, or to try and tempt the Americans back." (BBC Online)

"Bush administration softens stance on global warming, Dutch official says" - "On Wednesday, Dutch Environmental Minister Jan Pronk said the Bush administration has toned down its criticism of the 1997 Kyoto climate change treaty and is no longer insisting it is dead." (AP)

"U.S. pessimism over global warming accord" - "WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration believes agreement on tackling global warming is unlikely, according to a leaked State Department memo. The news comes as representatives from 40 nations from Europe, the developing world, and an umbrella group comprising Australia, Japan, Canada and New Zealand, prepare to meet in New York on Saturday to discuss the problem. Despite recent suggestions that Bush's stance might be softening, following an international outcry over his refusal to ratify the 1997 Kyoto treaty, the April 1 cable to diplomatic and consular posts says recent negotiations do not appear to be leading to any significant agreement." (CNN)

"US urged not to block Kyoto" - "The head of the United Nations negotiations on climate change has urged the United States not to block the Kyoto agreement to reduce global warming." (BBC)

"The Week That Was April 21, 2001 brought to you by SEPP" Special Earth Day Issue has now been posted.

"Global warming: the myth and the reality" - Collection of letters to the Sunday Times responding to Melanie Phillips' excellent piece last week. (Sunday Times)

"Pacific environmentalists seek US goods boycott" - "SYDNEY - South Pacific climate activists want a region-wide boycott of all U.S. goods to protest against President George W. Bush's decision to ditch the Kyoto protocol on global warming, a regional umbrella group said yesterday. Stanley Simpson of the Fiji-based Pacific Concern Resource Centre (PCRC) said the plan was to stage a repeat of a regional consumer boycott of French products organised after Paris resumed nuclear tests on South Pacific atolls in the mid-1990s." (Reuters)

"ExxonMobil Publishes Global Climate Change Views" - "IRVING, Texas--April 17, 2001--Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM - news) is sharing its views today on the important issue of global climate change with major ads in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. ``We want to make sure that the public, our customers, the governments we work with, and environmental organizations clearly understand, without third-party interpretation, where we stand on this issue,'' said Frank Sprow, ExxonMobil's vice president for safety, health and environment. Stating that the risk of long-term climate change needs to be addressed in a sound way, the company calls for moving beyond the highly-politicized Kyoto Protocol to an effective international climate policy. The ExxonMobil ads can be accessed by going to the company's website at www.exxonmobil.com." (BUSINESS WIRE)

"New Climate Measures Of El Niño Necessary, NCAR Says" - "Just as the Federal Reserve uses more than one index to measure the health of the economy, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) believe it is essential to have at least two climate measures to capture all "flavors" of El Niño.

Climate scientists have long used changes in sea surface temperatures in specific regions of the Pacific Ocean to characterize El Niño events. But using just that one index does not give a complete picture of the climate phenomenon, according to Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at NCAR.

"El Niño comes in many different 'flavors,' "said Trenberth. "Each has a different and distinct character. An index of average sea surface temperature variations in some parts of the Pacific Ocean does not allow us to differentiate between major, moderate, and minor El Niños, or between the entire nature of the event and its evolution." (Daily University Science News)

"Cornell Greens celebrate CO2 pact" - "ITHACA, N.Y., April 18 (UPI) -- After 148 hours of day-and-night protests, Cornell University students in Ithaca, N.Y. celebrated Wednesday as the university agreed to reduce greenhouse gases, something the university admits it may not be able to achieve." (UPI)

"Swift seen seeking cuts in emissions" - "Acting Governor Jane Swift will demand next week that the state's worst polluting power plants reduce their toxic emissions by as much as 75 percent over the next five years, administration sources said. Swift is to unveil regulations that will force the so-called ''Filthy Five'' plants to cap their carbon dioxide emissions, the first such standard set by a state. In addition, limits will be placed on three other pollutants - mercury, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxides." (Boston Globe)

"Hydrocarbons and the Environment are Compatible, Says BP Amoco's Sir John Browne in World Energy Magazine" - "HOUSTON - Issuing an environmental progress report, BP Amoco Chief Executive Sir John Browne says the world's current demand for energy can only be met by hydrocarbons, but there need not be a tradeoff between the quality of life fueled by oil and gas and the quality of environment based on hydrocarbon emissions. For companies who provide both there's a huge economic prize, he added. Browne's article is available at www.WorldEnergySource.com." (BUSINESS WIRE)

"For the green or greenbacks?" - "A little story in the Wall Street Journal illustrates that there´s just no pleasing some environmentalists. Appeasement just whets their appetite for further concessions. BP Amoco, an evil oil company, is gradually discovering this the hard way. In 1997, the company´s CEO, John Browne, took a public position that carbon emissions should be reduced even though a convincing scientific case had yet to be made linking global warming to such emissions." (David Limbaugh, Washington Times)

"Nuclear energy poised for a comeback" - "Blackouts roll across California. Icebergs calve in the Antarctic Peninsula. Salmon migrate via barges. Water creeps up on island nations. The United States wants energy. The Earth needs to cool down. Are nuclear reactors the answer? (ENN)

"California crisis sparks new look at nuke power" - "The unthinkable is happening: California's power crisis is helping spark renewed interest in the nearly taboo subject of nuclear power, even in this environmentally conscious state. "Investors are increasingly looking at nuclear as an attractive asset for utilities to own rather than a liability like before," James Asselstine, a managing director with Lehman Brothers, told Reuters at a recent nuclear conference here. Utilities are lining up to extend the lives of their nuclear units, and some are assessing building new reactors." (Reuters)

"Duma votes to end ban on nuclear waste imports" - "Russian MPs voted yesterday to allow the importation of 20,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel over the next 10 years, prompting campaigners to say the country had moved significantly closer to becoming an "international nuclear dumping ground". The lower house gave a second reading to a bill to end a long-standing ban on allowing any form of nuclear waste into the country. Despite an increased parliamentary opposition, the third reading is expected to be a formality. The atomic energy ministry argues that an expected income of £14bn will help to pay for the domestic nuclear clean-up programme and improve nuclear disposal facilities." (Guardian)

"Environmental review OK'd" - "WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said yesterday it has decided to abide by a Clinton-era executive order that subjects future trade agreements to environmental review. ''Environmental reviews are an important policy tool for involving the public in the development of the US government's trade objectives and policies,'' the office of US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said in announcing the decision. President Clinton issued an executive order in 1999 requiring that trade deals be reviewed for their potential environmental impact. Guidelines to carry out the directive were put in place last December." (AP)

"Annual Earth Day Environmental Index Finds Improvements" - "SAN FRANCISCO, California, April 20, 2001 - Improvement in U.S. environmental quality is one of the great "success stories of the last generation," says the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) in its 6th Annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, released every year for Earth Day. ... Public confidence in environmental quality remains pessimistic despite dramatic improvements nationwide in air and water quality, toxic emissions, and other significant improvements, said Dr. Steven Hayward, director of the Institute's Center for Environmental and Regulatory Reform. Sensational media coverage may increase public concern and divert public debate, Hayward argued, a trend that appears to be recurring as the idea that California's energy crisis threatens to spread nationwide. "Crisis sells papers, but the evidence shows that these positive environmental trends are almost certain to continue in the coming decade, the result mostly of improving technology and increasing local efforts," said Dr. Hayward." (ENS) | Earth Day Statement By Fred Webber, President & CEO, American Chemistry Council (PRNewswire)

"Bush eager to undo damage from environmental policy" - "WASHINGTON -- With Earth Day just around the corner, President Bush on Thursday said he would sign a global treaty intended to clean the world's air and water by curbing the use of a "dirty dozen" toxic chemicals. Bush's announcement meant that for the fourth consecutive day, his administration was siding, at least symbolically, with some of its strongest critics: environmentalists." (Knight Ridder Newspapers) | President reverses environment stance (Detroit News) | Bush to sign world treaty that forbids 12 toxic chemicals ( Donald Lambro, Washington Times)

What damage? "Poll: Environmental concern slips" - "On the eve of the 31st annual Earth Day, a new poll indicates that the percentage of Americans who say protecting the environment should take priority over economic growth has fallen from a year ago." (The Oregonian)

"Deadly Green" - "Bill Clinton's most wanton closing act had nothing to do with pardoning tax cheats or drug dealers. His quiet decision to sign the U.N. ban on "Persistent Organic Pollutants," which would outlaw a number of lifesaving chemical agents on dubious environmental grounds, will contribute to the deaths of millions of people. Worse, it reaffirms the widespread belief among the world's politicians that there is just no saying no to Green idiocy, no matter how deadly." (Mark Hemingway, American Spectator)

"A Greener George W. Bush?" - "The United States is to sign an environmental treaty aimed at phasing out a number of highly toxic chemicals. US president George W Bush made the announcement on Thursday, after criticism over some of his earlier measures that haven't exactly benefited the environment. President Bush's support for the chemicals convention and other recent measures seem to show a newfound concern for the well-being of the planet. Could we be witnessing the greening of George W. Bush?" (Radio Netherlands)

"Administration To Sign POPs Treaty, CEI Calls On Bush to Take Aggressive Action To Fight Malaria" - "WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Competitive Enterprise Institute responded to the Bush administration’s announcement that the U.S. will sign the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The international agreement bans 12 chemicals, but provides a limited exception for DDT.

“Today Secretary of State Colin Powell underscored the importance of DDT in the fight against malaria,” said CEI Director of Risk and Environmental Policy Angela Logomasini. “With upwards of two million people dying every year from malaria, the Bush Administration should aggressively work to lift numerous barriers facing poor nations seeking to use DDT use for malaria control,” she continued.

For example, in the past, U.S. foreign aid officers have pressured developing nations into not using DDT. In addition, even the sections of the Convention allowing limited use of DDT could create hurdles. “Given substantial public health ramifications of limiting DDT, during the next round of POPs negotiations the Bush Administration should focus on reducing potential treaty-related barriers to DDT use,” Logomasini said." (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"Cholera, Malaria Outbreaks Rampant" - "Malaria and cholera outbreaks have been reported in parts of Kenya's Eastern and Coast provinces evoking panic among residents in the area. The Kenya News Agency said Malaria has already killed six people in Meru North district, Eastern province within the last two weeks. Twenty others are receiving treatment in various hospitals, prompting health workers to launch an intensive anti-malaria campaign." (PANA)

Been waiting for this: "UK's Foot and Mouth Cull Raises Toxic Dilemma" - "LONDON, United Kingdom, April 19, 2001 - The foot and mouth outbreak is under control, according to the United Kingdom government's chief scientist, but the logistical challenge of quickly disposing of more than a million slaughtered animals is raising new fears over dioxins and groundwater contamination." (ENS) | Pyres raise fears over danger to public health (Independent) | Incineration sites closure plan (BBC Online) | Pyres create more pollution than all the factories in UK (Independent)

"Tiny Bits of Soot Tied to Illnesses" - "In a new review of the science behind its proposal to purge fine soot from the air, the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that there is a stronger link than ever between the tiniest soot particles and thousands of premature deaths each year. The analysis, still being revised, considered more than 3,000 new health studies published since the agency proposed rules in 1997 intended to cut levels of soot and other smog ingredients produced mainly by power plants and vehicles. The proposed rules are still under review, and the final analysis could be a crucial factor in the Bush administration's decision about how tough the final rules should be." (New York Times)

"Hanging a price tag on personal safety" - "What price safety? John Graham knows. At least, he has devoted a good deal of his professional life as founder and director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis to devising a measure of the costs and benefits of social choices." (Linda Seebach, Washington Times)

"Waste managers of the ant world" - "For the leaf-cutting ants, successfully disposing of rubbish is a matter of life or death. And the process is rigidly enforced by a strict social hierarchy." (Independent)

So much for the claims of fluorescent greens, "toxic waste dumps" are simply a mimic of something as natural as ant nests and "monoculture farming," the great horror of naturists, is not the "invention" of humanity but has been practiced, extremely successfully, by social orders for millions of years.

Eco-nonsense of the moment: "Mesoamerica: Reviving Nature While Making A Living", one of the Global Environment Facility's (GEF's) Project Stories (for Mesoamerica): "Imagine a forest cover starting in South America, passing through Central America and continuing all the way to North America and you've just imagined the way things used to be. Today, unfortunately, this rich manifestation of nature has been reduced to a large number of disconnected forests facing the ongoing threat of destruction."

This is absolute rubbish (read any good recent textbook!). At the end of the last Ice Age, there was much less (and different) forest, and the forest areas have always been separated by vast savannas and other seasonal vegetation formations. It is just a 'Great Green Myth'. And they believe in climate change! They want it every way. Please e-mail GEF to complain: GEF E-mail, and here is the GEF Website. (from Professor Philip Stott's ProBiotech site)

If you haven't already done so, check out Amazon Rainforest - Clear Cutting the Myths (VHS)

"UK teems with life as species beat extinction" - "Species of wildlife long thought to have disappeared from our shores are actually alive and well, according to the most comprehensive study into flora and fauna in the last 25 years. The Changing Wildlife of Great Britain and Ireland, the first independent non-governmental overall assessment since 1973, found many species thriving as never before. Surprised researchers discovered that there have been fewer extinctions than previously thought, a rise in the number of new species and a wider distribution of previously identified species than realised." (Observer)

"Conservatives will save the environment" - "Breast-beating is dramatic, but profits work." (Elizabeth Nickson, National Post)

"Monkey virus may cause cancer in humans" - "CHICAGO -- Scientists gathered Friday for a two-day conference to explore the suspected causes and possible treatments for one of the deadliest of human cancers. For years, doctors were certain that the lethal lung cancer was caused only by exposure to asbestos. In 1994, however, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health discovered genetic material from a monkey virus inside 60 percent of the cancers, called mesotheliomas, that he tested." (AP)

"Farmers won't have to fear their neighbors" - "Juneau -- The Legislature passed a bill Friday aimed at protecting farmers from nuisance lawsuits. The bill, which the House passed Friday by a vote of 30-9, would protect farms that have been in operation for more than three years from lawsuits filed by neighboring property owners who are bothered by the noises, smells, smoke and other discomforts that may result from farm operations. The Senate had previously approved the bill. "This bill gets at some fundamental issues of what happens to somebody who has been living with the land and producing from that land when the neighborhood starts to change and people move in around them," said Rep. Dyson, R-Eagle River. "People think they have the right to change what the long-standing landowner has been doing." (AP)

"Radical environmental groups break law to make their points " - "A group known as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has designated today as an international day of action when environmental activists join together and drain the resources of law enforcement authorities. This is being done in anticipation of Earth Day, which is this Sunday." (Washington Times)

"The National Anxiety Center's 'Warning Signs' April 23, 2001 ~ Vol. 3, No. 17" has been posted

"Why we're all getting brighter" - "Dumbing down? Don't believe it. Scientists have proved we are smarter now than ever before, largely because we watch TV, surf the net, and spend hours chatting to friends. Analyses of IQ tests show that people are getting rapidly more intelligent, or at least getting higher scores." (Observer)

doesn't mean we're without a goodly issue of morons though: "Protest and violence" - "Six people heading for the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City were arrested yesterday and charged with criminal offences ranging from possession of military explosives to conspiracy to cause mischief endangering life. Among the trophies put on display by security authorities were crude explosives, smoke bombs and baseball bats. Most people can imagine the damage to life, limb and property that a bat can inflict. For those who know less about military ordnance, the grenades and bombs contain sufficient power to deafen, maim or even kill people at close range." (National Post)

"How the activist circuit has changed" - "... But today, I feel almost no affinity with Quebec City's anti-summit protesters. Rather than declaring violence unacceptable, the leaders of these anti-globalization forces are playing a dangerous, irresponsible game. A few weeks ago I saw the New Democratic Party's Svend Robinson on television, defending the fact that his party's anti-summit Web site contains links to groups advocating violence." (Donna Laframboise, National Post)

"Don't fence me in" - "I thought I saw "the fence" on TV the other day, but it was only a copy thereof. Behind it sat Margaret Atwood, Naomi Klein, Maude Barlow and other members of Canada's "arts community" denouncing excessive security measures." (Mark Steyn, National Post) | Vandalism is illegal. Period (Edward L. Greenspan, National Post) | How anti-globalisation has become a world wide brand (Mark Steyn, Sunday Telegraph)

"UK firm caves to pressure from animal rights group" - "Brokerage firm TD Waterhouse has severed links with embattled UK drug testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences, following pressure from animal rights protesters." (Reuters Health)

"Animal activists 'close to fascism'" - "Lord Winston has condemned the tactics of animal rights protesters taking direct action against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) as "close to fascism". Activists are continuing their campaign to shut down the controversial animal testing laboratory by targeting Japanese firms which have "links" to it. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac) has been boosted after a number of financiers they targeted backed away from HLS." (BBC Online)

"Itching for insect rights" - "A study in England shows that slugs, snails and cockroaches feel pain. This plays right into the hands of the animal rights people, who can now form a group for the ethical treatment of bugs. Speaking of bugs, Dr. Stephen Wickens of an English animal welfare group said, "Perhaps we should think twice before reaching for the fly spray." Just what we need, a group of loonies defending the rights of disease-carrying flies." (Dick Boland, Washington Times)

"Trust parents' instincts, not guilt-tripping research" - "What to make of the latest research which purports to show that young children who are looked after by nannies, childminders or nurseries turn out "smart and nasty"? The best response is a weary scepticism about survey methods and a cautious willingness to trust to parents to do what is best." (Independent)

"Science, Studies and Motherhood" - "BEFORE working mothers drown themselves in guilt over the release last week of a study that said children who spend long hours in child care are more likely to have behavioral problems in kindergarten, they should stop and consider not only what science can reveal, but what it cannot." (New York Times)

"'Organic' Foods: Will Certification Protect Consumers?" - "'If you, as a consumer, want to purchase a fake or a fraud of one kind or another, should your government guarantee your right to do so? More than that, is your government obligated to prosecute one who, knowing of your propensity for fraud, tricks you into buying the genuine in place of buying the fake? Remembering that "your government" is all the rest of us, is it right for you to take our time and money to underwrite such ridiculous exercises as making sure you are cheated when you want to be cheated? And must we penalize the man who breaks his promise to cheat you?' These astute questions were raised in 1972 by Dick Beeler, editor of Animal Health and Nutrition, who was concerned about laws being adopted in California and Oregon to certify "organic" foods." (Stephen Barrett, M.D., QuackWatch)

"GMO labelling may frighten consumers" - "Thailand should not rush to label GM food products, the director of Thailand Biodiversity Centre suggested yesterday. Sutat Sriwatanapongse expressed concern that GM food labelling might bring two adverse effects. First, food prices could rise by at least 20-30 % because manufacturers would have to pay for tests of food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), he said. Second, the labelling would give consumers ``wrong perception`` about GM food. ``GM labels might frighten consumers. They would believe that GM food is harmful, although there has been no proof that GM food is bad for health,`` Mr Sutat said. He said more scientific research studies were needed before the government went ahead with the labelling." (Bangkok Post)

"Scientists Create First Potato Genome Library" - "Lethbridge Research Centre scientists have developed the first potato bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library, a powerful tool to help scientists unlock the secrets held within the potato genome. The BAC library is expected to speed cloning of potato genes and accelerate the development of new cultivars with improved pest and disease resistance, attributes necessary for a sustainable potato industry, according to Dr. Qin Chen, a molecular cytogeneticist at the Centre who led the development of the BAC library in collaboration with scientists from Texas A&M University." (AgWeb.com)

"Don't Trample Biotechnology; Proceed Carefully and Ethically" - "In Africa, where hunger is too often epidemic, an old proverb says, "When two elephants fight, the grass suffers." This is all too relevant to the fight over biotechnology. As scientific and environmental elephants butt heads, the hopes of Africans are trampled. For the benefit of humankind, we must end the squabbling over biotechnology and allow objectivity to prevail. Its ability to feed the hungry, heal the sick and make life better for billions of people is too great to lose to fear and confusion." (George Acquaah, The Daily Oklahoman)

"Harvest of hope or fear?" - "Golden rice contains three genes which provide the precursor to vitamin A in the endosperm, that part of the rice kernel we eat. Rice normally does not contain any provitamin A. For the 2.4bn poor rice consumers in developing countries, this leads to vitamin A deficiency. Traditional interventions such as distribution of, and fortification with, vitamin A, dietary education and encouragement for a diversified diet all help - but they still leave us with about 500, 000 blind and 1m dead children a year. We need complementing alternatives." (Guardian)

"Vitamin A deficiency - a cause of child death that can be easily prevented" - "Every year, 11.3 million children under five years old die in the developing world, more than six million of them directly or indirectly from malnutrition. Millions more children are malnourished. Less strong and less healthy than they should be, they have fewer opportunities to reach their full potential in life." (UNICEF) | "Golden Rice" Backgrounder (The Council for Biotechnology Information)

"Erosion, Technological Transformation, And Corporate Concentration in the 21st Century" - "Winnepeg, Canada -- New report warns that after Terminator, 'Generation 3' biotech, and the Gene Giants, will come Nanotechnology, Neural manipulation, and the looming 'Binano Republic'. Jointly published by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation (Uppsala, Sweden) and RAFI (Winnipeg, Canada), the 128 page study by Pat Mooney looks at three major forces that will shape the 21st century - Erosion, Technological transformation, and Corporate concentration - 'ETC'. The 'ETC' Century goes beyond RAFI's normally broad mandate in biodiversity, biotechnology, and genomics, to explore a panoply of other corporate and technology developments affecting our planet." (RAFI)

"Geneticist proposes `third way` on GM crops" - "The growing world population will only be fed adequately if governments adopt ``people friendly`` farming methods which include GM technology, one of the world`s leading scientists and humanitarians told industry scientists and academics yesterday.

MF Swaminathan, a geneticist credited with being the father of India`s green revolution - which prevented millions of people suffering food shortages and famine in the post war years - offered a `third way` to warring proponents and opponents of GM technology.

He called for governments and scientists to back sensitive farming methods which would keep people on the land and avoid social or ecological harm. He said genetically modified crops did ``have a place`` in the future and could work well alongside organic systems of farming." (Guardian)

"French Activist Urges Canadians to Ruin GM Crops" - "QUEBEC CITY - Rebel French farmers` leader Jose Bove on Thursday urged Canadians to destroy genetically-modified ``seeds of death`` and attack laboratories where the controversial crops were being developed.

Bove, best known for attacking a McDonald`s restaurant in France in 1999 to protest against the United States, said Canadians should attack facilities owned by two major GM crop producers -- the U.S. biotech group Monsanto and Swiss-based Novartis AG." (Reuters)

"GM farmer pulls out after 'threats'" - "A farmer in the north of Scotland who was due to begin trials of genetically modified crops this spring has said he is calling them off because of threats against his two young children. Stephen Barclay, who farms at Smithton near Inverness and Auldearn near Nairn, said he had pulled out of the trials after a letter, claiming to be from a GM concern group in the area. He claims the letter made threats against his four-year-old son and three-year-old daughter." | Finnie slams GM intimidation (BBC Online)

"Japan to start mandatory checks for GM feed" - "TOKYO - Japan's Agriculture Ministry said yesterday it will introduce mandatory safety checks to guard against imports of unapproved genetically modified (GM) crops for animal feed, following a recommendation by a government panel. The ministry said in a statement the 10-member panel of experts had proposed setting a framework to measure acceptable levels of GM content since a zero-tolerance policy would be difficult to implement." (Reuters)

"Thailand: Consumers Confused in Row Over Gmo Food Products" - "BANGKOK, Apr 20 - Environmental groups in the United States have successfully gotten taco shells with genetically modified corn pulled out of supermarket shelves, but for now it is difficult to see such a move happening in Thailand. While consumers here might have been using food products with genetically modified corn containing Cry9C -- found in the taco shells produced by Aventis Crop Science[?!!] and which experts and activists say have also been detected in food products available in Thailand -- such a strong reaction as that seen in the United States is unlikely." (IPS)

It may come as a bit of a surprise to Aventis Crop Science to learn that they are taco shell makers but confusion is the theme of this piece...

"Chefs cook up cuisine of gloom" - "As a result of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules that go into effect Saturday, American consumers next year will see new organic labeling on products in their local grocery stores. The rules, which set standards for growing, marketing and distributing foods sold as organic, will do nothing less than revolutionize the nation's supermarkets, their supporters say. Among their numerous restrictions: no pesticides, no artificial fertilizers, no irradiation and no genetically modified seeds.

The standards represent a victory for the $6 billion organic-foods lobby and, perhaps more importantly, a codification of what might be called the Theology of the High Foodie: the belief, particularly among celebrity chefs and their followers, that the only food truly worthy of its moral salt is that which has been produced locally, seasonally and sustainably without pesticides and herbicides.

But does that belief have any grounding in reality? The facts, and the experience of most Americans, suggest that the revolution has become reaction." (USA Today)

"Third-rate technology?" - "The cutting-edge aspects of science, such as the new generation of biotechnology - genetically modified organisms and genome research - are today often presented as being thrust upon countries by multinationals out to make a fast buck. Consequently, it is argued, the application of modern science does not benefit the developing world. ... But how do those living and working in the developing world view the possibilities afforded by modern science? As a television producer and researcher working in Brazil, I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm that Brazilians have for science and its applications, often fuelled by the conviction that, without this, development is impossible." (John Conroy, Sp!ked)

"Walden Allocates $150-Million For Biotechnology" - "Venture capital firm Walden International said on Wednesday that the company has allocated $150-million exclusively towards financing companies focusing on life sciences and biotechnology. "We consider life sciences & biotechnology as a potential area for funding. We will be investing about $150 million in such companies in the next four to five yeas," said Sudhir Sethi, director of Walden - Nikko India Management Co. Ltd, India liaison office." (Siliconindia Bangalore Bureau)

"SRI Lanka: Importers Unhappy with Ban on GE Food" - "COLOMBO, April 20 - Public health and green groups in Sri Lanka are overjoyed by the government's decision to ban all types of 'genetically-engineered' (GE) foods, starting May. Environmentalists here say that Sri Lanka is the first Asian country to do so and one of the few in the world. Many nations require labelling of GE food to inform consumers. ... The Health Ministry announced mid-April that it was banning the import of all GE foods. ... Importers of the list of restricted items have been asked to furnish GE-free certificates provided by authorities in the country of origin." (IPS)

April 20, 2001

"Soft Drinks, Hard Bias" - "Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., just introduced a bill to restrict sales of soft drinks in schools. "The Better Nutrition for School Children Act of 2001" comes on the heels of a series of anti-soft drink articles in The Washington Post.

But Sen. Leahy should know better than to believe everything he reads." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

E-mail a copy of this article to Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler (ombudsman@washpost.com) and Post reporters Sally Squires (squires@washpost.com), David Nakamura (nakamurad@washpost.com), and Mark Fisher (fisherm@washpost.com).

Junk of the day! "Report links Agent Orange to childhood leukemia" - "A federal panel of scientists released a report on Thursday linking the Vietnam-era herbicide known as Agent Orange with a form of leukemia in the children of veterans who served during the conflict... The Institute of Medicine reached its conclusions based on the results of three large studies of health effects resulting from exposure to dioxin, a contaminant found in Agent Orange and other herbicides. " (Reuters Health) | AP coverage

Hardly. The researchers only pointed to two studies that fished for statistical associations between Agent Orange exposure and childhood leukemia. One study reported a weak, statistically insignificant association (RR=1.7, 95% CI 1.0-2.9). The other reported a modest association (RR of about 4.0), but it was not adjusted for confounding factors. In neither study, is there any measure of exposure to dioxin.

Additionally, a large study in Environmental Health Perspectives (June 2000) reports no increase in leukemia among offspring of dioxin-exposed chlorophenol fungicide workers.

Finally, if dioxin is so toxic, how does the IOM know the leukemias aren't caused by Ben & Jerry's ice cream, which we measured to contain as much as 2,000 times the level of dioxin the EPA says is safe? No one knows what causes leukemia. Despite the IOM report, we still don't.


Is it too late for another Florida recount? "U.S. Set To Sign Chemical Treaty Bush Also Reviving Effort on Warming " - "President Bush announced yesterday that the United States will sign a treaty aimed at reducing the release of dangerous chemicals into the environment, and administration officials said separately that the president is exploring new ways of reactivating U.S. participation in international efforts to fight global warming." (Washington Post)

For more info: Urge your Senators not to ratify this treaty. The U.S. should not participate in a junk science-fueled, alarmist treaty that will allow anti-chemical extremists to ban virtually any chemical they desire.

"Daycare may have mixed consequences: study" - "Children who attend "high-quality" daycare centers are likely to test higher in verbal and thinking skills compared to kids reared exclusively at home or exposed to fewer hours of daycare, according to a new study." (Reuters Health)

Utter junk-ola. Scientific knowledge evolves from observations made in an objective manner. The observations in this study are subjective in nature -- i.e., "... scales that measure aggressive behavior, such as being disobedient to teachers, speaking meanly to other kids, and general pushing and shoving."


"Angelos Suits Allege Cellular-Phone Danger" - "Peter G. Angelos, the pugnacious Baltimore lawyer who made his fortune suing asbestos and tobacco manufacturers, opened another front yesterday in his personal-injury litigation offensive - the wireless telephone industry.

In a pair of class-action lawsuits filed in state courts in Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia, Angelos accused mobile-telephone companies and equipment manufacturers of knowingly peddling dangerous products that have inflicted damaging radiation on their customers.

The suits allege links between cell-phone use and the increased risk of health problems, including damage to basic brain function, genetic irregularities and increased vulnerability to toxins and infections. The suits do not claim that anyone has actually suffered an illness. Rather, they seek money for headsets to mitigate exposure to radiation, plus unspecified punitive damages." (Washington Post)

Check out my Foxnews.com column "Studies Steal Cell Phone Lawyer's Christmas".

"Salmonella risk in US meat continues to decline" - "The presence of Salmonella, a disease-causing bacterium, in raw meat and poultry products continues to decline since the implementation of a federal inspection system 3 years ago, the US Department of Agriculture said on Wednesday." (Reuters Health)

I love food safety studies. The statistics are so flaky and variable that clever bureaucrats can use them either to scare people about the need for more stringent food safety regulation or, as is the case here, to take credit for making our food supply "safer."

"Many US children lack access to food: study" - "While rising rates of obesity among US children has become a serious medical concern, many of these children may actually lack access to sufficient amounts of food, according to a recent report." (Reuters Health)

"UK rivers 'among Europe's worst'" - "Some rivers and wetlands in the UK are in a worse state than eastern Europe's, an environmental group says." (BBC)

" Environmentalists give Bush mixed review" - "President Bush won some points with environmentalists this week by acting on behalf of wetlands and against some pollutants, but it will take more than that to reassure activists who feel steamrolled by recent setbacks. " (AP)

If Bush actually cares about what the enviros think, he may as well start planning for life after the presidency -- commencing in January 2005. Appeasment got George I nowhere.

April 19, 2001

BUSH-WHACKED! President announces US will sign treaty banning certain chemicals - President George W. Bush is cow-towing to the enviros for Earth Day. He announced this morning that the U.S. will sign the U.N. treaty on so-called persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in May in Stockholm.

For more info: I'm starting to think that "W" stands for "Wimp!"

Urge your Senators not to ratify this treaty. The U.S. should not participate in a junk science-fueled, alarmist treaty that will allow anti-chemical extremists to ban virtually any chemical they desire.

"Bush seen needing clear defense on environment " - "President Bush is getting high marks for tackling tough environmental issues that he inherited from the previous administration, but supporters fear the absence of an organized effort to explain his decisions leaves him vulnerable to attacks from Democrats." (Washington Times)

"Radical environmental groups break law to make their points " - "A group known as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has designated today as an international day of action when environmental activists join together and drain the resources of law enforcement authorities. This is being done in anticipation of Earth Day, which is this Sunday." (Washington Times)

"EPA to Lower Level for Arsenic in Water " - "The Bush administration said yesterday that it will consider allowing more arsenic in drinking water than President Bill Clinton would have permitted, but said the new level will be much lower than is currently allowed." (Washington Post)

"EPA's Reversal on Arsenic Standards Shows Disagreement Among Experts; All Agree Chemical Kills, but Question Is Just How Much It Takes to Do So " [subscription required] - "'We know arsenic is carcinogenic in people -- not just laboratory animals -- at exposure levels that aren't much higher than the current U.S. standard,' says Richard Wilson, a Harvard University physics professor and former department chair who studies health risks. 'The science is unequivocal.'

Not to everyone. Since 1990, consultants working for corporations that could face billions of dollars in cleanup costs under a lower arsenic standard have cast doubts on the science. For ammunition, they funded studies, then shelved results they didn't like. In one case, a water-industry consultant put a prominent Taiwanese epidemiologist's name atop a scientific paper that the scientist says he never approved for publication. In another, a big energy company offered money to a Chilean researcher to produce helpful data. Offended, the researcher declined." (Wall Street Journal)

"Bush administration softens stance on global warming, Dutch official says" - "On Wednesday, Dutch Environmental Minister Jan Pronk said the Bush administration has toned down its criticism of the 1997 Kyoto climate change treaty and is no longer insisting it is dead." (AP)

"Amphibian decline stirs drive for frog census " - "'There's a lot of concern about the worldwide decline of amphibians but very little baseline data to tell us exactly what's happening,' Powers said. 'The loss of wetlands obviously plays a big role, but pesticides and pollution are contributing, too. Frogs have porous skin, and like all amphibians, they're extremely sensitive evironmental indicators.'" (AP)

"US urged not to block Kyoto" - "The head of the United Nations negotiations on climate change has urged the United States not to block the Kyoto agreement to reduce global warming." (BBC)

"A dose of prions might slow the progress of prion diseases" - "It might one day be possible to slow the progress of prion diseases-by adding yet more prions. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, say their computer model supports the controversial theory that you could treat such diseases with a dose of normal prions from another species." (New Scientist media release)

"'Everyday' air pollution in Hong Kong hurts kids" - "Some children living in Hong Kong may be suffering from adverse health effects due to routine exposure to air pollution from cars and industrial sources, a new study shows." (Reuters Health)

"UK firm caves to pressure from animal rights group" - "Brokerage firm TD Waterhouse has severed links with embattled UK drug testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences, following pressure from animal rights protesters." (Reuters Health)

"Physicians Group Says Science Sufficient For Lower Arsenic Standard " - "Physicians for Social Responsibility believes the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to launch a new round of study on the acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water will undoubtedly confirm what science has already shown: there is no safe amount of this well-known toxin, and the best standard given existing technology is the lowest one available, three parts per billion (ppb)." (PSR media release)

"Statement Of Philip E. Clapp President, National Environmental Trust On EPA Process To Set New Arsenic Standard " - "This is blatant Earth Day window-dressing. The science is already clear: at levels even below the standard the President revoked, arsenic in drinking water causes cancer. Another review panel, another National Academy of Sciences study are only delaying tactics." (NET media release)

"VPC Releases Where'd They Get Their Guns? An Analysis Of The Firearms Used In High-Profile Shootings, 1963 To 2001 " - "-- The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released Where'd They Get Their Guns? An Analysis of the Firearms Used in High-Profile Shootings, 1963 to 2001, an examination of 65 high-profile shootings over the past four decades. The report provides details for each shooting including: the identity of the shooter; the number of people killed and wounded; the make, model, and caliber of the gun(s) used in the shooting; the circumstances of the shooting; and, how the gun was acquired. The shooters in these killings varied from school-aged children to disgruntled employees to lone-wolf assassins -- acting out of a wide range of motives." (VPC media release)

"New WRI Web site Asks: How Big Is Your CO2 Footprint?" - "SafeClimate.net site challenges individuals and organizations to calculate the size of their own carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint and pledge to reduce it by taking one or more actions outlined on the site." (WRI media release)

"Arsencic Levels High in N.M. Water " - "'New Mexico has some of the highest naturally occurring levels of arsenic in the nation, yet has a lower than average incidence of the diseases associated with arsenic,' Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said Wednesday after the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would propose a new arsenic standard for drinking water within nine months." (AP)

"On Environment, A Return to Reason" - "A defining aspect of George W. Bush's administration will undoubtedly be his stance on the environment. Already, his new and considered approach has caused environmentalist groups to join forces in declaring an all-out war on the president's policies. With each passing day, the language and tone of these organizations becomes a bit more strident, and a bit more unhinged." (Ron Bailey, Wall Street Journal)

"Pervasive Threat Jeopardizes National Parks and Citizen Health But Healthy Parks Can Yield a Healthy Planet and Healthy People " - "A look at just one such problem, air pollution, shows how very much our national parks are connected to the rest of the country by a bridge of dangerous toxic substances. " (NPCA media release)

April 18, 2001

"Exhibiting hard bias over soft drinks" - "The notion that children who consume soft drinks tend to be obese is intuitively appealing. That is undoubtedly why The Washington Post felt comfortable recently running three same-day articles exploiting this appeal. But is that an excuse for The Post failing to report new research that challenges intuition?" (Steve Milloy, Washintgon Times)

"Bush to Keep Lead Emissions Rules; Decision on Clinton Policy Follows Flak on Other Environmental Issues " - "The Bush administration announced yesterday it will require thousands more manufacturers to disclose their releases of toxic lead into the environment, upholding a stricter lead-reporting regulation issued in the waning days of the Clinton presidency, despite the vehement objections of business groups." (Washington Post)

Get the lead hysteria out!

"Touching treated wood may pose risk" - "A scientific expert hired by the state is sounding an alarm about pressure-treated wood, saying that children could get enough arsenic on their hands from touching treated wood playgrounds and decks to pose a health risk." (St. Petersburg Times)

"Wetter upper atmosphere may delay global ozone recovery " - "NASA research has shown that increasing water-vapor in the stratosphere, which results partially from greenhouse gases, may delay ozone recovery and increase the rate of climate change." (NASA media release)

"Moderate drinking linked to decreased risk of heart failure" - "Heavy alcohol consumption has long been known to increase many health risks -- including the risk of heart failure. However, moderate alcohol use is linked to a reduced risk of heart attack. Now a new study by Emory University School of Medicine and Yale University School of Medicine researchers demonstrates for the first time that moderate use of alcohol is also associated with a lowered risk of heart failure among older people. The study is published in the April 18 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)." (Emory University media release)

"Scientists watch dark side of the moon to monitor earth's climate" - "Scientists have revived and modernized a nearly forgotten technique for monitoring Earth's climate by carefully observing "earthshine," the ghostly glow of the dark side of the moon. Earthshine measurements are a useful complement to satellite observations for determining Earth's reflectance of sunlight, an important climate parameter. Long-term observations of earthshine thus monitor variations in cloud cover and atmospheric particles known as aerosols that play a role in climate change." (AGU media release)

"Miniature unmanned planes descend on arctic for research " - "'We want to map the coastal sea ice changes with the cameras in order to document conditions in the spring before the ice breaks up,' said Curry. 'We also are extremely interested in how potential climate change in the region might affect the native Inuit subsistence living, including fishing and whale hunting.'" (University of Colorado media release)

"How the high priests of capitalism run roughshod over fears for planet " - "Exxon Mobil, which trades in Britain as Esso, does not believe in the certainty of global warming - it casts doubt on evidence that industrial emissions of greenhouse gases are raising temperatures. And not only is it sceptical, it has conducted an aggressive and expensive public relations operation to challenge scientific orthodoxy on the subject, as part of its battle to halt international efforts to put an expensive cap on the smokestacks." (Guardian)

"Wind power generation facing crisis" - "The future of wind power generation in Japan may be left twisting in the breeze as the environmentally friendly system of electrical generation faces increasing economic obstacles." (Daily Yomiuri)

"Foot-and-mouth 'probable' in U.S. Federal agencies brace for outbreak " - "Federal emergency officials are preparing for a U.S. outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, a prospect they see as highly likely." (USA Today)

"Nuclear power earns fresh look, despite past woes " - "On the surface, nuclear power has had a bad couple of decades. The last permit for a new power plant was issued in 1979. The last new plant went online in 1996. Because of attrition, the number of reactors in service has fallen almost 10% in the past decade.

Yet despite that, the amount of energy generated by those plants has been increasing quietly to almost 20% of the nation's total supply today, from 11% in 1979, with hardly a peep about health or safety problems. So despite some raised eyebrows, the Bush administration is on the right track in reviving nuclear as a potential energy source." (USA Today)

"An Unfortunate Statement from the Editor-in-Chief of Science" - "In an Editorial chastising U.S. President George W. Bush about 'An unfortunate U-turn on carbon,' Science Editor-in-Chief Donald Kennedy makes some unfortunate remarks of his own, proving the truth of his opening sentence: 'Every once in a while, one misfortune begets another.'

What is unfortunate about Kennedy's comments is the pall of suspicion they cast upon the objectivity that should be the primary concern of any reputable science journal and its editors. Kennedy applauds the journal over which he presides, for example, for publishing over 30 peer-reviewed reports and articles related to global climate change over the past year, all of which, he says, 'support the concerns that the president now says he is not prepared to address.'" (co2science.org)

"The Return of `Moby Dick'" - John Daly takes on the two most recent global warming papers from Science. (John-Daly.com)

"Sydney's tainted food scandal" - "Many of Sydney's fresh vegetables are grown in harsh conditions by migrant farmers who regularly misuse pesticides, often damaging their own health and potentially putting consumers at risk." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"The Good and (Mostly) Bad News on EPA’s Toxics Report" - "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently released 1999 Toxics Release Inventory report contains a lot of good news for those concerned about safety, health, and environmental quality, but some political pressure groups are already spinning the data to score political points. The TRI, as it is known, serves as an annual inventory that tracks the use and “release” of over 650 different chemicals from over 22,000 companies. The ease with which its data can be abused represents one of the biggest problems with a well-intended program that is great in theory, but flawed in practice." (Ken Green, TechCentralStation.com)

"Enviros’ Search for Greens Will Take Them Somewhere Else" - "It’s springtime in America, but for some safety, health, and environmental advocates, Washington looks anything but green. White House-ordered setbacks on allowable arsenic levels in drinking water, eased mining regulations on public lands, and abandoned CO2 emission goals have convinced greens they were right from the start: George W. Bush, they claim, is the anti-environmental President." (Karl hess, TechCentralStation.com)

"Britain softens its Kyoto stance after criticising US " - "Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, Mr John Prescott, has been forced into a climbdown over his pledge to confront the United States Government's rejection of the Kyoto climate change treaty." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"World to slow climate work after U.S. move" - "Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that Norway and other nations would scale back work to combat global warming if the United States stuck to a refusal to join a global climate accord." (ENN)

"INTERVIEW - Japan minister to take Kyoto case to US public" - "Japan's Environment Minister flies to New York this week and says she will drive home to the American public the need for the United States to reconsider its decision to abandon the Kyoto agreement on global warming.TOKYO - Japan's Environment Minister flies to New York this week and says she will drive home to the American public the need for the United States to reconsider its decision to abandon the Kyoto agreement on global warming." (Planet Ark)

"Campaign ExxonMobil Says ExxonMobil on Defensive Over Global Warming; Threatened By Boycotts and Faced With Shareholder Resolutions, Company Revs Up PR Machine" - "ExxonMobil is going on the defensive today with a spate of editorials defending the company's position on global warming. The company's response appears to be the result of calls by Green parties worldwide for a boycott of the company as well as efforts by its own shareholders to make the company take responsibility for its role in global warming. Most of the company's revenue comes from overseas where many boycott supporters are potent political forces. The company's 2000 annual report states it earned $10.2 billion from overseas sales, while it earned $6.8 billion in the US." (Campaign ExxonMobil media release)

"Concerns arise about safety of GM foods" - "The industry may be very optimistic about biotech but there is a flip side, specially in agri-biotech. Genetically modified food, for instance, has triggered a wave of apprehension the world-over and consumers are increasingly wary of the composition of biotech food." (EconomicTimes.com)

April 17, 2001

Ross Gelbspan still not a Pulitzer winner - Winners of the coveted Pulitzer Prize were announced yesterday. Ross Gelbspan, author of The Heat is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth's Threatened Climate, still hasn't won the prize, despite his claim to the contrary.

JunkScience.com broke this story in July 1997.

Click for the related Science and Environmental Policy project media release from August 1997.

Better luck next year, Ross!

"Environmental Heroes: Theo Colborn" - "Despite her international renown, Theo Colborn doesn't think of herself as an environmental hero." (ENN)

For more on Colburn, check out Our Swollen Future.

"Carcinogen list may include wood dust, talc" - "Wood dust, ultraviolet radiation, talc and other common substances are being considered for listing in the 10th Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program." (ENN)

"Air pollution control efforts will add to global warming if carbon monoxide is not curbed along with nitrogen oxides " - "Climate researchers are warning that efforts to reduce air pollution could, if not well designed, make global warming worse. Limiting emissions of manmade nitrogen oxides, a strategy to control ozone in the lower atmosphere, would result in increased methane abundance and lead to additional greenhouse warming." (AGU media release)

"Nitrate in drinking water increases risk for bladder cancer " - "Nitrate in drinking water is associated with an increased risk for bladder cancer, according to a University of Iowa study that looked at cancer incidence among nearly 22,000 Iowa women." (UI media release)

"Irradiation of Animal Feed" - "FDA today approved a food additive petition for an irradiation process that can be used on all animal feed and feed ingredients, including pet treats, as a means of reducing the risk of Salmonella contamination. This procedure is intended to reduce the foodborne pathogens that may be present in these feeds." (FDA)

"Free fruit for schoolchildren risks causing malnutrition, warns scientist" - "A leading British nutritionist has criticised a government scheme to distribute free fruit to primary school children for being scientifically flawed and misleading. Professor Tom Sanders, head of nutrition at King's College London and a member of a government advisory body on food policy, said that giving fruit to children each day could backfire on ministers. An explanatory document released when the National School Fruit Scheme was launched in February was littered with misleading claims that could undermine the aim of ensuring children had a balanced diet, he said." (The Independent)

"Simple Screening Method For Mercury In Fish Developed" - "Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), have developed a screening method, similar to a home pregnancy test, that can detect mercury contamination in fish." (UniSci)

This test is as necessary as home radon test kits.

"Working Aerosol Data Into Computer Climate Models" - "The new technique is described in two papers appearing in today's issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research, a publication of the American Geophysical Union (AGU)." (UniSci)

"Internet Law Library Adds Accomplished Attorney as Lead Trial Counsel" - "--Internet Law Library announces that John M. O'Quinn and his Houston firm, O'Quinn & Laminack, have been added as lead trial counsel in its litigation against Southridge Capital, LLC, Thomson Kernaghan, Cootes Drive, LLC, and others." (BusinessWire)

"Chemical Industry Emissions Continue Downward Trend " - "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its annual report on the amount of toxic releases discharged by facilities throughout the country. The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 1999 shows good news with continued emission reductions from the business of chemistry." (ACC media release)

"EPA Will Toughen Rules on Wetlands; New Permits Opposed by Builders " - "The Bush administration announced yesterday that it will toughen regulation of wetlands-threatening activities such as construction of drainage ditches, drawing guarded praise from environmentalists." (Washington Post)

"The Legend of the Killer Lox " - "Early Bird specials, condo board spats, Monday night mah-jongg, even a brand-new car bought for them by one of their sons -- Shirley and Ray Lindner are living out a long, loopy "Seinfeld" episode at a retirement community in Delray Beach, Fla." (Washington Post)

"It's Time for Greens to Go Nuclear" [Subscription required] - "Can uranium help generate the additional electricity that California needs yesterday, New York needs this summer, and the rest of the country will need in years to come?

Not for the next five years. The main thing we're going to do on that time frame is burn more gas, and several hundred million more tons of coal. After that, it depends. Not so much on the Bush administration, which has audaciously proposed a nuclear revival, but on who now speaks for the "Al Gore greens." The likes of Jane Fonda and Erin Brockovich, reflexive ideologues who hate big power plants and the economic growth they enable? Or a more rational new center, to be led, perhaps, by the National Wildlife Federation, the Audubon Society, and other serious students of climate models and global warming?" (Peter Huber, Wall Street Journal)

April 16, 2001

"Architect Deals With Fallout: Site Posts Misleading Report on Capitol Radiation" - "As the communications officer for the Architect of the Capitol's office, Bruce Milhans has to spend a good chunk of his time on rumor patrol...

As it turns out, the Member in question had been contacted by a constituent who read a study about radiation in the Capitol published on a "scientific" Web site. Junkscience.com reported last month that it had conducted a study and determined that gamma radiation levels in the Capitol and at the Library of Congress were 'up to 65 times higher than Environmental Protection Agency safety standards.'" (Roll Call)

Click for the media release and study.

Although the Architect of the Capitol and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev) missed the point of the study, JunkScience.com received a congratulatory note from a commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Experts get it. Fools don't.

"Economists study costs of greenhouse gases" - "In his first 100 days President Bush has made it clear: The economy comes first. Global warming will have to wait... Recognizing the new political climate, a pair of California economists are taking the first crack at the vital cost issue left untackled by Kyoto negotiators. Their new method, described in the April 5 issue of the scientific journal Nature, isn't easy stuff. It relies on a very complex formula that considers how reducing levels of short-lived gases such as methane might carry a different price tag than carbon dioxide, which persists in the atmosphere for centuries." (AP)

"Northern Ireland confirms second case of foot-and-mouth disease " - "Officials said Saturday that thousands of pigs, sheep and cows will be slaughtered after a second case of foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed in Northern Ireland." (AP)

"Gun deaths fell in mid-1990s, government reports " - "The government reported that gun deaths in the United States fell over 25 percent during the mid-1990s to the lowest level since 1966. Analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday credited stricter sentencing in some areas, new laws that make it more difficult for criminals to get guns, the waning crack trade and low unemployment because of the booming economy." (AP)

Check out Gun Control Science Misfires."

"DES investigated for testicular cancer link " - "Men may face an increased risk of testicular cancer if their mother took the drug DES during pregnancy, study findings suggest." (Reuters Health)

"The Pill 'reduces bowel cancer risk'" - "Women using the oral contraceptive pill could be up to 20% less likely to develop bowel cancer, research suggests." (BBC)

It's too bad there's not a pill to prevent unwanted junk science like this study. The reported 20 percent decrease is too small to detect through epidemiology.

"'Older fathers' link to schizophrenia " - "Older fathers are more likely to have children with schizophrenia, research suggests... Lead researcher Professor Dolores Malaspina, of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, said her findings showed 'a man has a biological clock too'. She said: 'Men should be aware of the risks when they do their family planning.'" (BBC)

One study means nothing. The reported statistical associations are weak. No one knows what causes schizophrenia, including these researchers who are speculating without a sufficient factual basis. The intuitive appeal of the aging sperm hypothesis isn't evidence.

"Prescott pressures US on climate treaty" - "Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is flying to America to argue against the US decision to abandon the Kyoto Treaty on global warming." (BBC)

"Greens contemplate US oil boycott" - "Green party delegates from more than 60 countries, who are in Australia for their first ever international conference, are discussing a possible boycott of United States oil companies." (BBC)

"President's critics misunderstand arsenic issue " - "Many people, uninterested in the pertinent science, denounce President Bush for overturning President Clinton's 11th-hour regulation requiring the reduction of arsenic in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts. Such people must believe, or want other people to believe, that water should be made 'as safe as possible.'" (George Will, Boston Globe)

"Gunplay by the numbers" - "A message for advocates of more gun-control laws: Going by the numbers, it appears that your services are no longer required." (New York Post editorial)

April 14-15, 2001

`The time has come,' the debunkers said,
`To talk of many things:
Of emissions— and sinks— and Euro-whacks—
Of Kyoto— and what it brings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.' (with apologies to Lewis Carroll)

"Europe Emits CO2, U.S. Cleans It Up" - "We've heard a lot from Europe recently about the supposed evils of America's rejection of the Kyoto Protocols. This agreement was supposed to reduce the "anthropogenic" (man-made) contribution to global climate change by setting agreed targets for the reduction in each nation's carbon emissions by the year 2010. (Iain Murray, TechnoPolitics.com)

"The myth of global warming endangers the planet" - "Every age has a governing creed from which dissenters are branded heretics or enemies of the people. Once it was that God created the world. Next it was that man had to recreate the world as the workers' paradise. When communism imploded in the late 1980s another belief emerged to fill the gap - that mankind was destroying the world through global warming. Anyone who questions the orthodoxy that the West's rising output of carbon dioxide will produce environmental catastrophe is branded as mad, bad or in the pay of the oil industry. Hence the hysterical incredulity which greeted President George W Bush's decision to abandon the Kyoto protocol which sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Now John Prescott and other ministers want to punish Bush by putting the special relationship with the United States into "deep freeze." (Melanie Phillips, Sunday Times)

"FOCUS: Global warming could erase snow on Mt. Kilimanjaro" - "NAIROBI April 13 - Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, is rapidly losing its snow cover due to global warming, according to the latest scientific research. ''Now Kilimanjaro is rapidly experiencing a great loss of ice and, if this continues, the mountain may lose all its snow,'' said Robert Watson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific body that advises governments on global warming." (Kyodo)

But the ice conditions on Mt Kilimanjaro are obviously precipitation rather than temperature dependent. Observe:

The above graph is a satellite measured temperature trace from January 1979 to January 2001, for 3.75S 36.25E, the same location as Kilimanjaro itself. More importantly, the satellites record temperatures in the free atmosphere between 1,000 and 8,000 metres altitude, Kilimanjaro being at 5,900 metres, right within the measured altitude range. Not only has there been no overall warming, but the coldest month in the entire series is actually the latest one. (Image and text courtesy John Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse. Graphic trimmed for column width, Daly's original item here.)

Everyone hears a lot about the repeated drought cycles in the Horn of Africa, basically Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. Mt. Kilimanjaro is just over the border in Tanzania (map Microsoft Encarta 97 World Atlas).

Last I heard, drought indicates a significant reduction in precipitation, which generally means mid- to low- latitude glaciers retreat rapidly, only to advance again when precipitation increases. Does anybody know if the 1912 survey followed an unusually wet period for the region (which would imply larger than "normal" ice field). Certainly the Horn of Africa has had a fairly dry time of it in recent decades (suggesting reduced ice field should be anticipated).

For Bob Watson to be associated with statements like "Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, is rapidly losing its snow cover due to global warming," suggests either he's being seriously misquoted or that he's lost it completely now that he faces the prospect of collapse of the Kyoto fantasy land and having to rejoin the world of real science. Stay tuned.

"Japan's Jan. temperature to up by over 2 C in 70 yrs.: agency" - "TOKYO April 13 - The average temperature in January in most areas of the Japanese archipelago is likely to rise by more than 2 C in the next 70 years, and 3 C in part of Hokkaido, the Japan Meteorological Agency said in a report Friday. According to the agency, if the air's concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) -- a greenhouse gas believed to contribute to global warming -- increases by 1% annually, the concentration 70 years from now will be twice the current 345 ppm, pushing the average temperature in January 2 C higher than it is now in most areas of Japan and 3 C higher in parts of Hokkaido." (Kyodo)

Hmm... these figures look suspiciously like they are drawn from the colourful and extremely imaginative IPCC political summaries. Last I saw, the actual CO2 increment was a fairly steady 1.5ppm over the last 3-4 decades, methane (CH4) increment is now disappearingly small rather than the touted exponential increase modelled (it is expected to be in atmospheric equilibrium [as much consumed as produced] around 2004) and the point of whether humanity can actually access and liberate sufficient carbon to push atmospheric levels to 700ppm is moot.

As you can see on the graphic (courtesy John Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse), assuming 1% annual increase produces a significantly different result from the actual 1.5ppm per year increment - and the linear projection of 1.5ppm/yr assumes no improvement in technology or economy over the next century. Given that we went from horse-drawn trams to SST (Super Sonic Transport) in less than 100 years, why would we assume that no further technical advance is available in the next 100?

As usual, this fantastic report is couched in terms of "if the air's concentration of carbon dioxide increases by 1% annually, the concentration 70 years from now will be twice the current 345 ppm..." Well, if atmospheric CO2 increased at such a fantastic pace, that would be true - although the temperature increment remains doubtful. Will it increase at such a pace? No. Could humanity burn enough fossil fuel to double current atmospheric CO2 concentration? Not unless there's a lot more fossil fuel on the planet than current estimates indicate and we manage to burn it all in 70 years - even then plant life would have to stop utilising atmospheric CO2 in order to allow such atmospheric accumulation.

Shouldn't be surprised - it's the same shoddy "science" that drives the whole enhanced greenhouse scare.

"Ice on the move a warning of warming, or is it?" - "... We are reasonably confident now that a whole lot of the things we have been getting excited about are not caused by global warming, and we aren't sure what they are," said glaciologist Richard Alley, of Pennsylvania State University, who is chairman of a panel on abrupt climate change at the National Academy of Sciences. "The breakthrough in this decade is the ability to see these changes. They are revelations. The breakthrough in the next decade will be the ability to understand them." (The Age, Melbourne)

"KYOTO ISN'T THE ONLY ANSWER" - " The potential for a global warming disaster is the latest world nightmare, though few folks actually lose sleep at night worrying about it. It could wreak death and destruction, but it won't do so tomorrow. It could be prevented, but that knowledge has prompted little action other than rapid rounds of global finger-pointing. As catastrophes go, global warming doesn't get much respect. Yet the evidence mounts that it is a very real, and serious, problem." (Chicago Tribune)

Oh dear, the Tribune sure are devout believers aren't they?

?!! "US Pullout From Kyoto Will Hurt Africa Most" - "The decision by the US to pull out of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in industrialised countries, scientists say, will harm Africa disproportionately. ... Scientists in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that the frequency and severity of flooding in southern Africa and drought in the Horn of Africa were outcomes of global warming." (AllAfrica.com)

Africa's history of drought and flood long predate any possible anthropogenic effect on the atmosphere and global climate. Is the IPCC so terrified of life without their gravy train that they resort to these outrageous claims? Sheeeeesh!

"Developing nations attack US position on global warming" - "UNITED NATIONS--A group of developing nations joined the European Union Thursday in denouncing the decision of the Bush administration to abandon an international treaty aimed at abating the effects of global warming. The chairman of the Group of 77 (G-77), a group of developing nations within the UN, expressed disappointment with the Bush administration's decision to not support the Kyoto Protocol." (Earth Times) | G-77 environmental ministers to meet April 20 on climate (Kyodo)

"U.S. to benefit most from global warming compromise" - "WASHINGTON April 14 - A recent plan proposed to break stalled U.N. negotiations on cuts to greenhouse gas emissions is too generous, particularly to the United States, according to a report by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) and Colorado State University. The report criticized the proposal by Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk for giving too many concessions to the U.S., which recently announced its withdrawal from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing global warming." | Kawaguchi criticizes U.S. for dropping Kyoto pact (Kyodo)

"Minister criticizes climate proposal" - "Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi on Friday criticized a new proposal to pave the way for key climate change talks in July, saying it is little different from its predecessor and will not help bring the United States back to the negotiating table. "For Japan, it seems a very severe proposal, especially the part on sinks. I think it is a big problem," she told a regular news conference in response to the latest paper hammered out by her Dutch counterpart, Jan Pronk, who heads COP6, the sixth Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change." (Japan Times)

"Clark: Kyoto deal needs U.S. to work" - "New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said Thursday in Tokyo that her country will try to persuade the United States to reverse its decision to quit the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming. ``The United States is such a significant creator of greenhouse gases that for the protocol to be effective, it has to be in it (the Kyoto Protocol),'' Clark said." (Asahi Shimbun)

"U.S. environment chief to skip climate conference in N.Y." - "WASHINGTON April 13 - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Whitman will not attend an unofficial multilateral meeting of environmental ministers to be held April 21 at the U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S. government officials said Thursday. Environment conservationists are likely to step up criticism against Washington's reluctance to promote the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol on preventing global warming, as the latest move follows President George W. Bush's announcement last month that it will pull out of the protocol." (Kyodo)

"Australia doubtful of Kyoto accord" - "A top Australian official said yesterday that no global warming agreement will be complete without the United States and that U.S. leadership is needed to craft a better treaty on the issue. "The United States is the key player," Australia's environmental minister, Robert Hill, said in Sydney before departing to join international talks on global warming at the United Nations in New York next week. Mr. Hill said it makes no sense to try to complete work on the 1997 global warming treaty drafted in Kyoto, Japan, without the United States, as the European Union is advocating." (Washington Times)

Funny, when the world's media refer to Mad Bobby Brown it's as "Senator Brown, Australian Leader of the Greens" (incidentally, an insignificant rabble who collectively could not make quorum at a small town PTA meeting) and yet it's "Mr Hill." For the record, Senator Robert Hill is Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage and Leader of the Government in the Senate. Despite the reality that environment portfolios are strictly PR artifices, Bob Hill has seniority in the government and fair clout, Bob Brown is a squeaking irrelevance and gets weighted coverage - why is that?

"The Week That Was April 14, 2001 brought to you by SEPP" has been posted.

"World battens down for the return of El Nino" - "Scientists warn that floods, fires, smog and famine will strike this autumn, causing suffering to millions around the globe." (Independent)

Um... La Niña has yet to depart the scene fellas, despite several premature efforts to declare her demise. While surface temperatures are reported to be slightly high there are also reports of significant subsurface reservoirs of cold water - meaning the current "warm" signal is not very significant and quite possibly unsustainable. As always, we'll have to wait and see.

Dills of the day: "Greenpeace at Ranch, Dubs Bush 'Toxic Texan'" - "CRAWFORD, Texas - Calling President Bush the ''Toxic Texan,'' Greenpeace on Friday took its protest of Bush's environmental record to his Texas retreat, unfurling a banner on the town's 80-foot-tall water tower. ``Greenpeace is here to dub Bush the 'Toxic President,''' said Andrea Durbin, campaigns director for Greenpeace USA." (Reuters)

"Greens plot tactics to embarrass" - "THE next time a natural disaster hits a Third World country, it might be dubbed Hurricane Bush or Cyclone Howard in a bid to embarrass the US President or Australian Prime Minister. And at future Greens protests outside the White House, some will probably be holding placards like "G.W Bush stands for Global Warming Bush". These are some of the ideas thrown around at a gathering of environment groups in Canberra yesterday, which, among other things, considered ways of retaliating against the US decision to back out of the Kyoto protocol on global warming." (The Australian) | European greens accuse Australia of selling out on Kyoto Protocol (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Beyond petroleum to what, ask greens" - "On Thursday there will be a fierce debate on two controversial resolutions at BP Amoco's annual meeting. It will be the culmination of a difficult couple of months, during which the company's stock has plummeted with the environmentalists it has been striving to court, with US shareholders who have been given the cold shoulder, and with others in the UK who pursue socially responsible investing (SRI). BP will win the vote but it has lost friends in the process. The pre-AGM shenanigans also raise serious questions about the effectiveness of SRI as it has evolved in Britain over the past couple of years." (Observer)

Will corporations ever realise that appeasement of enviro-flakes is a lose/lose situation?

There have been numerous studies recently suggesting that THC (the psycho-active substance in cannabis [Cannabis sativa, Indian hemp, marijuana]) induces paranoia, delusion, psychotic episodes, diminished capacity and irrationality (among other symptoms) among users. While it is certain that there are sincere, anti-corporate, chemophobic, enhanced greenhouse panic-merchants who are not substance abusers, I have yet to debate one who will not rise to leading comments in defence of "the weed." Given that these groups are generally composed of pampered beneficiaries of all that they decry, have no solutions to any genuine problem, nor any clear rational objective, I am fast coming to the conclusion that their position is the result of substance abuse (Hate mail here).

It is time for corporations to adopt genuine social responsibility - by telling the flakes to take a hike.

"The Truth About Chernobyl Is Told" - "The recent report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) is in total disagreement with the opinions widely propagated by the international media, by the Greens, and by the governments of Belarus and Ukraine, that there have been tens of thousands of cancer deaths and epidemics of genetic disorders, allegedly caused by the Chernobyl accident. To the contrary, UNSCEAR states, even among the progeny of the survivors of the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who received radiation doses hundreds of times higher than the radiation doses to the inhabitants of regions contaminated by the Chernobyl accident, no radiogenetic disturbances of health have been found." (Zbigniew Jaworowski, 21st Century Science & Technology Magazine)

"U.S. Navy radio is a health threat, Italian authorities say" - "NAPLES, Italy - An Italian judge has pulled the plug on two U.S. Navy radio transmitters, saying their electromagnetic emissions pose a health threat. Lt. Fred Kuebler, a spokesman for the U.S. Naval Support Activity, said Friday that the transmitters of the American Forces Network were shut down on March 30, along with 10 other transmitters belonging to local Italian radio stations. Earlier this week, the Italian environment minister had threatened to take Vatican Radio off the air if it didn't comply with strict Italian regulations governing electromagnetic emissions." (AP)

Letter of the moment: in response to Joby I-didn't-do-my-homework-again Warrick's front page fright-feature in the Washington Post April 9

Dear Editor,

Joby Warrick’s piece “An Outbreak Waiting to Happen,” Monday, April 9 (A1) on supposed food safety failures in USDA oversight over the meat industry was one of the most biased stories I’ve read in a long time. Warrick essentially blamed a 1999 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at a Sizzler restaurant -- resulting in the death of a three year-old -- on a Colorado meatpacking plant. While the E. coli likely was introduced into the kitchen via meat from the Colorado plant, it was reckless and irresponsible food handling practices at the restaurant that were entirely to blame for the outbreak of food poisoning--preparing raw meat, fruits, and vegetables on the same counter and recycling salad bar items over several days! Warrick doesn’t even mention these facts until the seventy-seventh paragraph of the story. It’s not until the 93rd paragraph that Warrick mentions that even the USDA argues that it is impossible to “make meat germ-free” and that safe food handling is critical for consumer safety.

Demonizing the meat industry won’t result in safer food and you do your readers and society a disservice with such slanted stories.

Alex Avery
Director of Research
Hudson Institute
Center for Global Food Issues

Warrick seems to have a nasty habit of dreaming up a premise and then penning his piece around it - nothing wrong with that for fiction authorship of course - but it has no place in serious journalism.

"The Unthinkable" … written by the Unthinking - "Jeffrey Nelson, the head nanny over at www.vegsource.com, has written a preposterous and irresponsible editorial suggesting that Alzheimer's disease is both related to mad cow disease and caused by meat consumption. The great-great-grandson of meat-packing mogul Herman Armour, he now makes his living bashing meat and promoting vegetarianism. Nelson has tried to link food choices to Alzheimer's disease before, claiming that eating meat and dairy products causes Alzheimer's by elevating homocysteine levels. This is one activist who clearly doesn't understand the facts or the science involved. According to the American Heart Association, the best way to lower homocysteine levels is to increase your intake of vitamins B6 and B12. And how do you do that? According to the Mayo Clinic, the best sources of these nutrients are "Poultry, fish, pork, eggs, meat, [and] dairy," among other things." (GuestChoice.com)

"Unfriendly Competition" - "If you've ever wondered whether the recent organic foods fad is motivated more by money than by concern for anyone's health, consider this tidbit from the Soil Association, the UK's self-proclaimed "leading campaigner and certifier of organic food." Yesterday this group complained in a press release that "mainstream producers" such as "Mars, Heinz, Nestle, and Unilever" can't be trusted to maintain strict organic standards. Apparently, buying only organic foods isn't enough: you need to buy their organic foods." (GuestChoice.com)

"One in four Britons is on a diet. So why are we getting fatter?" - "More than a quarter of Britain's adults are today doing battle with their willpower in what a new survey suggests is now our most popular national pastime: dieting. However, despite 27 per cent of the population claiming to be on diets, we are either cheating or simply not getting the hang of it as statistics also show the British are continuing to get fatter." (Observer)

Because calories in is greater than calories out - get off your butts and do more, eat less or both. (Doh...)

"Farming could lead to disaster, expert says" - "EDMONTON -- Agriculture could be as disastrous for the planet as global warming if it continues to expand as it has in the last 35 years, says an environmental scientist. The Green Revolution has doubled global food production, but that has come at a large environmental cost, says the University of Alberta's David Schindler. He is one of 10 co-authors of a paper published Friday in Science, one of the world's top scientific journals. The 10 ecologists predict demand for food by a world population that is richer and 50 per cent larger than today's six billion people will be a major factor in global environmental change in the next 50 years." (CP)

Well gosh, things don't stay the same... wonder what tipped them off?

What historical precedents can we find for agricultural expansion and land use conversion on the scale they predict? How about the deforestation of Europe and North America due to European expansionism from the 14th - 19th centuries. Then again, that was a period of serious cooling of the planet with associated famine wasn't it, so we'd have to assume that deforestation and land use conversion to agriculture has a planetary cooling effect if we're going to use simplistic associations. At least it suggests an easy way to "cure" the "great global warming crisis." (Tree huggers believing that I actually wish to see every yard of the planet under the plough should send their flames here.)

"Bill Moyers’s Bad Chemistry" - "It’s too bad that "one-sided journalism" has become a trite term generally used to describe perceived media bias. Because sometimes, as with Bill Moyers’ recent PBS special bashing the chemical industry, it literally is one-sided. Yes, in the course of the 90-minute long Trade Secrets, Moyers found he couldn’t squeeze in a single corporate representative. Instead, he stacked the deck with the usual anti-corporate suspect scientists who hide behind white jackets and glasses to assert without evidence that cancer and probably even hemorrhoids wouldn’t exist but for the chemical industry." (Michael Fumento)

"The myths about globalization (3)" - "When anti-globalization protesters take to the streets of Quebec City next week, environmentalists will be in the front rank. According to groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club, freer trade and a globalized world economy pose a direct threat to the health of the planet." (Globe and Mail)

"Vinegar and anarchy" - "For three months, National Post reporter Mary Vallis went undercover to join the anti-globalization forces in their preparations to disrupt the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. This is her exclusive, inside report on her adventures with the protesters, their training and their plans." (National Post)

"Italy Grain-Tighter GMO controls on seed, feed" - "ROME, April 13 - Italy is tightening controls to monitor the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in seeds and animal feed. Health Ministry figures on Friday showed the presence of genetic material in dozens of shipments of seed and animal feed ingredients, such as soybean meal, imported mainly from the United States and Argentina, since 1999. Farm Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, who had requested the information from the Health Ministry, said GM material in animal feed was legal, but was banned in seeds destined for sowing." (Reuters)

"FOCUS: Japan's stand on GM foods draws attention" - "TOKYO April 13 - Japan is increasingly becoming the center of attention regarding its posture on the question of establishing standards for genetically modified (GM) foods, a subject a U.N. task force took up in a meeting in this country in March. The focus of the issue related to the proposed standards is ''traceability,'' a system to track and pinpoint the steps from the cultivation and processing of farm products to the manufacture of food products and their distribution even after they are marketed." (Kyodo)

"Lanka bans genetically modified food imports" - "COLOMBO: The government has announced a ban on imports of all genetically modified foods from May 1, a state-run newspaper reported on Friday. The Daily News quoted Health Minister W.D.J Seneviratne as saying that public health inspectors will check all foods entering the country at sea ports and airports. Sri Lanka, a country of 18.6 million people, imports a variety of foods, including potatoes, orange juice, chocolates and soups. Apples from the United States and Australia are also imported. Under the new order, the government will ban the import, manufacture, transport, storage, distribution and sale of any food item that has been produced using genetic engineering technology." (Times of India)

April 13, 2001

"Gun Control Science Misfires" - "Gun control advocates used to claim that more guns meant more crime. Research demonstrated, though, that more guns meant less crime. As the criminology argument faded, gun control advocates began arguing guns were a public health problem. But the public health argument is also bankrupt, according to Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D., editor of the Medical Sentinel, the journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Faria lays out his reasoning in the Spring 2001 issue." (Steve Milloy, Foxnews.com)

"Legal action prolongs whiplash effects: experts" - "An Adelaide research team looking at ways to improve treatment for whiplash injuries, has found the ill-effects are often prolonged by other factors. ... Orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Orso Osti, who is heading the study, says many injuries sustained by a whiplash victim are aggravated by other factors, such as litigation, that occur after the initial crash. "The reason why in some patients the pain continues and especially the quality of their life deteriorates is not because they have more damage to this joint than the others, but because they engage in litigation or because they become very distressed by this injury," he said." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Special Report: Battling back from chemophobia" (link to E&CN April index)

Thirty-nine years ago a frightening best-seller written by Rachel Carson, titled Silent Spring, dramatically changed the direction of the environmental movement in the U.S. and worldwide. Silent Spring marked the beginning of the movement's long and unproductive romance with chemophobia, the irrational fear of man-made chemicals.

The articles in this E&CN Special Report describe some of the science behind the successful defense of DDT, revealing that victory as part of a broader retreat from chemophobia.

EWG & PIRG with their stock terror campaign: "Report: Fish-mercury risk underestimated" - "WASHINGTON -- A report issued Thursday says millions of pregnant women and their fetuses are at risk of serious health problems from exposure to mercury in fish. The report, prepared by the Environmental Working Group and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, calls on the Food and Drug Administration to upgrade and strengthen its current mercury safeguards." (CNN)

"Pork hormone dangerous, scientists say" - "OTTAWA - Scientists and consumer advocacy groups are pressuring Health Canada to ban a growth hormone used on pigs called carbadox. ... Carbadox is approved for use up to 35 days before slaughter. Consumer and health groups fear farmers are misusing or abusing carbadox and want an immediate ban." (CBC)

"Bergen enlists swat team in fight against West Nile" - "The years of the chicken will give way to the summer of the swatter as Bergen County prepares for a third season of fighting the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, officials said Wednesday." (Bergen County Record)

"Fresh fears over depleted uranium" - "An investigation into the effects of weapons containing depleted uranium has uncovered contamination in urine samples from people in Kosovo and Bosnia. The study - to be broadcast on BBC Scotland's Eorpa programme on Thursday - concludes it is likely that depleted uranium is present in the food chain." (BBC Online)

Um... there's some part of the planet and/or food chain that does not naturally contain uranium, depleted or otherwise?

Today's chuckle: "Browner blasts Bush on environment" - "The former EPA chief said that the administration is rushing to undo years of sound policy decisions." (Philadelphia Inquirer) Here's the Miami Herald version.

Hmm... when did carol Browner discover what a "sound policy decision" was?

"Al Gore, teeing it up for 2004" - "Former Vice President Al Gore, AWOL on President Bush's rollback of Clinton-Gore environmental initiatives, is taking the first steps toward challenging the prez in 2004 on–get this–environmental issues. Associates say he is planning to spearhead a special environmental political action committee that will fund green candidates. He's also considering the establishment of a nonprofit center to push his issues." (US News)

"Babbitt: Activism needed for environment" - "... However, that 1970s' adage about personal responsibility, ''Think globally, act locally,'' doesn't really work in an era when both the economy and the environment are truly global, according to Bruce E. Babbitt, former US interior secretary. What is needed instead, Babbitt believes, is 1960s-style student political activism." (Boston Globe)

Fittingly, this piece was found in the gardening section, along with the rest of the spring manure features.

"California schemin'" - "The search for scapegoats instead of solutions continues as California's electricity crisis escalates. Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported that it had obtained confidential documents identifying the biggest "gougers" in the California wholesale electricity market. And the winner of the Robber Baron of the Year award is ... BC Hydro! Hydro's British Columbia Power Exchange reportedly reaped a hefty US$176.2-million of the US$505-million of "extra profits" taken in by power suppliers between May and November. How was the excessiveness of the profits determined? By reference to what profits might have been in a "healthy, competitive market." Huh? Let's just play that back." (Peter Foster, National Post)

"Environment takes back seat to U.S. economic recovery" - "U.S. President George W. Bush continued his personal campaign to change previous U.S. policy two weeks ago by renouncing the nation's commitment to limit industrial emissions of carbon dioxide." (Bob Keefe, Japan Times) | From ridiculous to sublime: the arguments of a fossil fool (Stephen Hesse, Japan Times)

For those who may be unaware: Bob Keefe, formerly an executive director of the Democratic National Committee, is a political consultant in Washington, D.C.. Hesse scribes the fluorescent green "Our Planet Earth" column for the JT. I've tried using the e-mail address at the bottom of his columns where it says "Stephen Hesse welcomes questions and comments at steve@tamacc.chuo-u.ac.jp" a few times in the past. Whether he welcomes them or not, he's never deigned to reply to me.

"New evidence blames greenhouse gases" - "WASHINGTON -- New evidence that global warming is caused by man-made gases comes from researchers using computer models that show a temperature increase in the world's oceans. Two models developed independently by researchers using slightly different techniques both linked rising global temperatures to an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide from the burning of oil, gas and coal." (AP) | Ocean study points finger at mankind (BBC Online)

This is based on the following, those without subscription access to Science can get a fair idea of what it's about from the media releases and abstracts:

Human-induced greenhouse warming pumps heat into oceans, two Science studies report (AAAS release on Anthropogenic Warming of Earth's Climate System. Sydney Levitus, John I. Antonov, Julian Wang, Thomas L. Delworth, Keith W. Dixon, and Anthony J. Broccoli Science 2001 292: 267-270. (in Reports) [Abstract] [Full Text] (subscription required))

Scripps researchers pinpoint human-induced global warming in world’s oceans (University of California, San Diego release on Detection of Anthropogenic Climate Change in the World's Oceans. Tim P. Barnett, David W. Pierce, and Reiner Schnur Science 2001 292: 270-274. (in Reports) [Abstract] [Full Text] (subscription required))

See also Greenhouse Warming Passes One More Test. Richard A. Kerr Science 2001 292: 193. (in News Focus) [Summary] [Full Text] (subscription required))

The whole lot might fairly be summarised as "The estimated increase of global ocean heat content (over the depth range from 0 to 3000 meters) between the 1950s and 1990s" + "the horizontal and temporal character of these changes replicated by the Parallel Climate Model (PCM) forced by observed and estimated anthropogenic gases." = "Anthropogenic Warming of Earth's Climate System."

The big questions are: do we know what change has occurred in the global ocean heat content over the period, and; are climate models up to the task. In both cases, the honest response is: no. The submersible drifting buoys now being deployed will give as a much clearer picture of global oceanic heat content but it will be decades before we know whether there is any trend and, if so, what sign it may be (heating or cooling). Since we do not yet know the significance of various climate forcings, their relative weightings or even what the full compliment of forcings may eventually turn out to be, it is not possible to program useful models even if we could process the extraordinary volume of data involved in such a complex, non-linear, chaotic system.

Under the circumstances, it may be equally fair to summarise as: "A guesstimate" + "a computer game" = "ridiculous media coverage" of the "New evidence blames greenhouse gases" kind.

"Rebels urge Blair to confront Bush" - "TONY BLAIR is facing a revolt from senior Cabinet ministers who want him to put Britain’s special relationship with America into “deep freeze” over George W. Bush’s decision to rip up the Kyoto treaty on climate change." (The Times)

"The EU's sleight of hand" - "'Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.' (Macbeth, Act I, Scene 1)

Now here is a question for the next Ambridge pub quiz. 'Which produces the more carbon dioxide emissions per square mile: Uncle Sam or the European Union...?'

'Oh! It's got to be that terrible toxic Texan', screeches Linda Snell, as Eddie Grundy grunts approvingly into his pint of warm Shires. 'Afraid not!', says Sid, the harassed landlord of The Bull. 'The European Union by far.'

And it's true. European politicians, who like to focus on country-by-country comparisons which are, in geographical terms, meaningless, have carefully nurtured a myth that the USA is the main producer of carbon dioxide (CO2). But how can you compare tiny countries, like the UK (only 94,227 square miles) or Sweden (173,732 square miles), with the USA (3,732,400 square miles)? Any meaningful geographical comparison has to be with Western Europe as a whole, or at least with the 15 member states of the European Union (EU) - and even the EU, at 1,249,000 square miles, has well under half the land area of the USA.

A recognition of these simple facts of geography makes the carbon dioxide emission statistics of the two regions look somewhat different. If we take the carbon dioxide emissions from consumption and flaring of fossil fuels for 1999 (1), we see that the countries of the EU emit around 925 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCe) per year, while the USA emits 1519.89 MMTCe per year. Correcting these figures by area gives us 0.0007 MMTCe per square mile per year for the EU and 0.0004 MMTCe per square mile for the USA. So the per unit area production in the EU is 175 percent that of the USA. (Philip Stott, Spiked-Online)

There were a few typos in the Sp!ked posting of this article, such as "2001" instead of "2000" for The Hague, date transposition converting between U.S. Month/Day/Year and European Day/Month/Year formats. They are apparently to be corrected shortly and may have been by the time you see the full article.

"Saharan Dust "Cools" Climate Warming Estimates" - "Desert dust may slightly diminish estimates on how warm the world will become, based on findings of how much sunlight is absorbed by dust. Scientists studying dust blowing off the Sahara Desert have found that dust particles absorb much less solar radiation than previously thought, reducing the amount of solar warming of the Earth's surface. These results appear in the April 15 issue of the American Geophysical Union's Journal of Geophysical Research Letters. (NASA/GSFC)

"Kawaguchi to visit U.S. in bid to save Kyoto Protocol" - "TOKYO April 12 - Japan's Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi will visit the United States on April 19-25 to directly urge the country to honor its commitment to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, parliamentary sources said Thursday. Her weeklong trip, which was given the green light Thursday by a board of the House of Representatives Steering Committee, follows the announcement by the U.S. that it will withdraw from the accord reached in Kyoto on cutting greenhouse gases." | COP6 president's new proposal unacceptable to Japan (Kyodo)

"Cold Costing Grape Growers Millions" - "SANTA ROSA, Calif. — The worst frost to hit North Coast grape growers in three decades has caused millions of dollars in damage to vineyards. Growers have been staying up all night for the past week to battle the plunging temperatures, using wind machines and irrigation systems in an effort to ward off frost and avoid damage to vulnerable new shoots. ``So much for global warming,'' Sebastopol grape grower Warren Dutton said after surveying frost damage in neighboring vineyards. " (AP)

The National Anxiety Center's "Warning Signs" Vol. 3, No. 16  has been posted.

"Black market in illegal refrigerants on the rise" - "Illegal imports of chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants into the United States may be on the rise, according to a coalition of companies that produce, manufacture and use refrigerant chemicals." (ENN)

"Organic Farming: What is in It for Most People?" - "BSE (Mad Cow disease). Foot-and-mouth disease. Both were the cause of the devastation of hundreds of thousands of livestock in Europe. The recent viral outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease is supposed to have started from an infected meat that was reprocessed and fed to livestock as part of the menu. No wonder then some people in Europe are beginning to feel edgy and skeptical about industrial farming. In England alone, more than 800,000 pigs, sheep and cattle, that were all affected by the virus and those around the immediate vicinity as preemptive measure, were slaughtered.

Incidents such as this are prompting organic farming enthusiasts and advocates to say something like this, "look here fellows, there is even more of that to come."

But is organic farming by itself a valid alternative? let's have a look at some numbers: Over the next 40 years, in the developing countries at least, food demand will grow by 2.5% per year (World Bank). Since the start of agriculture until 1950, agricultural production depended on expansion of new farmlands. After that food production and its fast growth was based on increased inputs like energy, tractors, irrigation etc. Now the world has little left of virgin lands, unless people mean to plow every bit of forest and grasslands and convert them into croplands." (AllAfrica.com)

"Fast-track panel to clear bio-tech projects" - "NEW DELHI: The biotechnology sector is witnessing fast developments at the international level, and the Union government does not want to lag behind. A fast-track committee has now been established for clearance of big projects in this field. The fast-track committee, set up by the department of biotechnology, will provide single-window clearance for all biotechnology-based mega projects over Rs 100 crore. ``This is to attract foreign investors in this sector,'' said a government official. (Times of India)

"Md. Bans Genetically Modified Fish" - "BALTIMORE - The governor signed a law banning the raising of genetically modified fish unless they are in ponds or lakes that do not connect to other state waterways. Growers also must ensure that the fish cannot escape by any other means, such as by birds dropping them after plucking them from the water. The law signed by Gov. Parris Glendening on Tuesday is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, said its sponsor, Democratic Delegate Dan Morhaim." (AP)

"Monsanto Seeds Pass Lab Check" - "ROME - Monsanto, the U.S. biotechnology company, will be able to distribute to Italian customers 40 tons of soy seed and 6 tons of corn seed after laboratory analyses found no trace of genetically modified seed in the supplies, the company said Thursday. Italian police last month had sequestered the seed at a northern Italian depot in Lodi because of suspicion that genetically modified seed was in the shipment." (AP)

"Third GE raid takes 88 tonnes of seed" - "ROME - In the third raid in less than three weeks, Italian police seized 88 tonnes of soy seed yesterday from United States biotech group Monsanto. The seeds are expected to be tested for their genetic makeup. Monsanto said it had received no warning from the authorities, and that all the seeds were conventional. None of the seeds had been distributed to retailers or farmers. ``We assume the authorities will test the seeds for possible genetically engineered content,`` a spokesman said. The use of genetically engineered (GE) seeds in open fields is forbidden by law in Italy, a net importer of maize and soybeans." (Reuters)

"UK Farm Ministry Finds Gene-Modified Rapeseed" - "LONDON - Britain's Agriculture Ministry said on Thursday it had discovered genetically modified (GM) material in two trial rapeseed crops, which would be swiftly destroyed. A small quantity of imported spring rapeseed had tested positive for a promoter that could indicate genetic modification, and tests on a hybrid winter rapeseed variety had shown levels of GM presence, the ministry said in a statement. ``Neither of these varieties are being grown commercially in the UK,'' it said, adding that the first crop would be destroyed by spraying and the other would be cut down. Public opinion in Britain has turned against GM foods after a string of high-profile food scares. Many restaurants and shops advertise that they do not sell GM foods." (Reuters) | Scientists investigate 'contamination' of oilseed rape crops by GM material (Independent)

"Public told not to panic over GMO report" - "Biotechnology scientists and government agencies yesterday urged the public not to panic over the reported presence of GMOs in food products. Sakarindr Bhumiratana, a senior specialist at the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec), said genetically modified food products would do no harm to consumers even over a long term." (Bangkok Post)

"FDA hunts for more GM food" - "More food products containing genetically modified organisms are expected to surface in the Thai market, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday. A biotechnology expert suggested the government eradicate GM crops still existing in the country, which he said were apparently the source of raw materials for some products found to contain GMOs." (Bangkok Post)

April 12, 2001

Here we go again: "Environmentalists call for better approach on dioxin" - "Greenpeace says it is frustrated at the approach being taken over the development of a national dioxin program. A series of stakeholder workshops have been organised with the first one being held in Adelaide today. Dioxins are highly toxic by-products of industrial processes which have been linked to cancer and reproductive problems." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"EPA science advisers say dioxin not a human carcinogen in draft letter" (PDF) - A draft letter from the EPA's Science Advisory Board again rejects EPA's effort to label dioxin as a human carcinogen.

"NATURE'S CHEMICALS AND SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS: COMPARATIVE TOXICOLOGY" (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA Classification: Medical Sciences Contributed by Bruce N. Ames)

"Traces of Environmental Chemicals in the Human Body: Are They a Risk to Health?" - "NEW YORK — All living organisms are continually exposed to foreign chemicals, also known as "xenobiotics." These chemicals include substances that are natural (e.g., toxins produced by molds, plants, and animals) and man-made (e.g., drugs, industrial chemicals, pesticides, and pollutants). ... For more information and a complete version of the publication, please refer to the following link: http://www.acsh.org/publications/booklets/traceChem.pdf" (ACSH)

"Dioxin Report By EPA On Hold" - "The chemical, beef and poultry industries are waging an intense campaign to delay further an Environmental Protection Agency study showing that consumption of animal fat and dairy products containing traces of dioxin can cause cancer in humans." (Washington Post)

If you believe the Post's spin, scientists say yes but Big Business says not. The Post should read the draft EPA Science Advisory Board letter linked above, seems the scientists say not but The Post says yes.

The whackos' fundraising terror campaigns obviously work in Japan: "Over 70% of Japanese alarmed about chemicals in environment" - "TOKYO April 11 - More than 70% of Japanese are alarmed about chemicals in the environment from sources such as garbage incinerators and cars, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Environment Ministry. Researchers mailed questionnaires to 1,500 people across Japan, and 1,260, or 84%, responded. Only 0.9% said they were not concerned about chemicals in the environment. According to the survey, 83.1% cited chemicals from such plants as factories and incinerators as their greatest concern. Car exhaust, pesticides and chemicals in household goods were each cited by over 70% of respondents." (Kyodo)

Maybe in the US too : "Pa. to advise fishermen on toxic dangers" - "After pressure from environmentalists, state officials agreed on a warning against eating too much game fish." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"EPA: Chemical Pollution Up 5 Percent in Latest Year" - "WASHINGTON - The amount of chemicals and other wastes released into the air, water and land by U.S. industrial facilities rose by 5 percent in the latest year for which data is available, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday, in a report that prompted consumer groups to call for more environmental protections. EPA said the amount of toxic releases in 1999, based on the newest data available in its annual toxic inventory report, jumped 5 percent from the year before to 7.8 billion pounds." (Reuters)

1999... wasn't that still under the stewardship of that redoubtable pair of enviro-heroes, Bill Clinton and uh, you know... whatsisname?

More mercury hysterics: "Bush backs Clinton EPA on mercury" - "President Bush is siding with his Democratic predecessor on two air pollution issues, agreeing to regulate mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants and requiring cleaner diesel fuel and engines. Environmentalists expressed delight Tuesday that the Bush administration is asking a federal appeals court to uphold a Clinton-era plan on mercury pollution regulation." (AP)

"White House And the Green Myth" - "IF PRESIDENT Bush's environmental policies are so threatening to global survival, why weren't the same people squawking that the planet was about to boil over when President Clinton was in office? When you look at the policies, instead of the rhetoric, Clinton/Gore versus Bush/Cheney are practically identical in the three areas for which Bush has taken the most heat: Kyoto global warming treaty, emissions from old power plants and arsenic in drinking water." (Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle)

"Gulf war veterans report more ill health than other service men and women" - "Gulf war veterans are twice as likely to report ill health as other service men and women, finds research in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. And the numbers of inoculations and days spent handling pesticides were linked to specific symptoms. Seven years after the war, over 14,000 service men and women, almost 5,000 of whom had not been deployed in the Gulf, completed questionnaires about recent health. The questionnaires requested information on 95 symptoms and included two mannikins on which respondents were asked to indicate areas of pain, numbness, and tingling." (BMJ)

With all due respect to those who serve their countries there is still no demonstrated increase in ill-health among Gulf veterans. There has been no disparity in mortality or hospitalisation between those who served in the Gulf and those who did not. Association is not causality and trying to blame an event that looms large in memory for any given symptom does not do any good for anybody. Serving in the Gulf and then feeling ill, therefore Gulf service causes illness is no different to hearing the cock crow and seeing the sun rise, therefore cockerels cause sunrise.

"Study: Dementia deadlier than first thought" - "Nearly four million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, a mind-robbing condition that can exact a terrible psychological and financial toll on victims and their families. But few people, including many physicians, consider the disease to be deadly. But The NEJM study found that patients 84 years of age and older will survive, on average, only three years after they first see a physician for symptoms that include memory loss. That makes the disease as deadly as other major killers, according to Dr. Claudia Kawas of the University of California at Irvine, in an accompanying editorial." (CNN)

Um... "patients 84 years of age and older will survive, on average, only three years..." How is 87 years and older considered a shortened lifespan when it's longer than the population norm?

"Benefits of a high-fibre diet questioned by cancer expert" - "FIBRE in the diet, recommended for healthy living for 25 years, may not be as good for you as most people believe. Dr Robert Goodlad, senior scientist at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, says today that it may not be the fibre which has the beneficial effects on health that have been found in some studies but the range of vitamins and minerals also found in high fibre foods. Another reason may be that people eating a high-fibre diet tend not to eat unhealthy high-fat diets with too many calories." (Telegraph) | Cancer expert casts doubt on high-fibre diet (The Times)

"UPDATE - Italy govt Vatican Radio radiation row subsides" - "ROME - A dispute within the Italian government subsided yesterday after cabinet confirmed Prime Minister Giuliano Amato's decision to countermand an order by his environment minister to cut off Vatican Radio's power. Amato suspended Environment Minister Willer Bordon's order to cut off the electricity supply to Vatican Radio by next Monday if the station did not reduce its electromagnetic levels in line with Italian law. A cabinet spokesman said the government was confident Italy and the Vatican could find an accord by the end of April on the basis of the work of a joint Vatican-Italian committee on testing electromagnetic levels and studying solutions." (Reuters)

Holier than thou (but not by much): "Environment report ranks Canada near bottom of OECD" - "A new study comparing Canada's environmental record to those of other industrialized countries has come to an embarrassing conclusion: Canada ranks second worst in the world, outdone only by the United States. While Canadians usually pride themselves on caring for the environment, the study found that Canada had a dismal record on most measures of pollution. This is compared to the other 28 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a club of industrialized nations." (Globe and Mail)

"Bush Seeks Control of Endangered Species" - "SEATTLE, April 11 — President Bush is asking Congress to waive parts of the Endangered Species Act to give his administration full authority over what animals and plants are protected under the act. The proposal, part of Bush’s $1.76 trillion budget proposal unveiled Monday, also would block citizens from filing lawsuits to force animals and plants on the list. Interior Secretary Gale Norton would, in effect, have sole discretion over the listings." (AP) | Bush takes aim at activists' tool (Boston Globe)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... "Forecast: Hot, wet, chance of cataclysm" - "A warmer and wetter climate in the Southwest during the next century could spawn flooding, tropical diseases and energy shortages, according to a new study from government and UA researchers. Climate models used in the study predict the region's average temperature will rise 4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2030, and 7 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit by 2090. Annual precipitation in parts of the Southwest could double, with winter rainfall increasing up to 0.2 of an inch per day by the year 2090." (Arizona Star)

Don't you just love climate models and the virtual world? You can make them as imaginative as you fancy or even have them tell any lie you please.

"Poll: Global warming not viewed as threat" - "Though most Americans think global warming is a scientific fact and believe the problem is caused by human activities, just one-third predict it poses a serious threat to their way of life, according to a recent Gallup Poll. Just 33% of respondents said they worry ''a great deal'' about global warming, although nearly half said they worry a great deal about air pollution (48%) and damage to Earth's ozone layer (46%), both problems related to global warming. Global warming ranked 12th among the 13 environmental issues, well below the No. 1 concern: pollution of drinking water." (USA Today)

"Win the Kyoto Argument!" - "Your obedient servants here at WCR spend a lot of time on radio talk shows, and one of the things we have noticed over the years is that fewer and fewer of our greener friends, and even some of our scientific colleagues, want to discuss things with us in public. After all, when it comes to the Kyoto Protocol, they lose the argument every time. It has become so bad that big-time hosts are now starting investigations into their reluctance to discuss. Stay tuned!" (World Climate Report)

"Chirac Tells Powell of French Concern Over Kyoto" - "PARIS - President Jacques Chirac told visiting Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday that France and Europe remained deeply concerned by Washington's decision to quit the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming." (Reuters)

"EU should be wary of backing Kyoto" - "Following President Bush's repudiation of the Kyoto agreement on global warming, Europe must be careful not to lose business competitiveness by going it alone, warns Mary Kelly" (Irish Times)

"Bend Coke's ear on Kyoto, say MPs" - "A cross-party committee of MPs yesterday launched an unprecedented campaign to persuade Coca-Cola's customers around the world to strongarm the global soft drinks company into backing the Kyoto protocols against global warming. They appealed to young customers to bombard both Coca-Cola - initially in Britain - and the White House directly. "We turn not to the foes of President Bush, but to his friends, those whose wise counsels have influenced the president, those whose wide pockets have sustained him," said the former consumer affairs minister, Nigel Griffiths." (Guardian)

"Climate talks chief offers new global warming plan" - "The head of the U.N. forum on global warming will on Thursday outline a new plan permitting industrialized countries to use forests and farmlands as carbon absorbing "sinks" in a bid to jump start talks to cut greenhouse gases. The United States triggered a global outcry last month by rejecting a treaty to curb global warming, forcing Jan Pronk, the current head the U.N. body and Dutch environment minister, to seek a compromise policy." (Reuters) | Compromise bid to save climate treaty (BBC Online)

"US envoy says spat with EU over climate is a plus" - "BRUSSELS - The U.S. ambassador to the European Union said yesterday the EU had overreacted to the Bush administration's decision to quit the Kyoto treaty on global warming but said the spat could have positive results." (Reuters)

"Kyoto: what now?" - "Paris - A series of informal consultations will take place in New York next week between the world's environment ministers on what to do following the widely-criticised US decision to ditch the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, diplomatic sources here said. Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, currently chairing climate negotiations, will initiate the round with a visit to Washington on Monday at the invitation of an American pro-Kyoto environmental group, the Pew Centre for Climate Change." (Sapa-AFP)

"Australia urged not to side with US over Kyoto Treaty" - "An alliance of Green groups from across Europe has called on Australia not to side with the United States, which is walking away from the Kyoto Treaty on global warming. Marian Coyne from the European Federation of Greens Parties is one of 700 delegates making their way to Canberra for a global greens conference this weekend. She says Australia's position is critical." | Australia can meet Kyoto target: Opposition (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Well, she got that part right anyway. To see just how critical, click here.

"Crunch time nears for climate treaty" - "Convinced of the gravity of climate change, the European Union is trying to build an impregnable coalition committed to action. Last month President Bush said the US would not ratify the global climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol. The EU hopes to ensure the protocol comes into force ratified by enough countries to outweigh the US. And next week offers an opportunity to test the world's will for ratification." (BBC Online)

"Cooler breezes" - "With spring here, it won't be long before city streets are egg-frying hot and the sun's full blast is whipping tornadoes down skyscraper canyons. Who needs the Sahara? Just 10 miles away in the burbs, it will be pleasantly warm and breezy. The best of summer. And this is what concerns scientists. Urban "heat islands" are not just making life a sweatshop for city dwellers, they're also tampering with local weather patterns." (Christian Science Monitor)

Classic example of why the surface temperature amalgams upon which claims of "global warming" are based are so suspect. Increasing urbanisation of recording sites induces the illusion of regional warming because they measure only the tiny fraction of a percent of the globe affected by UHIE when, in reality, this effect spread over the globe is immeasurably small and quite irrelevant.

It is not global temperature that people are making a mess of but rather the global near-surface temperature record.

In the same manner by which a couple of computers caused a Wall Street collapse by "selling" to each other and then reacting to declining "value" by repeating the process in an endless spiral, wildly inaccurate local effects are fed to climate models as regional values from which said computers then produce virtual world projections on the basis of climate data which does not exist in the real world. The most likely reason satellite MSUs and balloon sondes can not find the alleged atmospheric warming is that it simply has not occurred in the real world.

"Global warming to blame?" - "HARRISON TOWNSHIP -- Great Lakes levels could fall rapidly by another three feet during the next 30 years, as the Earth's temperature rises. Michigan's waters -- in retreat for the fourth straight year -- remain as much as 23 inches below long-term average levels, exposing shorelines, hampering boaters and commercial freighters, fueling dredging, and closing marinas across the basin. Climate experts, in a widely respected federal report, are now examining global warming as the possible cause behind the sharp and continuing drops in water levels of all five lakes." (Detroit News)

Global warming, which is factual as distinct from the highly dubious alleged enhanced greenhouse effect, began around three hundred years ago when Earth began to emerge from the Little Ice Age.

Three or four years ago, when lake levels were very high, global warming was touted as a probable cause. Lake levels, however, seem driven by other factors. Note that structures built a century and a half ago are beginning to emerge as lake levels decline. Would people have built piers and wharves under water early in the 19th century? I don't think so either. Obviously then, lake levels rose during a known warming period and were low when the Earth was demonstrably cooler. This lends little support to the hypothesis that warming equates to lowering lake levels. Since the temperature-lake level correlation patently does not hold we are left with 160- year cycles and 30-year sub-cycles driven by forcings other than temperature.

How did anything ever happen on this planet before people were around to "cause" them? Since people are supposedly "to blame" for every conceivable occurrence these days I have to wonder.

Drawing a long bow: "It could get hotter in Japan thanks to Three Gorges Dam" - "As China pours concrete on the Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River, a new study suggests that diverting large amounts of water from the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers could trigger a warmer climate around the Sea of Japan, far to the north. The change, the study projects, would result from altered circulation patterns in the Sea of Japan." (Christian Science Monitor)

And increased vegetation and evaporation from irrigation projects associated with the dam may increase cloudiness and cool the planet too. Historic droughts have shut down the Yangtze and Yellow River flows before but the Sea of Japan did not boil nor Japan fry.

"Southern Glacier Species Thriving" - "WASHINGTON, DC — Environmental organizations have been crying for years about all the cute animals that they say will be harmed by global warming. Realizing that the lowly cockroach has limited potential as a fund-raising vehicle, those groups don't hesitate to use pictures of moist-eyed baby seals and snazzily dressed penguins to bring home the bacon." (Greening Earth Society)

"NASA demostrates how Earth's global heat engine drives plant growth" - "Scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have assembled the first long-term global data set that demonstrates the connection between changing patterns of sea surface temperature and patterns of plant growth across the Earth's landscapes. The results of their new study appear in the April 2001 issue of the Journal of Climate." (NASA/GSFC)

"US companies eye new nuclear plants after over 25 years" - "NEW YORK - Several big U.S. companies, faced with dwindling power supplies in much of the country, are gearing up to make preliminary applications to build new nuclear power plants, the first in over 25 years, a spokesman for a nuclear policy organization said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Biodiversity increases ecosystems' ability to absorb CO2 and nitrogen" - "UPTON, NY -- Biodiversity is an important factor regulating how ecosystems will respond to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, say researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and their collaborators from several universities. The team of investigators, led by Peter Reich of the University of Minnesota, just released results from a major field study that will appear in the April 12, 2001 issue of Nature. The scientists found that more diverse plant ecosystems were better able to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N), both of which are on the rise due to human activities and industrial processes." (Brookhaven National Laboratory)

"SEEDY JOURNALISM?" - "WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On a Friday in late March, The Washington Post ran an egregiously misleading story on a Canadian court battle between biotech seed company Monsanto and a Canadian farmer. Reporter Marc Kaufman's story began, "A judge yesterday ordered a Canadian farmer to pay ... Monsanto Co. thousands of dollars because the company's genetically engineered canola plants were found growing on his field, apparently after pollen from modified plants had blown onto his property from nearby farms." Although the Post ran a "clarification" four days later, they should have completely retracted the deceptive piece, begged the pardon of Monsanto for demonizing the company, and apologized to consumers and farmers across North America for grossly misrepresenting an important issue." (Alex Avery, Center for Global Food Issues)

"Moral Low Ground" - "Today's Washington Times exposes two great examples of the nanny culture run amok. First, the "Inside Politics" column describes how People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is sending activists to Kenya, trying to convert the masses to vegetarianism. One problem: over 4 million Kenyans are at risk of starvation. Malnutrition is their main health problem - not obesity or cholesterol. "Chicken is not an endangered species," said one Kenyan. "I don't see the sense of it." A few pages later, former American Farm Bureau Federation president Dean Kleckner opines that America's farmers should reclaim the moral high ground from biotech scaremongers like clothing manufacturer Patagonia. As he points out, modern agriculture is decidedly on the side of the angels: "Only biotechnology can bridge the gap between the growing world population and the shrinking amount of arable land." (GuestChoice.com) | Kenya needs international help to feed millions, agencies says (AP)

"Scientists Say Ag Genomics Utilization Coming at Quick Pace" - "Purdue University scientist Randy Woodson made headlines in February when he published the sequence of the human genome “code of life” project. But now he says the first benefits to genetic research will come in the area of plant research, saying it is easier and less controversial. "Agricultural genomics is well behind human genomics," he says "But we can adapt the tools used in the Human Genome Project to find solutions for problems in food much faster than drugs for human problems can be brought to the market." (AgWeb.com)

"A Boost For Rice Research" - "It is sobering that the unseemly controversy over `Golden Rice' -- a beta carotene enriched rice that would help fight problems associated with Vitamin-A deficiency -- appears to have taken a backseat, if not fully blown over, with anti-technology activist organisations beginning to tone down their opposition." (Hindu Business Line)

"Safe-food issue put on the table" - "Should genetically modified food be labeled as such? That was the question yesterday when the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee ended its cross-country tour with a hearing in Montreal to consider labeling, among other issues. The committee is to submit its recommendations to Prime Minister Jean Chretien in June. Consumer-rights groups and environmentalists are calling for mandatory labeling, arguing that the long-term health effects of genetically modified products are not known. The food and agriculture industry, however, are generally opposed to labeling and will only agree to voluntary measures." (Montreal Gazette)

"Agbiotech Bulletin - April 2001"


  • Transparency: Toward A Global Regulatory Standard
  • President's Column
  • The Month In Review
  • People Watch
  • Saskatchewan Agbiotech Update
  • Regulatory Column
  • SABIC Column
  • Events
  • Our Readers React
  • Ag-West Biotech Board Of Directors
  • Ag-West Biotech Publications (Ag-West Biotech Inc.)

"EU Plans Tight Biotech Food Controls" - "BRUSSELS -- The European Union is preparing to enact strict new controls on the sale of genetically engineered foods, which could trigger a major trade dispute with the United States and deal a serious setback to the booming biotech industry. Faced with growing public alarm about food safety, the European Parliament is expected to approve a resolution this month that will impose tough labeling and tracing requirements on genetically modified products. The 15 member governments will then be asked to make their national laws conform to the new rules by next year." (Washington Post)

"Genetically Modified Corn, Soybeans Offer Little Advantage to Indiana Farmers, Say Purdue University" - "WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. April 9 -- Corn growers who pass up genetically modified hybrids to plant conventional varieties this spring may be better off in the long run, say two Purdue University experts. "None of the currently available insect-resistant or herbicide-tolerant corn or soybean varieties is critical for the success of Indiana farmers," says Bob Nielsen, Purdue Cooperative Extension Service corn specialist. "Because these transgenic crop traits are not critical for Indiana farmers, the choice of whether to grow them or not depends primarily on the farmer's assessment of the uncertainty of market acceptance for such products and/or the available seed supply of alternative nontransgenic varieties." (AScribe News)

"GMO food giants unmasked" - "Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in seven food products, including baby food, on local market shelves, Greenpeace said yesterday." (Bangkok Post)

"Philippines: President Urged to Reconsider anti-GMO Stance" - "The Crop Protection Association of the Philippines (CPAP) and members of the National Academy of Science and Technology of the Philippines (NAST) have both released statements urging President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to reconsider her position and allow the continued experimentation with GMOs in field trials. The statements are a reaction to a presidential statement in March in which Macapagal-Arroyo argued that GMOs have potential hazards to human health and the environment. The groups pointed out that a stringent set of guidelines were established by the National Committee on Bio safety of the Philippines (NCBP) to ensure GMO experiments are safe." (just-sites.com)

"Biotechs suffer the herd instinct of investors" - "As Dolly the Sheep grazes in her isolated Scottish paddock this morning, safely quarantined from foot and mouth disease, she may catch a whiff of fear in the air. Her owner, PPL Therapeutics, is in such a perilous cash position that it will no longer be able to pay for her upkeep this time next year. After failing to raise funds on the stock market, the firm looks set to make a humiliating cap-in-hand approach to its development partner, Bayer, for more funds." | City shuns Dolly the sheep (Guardian)

April 11, 2001

"EU woos Japan on climate pact" - "The European Union mission to save the Kyoto climate protocol from being scrapped by the Americans is in Japan on the most challenging leg of the journey. The idea is that if Europe can enlist the support of the Japanese, the rest of the developed world will be able to implement the treaty anyway - leaving the US as the world's biggest polluter isolated on the issue. The EU mission has been highly successful so far. It has got the support of China and the developing countries of the G77. Also, crucially, Russia." (BBC Online) | Japan will not join European Union on warming treaty (Washington Times)

"Fukuda wants united gov't steps to persuade U.S. on Kyoto pact" - "TOKYO April 10 - Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda asked fellow cabinet ministers Tuesday to take united action to persuade the United States to think twice about its decision to pull out of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming. ''I want unified government efforts with ministries of the environment, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, economy, trade and industry and foreign affairs taking leadership roles,'' Fukuda said at a cabinet meeting. He called for ministries' efforts in urging the U.S. to reconsider ahead of a U.N. climate-change conference scheduled for Bonn in July." | EU to keep pushing U.S. on Kyoto pact at Bonn meeting (Kyodo)

"EU determined on climate deal with or without U.S." - "The European Union has gathered strong support for pushing ahead with a 1997 deal to combat global warming, despite Washington's rejection of the pact, EU officials wrapping up a global tour said on Tuesday. Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson said the special EU delegation had been encouraged by the response they received in China, Iran and Russia although Japan, where the Kyoto treaty was signed, appeared to be holding out hope for U.S. involvement." (Reuters)

"U.N. climate report clarifies 'sinks'" - "A Swedish government official gave the first clues on Tuesday as to the contents of a new U.N. environmental report intended to rescue world climate talks. The U.N. paper outlines how countries could meet targets to reduce greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) by counting their forests as "sinks" which absorb the CO2 emissions produced by human activity, the Swedish official leaked to Reuters. "The paper spells out that sinks could be used to meet targets to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, by how much, and says what type of projects would be allowed," the official said." (Reuters)

"Emissions trading cuts Kyoto economy impact - study" - "AMSTERDAM - Allowing trade in carbon dioxide emissions credits would reduce the economic risks for states seeking to cut global warming, a Dutch government study released yesterday showed. The study, by the Dutch government think tank Central Planning Bureau, appeared to bolster arguments by the United States, which has pushed for unlimited trade of emissions credits as an economical solution to slowing global warming." (Reuters)

"ANALYSIS - Kyoto to be only tiny economic brake to 2010" - "OSLO - A pact to curb global warming will put only a tiny brake on world economic growth and a U.S. decision to pull out of the Kyoto accord will not add giant new costs for Europe and other signatories, analysts say. The United States, the world's top polluter, will benefit from lower energy prices and taxes than its competitors after President George W. Bush last month pulled out of the 1997 deal." (Reuters)

"Arctic Sea Ice: Is It Really Melting Away?" - "A couple years ago, Rothrock et al. (1999) published a paper in which they concluded that Arctic sea ice thickness experienced a substantial decline over the 1990s.  Now, however, using the same data as Rothrock et al., but augmented by an additional three years of submarine data, Winsor has come to a vastly different conclusion.  How fast perceptions can change when more facts are at hand! For related reports that demonstrate the robustness of Winsor's conclusions, see Real-World Data Show No Arctic Warming Over Last 70 Years, Climate Change in the Asian Subarctic, and Arctic Glaciers: Are They Succumbing to Global Warming?" | other items from the same source this week: A 271-Year Sea Surface Temperature Record from the Central Gyre of the Subtropical South Pacific | Searching for the Truth About CO2 and Climate? Then Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get to Work! | Malaria On the Rise in Kenya: Is Global Warming To Blame? (co2science.org)

"ICELAND'S RECEDING GLACIER" - "Remote sensing is providing an excellent way to measure the changes in glaciers over time. The Landsat satellite series has captured the recession of a glacier on Iceland’s largest ice cap over almost a 30 year time period. The Breidamerkurjökull (brathe-a-mer-ker-yokull,) an outlet glacier on the Vatnajökull (vat-na-yokull) ice cap, has receded by as much as 2 km since 1973. Though ground measurements continue to be taken, and are more accurate, the Landsat satellite gives wider coverage and fills in the gaps where ground measurements are not performed." (NASA/GSFC)

"Europe's biggest glacier shrinks" -  "... The glacier has been shrinking for most of the 20th century," Dr David Evans, of Glasgow University's Geography and Topographical Science Department, told CNN.com. ... But he dismisses panic theories that the loss of the glacier is man-made or even permanent. "It really is not a human-induced situation," he said. "This glacier is receding from the coast because it advanced to the coast during what is known as the Little Ice Age. "Relatively speaking, things have become warmer, but they were warm before the Little Ice Age." Evans says that 300 years ago the coastal land around Breidamerkurjokull was ice-free and used for farming by local people. Then, in the early decades of the 18th century, the climate grew colder and giant rivers of ice spread out from the Vatnajokull sheet, including the Breidamerkurjokull glacier. These moved miles down to the coast, covering pastures and crushing farmhouses that lay in their path. "The Little Ice Age lasted almost 200 years, reaching its peak, in Iceland, in 1890, when Breidamerkurjokull got closest to the sea," said Evans. "That mini-ice age is over now, and the climate has been getting warmer for the past 100 years. Hence the shrinking and disintegration of the glacier." (CNN)

"Plan to 'store' carbon in sea runs aground" - "KEAHOLE POINT, Hawaii - It seemed like an ideal solution to a most vexing environmental problem. Take carbon dioxide - the invisible gas spewed out by power plants and blamed for global warming - and pipe it 2,600 feet to the bottom of the ocean. Under crushing pressure, the liquid carbon dioxide would form tiny blobs and dissipate into the surrounding seawater. But a $6 million international experiment to do just that off Hawaii's Kona Coast was scuttled in late February by a coalition of fishermen, environmentalists, and native Hawaiian activists who say the project would sully the islands' crystal-blue local waters - and open the door to using the ocean as a global dump. The cancellation dealt a major blow to the US Department of Energy's $18 million program to research ''carbon sequestration,'' a relatively new strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by storing carbon dioxide instead of releasing it into the atmosphere." (Boston Globe)

Hashed report of the day: "Figures highlight rise in greenhouse gas emissions" - "Australia's level of greenhouse gas emissions is continuing to rise, based on figures released today by the Federal Government. The amount of pollution from generating electricity and from transport has increased again. ... The figures released today show in 1999 emissions grew by more than 1 per cent, to more than 17 per cent of 1990 levels." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

In case anyone's wondering, no, Australia hasn't reduced it's GHG emission by nearly 83%. What our woefully inaccurate ABC meant was "more than 117% of 1990 levels." Here's the AAP item they tried to report and here's the obligatory Labor/Green hand-wringing response.

"Greenpeace's targets" - "Global warming and George Bush's rejection of the Kyoto climate change treaty. "Clearly the number one issue," says Stephen Tindale. Greenpeace International has written to the top 100 American companies asking if they support the Bush position, and Greenpeace groups around the world will launch a campaign later this month on the basis of their replies. Consumer boycotts are likely to be high on the agenda." (Independent)

"Alaskans Want ANWR Development" - "If you want to raise the temperature anywhere in Alaska, just mention the debate over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), as I found out this past week when I visited the state. I wasn't surprised that most everyone I talked to was in favor of drilling, since I was there to give a speech to members of a rural electric cooperative. What surprised me was how angry people were that their fellow Americans knew so little about Alaska itself. As one man put it: "Folks in the lower 48 don't know diddly about our state, but they think they can tell us natives how best to protect it." At issue is whether the federal government should allow drilling in the coastal plain on the northern edge of the ANWR." (Linda Chavez, CNS Commentary)

"Bush and Big Business: Another Look" - "WASHINGTON It has not taken long for the cliché to take root that the new U.S. administration is in cahoots with big business, if not actually in its pocket. Many of President George W. Bush's early policy decisions have been slammed as "paybacks" for business support in last year's elections, while he and Vice President Dick Cheney have been pilloried as the henchmen of "Big Oil." The theme has been enthusiastically espoused by John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, and has found an echo among Mr. Bush's detractors in Europe and elsewhere around the globe. But the cliché does not stand up to close examination. It has been shaped more by politics than by reality." (Reginald Dale, International Herald Tribune)

"Bush plan would limit EPA enforcement" - "WASHINGTON, April 10 — The Bush administration would begin to shift some responsibility for enforcing federal environmental protection laws from the Environmental Protection Agency to the states under a plan contained in budget documents released yesterday." | Energy conservation in a crunch (Washington Post)

"Bush vows deep cuts in 'pork' programs" - "WASHINGTON -- President Bush targeted scores of federal programs Monday to make room for his $1.6 trillion tax cut, proposing deep cuts in funds to put more police on the streets, promote energy conservation, and train pediatricians at children's hospitals. "Washington is known for its pork. This budget funds our needs without the fat," Bush told reporters after his administration sent Congress a 2,500-page document filling in the fine print of the $1.96 trillion rudimentary budget he outlined in February." (AP)

Not all the 'pork' has necessarily been cut though: "U.S. Tobacco Lawsuit Financing Decision Postponed by President" - "Washington, April 9 -- The U.S. Justice Department asked Congress to continue paying for lawyers and staff to work on a lawsuit against the tobacco industry while the administration decides whether it will pursue the case. The Bush administration's proposed budget for next year would keep intact the staff of about 30 people preparing the case, officials said. Still, no decision has been made on whether to follow through on the Clinton administration suit seeking hundreds of billions of dollars from such tobacco companies as Philip Morris Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., they said." (Bloomberg)

"World's Richest Nations Urge Green Taxes" - "PARIS, France, April 9, 2001 - Industrialized countries should launch a coordinated program to remove environmentally damaging subsidies and introduce environmental taxes, according to a new report by an organization that represents the world's richest countries. The Paris based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is urging the removal of subsidies and introduction of green taxes "to prevent irreversible damage to our environment over the next 20 years," the OECD said in a statement. The call comes in a major review of key environmental challenges to 2020, to be considered by OECD environment ministers May 16." (ENS)

"New Zealand's Agent Orange Victims Promised Help" - "WELLINGTON, New Zealand, April 10, 2001 - Prime Minister Helen Clark has agreed to improve services for Vietnam veterans who claim their health has been damaged by Agent Orange. The toxic herbicide is central to another conflict today as well, between people living near a plant where agricultural herbicides were made and the company that produced them." (ENS)

Flashback: March 30, 2000 (some of these links will naturally be stale and inactive)

JUNK of the day: Agent Orange and Diabetes - The most recent U.S. Air Force report on the personnel exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War reports "a significant and potentially meaningful adverse relation between serum dioxin levels and diabetes." CNN | AP | MSNBC

But the alleged "adverse relation" is weak and statistically insignificant. Moreover, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were reported to increase with serum dioxin levels -- meaning the observed diabetes was likely a result of obesity, an established risk factor.

Why did the Air Force draw an unwarranted conclusion? Politics. It wants to show Congress that, indeed, Air Force scientists were sufficiently diligent in finding some harm caused by Agent Orange exposure -- even if that harm had to be fabricated.

See also: Vietnam Flashback – Does Agent Orange Cause Diabetes? by Michael Fumento, Reason Magazine.

"Lead Paint and Lawsuits" - "THE IDEA of suing paint manufacturers to pay for efforts to clean up lead paint hazards is naturally attractive to state and local governments for whom lead abatement is a major problem. The success of the tobacco lawsuits has trial lawyers looking for new targets, and -- like the tobacco companies -- the paint industry is plagued with some unflattering memos suggesting that officials knew early on about the dangers of their product. Lead paint litigation is clearly gathering steam. This week, Milwaukee became the latest city to sue paint manufacturers. And a judge recently allowed portions of a suit by the state of Rhode Island to proceed. But any similarity to the tobacco suits is only superficial. There is, in fact, good reason to be skeptical of a tobacco-style litigation effort." (Washington Post editorial)

"Vatican to Cut Broadcasts Over Ecological Fight" - "VATICAN CITY - The Vatican, in a last-ditch effort to stop Italy from cutting off electricity to its radio station over a dispute centering on electromagnetic radiation, said Monday it would eliminate some transmissions after Easter. The surprise decision was announced a day before Environment Minister Willer Bordon was due to hold a news conference to announce measures against the station. The minister has accused Vatican Radio of exceeding Italian laws on radiation and of being a health hazard." (Reuters)

"Study: Back Problems Are Inherited" - "TUESDAY, April 10 -- Some people can never get their parents off their back. New research shows that a genetic abnormality causes a significant proportion of spinal disk disease. The defect, which weakens the disks and makes them vulnerable to rupture with physical strain, could explain one-fourth of all sciatica and other lower-back problems, and is probably behind disk trouble higher in the spine, the researchers say. And if you have the mutation, they say your risk of disk disease triples." (HealthScout)

"Study Disputes Drug's Effects" - "CHICAGO -- A new study has muddled the question of whether cholesterol-lowering drugs reduce the risk of bone fractures from osteoporosis. The study of 81,880 British fracture patients and a comparison group found no connection between the use of statins and the risk of broken bones. The research was funded by Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, which makes the osteoporosis drug risedronate. That drug, sold as Actonel, is not a statin. The findings follow three recent reports suggesting that statins, taken by about 8 million Americans to treat high cholesterol, might have bone-enhancing effects. Those findings were published last June in the Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet." (AP)

"Robert Baker: A taxing question: should fat be a financial issue?" - "'There is no evidence that punishing the indolent for their sloth makes them any fitter' Like all terrible ideas, this one begins with good intentions. The idea? Immortality through tax-breaks." (Independent)

"The War Against Dietary Fat" - "Will eating too much fat slow your mental development? Should the government levy special taxes on fatty foods? Despite the lack of any evidence that a low-fat diet can help us live longer, the conventional wisdom tends to demonize dietary fat. In the upcoming issue of Science magazine (subscription required), Gary Taubes explores the crossroads where public health policy and hard science meet. A few excerpts, courtesy of AgBioWorld.org:

"Indeed, the history of the national conviction that dietary fat is deadly, and its evolution from hypothesis to dogma is one in which politicians, bureaucrats, the media, and the public have played as large a role as the scientists and the science. It's a story of what can happen when the demands of public health policy -- and the demands of the public for simple advice--run up against the confusing ambiguity of real science."

"[T]he anti-fat movement was founded on the Puritan notion that something bad had to have an evil cause, and you got a heart attack because you did something wrong, which was eating too much of a bad thing, rather than not having enough of a good thing." (GuestChoice.com)

"Don't blame supermarkets for your own misdeeds" - "Of all the villains of popular opinion, the supermarkets rank high in the sheer variety of evils for which they can be blamed. They are deemed responsible for the decline of the local shop; they are castigated for encouraging farmers in the developing world to grow cash crops using methods that are ecologically unsound; they are scolded for reducing in the number of varieties of apples grown in Britain. Now, with Tesco's announcement of profits exceeding the magical £1bn figure, they are even being blamed for the plight of the nation's farmers. It is a long charge sheet, but unfashionable as it may be, it is time to say just a word in defence of Tesco and its counterparts." (Independent)

"Opinion: Emulating The Sound Eating Habits Of The Stone Age" - ""It's easy to tell from the skeletons of our ancestors whether they were agriculturists or hunter-gatherers," says Arthur de Vany of California State University, an expert on Stone Age diets. "The agriculturists have bad teeth, bone lesions, small and underdeveloped skeletons and small craniums, compared to hunter- gatherers." Experts now believe humans spent 2 million years as hunters and scavengers, eating meat-oriented diets that were about 65 percent livestock calories and 35 percent plant calories. After people learned to farm, just 10,000 years ago, they could feed larger populations--but plant-only diets produced poorer health, de Vany says. The early farmers who ate mainly plants lacked key vitamins, minerals and amino acids, according to Loren Cordain of Colorado State University, another expert on ancient diet. This led to higher infant mortality, shorter life-spans, more infectious diseases, widespread iron deficiency anemia and bone mineral disorders." (Dennis T. Avery, Hudson Institute)

"Genetic Modification Is A Simple Extension Of Conventional Breeding" - "Since long, breeders have modified the genetic make up of plants and animals through conventional breeding methods. Breeders have developed new crop varieties using the existing genetic variability or by creating new variability, which is the prerequisite for any breeding programme. Conventional breeding methods have the disadvantage of a thousands of genes getting transferred in each cross, which may or may not be of use along with the desired ones in the target species. Another major limitation in conventional breeding includes the barriers for gene transfer through incompatibility and species differences." (Burson - Marsteller Roger Pereira Communications)

"Tests on edible measles vaccine" - "MELBOURNE scientists are creating the world's first edible measles vaccine to be taken with baby food, lettuce or rice. The vaccine is being tested in baboons after successful experiments with mice. Researchers at Monash and Melbourne Universities and with the Infectious Diseases Unit at Alfred Hospital genetically engineered tobacco plants to make the vaccine. Team leader Professor Steve Wesselingh said the edible vaccine could end the need for injections." (Herald Sun)

"Himachal Charts Out Growth Plan For Biotech Units" - "Himachal Pradesh has decided to set up a multi-crore biotechnology park near Solan and has prepared a blueprint for promotion of biotech industries in the state." (Times of India)

"Nelson City GE decision – a triumph of emotion over reason" - "The decision of Nelson City to go GE Free poses serious problems for citizens, which the City Council has obviously failed to think through, the Chairman of the Life Sciences Network, Dr William Rolleston, said today. “In the first place the Council is likely to put the City at risk of being in breach of the Fair Trading Act. If the City promotes itself as GE-Free then it is clear it must not allow any GE products to be present within the city’s boundaries. “To achieve GE-Free status it would have to stop all GE medicines such as GE insulin for 90% of the diabetics living within the city; such as GE hepatitis B vaccine; such as GE produced enzymes in washing powders and proteins in food. The Fair Trading Act does not allow people to describe something as being GE-Free if it isn’t 100% GE-Free." (New Zealand Life Sciences Network)

"Splicing the Sting Out of Bugs" - "ATLANTA--Charles Beard`s recipe for stopping the kissing bug, a tropical pest that kills 50,000 people each year, calls for ammonia, ink and guar gum. The result is an odorous goop that resembles the bug dung that, unpleasant as it may seem, happens to be a vital meal for young kissing bugs. But Beard adds something else to his faux feces that could prove to be even more noxious. It is genetically engineered bacteria that, once ingested, render the kissing bug unable to pass along its deadly disease. Now, a world that is already debating the safety of gene-spliced foods is about to meet a new class of genetically engineered organisms: modified bugs. Beard`s creation is just one in a series of plans to turn insects and bacteria into warriors against disease and crop pests." (Los Angeles Times)

"Thai consumers get 'Frankenstein food,' Greenpeace says" - "BANGKOK April 10 - Thai consumers are unknowingly eating genetically engineered food products because unlabeled gene-modified products are sold in Thai markets, environmental activist group Greenpeace said Tuesday." (Kyodo)

"Government seeking legal advice on GMO breaches" - "The Tasmanian Government is seeking advice on possible legal action against crop multinationals, Aventis and Monsanto. Reports by the federal gene technology regulator, released last week, revealed the companies breached genetically modified (GM) crop guidelines at 21 sites in Tasmania. The Environment Minister, David Llewellyn, told state parliament the reports also reveal breaches of the Tasmanian Government`s temporary ban on genetically modified organisms." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

April 10, 2001

"Italian Scientists Attack Politicians For Supporting 'Electrosmog' Law" - "ROME -- Few things arouse more passion in Italy nowadays than the debate over catching cancer from powerlines and radio antennas. Though the World Health Organization says there is no proof that this "electrosmog" causes cancer, the issue is already causing a government rift. With the election campaign in full swing, the nation has been entertained by the spectacle of government ministers accusing each other of "immorality" and disregard for human lives as they battle over a controversial law that would cost taxpayers tens of billions of euros." (Wall Street Journal)

"Cancer virus in sheep may provide clues to understanding human lung cancer, according to Hutchinson Center study" - "SEATTLE - A virus that causes contagious lung cancer in sheep may be instrumental in understanding a similar malignancy in humans that accounts for 25 percent of lung-cancer cases in the United States, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the National Cancer Institute." (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center)

More on clusters: "It was meant to be a joke!" - "It gets to be a bit disturbing when your prophecies, however absurd and far-fetched, turn into the truth. Some of the prophecies in Sorry, wrong number! were fairly obvious, such as the collapse of the internet bubble, but when you are deliberately trying to be ridiculous and it still comes true, life begins to take on a nightmarish quality that shakes your scepticism to the roots." (Number Watch) [You'll need to scroll down the page for this item but it's all worth the viewing]

Today's miracle promise: "Anti-cancer pill hope" - "A TRIAL of a revolutionary anti-cancer pill by an Adelaide hospital has produced its first breakthrough result." (The Advertiser, Adelaide)

"Finding Cancer Drugs in the Most Unlikely Places" - "On Dr. Steven Soignet's wooden desk at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan is an old-fashioned medicine bottle. It is about six inches tall, the kind a country doctor might have used to dispense drugs years ago. Inside it is a silvery powder that has clumped into what looks like little nuggets of shiny gravel. The yellowed label identifies the contents: arsenic." (New York Times)

"Nevada Town's Residents Unperturbed About Arsenic in Its Drinking Water" - "A study of EPA data from 25 states by the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2000 found that Fallon's water system delivered more arsenic to its customers than any other large system, defined as one serving at least 3,300 people. And so when Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman last month rescinded a Clinton administration decision to reduce by 80% the allowable levels of arsenic in tap water, the folks here didn't blink an eye. Without complaint, generations of Fallon residents have been drinking water with arsenic levels twice as high as the old limit, and they sure don't want to pay for a $10-million treatment plant." (LA Times)

"Research finds a compound associated with Scotchgard® more widespread in environment and wildlife than first thought" - "April 9, 2001 -- A chemical compound associated with Scotchgard®, the popular stain and spill repellant made by the 3M Company, may be more widespread in the environment than originally thought, according to a new research report. Although there have been no reports of adverse health effects from the compound, which can bioaccumulate in blood, the company began replacing the suspect chemical last year." (American Chemical Society)

Chemophobia strikes again: "Council to Consider Use of Pesticides" - "Thousand Oaks employees regularly use chemicals to control weeds. Councilwoman Linda Parks wants that to change. Parks will propose a review of the city's pesticide and herbicide use and alternative methods Tuesday at the council's regular meeting. She hopes the city will glean information that allows employees to adopt new procedures or at least reduce chemical use on public property. "Some cities have eliminated the use of pesticides totally," Parks said, adding that the Northern California city of Arcata is one of them. "I look at this as basically another way of having an environmentally sound city." (insideVC.com)

"Indian scientists claim cure for bronchial asthma" - "KOLKATA: Four Kolkata-based chemical biologists claim to have discovered a drug for bronchial asthma that has been approved by the government and is slated to hit the market soon. The drug prepared from extracts of seven commonly available plants promises freedom from inhalers and offers a permanent cure for patients of bronchial asthma alone. The drug has been patented after successful human trial and approved by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)." (Times of India)

"Women 'ignorant' of brittle bone risks" - "More than half of women do not realise they are more likely to die from osteoporosis than various gynaecological cancers, says a survey. More than eight out of ten did not know that the main cause was lack of a female sex hormone - and less than half that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could stave it off." (BBC Online)

"Bills target motorists' cellular phones" - "This year, legislators in 38 states - including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire - are working on bills that would forbid drivers from using cellphones, and many of the proposals are expected to pass." (Boston Globe)

"Hopkins researcher finds retroviral 'footprint' in brains of people with schizophrenia" - "A research team led by a Johns Hopkins Children’s Center scientist has found the strongest evidence yet that a virus may contribute to some cases of schizophrenia. In this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Children’s Center neurovirologist Robert Yolken, M.D., and his colleagues report the molecular "footprint" of a retrovirus in the cerebrospinal fluid of about 30 percent of people with acute schizophrenia and about 7 percent of people with a chronic form of the disease. The footprint was absent in the brains and cerebrospinal fluid of all people who did not have schizophrenia." (Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions)

"Secrets of superbug success" - "The most devastating hospital superbugs have harnessed both the ability to beat antibiotics, and to spread like wildfire, say scientists studying their genetic make-up. The team from Oxford University looked at various strains of the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. Some of these - which have emerged on many hospital wards in the UK - have become resistant to all but a few powerful antibiotics." (BBC Online)

"Water breakthrough for food safety" - "Scientists and engineers at Strathclyde University are pioneering a system which could revolutionise food safety. A new concept being developed produces a special wash which can remove or de-activate bacteria on fresh foods, reducing the incidence of infections like E.coli and listeria." (BBC Online)

"Global Warnings: Salt, Fat And The Abuse Of Science" - "Fatty foods are bad for your heart. Salty foods raise your blood pressure. For decades now, Americans have swallowed these axioms of dietary wisdom, and paid a pretty penny for fat-free and low-salt foods. But recent articles in Science suggest that things may not be as they seem, and the benefits of salt- and fat-restriction may have been grossly overstated. Indeed, the focus on fat and salt may well have had unintended consequences that lead people to greater risk, not less." (Kenneth Green, Tech Central Station)

Here's something you don't see in UK papers very often. This from The Times: "Bush wipes the sneer from the face of the Left" - "The mockers who called the President a dumbo discover he is no joke.

Those whom the Left wish to destroy, they first call dumb. They tried it with Margaret Thatcher, originally caricatured as a housewife out of her depth, and they refined the charge against Ronald Reagan, allegedly a lightweight hick whose American Gothic simplicities would pitchfork us into war.

And now the old smear has found a new target — George W. Bush. You’ve seen dumb, the Left argue, now here’s dumber. And more dangerous. Just look at what that dumb cluck is doing in China and the Middle East, never mind ripping up all those old missile treaties and ripping down all those old forests. It’s Homer Simpson in the White House with Monty Burns at the Environmental Protection Agency.

To which one can say only, you should be so lucky, comrades. Life would certainly be easier for leftwingers if the Bush Administration were nothing more than an alliance of country club oilmen and redneck roustabouts. But the truth is both more sophisticated, and for those of us not ideologically committed to the Left, much more reassuring. The Bush presidency gives the West what it has sorely lacked for the past 11 years — intelligent, adult, conservative leadership. ..." (Michael Gove, The Times)

This won't be popular either: "Greenhouse gases 'will save Earth'" - "THE world needs more greenhouse gases to stop the Earth sliding into a new Ice Age, according to two scientists. Professor Sir Fred Hoyle, a past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Cardiff, claim that attempts to counter global warming are misguided. Their theory, published in the Astrophysics and Space Science Journal, has angered environmentalists hoping to salvage the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gases after the US decision to pull out." (The Times)

?!! "Concern Rises Over Global Warming" - "CAMBRIDGE, England - Smaller crop yields. Earlier flu seasons. Deadlier and more frequent storms. In the wake of President Bush's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, scientists from 25 countries on Monday forecast a perilous future for the planet if emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases continue to rise." (AP)

Oh, so a warming world would reduce crop yield... For the source of this quote: "In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant over-all loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually" click here.

"Salvaging Kyoto" - "The European Union backed away from a confrontation with the United States on global warming yesterday, agreeing to modify parts of the Kyoto Protocol to meet Washington's concerns." (Montreal Gazette)

"Annan hopes US will change mind on greenhouse gas" - "UNITED NATIONS - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday called it "unfortunate" that the United States had rejected a global treaty cutting greenhouse gas emissions and expressed hope Washington would change its mind." (Reuters)

"EU delegation in China to save Kyoto accord" - "Beijing - A European Union delegation met with Chinese officials on Monday on a four-country tour to salvage a global climate warming pact rejected by the United States. Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson, who heads the three-man delegation, said the EU hopes to convince other countries to go ahead in ratifying the pact, signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. They hope that convincing enough countries to accept the treaty will pressure the United States to drop its opposition, Larsson said." (Sapa-AP)

"E.U., U.S.: Less Talk, More Vision" - " - "LUXEMBOURG — The European Union said Monday it will take a new approach to its dealings with Washington: talk less, but in greater detail about issues of global significance. Citing a U.S. veto of a global warming accord that has angered many Europeans and a new administration in Washington, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg said the time is right to refocus relations with the United States, looking more at long-term strategic issues, like the environment." (AP)

"EU needs Japan's help to keep protocol: activist" - "Japan's actions may hold the key to the rescue of the Kyoto Protocol, according to a World Wide Fund for Nature climate change campaigner." (Japan Times)

Groan! Et tu Posté? "Global Warming and a Toad Species' Decline" - "For years, scientists have struggled to understand what is causing the disappearance of frogs and other amphibians around the world. Many explanations have been proposed, including pollution, infections and, perhaps, new, unidentified environmental threats. Now researchers say they have evidence that global warming could be playing a role in the decline of the western toad in Oregon." (Washington Post)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT Vol. 2, No. 16" - "Your teenage daughter says it best, "Duh!" The April 5 edition of Nature contains this shocker, "Animal species viability linked to climate." The finding is reported in the context of toads of the Pacific Northwest. The relationship between species distribution and climate is one of the underlying principles in the field of ecology. So why is there a flurry of press activity on this research finding? Because the researchers weren’t content to link toad population dynamics to changing climate, they felt compelled to make the leap to human-induced climate change." (GES)

"More Than 'Green Talk' Is Needed" - "After hearing European Union leaders fume recently at President Bush's decision to bow out of an international accord in which the United States committed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman wrote her boss a memo observing that "we need to appear engaged" with the problem of global warming. That memo at least partly explains why Bush aides are now preparing a set of pro-environment speeches for the president to give just before he heads off to Canada to speak at the Summit of the Americas on Earth Day, April 22." (LA Times)

Lemme see here... Los Angeles is in - California, yes? And California doesn't just talk-the-talk, it walks-the-green-walk doesn't it? Isn't California also the place that's only just managing not to freeze to death in the dark?

"Bush’s energy plan would increase nuclear power, natural gas supplies" - "WASHINGTON, April 9 — The White House is putting together an energy strategy that emphasizes nuclear power, increased drilling and pipeline construction for natural gas, and opening more land for electricity-generating plants." (Wall Street Journal)

"Bush Cuts Gore's Energy Projects As Focus Swings to Coal Research" - "WASHINGTON -- Bush budget-cutters slashed pet projects of former Vice President Al Gore, including research funds for a superefficient car of the future and projects for renewable energy and conservation. In contrast, coal was a big winner in the administration's budget. A new Energy Department program will devote $150 million to research on cleaner methods for burning coal." (Wall Street Journal)

"UPDATE - Bush budget cuts solar, renewable energy programs" - "WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush yesterday proposed slashing more than $200 million from federal renewable energy and efficiency research programs, even as his administration said the United States needed to find ways to cope with an energy crisis." (Reuters)

Really? I thought they said the US needs to find practical ways to cope with an energy crisis...

Here's another "save the something or other" myth: "Call for action to save the koala" - "International experts are calling for tough changes to Australian conservation legislation, warning the koala and its habitat are at risk. The group met on the Sunshine Coast last week as part of the Australian Koala Foundation protection summit." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

AKF short of donations again? AKF do not provide any information on how they derive their 'guesstimate' and it certainly does not agree with either researcher's or State departmental figures. They freely admit never having attempted a koala population census, although they say "we're thinking about doing that." Meanwhile, Queensland's Department of Natural Resources says there are more than 100,000 koalas in Queensland, while Roger Martin, a research associate in the Department of Biological Sciences, Monash University, says "The koala an endangered species? Actually, Victoria alone probably has 200,000 of them."

See We are not short of koalas for a little information on overpopulation being Australia's biggest koala problem.

Were koalas heavily exploited for the fur trade early in the twentieth century? Certainly, but, as we all know, species threat can be a transient thing.

See also "Koala rescue" for an idea of the extraordinary lengths to which just one Australian State goes to limit the koala population on an island at the extremity of koala's range - where they weren't naturally resident but actually introduced (one of those "touristy" things).

Calls to "save the koala" are almost as farcical as the international campaign to save the "endangered" kangaroo - by groups too ignorant or dishonest to say that there are significantly more kangaroos in Australia now than existed prior to European settlement. (Before everyone writes to ask how that can be, water is the great limiting factor in the bulk of Australia and settlers established stock watering points from which kangaroos have profited enormously.) See CSIRO scientist confirms kangaroos abundant for more.

Another case for herbicides and reduced-tillage agriculture: "Needed Carbon Escapes During Plowing" - "A study conducted by U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service scientist Don Reicosky shows that tillage practices enable precious CO2 to escape in significant amounts. Reicosky, a soil scientist in Morris, Minn., found that tillage releases carbon into the atmosphere in sudden rushes or "burps" of CO2 as soil is opened up." (AgWeb.com)

Hmm... "Harvest of Fear; Frontline and Nova Investigate the Growing Controversy Over Genetically Modified Foods" - PBS Airdate: Tuesday, April 24, 9pm ET, 120 minutes

"Biotech CEO says map missed much of genome" - "Somewhere within the vast microprocessors that hum in the Maryland offices of biotech firm Human Genome Sciences Inc. are the sequences of 60,000 never-before-seen human genes. In these genes lie the key to hundreds of diseases and explanations, perhaps, of human nature. And the massive effort to map the human genome, which riveted the world's attention over the last year, missed them all. Or so says Dr. William Haseltine, the CEO of Human Genome Sciences. He wants a recount. And he is not alone." (Boston Globe)

"Scientists transform fat cells into muscle" - "Scientists have turned fat into muscle in an experiment that offers the potential for engineering a wide variety of human tissues in a test tube for transplant operations. A team of researchers extracted the fat by liposuction and successfully extracted stem cells, which the scientists were able to grow into bone and cartilage as well as muscle cells." (Independent)

"DNA Can Be Inserted Without Risk Of Genetic Change" - "In an era of heightened concern about gene therapy safety, a new University of Florida study provides reassurance that corrective DNA can be administered without simultaneously causing harmful genetic changes. The findings, published in the March 27th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, begin to answer an important question: Does an inserted package of genetic material actually incorporate itself into the receiving cell's DNA?" (UniSci)

"'Flesh-eating' bug genome decoded" - "Scientists have decoded the genetic make-up of a bug that causes "flesh-eating disease". The strep A bacterium is responsible for more human diseases than any other, including sore throat, scarlet fever and rheumatic fever. In rare cases, the bug is able to invade the whole body, triggering so-called flesh-eating disease, necrotising fasciitis, which rots the flesh away." (BBC Online)

"Ukraine To Sign Cartajena Biosecurity Protocol" - "Kyiv, April 7 - In his decree of April 5, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has authorized Ecology and Natural Resources Minister Ivan Zayets to sign the Cartajena Biosecurity Protocol and the Biological Diversity Convention. The Cartajena Protocol was signed in January 2000 by representatives of over 130 states. It is aimed at interaction of the international community in preventing the import of genetically modified organisms, such as seeds of farm crops and microorganisms created for use in pharmaceutics, which may cause threat to man's health and global species diversity." (Interfax-Ukraine)

April 9, 2001

"EPA science advisers say dioxin not a human carcinogen in draft letter" - A draft letter from the EPA's Science Advisory Board again rejects EPA's effort to label dioxin as a human carcinogen.

"Who was Mr. Greenpeace? " - ...the dark side of Greenpeace runs much deeper than what was exposed in a Forbes 1991 article which portrayed McTaggart as someone arrested for smuggling and being bailed out by Greenpeace and as a "failed real estate promoter who left investors and relatives in the lurch and departed before his projects failed.

"Gertrude Huberty, mother of the third of McTaggart's wives, and one of several people who lost money with him, remembers him as a ruthless businessman. 'David once told me that when you want something badly enough, you have to be willing to do anything to get it. Anything.'"

Asked what he meant by the dark side, Watson replied, "There have been suicides and drug deals never unearthed by any media." (OurTorontoFreePress.com)

"Medical Evidence: Gun Control Won't Solve Crime" - "WASHINGTON – The gun control lobby has just received a stunning setback in a new article appearing in the spring issue of the Medical Sentinel. Written by Miguel A. Faria, M.D., the study finds that most gun violence studies of the past two decades are based on flawed methodology and unduly influenced by political agendas, leading to biased and incorrect conclusions. The Medical Sentinel, the official journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, argues in effect that many of those who conducted the studies decided in advance what they wanted to prove, and then were "prejudiced" by that goal. Thus, Dr. Faria argues, the studies were not objective at all. The doctor, who is editor in chief of the Sentinel, debunks a number of incorrect, widely accepted claims "promoted by anti-gun interest groups based on tainted studies." (NewsMax.com)

"Anguish over arsenic" - "Are we worrying too much about arsenic in the water? The anguish is making us more aggrieved than the actuality. In late March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked for a 60-day extension of the effective date of the arsenic standard for drinking water released Jan. 22. Administrator Christine Todd Whitman announced that the EPA would seek "independent reviews of both the science behind the standard and of the estimates of the costs to communities of implementing the rule." The rule would have reduced the acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water from 0.05 parts per million (ppm) to 0.01 ppm. Predictably the green tree huggers responded with the usual pathological hyper-reflexes and some chose to feign grand-mal seizures." (Robert J. Cihak, M.D./Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., Washington Times)

"Fingerprint evidence loses credibility" - "Legal experts say the nearly century-long practice of using fingerprinting in court cases may be coming to an end. Within a year, one authority expects, a judge will declare fingerprint evidence unscientific. Another thinks such evidence will still be admitted, but that its credibility will be taken down a notch. And the author of a book out next month speculates that fingerprint evidence could be eclipsed by DNA identification within a few decades. So, why all the change? The Supreme Court recently raised the bar for scientific evidence, and critics say that fingerprinting can't make the jump." (AP)

"Clusters of cancer discounted" - "Millions of dollars and countless hours are being wasted investigating clusters of cancer in communities from Cape Cod to Newton that are easily explained by chance, according to a new study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers. Tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents ask state officials every year to investigate disease patterns in neighborhoods that they believe are caused by pollutants in the air, water, or soil around them.  ... But William Thilly, director of MIT's Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and doctoral student Janice Vatland say their investigation of mortality rates of 24 cancers in Massachusetts, from childhood leukemia to breast cancer, shows only one that formed clusters larger than would be expected by chance alone. The anomaly was lung cancer, which kills more people in cities, perhaps because they smoke more." (Boston Globe)

"Airlines forced to fix fumes" - "AIR quality checks on BAe 146 planes have been made mandatory after the Senate was told aviation authorities and airlines were covering up health problems caused by the planes. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority issued an inspection for contamination directive on March 30, the day after Australian Democrats Senator John Woodley made serious claims about the aircraft under parliamentary privilege." (Sydney Sunday Telegraph)

"Blood clots risk 'for any journey over four hours'" - "HOLIDAYMAKERS travelling from Britain to destinations as close as Greece, Turkey or the Canary Islands are at risk of developing a fatal blood clot, researchers have found. One in four people who go to hospital with a deep vein thrombosis has gone on a journey of four hours or more within the previous month, a French study has shown. But researchers also found that clot dangers were not limited to flying and that long trips by train and car may be as risky." (Telegraph)

"Milk protein, not fat, 'causes heart disease'" - "A PROTEIN found in milk, not fat, is responsible for the epidemic of heart disease in the Western world, according to a New Zealand scientist. Dr Corrie McLachlan is chief executive of A2 Corporation, which plans to market milk containing only the “healthy” form in Australia and New Zealand." (The Times)

"Today's Topic: Children Growing the Wrong Way" - "There is general concern that we, as a group, are getting too fat. This has been seen for most age groups in several countries. The latest information comes from a study of over 40,000 infants aged 1-3 months and children aged 2.9-4.0 years in northwestern England. Records of children from 1989 to 1998 were compared, and there has been a large increase in the proportion of overweight (15% to 24%) and obese (5%-9%) in the span of only nine years.

The infants showed a small but statistically significant increase in weight but not height. While there is debate about whether an increase in overweight among children predicts obesity in adults, there are many studies that suggest the connection. The report appeared in the February 10, 2001 issue of the British Medical Journal. <http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/322/7282/326>

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: A similar increase in body weight has been found in many other countries, including Japan which is not known for high fat, high calorie snacking. Since obesity results in higher health risks for a variety of conditions, early intervention seems indicated. Getting children more physically active is an important goal that has no down side and is likely to be more successful in the long term than restrictive diets." (NutritionNewsFocus.com)

"Asbestos deaths rise in women" - "CASES of the fatal lung cancer mesothelioma have tripled among Australian women since 1985, according to government figures. The latest study by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC) also shows that an additional 10,000 Australians will die from mesothelioma over the next nine years. Lawyers are already warning that up to 40,000 new asbestos-related cases will emerge in coming years among home renovators, handymen and their wives who were exposed to asbestos dust at home." (Sydney Sunday Telegraph)

"Lyme Disease Vaccine's Safety is Questioned" - "Scientific concerns about a possible link between the vaccine and arthritis arise from the fact that the vaccine is made from the same protein, found on the surface of the Lyme disease bacterium, that has been implicated in causing persistent arthritis in some people with the infection. The bacterial protein, Osp A, is similar to a human protein found on blood cells. High levels of antibodies to Osp A correlate with severity of joint swelling in people with Lyme arthritis, suggesting that the body's immune response against the infection somehow triggers an attack on its own joint tissues. People whose tissues carry a cell-surface protein known as HLA DR4 are more likely than others to develop persistent arthritis from Lyme disease (and some experts believe they may also be more prone to complications from the vaccine.)" (Washington Post)

"'Mad cow' blood risk for humans, study shows" - "Monkeys can contract mad cow disease if it is injected into their bloodstream, underscoring that infected tissue risks transmitting the brain-wasting illness to humans, researchers said Friday. French scientist Corinne Ida Lasmezas said that she and a team of French and British scientists proved that the agent that causes mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, can be passed from one primate to another intravenously." (Reuters)

"Nicotine patches do not increase risk for first heart attack" - "Philadelphia, PA) – Despite earlier reports to the contrary, nicotine patches do not increase your risk for heart attack. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center compared 2,990 control subjects and 635 recent first-time sufferers of heart attacks from 68 hospitals in the Philadelphia region to study the use of nicotine patches. Their report is published in the April edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. “We do not find any evidence linking nicotine patches, when used as directed, to heart attacks” said Stephen Kimmel, MD, assistant professor of medicine in Penn’s Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology." (University of Pennsylvania Medical Center)

"Does your PC affect how you see? 'Computer vision syndrome' is latest malady" - "Many worker bees pass the day buzzing about a computer. For many of them, at day's end, it's déjà vu: burning eyes, blurred vision, and often a big pain in the neck." (Orlando Sentinel)

"Kyoto game far from over" - "Despite the screams of greens and the hand wringing from Europe, there is nothing unexpected in George Bush just saying "No" to the Kyoto Protocol. It is what he said before the election, and it is what the U.S. Senate has said, 95 to nothing. It was Al Gore's treaty all along -- remember, he personally flew to Kyoto in 1997 to pull it out of the flames at the last minute. Somehow, everyone has ignored political reality. But the climate issue is by no means dead. Mr. Bush hit the reset button, that's all. In fact, with resumption of the Kyoto negotiations in Bonn just four months away, and U.S. support in doubt, an unprecedented outpouring of public statements by key players has begun to flow. These high profile arguments are in sharp contrast to prior Kyoto negotiations, suggesting that all sides feel the need to court public opinion. People are finally going to learn what this is all about -- what a novel idea!" (David E. Wojick, National Post)

"Michael Byers: Bush is a threat to the world" - "... The most striking manifestation of the new approach is Bush's decision to renounce the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Scientists within the US government's Environmental Protection Agency are agreed that global warming is happening, and faster than previously thought, yet Bush expresses doubts about the science. He also points to the costs ­ to the US economy ­ of taking steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, knowing full well that Europe and the developing world will bear the brunt of climate change, and be less able to deal with the results." (Independent) | Europe should now push Kyoto | Greens urge boycott of US firms | The great divide | Carbon dioxide levels will double by 2050, experts forecast | Gloomy forecast: not-so-Great Lakes, not-so-great states | It's payback time for Kyoto | New proposal to revive Kyoto treaty (Guardian) | Climate change causes Atlantic rift | Prodi 'shocked' by Bush climate stand (BBC Online) | Climate timebomb ready to explode under Bush (Independent) | Rands and sense about global warming (News24) | Toxic Texan spouts the mantra of Big Oil (The Age, Melbourne) | Don't blow this deal (Globe and Mail) | Why weather is a victim of politics (Toronto Star)

Michael Byers is pushing the stock European illusion. According to UNEP's tables and graphics, Europe (basically the current EU members and those anticipated to be members before Kyoto could come into force), while geographically smaller than the US, is a greater 3/6 gas CO2 equivalent emitter than is the US. Worse, unlike the US, Europe is not a net carbon sink (greater absorber than emitter of atmospheric carbon).

This suggests that, if atmospheric carbon is a problem, Europe wants the US to destroy its economy in order to become an even larger carbon sink and thus clean up what is actually Europe's mess. Why are Bush and the Americans a threat for not doing what the Europeans won't?

The bottom line is that more atmospheric carbon blows into the US than blows out - end of story.

"Kyoto in and out of mind" - "... It seems clear enough that the average global temperature has risen by about half of one Celsius degree over the past century. But it is equally clear that we were entering a natural warming cycle, in the rhythm of things -- that the time between the 15th and 19th centuries was below-average cold for our post-glacial climate -- a so-called "mini-ice age." All the scares are built on tricks of focusing. 

But with their massive funding, the beneficiaries of "global warming" are in a position to stifle their opponents' doubts, to require their opponents to prove a negative. It is the tactic behind every crock in the long history of bizarre fallacies -- shifting the onus of proof to disbelievers. It was the essential bluff that President Bush was calling. 

Dominique Moisi, a prominent French "expert" in foreign affairs, best expressed the European reaction to having this bluff called. "We resent not what America does, but what America has become, if it is truly represented by the Bush administration." 

Such a delicious French sneer! 

And what America has become, if it is truly represented by Mr. Bush, is a country that won't be conned -- a country that can no more be intimidated by chiliastic visions of global warming than it was by visions of class warfare in a previous generation. It is in fact an America with a history of not being conned." (Ottowa Citizen editorial)

"MPs call for boycott of Esso fuel" - "Labour and Tory MPs have joined forces in calling for a boycott of Esso petrol stations in the UK, in a bid to force the US Bush administration to drop its objections to cuts in harmful CO2 emissions that lead to global warming." (Independent)

"Doubters struggle to make voices heard" - "OTTAWA - Roger Pocklington, Tim Ball and Chris de Freitas are sometimes called heretics by the global warming faithful. They prefer skeptics or critics. Whatever the label, these Canadian climate experts believe carbon dioxide isn't the towering devil of global warming, that the evidence for any abnormal warming isn't convincing and that the projections of computer climate models can't be trusted. For holding such unorthodox views, they've been publicly dismissed by other climate scientists as ill-informed or misguided. That's when those others deign to engage in debate. In private, hints are dropped about supposed links between the heretics and fossil fuel interests. That's happened so often that Tim Ball now includes a disclaimer when he speaks or writes: ``To anticipate the standard smear, I have never received funding from oil, gas, coal or any other industry.'' Global warming skeptics get a rough ride in the U.S., Australia and Britain as well. But at least they're in the thick of the public debate. What really distresses our heretics is being relegated to the sidelines." (Toronto Star)

"Anti-Americanism rears its ugly head" - "Like most prejudices, anti-Americanism is usually immune to rational engagement. It is the one fully fledged bigotry still allowed, indeed celebrated, by the left - and from Polly Toynbee to Jeremy Paxman it is thriving. Last week Toynbee likened the United States to an "evil empire", equating George W Bush's America to Brezhnev's Soviet Union. The Independent described Bush as "a man determined to visit greater misery on the generations to come." (Andrew Sullivan, The Sunday Times)

"GLOBAL FOGGING OVER KYOTO" - "The Democrat-boosting media are having much fun at President Bush's expense over the environment. The cliché is that the issue will be Bush's "gays in the military": By officially breaking with the 1997 Kyoto global-warming treaty, the claim goes, Bush runs the risk of offending middle-of-the-road voters who support environmental protections. Maybe. But as the Media Research Center has noted, when the Kyoto "protocol" was first presented by the Clinton administration, the Senate overwhelmingly demonstrated that the agreement was - for all intents and purposes - DOA." (New York Post editorial)

"Economics Of Kyoto Under Scrutiny" - "The economic impact on the Kyoto Protocol on climate change is coming under increasing scrutiny following its rejection by the administration of US President George W. Bush, reports the Financial Times (p.7). Bush's assertion that the treaty would "harm our economy and hurt our American workers" has raised concerns that the EU could handicap its own economy by ratifying the treaty unilaterally. "The competitive threat will be a major issue for Europe," says Nick Campbell of the International Chamber of Commerce, warning that jobs and investment in Europe could suffer if governments imposed extra burdens on industry in their attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." (WorldNews.com)

No stopping the gravy train though: "Senate Budget Vote Rebuffs Bush on Global Warming" - "The Senate yesterday approved a bipartisan measure to restore $4.5 billion in funds for climate change programs over the coming decade that the Bush administration had sought to cut. The amendment, offered by Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and James M. Jeffords (R-Vt.), covers a broad range of international and domestic programs that study and address problems associated with the Earth's rising temperature. It also provides additional authority to the State Department to enable the United States "to fully engage with the international community in on-going and highly complex negotiations" toward a global warming treaty." (Washington Post)

"The Purloined Treaty" - "... Another attempt to draw the U.S. into a protocol against our national interest was pressed a few years ago in Kyoto, Japan. That would have forced the U.S. to roll back its emission of carbon dioxide in this decade to 7 percent below 1990 levels — at immeasurable cost in economic growth and jobs — while countries like China, India, Mexico and Brazil go on apparently hotting up the planet. President Clinton, after milking the issue for the publicity, never submitted the global deal to the Senate for ratification. Let's stop and think this through, said George W. Bush, thereby outraging environmentalists." (William Safire, New York Times)

"EU fights to save Kyoto agreement" - "THE European Union will go ahead with the Kyoto treaty without the United States if necessary, Romano Prodi, the European Commission president, said yesterday. It would fight to save the Kyoto protocol against global warming even though it has given up all hope of convincing the Americans to stick with the agreement. He added: "If the Bush administration finds some elements of Kyoto too ambitious, that's no reason to throw out the entire accord. It would be a tragedy to have to start again from zero." The protocol requires ratification by 35 industrialised nations who together account for 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions regulated by the treaty. The EU believes ratification is possible with the support of Russia, which has said it is ready to approve the treaty, and Japan, which has taken the rejection of the accord named after its oldest city as an insult." (Telegraph)

So why haven't European countries been fighting for a pen to ratify Kyoto? And just how would the EU go reducing their GHG emissions at some cost to their economy anyway? Germany is their largest emitter of CO2 equivalent gases and it doesn't look as though they're in a position to do too much really:

"Cash-strapped Germans put Euro force in peril" - "PLANS for the controversial European Rapid Reaction Force have been thrown into chaos by the disclosure that Germany will be unable to make its promised military contribution because of a financial shortfall. The force is supposed to have 60,000 men available for a 60-day deployment by 2003. It now seems, however, that this target will be impossible to meet because Berlin, which is supposed to contribute 18,000 men, is not willing to invest extra funds to modernise its outmoded and under-equipped armed forces to the required level." (Telegraph)

"Berlin crippled in crisis of corruption and £23bn debt" - "BERLIN'S public fountains are set to stay dry this summer and work to revamp the area around the Bradenburg Gate has been shelved as the German capital struggles with bankruptcy and a political corruption crisis that threatens the future of the city's coalition government. Berlin's worsening financial and political emergency has saddled the city with a crippling DM70 billion (£23 billion) debt." (Telegraph)

"EU wins Russian support for Kyoto" - "The European Union has won qualified support from Russia for the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, as it seeks to salvage the accord after Washington's rejection. But Moscow, which hopes to earn massive revenues each year from selling "emission credits" to Western nations, says it wants a clear framework for the lucrative trade before ratifying the treaty. It says the protocol will not come into effect, unless it is ratified by Russia and the United States." | Asian environment ministers push US on Kyoto protocol | US Vice President defends gov't stance on Kyoto protocol (Radio Australia) | EU anti-pollution campaigners in Iran (BBC Online)

"EU steps back from fight with Bush over Kyoto" - "THE European Union backed away from a confrontation with America on global warming yesterday, agreeing to modify parts of the Kyoto Protocol to meet Washington's concerns. Romano Prodi, the European Commission's president, said it would be better to try to salvage something from the agreement of 1997 to curb greenhouse gas emissions rather than tear up the accord." (Telegraph)

"Kono to meet EU environment delegation Monday" - "TOKYO April 6 - Foreign Minister Yohei Kono said Friday he will meet with a European Union (EU) delegation in Tokyo on Monday to discuss the repercussions of the U.S. announcement to withdraw from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol aimed at preventing global warming." (Kyodo)

"EU Says Kyoto Could Be Renegotiated to Suit U.S." - "STOCKHOLM - The European Union said on Saturday parts of the Kyoto protocol on curbing global warming could be renegotiated to suit the United States after Washington said it was not going to ratify the treaty." (Reuters) | EU ready to renegotiate Kyoto (BBC Online)

"Japan, China, S. Korea seek U.S. commitment to Kyoto Protocol" - "TOKYO April 8 - Environment ministers from Japan, China and South Korea on Sunday urged the United States to stay within the framework of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and strive to ratify the pact on curbing global warming." (Kyodo)

"U.S. rejects Kyoto Protocol plea" - "WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The United States snubbed a request Thursday from a Japanese delegation of government and ruling coalition officials for Washington to remain committed to the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming. The delegation made the appeal in a meeting with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Whitman, Japanese officials said." (Japan Times)

"Rejection of Kyoto worries small states" - "PARIS, April 7: A coalition of countries most at threat by the effects of global warming said on Saturday they were concerned and disappointed by a US decision to reject the Kyoto climate treaty. In a statement sent from Samoa, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) said it was "profoundly concerned and disappointed by the announced rejection by the United States of the Kyoto Protocol as the instrument to tackle the international threat of climate change." (Dawn.com)

"No point in our going it alone on climate change, says Hodgson" - "New Zealand will not go it alone with measures to combat global warming, says Energy Minister Pete Hodgson. The director of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, Alex Sundakov, has warned of the danger of taking "expensive empty gestures" which would harm New Zealand's export competitiveness and attractiveness as an investment destination." | Editorial: Kyoto Protocol not such a good idea (New Zealand Herald)

"U.S. to unveil new climate proposal to replace Kyoto" - "WASHINGTON (Kyodo) Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Friday the United States will propose by July a new plan to curb global warming, which will differ from the Kyoto Protocol, by seeking the participation of developing countries, as well as industrialized nations." (Japan Times) | U.S. climate proposal to include all nations: Armitage (Kyodo) | US plans 'Kyoto alternative' (BBC Online)

"Livestock vaccination to curb greenhouse gas emissions" - "A vaccine has been produced which aims to curb greenhouse gas emissions from Australia's livestock. The livestock industry is Australia's second largest source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Scientists at CSIRO Perth have been working for three years to produce a vaccine which alters the organisms in an animals stomach. Spokesman Rob Kelly says the aim is to stop livestock emitting methane gases, which contribute to global warming." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

If truth be told, the project is actually to improve the food conversion efficiency of livestock. Unfortunately, in the era of enhanced greenhouse orthodoxy, to have any chance of funding and publicity, research must at least pay lip service to the great scare campaign.

"Good times unlikely, bad times improbable" - "Climate change will be the greatest challenge to sustainable resource use in the 21st century, says visiting US climate change expert Professor Stephen Schneider of Stanford University. The best of times and the worst of times are the least probable extremes, says Professor Schneider. However some very serious impacts are highly likely, he says. "The scientific community does not rule out the extremes, but the 'end of the world' and 'climate change is good for us' are the lowest likelihood cases," he says." (CSIRO release)

"The Week That Was April 7, 2001 brought to you by SEPP" is avaialable

"Another 'anti-environment' pick" - "April 8, 2001 - WASHINGTON - Last year, long before Gale Norton was regarded as a potential cabinet member, Brendan DeMelle, a researcher at the Environmental Working Group, had decided the former Colorado attorney general was important enough to be ranked as one of "George W. Bush's Anti-Environmental Advisors." As a result of the group's anti-Norton efforts, it wasn't too surprising that most of the environmental movement pounced on her selection to be interior secretary. Last week, Bush plucked another person from DeMelle's list for a top environmental job. But this time the environmental movement appeared to have been caught off guard. Indeed, DeMelle said he didn't even know that Bush had picked Lynn Scarlett to be assistant interior secretary for policy, management and budget until a reporter called him, fully a day after the White House announced her selection. "She is certainly worthy of getting some attention," DeMelle said. Within a few minutes, Mike Casey, EWG's spokesman, was on the phone blasting Scarlett and Norton." (Denver Post)

"High-tech hurdles slow fuel cell development" - "The race to develop fuel cell technology, accelerated recently with concern over energy prices, will be slowed by several unresolved technical hurdles, experts say. Consequently, the projected date of feasible fuel cell technologies remains uncertain. "I attended one conference where they were saying 2004, then another where they said 2010, then finally we settled on 20X0, where X could be one, two, three or more," said Robert Savinell, dean of the engineering college at Case Western Reserve University and a noted fuel cell researcher." (UPI)

"Bankruptcy bombshell adds to California energy crisis" - "California's energy crisis lurched into a new and potentially dangerous phase Friday as Pacific Gas & Electric, the state's largest utility, suddenly and unexpectedly declared bankruptcy. The bombshell move by the multibillion dollar utility giant came just one day after Gov. Gray Davis outlined a bailout strategy he said would help the cash-strapped company back to its feet after months of hemorrhaging cash thanks to California's botched 1996 power deregulation law." (Reuters)

"Food for Thought" - "Nutraceuticals serve herbal additives with your snack, but are they safe?" (HealthScout)

"Zinc boost 'helps weakest babies'" - "Adding zinc to the diet during pregnancy could dramatically cut the health problems faced by low weight babies, say scientists. A study found that giving women the zinc supplement during pregnancy meant that their babies were less likely to suffer from diarrhoea, dysentery and impetigo. The research was carried out in Bangladesh, which has a history of poor nutrition - leading to zinc deficiency." (BBC Online)

"British food retailers face strict new regulations" - "A new wave of red tape is set to engulf Britain's half a million-plus food retailers as they are forced to comply with complex new European safety regulations. Heavy fines and extra staff costs could close many businesses, restrict consumer choice and drive up prices. Supermarkets, corner shops, bakers and even ice-cream vendors are among the many kinds of food retailer that will be affected by the creation of a European Food Authority, due to start next year. EUFA will have the power to withdraw a food seller's licence to trade if, for example, the retailer cannot keep up with the new agency's demands for paperwork." (London Evening standard)

"Spurred by the worldwide fight against malaria, scientists release parasite genome database" - "PHILADELPHIA -- An international team of scientists today unveiled an Internet-based database allowing genomic analysis of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for the vast majority of malaria deaths worldwide. Developed as a collaboration between two research teams at the University of Pennsylvania, the Plasmodium genome database breaks new ground in bioinformatics by permitting detailed analysis of a genome even before its sequencing is complete." (University of Pennsylvania)

"Canada to Sign International Biosafety Protocol" - "OTTAWA, Canada, April 6, 2001 - An agreement to regulate the movement of genetically modified organisms across international borders is a step closer to fruition after Canada announced yesterday it would sign the international protocol. Canada is one of the world's leading producers, exporters and importers of living modified organisms, such as corn, canola, potatoes and soybeans. Yesterday, Environment Minister David Anderson announced Canada would sign the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety." (ENS)

"Report highlights extent of GM breaches" - "A Federal Government report has revealed there have been 21 escapes of genetically modified crops in Tasmania, almost twice the number previously announced. A report by the Interim Office of the Gene Technology Regulator has found crop multinational, Aventis, breached guidelines at 18 sites where GM canola was grown over the past three years. Crop company, Monsanto breached guidelines at three sites. ... The Office has found there was negligible risk of contamination of other plant species. However, it recommends increased monitoring of sites." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Thailand institutes ban for genetically engineered crops" - "Taking the lead in Asia to protect its environment, biodiversity and farmers from genetic pollution, the Thai government recently decided to stop the release of all genetically engineered (GE) crops into the environment and to no longer allow any field trials of these crops. The cabinet of the Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra decided to instruct the ministry of agriculture and cooperatives to halt all approvals for the GE field. The decision should also mark the end of ongoing field trials on GE cotton and GE corn, conducted by agribusiness giant Monsanto, the second largest seed provider in Thailand (Thailand has already banned all commercial growing of GE crops on its territory)." (Earth Times)

"Indian firms embrace biotechnology" - "After India's software revolution, biotechnology is being described as the next big thing to hit the country. Multinational and Indian research companies are investing heavily in the industry, encouraged by biotechnology-friendly policies. Politicians and policy makers believe that as well as creating wealth, the growth in biotechnology may bring medical and ecological breakthroughs. Biotechnology, like IT, is knowledge intensive. This gives India's highly qualified, English speaking but relatively cheap work force a real commercial advantage." (BBC Online)

"GE carrots could clobber possums" - "Genetically engineered carrots and potatoes are the latest weapon in the war against possums. The Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) has approved an application from Landcare Research to import the modified vegetables from Australia and the United States. Testing will be carried out at Lincoln in Canterbury to see if the carrots and potatoes trigger sterility in possums. The technology involves inserting a vaccine protein called an antigen. The Sydney-based director of the Marsupial Cooperative Research Centre, John Rodger, said the testing would be restricted to a laboratory and it might be five to 10 years before scientists could look at large-scale field trials. Genetically engineered carrots were chosen because there was no chance of their regenerating in the wild." (New Zealand Herald)

"US green groups say bio-crops contaminating organic food" - "USA: April 6, 2001 - WASHINGTON - Greenpeace and organic farmers urged the Bush administration yesterday to halt the planting of genetically modified crops as they inadvertently contaminate foods that claim to be free of genetically altered ingredients." (Reuters)

"British Columbia proposes mandatory GM food labels" - "CANADA: April 6, 2001 - VICTORIA, British Columbia - British Columbia has proposed to become the first jurisdiction in North America to require warning labels on thousands of food products that include genetically modified ingredients." (Reuters)

"Italian government split over biotech before poll" - "ROME - Verbal sparring between Italy's farm and health ministers has underlined a government split over biotechnology, in a row unhelpful to the centre left ahead of a general election on May 13." (Reuters)

April 6, 2001

"Quack Attack! The Case of the Dangerous Sippy Cup" - "You might not be shocked to learn that a personal injury lawyer is threatening a lawsuit alleging a plastic drinking cup caused a child's autism. Personal injury lawyers, after all, are notorious for turning wild and unsubstantiated claims into multi-million, and even billion-dollar paydays for themselves.

But you might be surprised to learn there is a network of "experts" who are ready, willing and able to support such a wild claim. Lawsuit abuse is certainly a problem. But the threat posed by these supposed experts is more acute. They put public health at risk.

Dallas-based lawyer Brian R. Arnold wrote Playtex Products, Inc. in January alleging that a toddler became seriously ill and, eventually, "began to exhibit autistic behavior," after drinking from a plastic spill-proof cup made by Playtex." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Tobacco industry not to blame for flight attendant's illness, jury finds " - "Delivering a surprising victory to the tobacco industry, a jury decided Thursday that a flight attendant awaiting a lung transplant is not entitled to money from tobacco companies for illnesses she blames on cigarette smoke in jetliner cabins.

The jury found the tobacco industry was not liable for the lung disease that made Marie Fontana cough up blood on the witness stand during her testimony in the three-week trial. Jurors began deliberating late Thursday morning." (AP)

"27 Reasons to Worry About Toxic Exposure " - "We can now add toxic waste sites to our body image. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 27 toxic chemicals in nearly every one of the 5,000 adults and children it tested recently. This is a particularly serious matter for women of childbearing age and for children. Pollution is not just in the water or in the air. As Pogo might have put it: We have met the enemy, and it is in us." (Judy Mann, Washington Post)

E-mail dopey Judy Mann (mannj@washpost.com) and inform her of that basic principle of toxicology -- mere exposure does not equate to toxicity; it's the dose that makes the poison.

"The myth of overpopulation" - "Paradoxically, despite humanity´s burgeoning and indeed accelerating demand for consumption, global natural resource constraints over the past century have not obviously been tightening - and by some important indications, even appear to have been loosening. Since 1900, global gross domestic product, and thus global demand for goods and services, has increased almost 20-fold. Despite this staggering increase in demand, however, the relative price of primary commodities dropped markedly an unfathomable and inexplicable result by Malthusian logic." (Nicholas Eberstadt, Washington Times)

"Profiting from panic" - "Apocalyptic visions of the future are nothing new. For centuries, many of the world's leading thinkers have predicted imminent catastrophe unless we radically changed our ways.

Although most of these forecasts were proven false, such setbacks have never discouraged subsequent generations of alarmists." (Tim Patterson & Tom Harris, Scripps Howard)

"UN Expert: Climate Change Skeptics a Tiny Minority" - "NAIROBI - The top U.N. climate scientist said on Thursday almost all experts believed human activity was warming the planet and U.S. failure to support a global warming pact would slow the fight to curb emissions of harmful gases." (Reuters)

Sure Bob, here's a list of some of them.

Always good for a laugh: "Greenpeace gives US firms deadline on climate pact" - "AMSTERDAM, April 5 - Greenpeace said on Thursday it had given top U.S. firms one week to oppose Washington's rejection of a key treaty to fight global warming, or risk being publicly named to face a possible consumer backlash. The environmental group said it had sent letters to the chief executives of the top 100 U.S. companies in the Fortune 500 list asking if they supported ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol." (Reuters)

"U.S. Climate Stance Triggers Boycott Threats" - "LONDON, United Kingdom, April 5, 2001 - The USA's decision to abandon the Kyoto climate protocol is sparking a wave of calls from European environmentalists and Greens for consumers to take revenge on President George W. Bush by boycotting American firms. It remains unclear whether any will get off the ground, though companies are watching the development anxiously." (ENS)

"EU Mulls Plan After U.S. Kyoto Snub" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium — Despite outrage over U.S. rejection of the international agreement on global warming, the European Union said Thursday it does not yet plan to retaliate against the Bush administration." (AP)

"Germans urge agreement on greenhouse gases" - "German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says the Kyoto Protocol on global warming can succeed if Australia, Europe, Japan, and Canada ratify the agreement, and despite the US withdrawal." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"The next step on global warming" - "George Bush's recent pronouncements on global warming have provoked an open quarrel with the governments of other rich countries. Neither side is right." (says The Economist Global Agenda)

"EU Says U.S. Surprised by Anger Over Climate Treaty" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union's senior environmental official said on Thursday Washington had been taken aback by the strength of the international reaction to its decision to pull out of the Kyoto climate change treaty. But EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, briefing reporters after talks with the Bush administration, said she did not expect the United States to reverse its decision and repeated that the EU should now press ahead with ratification." (Reuters)

"Direct talks open with U.S. over dropping of Kyoto Protocol" - "Japan on Wednesday began direct communication with the United States over Washington's decision to abandon the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a treaty aimed at curbing global warming." (Japan Times)

"Warming Tropical Oceans Drive Climate Changes" - "WASHINGTON - Major climate changes seen in the Northern Hemisphere over the past half century have been driven by a progressive warming of tropical oceans probably caused by the man-made buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, scientists said on Thursday. An atmospheric pressure seesaw between Iceland at one end and Spain and Portugal at the other -- known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) -- is the key player, experts said in research published in the journal Science." (Reuters)

Oh dear... "Climate change blamed for Okinawa coral death" - "Scientists at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa have published evidence showing that global climate changes in 1998 devastated coral reefs around Sesoko Island. The report, published in the April edition of the journal Ecology Letters, comes on the heels of George W. Bush's unilateral abandonment of the 1997 Kyoto treaty on climate change." (Japan Times)

It is to be hoped that there are some severe translation errors involved here. "Climate change" doesn't occur "in 1998," in climatic terms, any change is not considered a trend until it has been so for 30 years. What they are really talking about is the 1997/98 El Niño event. Sigh...

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT Vol. 2, No. 15" - "According to the World Resources Institute, "Nearly two-thirds of Caribbean reefs are in jeopardy. Most of the reefs on the Antilles chain, including the islands of Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica, and other vacation favorites, are at high risk. Reefs off Jamaica, for example, have been ravaged as a result of overfishing and pollution. Many resemble graveyards, algae-covered and depleted of fish." What causes such destruction?" (GES)

"Russia Eyes Windfall From Greenhouse Gas Quotas" - "MOSCOW - Russia, whose carbon dioxide emissions fell by a third over the last decade, could make big money from selling unused pollution quotas if such a market is established, a government official said on Thursday. "Once the market is established, Russia's share will be some 50 percent of demand," Vsevolod Gavrilov, a Ministry of Trade and Economic Development expert, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference on market mechanisms of a global climate treaty." (Reuters)

Russia hopes that their collapsed economy and reduced activity will allow them to sell the "emissions" difference between 1990, when they still had some functional industry, and now, when they have hardly any. Hot air anyone?

Predictable nonsense recycling: "Watery grave looms for Maldives" - "A senior official in the Maldives environment ministry says Washington's decision to reject the Kyoto treaty on global warming could spell disaster for small island nations like the Maldives. The director of environmental affairs, Mohamed Khaleel, said the issue was one of life and death for its 250,000 people, who face becoming environmental refugees. Mr Khaleel said 80% of the Indian Ocean islands which make up the Maldives were only a meter above sea level and could disappear if global warming caused the oceans to rise." (BBC Online)

"REAGAN/BUSH VETERAN COULD JOIN JUSTICE DEPARTMENT" - "WASHINGTON, DC, April 5, 2001 - A Wyoming lawyer who served former presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan has been proposed as the top environmental attorney for the Department of Justice. President George W. Bush plans to nominate Thomas Sansonetti to be assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources division. "Thomas Sansonetti will be an asset to the Department of Justice," said Attorney General John Ashcrost. "His expertise and impressive level of experience will ensure a strong Environment Division. I look forward to working with him to enforce environmental law and put our goals for the Department into action." (ENS)

"EPA chief endures critique from environmentalists" - "If Christie Whitman, the latest in a growing line of embattled Environmental Protection Agency administrators, is having anguished second thoughts about taking the toughest cabinet job in Washington, she is not showing it. Quite the opposite. Whitman breezes through public events with brisk self-assurance, maintaining that all is well with the White House even though President Bush, in an embarrassing setback for Whitman shortly after she took office as the nation's top environmental regulator, contradicted her on strategies to fight global warming." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"JUDGE DISMISSES SUIT AIMED AT BLOCKING CLIMATE DEBATE" - "WASHINGTON, DC, April 5, 2001 - Environmental groups today hailed a federal court's dismissal of a major lawsuit filed by the coal industry that had sought to silence debate on global warming and impose massive damages for the groups' global warming publicity. The suit was filed last year by Western Fuels Association, an arm of the power industry that purchases hundreds of millions of dollars of coal each year. The suit named as defendants the Turning Point Project, the International Center for Technology Assessment, Friends of the Earth, Ozone Action, Earth Island Institute and the Rainforest Action Network. The environmental groups learned today that the federal district court in Wyoming issued an order dismissing the suit. The opinion by Chief Judge William Downes holds that the lawsuit was improperly brought in Wyoming and that Western Fuels' had failed to show why the environmental groups, based in Washington, DC and San Francisco, should be sued in Wyoming.

"Bush may relax energy-use standards for appliances" - "WASHINGTON - The United States government is expected to announce soon whether it will roll back standards requiring new home central air conditioners and heat pumps to use less electricity and natural gas. The standards were implemented in the late stages of the Clinton presidency. Energy department spokesman Joe Davis says the decision could also rescind new efficiency standards for clothes washers and water heaters." (CBC) | Bush may pull back energy standards (AP)

Anxiety Center's "Warning Signs", April 9, 2001 ~ Vol. 3, No. 15 has been posted - includes the Center’s 11th annual "Chicken Little Awards" (Anxiety Center)

"Food Scientist Says Germany Covered Up BSE Cases" - "New evidence shows that Germany knew about cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) as early as the mid-1990s, although officials kept them secret until Germany had its first confirmed domestic case in November last year. German food chemist Udo Pollmer told Foodwire he had first-hand experience of the cover-up, since he knew about a number of cases but kept quiet. In 1993-94, he said there was a BSE case in northern Germany, and two veterinarians were thrown out when they said BSE was present in the region." (AgWeb.com)

"Jury awards Texas woman $56 million in fenphen suit" - "ALICE, Texas - A jury has ordered the maker of the weight loss drug fenfluramine to pay more than $56 million in damages to a woman who took the drug. Gloria Lopez, 48, said she received heart valve damage after taking the drug for about six months in 1997, shortly before the Food and Drug Administration called on American Home Products to withdraw Pondimin, the drug's brand name. Fenfluramine, along with phentermine, make up the fen-phen combination, which was used by an estimated 6 million people nationwide in their quest for weight loss. The jury ordered American Home Products to pay Lopez, an employee of the Alice Independent School District, $45 million in punitive damages and $11.5 million in actual damages on Tuesday." (Scripps Howard)

"Immunisation is not linked to sudden infant death" - "Vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis is now given at ages 2, 3 and 4 months in the UK, which coincides with the peak age for the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, a study in this week's BMJ finds that immunisation is not linked to sudden unexpected death in infancy and may even protect against it." (BMJ release)

"Study finds fat, inactivity heighten cancer risk" - "LONDON - Up to one-third of cancers of the colon, breast, kidney and digestive tract can be linked to too much weight gain and too little exercise, the World Health Organization's cancer agency said Thursday. "Putting on weight, even if you're in the normal range, increases your risk," said Dr. Harri Vainio of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which convened a panel to study the impact of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle on cancer worldwide. "The most important thing is not to gain weight, however much you already weigh." (AP)

"Nature reserves aren't protecting pandas, study shows" - "EAST LANSING, Mich. - The way to panda extinction may be paved on good intentions, a Michigan State study published in Science shows. Panda habitat is being destroyed quicker inside the world's most high profile protected nature reserve than in adjacent areas of China that are not protected. Moreover, the rates of destruction were higher after the reserve was established than before the reserve's creation, says Jianguo Liu, an associate professor of fisheries and wildlife at MSU." (MSU release)

"New African Rice Can Boost Yields Up to 50 Per Cent" - "Dakar, Senegal -- The West African Rice Development Association (WARDA), supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and other partners, has developed new rice that can help reduce poverty and save countries millions of dollars in rice imports. A UNDP release Thursday said NERICA (New Rice for Africa), as the varieties are known, can produce up to 50 per cent more grain than current varieties when cultivated with traditional rain-fed systems without fertilizer. Because the new rice is even more responsive than current types to fertilizer and other inputs, it also gives farmers a stronger incentive to use more modern methods." (PANA)

"Use Transgenic Plants To Hike Yield" - "The Vice-Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Dr S. Kannaiyan, has called for the use of transgenic pest resistance and biotechnology to tide over the biotic stresses affecting crop yields. Stating that the yield loss due to bollworm pest - Helicoverpa armigera was as high as $1 billion, he said "gene pyramiding could prove to be the cheapest way of tackling agricultural pests and diseases". Transgenic plants expressing multiple resistance against various pests and diseases might prove to be a suitable solution at this crucial moment, he added." (Hindu Business Line)

"Greenpeace urges strict organic policy" - "Thailand will lose out in the world market if it embraces a pro-genetically modified organisms policy, Greenpeace campaigners said yesterday. ``More than 30 countries strongly oppose GM products. Some have already issued a law on labelling imported materials,`` said Jim Thomas, campaigner from the Greenpeace`s British office. ``Among these are Thailand`s big markets for food product exports.``He said GM food not only is bad for the environment and public health, but would also cause Thailand to lose its share of exports." (Bangkok Post)

"GM presence in seeds inevitable, EU group says" - "ROME, April 5 - The presence of unauthorised genetically modified (GM) material in seeds is inevitable, an EU scientific committee has said. The Scientific Committee on Plants (SCP) also said the EU may have to revise its threshold for the compulsory labelling of food that may unintentionally contain GM material. Any such a revision would appear be upwards, according to sources familiar with the report. "The Committee is of the opinion that a zero level of unauthorised GM seed is unobtainable in practice," it said in a report dated March 13." (Reuters)

"GM Food - Another View" - "The technology that creates genetically modified organisms (GMOs)--for example, corn with built-in insecticide--has aroused opposition from much of the left equal in intensity to that induced by sweatshop labor and racism. Does GMO technology warrant this reflexive rejection, or can it make a contribution to human welfare?" (Danny Kohl, Nation)

"Biotech's Six Myths Addressed" - "The truth about biotechnology has been clouded by half-truths, detail omissions and exaggerations of problems. Stanley Abramson, environmental attorney, recently spoke out about the myths about genetically modified plants that are widely propagated by opponents to biotechnology. These myths are disproved in research and field practice, according to Abramson." (Farm Industry News)

"Laboratory Tests Belie Promises Of Some `GMO-Free` Food Labels" -"A year ago, Yves Veggie Cuisine placed a new label on its products: ``non-GMO.`` That six-letter term is supposed to signify that a product isn`t made from crops that have been genetically modified. It`s an important designation for many natural-foods consumers, such as the customers of Yves, a Canadian maker of vegetarian dishes sold throughout the U.S. If it didn`t exclude genetically modified organisms, founder Yves Potvin worries, Yves might ``lose a certain segment of our consumers.`` But are Yves ingredients truly unmodified? A recent sample of Yves Canadian Veggie Bacon, purchased from a Chicago grocery store, had a significant concentration of genetically modified soybeans. A laboratory test conducted for The Wall Street Journal showed that about 40% of the soybean DNA detected in the sample came from genetically modified plants." (Wall Street Journal)

"US Farmers To Step Up Production Of Genetically Modified Soybean" - "US farmers plan to step up production of genetically modified soybean this year in what biotech companies see as an indication that the science is gaining ground with producers. The number of acres planted with genetically modified soybeans will shoot up 20 percent from 40.2 million acres to 48.3 million acres, according to a survey of farmers' planting intentions by the US Department of Agriculture released Friday. "The adoption of that technology is pretty much universal," said Rhonda Brandt, an agricultural statistician for the USDA." (AFP)

"Biotech companies seek to patent gene data" - "Biotechnology firms want changes to patent laws that would give them exclusive ownership of the pure scientific formulas that represent genes. If the federal government approves, it would be illegal for anyone to simply record and store the formulas in computers without the patent holder`s permission, a move some experts believe would bring some genetic research to a halt. At least 16 patents are now pending at the Canadian Patent Office that lay claim to not only physical DNA molecules -- genes -- but the digital representation of those molecules in computers. Similar patent applications have been filed in the United States and other countries." (National Post)

April 5, 2001

"Bush's climate stance cheers scientific skeptics" - "When 180 countries met in The Hague last November in a doomed attempt to finalize a 1997 deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions, scientific evidence that pollution was smothering the world had never looked stronger. But when U.S. President George W. Bush rejected that agreement last week he not only threw out the most ambitious global environmental agreement ever, he also questioned what he called the "incomplete state of scientific knowledge" behind it. Bush's words sparked a storm of protest from countries around the world preparing to sign up to emissions reduction strategies, however he struck a chord with those scientists who doubt whether human-induced global warming is happening at all. "I don't want to give Bush any credibility but in Europe the myth of climate change comes before the science," said Philip Stott, a professor of biogeography at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. Stott is one of the most vocal scientists offering a dissenting view to what he claims has become a new orthodoxy --that the world is warming and humans are to blame." (Reuters)

Some realization dawning at last? "Romano Prodi: We will make Kyoto work in spite of Mr Bush's opposition" - "In Washington this week, the US administration confirmed to European Union representatives, including the Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, that America has indeed changed its mind about the Kyoto global-warming agreement. The EU delegation made it clear that Europe remains committed to making Kyoto work, and that efforts will continue ­ if necessary, without the US. We cannot afford for the new American position to cause a stalemate, because in the climate-change talks there has always been one partner with whom we cannot negotiate: the climate itself." (Independent)

Climate change has never been negotiable in the context of "climate treaties" and similar - it will do what it will do without regard to humanity's puny will (or won't).

"EU wants Kyoto agreement saved with or without U.S." - "OTTAWA - The European Union says it's time for Canada to break ranks with the United States and save the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. President George W. Bush surprised both Europeans and Canadians last week when he announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the worldwide agreement aimed at slowing global warming." (CBC)

"Canada Firm in Support of Climate Treaty" - "OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, April 4, 2001 - Top European Union environmental officials seeking support for the Kyoto climate protocol met with a warmer reception in the Canadian capital today than they did in Washington on Monday and Tuesday." (ENS)

"EU Condemns Bush on Global Warming" -"BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Union leaders on Wednesday said President Bush was ``completely wrong'' to pull out of a global warming agreement and promised to fight for the pact." (AP) | Blair will press Bush over Kyoto (Independent) | New Scientist editorializes (or proselytizes) Bad move, Mr Bush

"Whitman Gives Europe No Joy on Climate Protocol" - "WASHINGTON, DC, April 4, 2001 - The best reasons advanced by European environmental officials in Washington this week to reinterest the Bush administration in climate negotiations did not appear to be persuasive. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Todd Whitman gave European environmental representatives little hope that the Bush administration would reconsider its decision not to support the Kyoto Protocol." (ENS)

"EU Denies Climate Mission to Washington Failed" - "BRUSSELS--European Union envoys sent to Washington gained an insight into why the United States rejected the Kyoto treaty on climate change, despite being unable to reverse the U.S. decision, an EU spokeswoman said on Wednesday." (LA Times)

"EU Says Ready to Sideline U.S. in Climate Talks" - "STOCKHOLM - The European Union said on Wednesday it was ready to sideline the United States in future climate change talks because Washington had abandoned a key treaty on the issue." | U.S. now spectator on environment decisions-EU (Reuters)

"Europe's view: a self-centered US" - "Of all the policy pronouncements from Washington recently that surprised or unnerved Europeans, one phrase struck fear into their hearts. It came from President Bush's lips, as he explained last week that he was rejecting an international treaty to curb global warming because he fears it would harm the US economy. "First things first are the people who live in America," he said." (Christian Science Monitor)

Doubtless they would prefer "First things first are the people who live in Europe" but it wasn't Europe that elected George Walker Bush to look after their trade interests or the bizarre fallacies with which they are attempting to leverage advantage.

"France turns heat on Bush" - "French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has made a fierce attack on President George W Bush for his handling of international affairs." (BBC Online) [Check out the cute Greenpeace graphic. Whatever else those flakes are, they sure can put together a media peg.]

"Give Bush time on climate issues" - "LAST WEEK President Bush announced that the United States will not participate in international negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol. This 1997 agreement would govern emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, linked with potential global climate change. The announcement triggered predictions of disaster from some environmental groups and claims of victory from skeptics. Both reactions may prove shortsighted. Despite legitimate concerns about the way the administration informed the world of its decision, the announcement opens the way for Bush to begin working with other nations on a credible long-term strategy. European officials publicly condemned the US action, but in private they may have been relieved. Many governments could not deliver on their Kyoto promises. As the Canadian environment minister said, ''Europe adopted a position they knew would force the United States to pull out.'' (Boston Globe)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT Vol. 2, No. 14" - "Although the cover graphic is dramatic – fried earth sunnyside up in a cast iron skillet – Time’s April 2nd content is much less so. The first clue appears in the article "Life In the Greenhouse," which quotes two well-known greenhouse skeptics: M.I.T.’s Dick Lindzen and University of Alabama-Huntsville’s John Christy. Time’s Charles Alexander reports that the two agree that humans influence climate, but that they question how much and how high the temperatures will go. That is the crux of the issue and absolutely is true. But in reporting that Lindzen and Christy are distressed that only the most extreme scenarios have made the headlines, Time proceeds to play up the extreme scenarios." (GES)

"Time's weather vane" - "The climate change debate is increasingly shaped by new knowledge from archeology, tree rings, ice sheets, sediments and recorded history." (National Post)

"Study: Climate, Not Ozone, Hits Toad Population" - "LONDON - Declining water levels linked to climate change could lead to a long-term decline in the population of toads in the United States, a study published in Nature magazine said on Wednesday." (Reuters) | OSU release | Penn State release

Actually, they talk about altered hydrology, which has a number of causes, some of them human.

Blaustein, ever the propagandist and a real UVB hysteric, now hitches his wagon to enhanced greenhouse (and why not, guaranteed media coverage there). Kiesecker, however, resists such cheap shots and mentions El Niño and the Southern Oscillation Index.

According to The Independent though, Decline of frogs put down to global warming.

"NOAA SCIENTISTS LINK ATLANTIC OCEAN TEMPERATURES TO SOUTH FLORIDA LONG-TERM FLOOD/ DROUGHT CYCLES" - "April 4, 2001 — In the coming decades, droughts may be less frequent in Florida according to a new study by scientists that links slow, multi-decadal changes in North Atlantic Ocean temperatures to North American rainfall and river flows." (NOAA)

"Kyoto cools" - "So, what´s all the fuss? Well, now we´ve gone and done it. Thanks to President George W. Bush, the United States has driven a stake in the effort to save the planet. Recently, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman made clear that the United States will neither seek to implement, or even further pursue, the flawed Kyoto Protocol, or global warming treaty. A hail of criticism has already ensued, so let´s assess the allegations of irresponsibility. The rich countries had agreed to this global warming treaty, and three years later it came time to determine what, exactly, was agreed. Nothing, as it turns out, thank goodness." (Christopher C. Horner, Washington Times)

Here's a gem: "America the Horrible is now turning into a pariah" - "In his own inimitable words, let no one "misunderestimate" George W Bush. He is the most rightwing president in living memory. If this is compassionate conservatism, what does the other sort look like? In less than 100 days he has turned America into a pariah, made enemies of the entire world, his only friends the dirty polluters of the oil industry who put him there." (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian)

Hysterical Polly is always good for some amusement - shame she doesn't know anything about that which she writes but then, she wouldn't be amusing otherwise. Wonder is she realizes that the noble EU produces more GHG emissions than 'dirty America?'

And name-calling too: "Bush is a village idiot, says Blair's adviser" - "One of Tony Blair's advisers has called George W Bush a "global village idiot". Jonathan Porritt, who advises the government on the environment, made the comment at a business dinner in Cheltenham." (Ananova)

Uh-oh... now there's trouble. Big Hollywood's upset! "Barbra Streisand hits out at Bush" - "The singer Barbra Streisand has fired off a blistering letter to leading Democrats in Washington calling on them to start fighting the "destructive" Bush administration." (Guardian) | Strategist Streisand (Washington Times Editorial)

"Anti-Gun Lawsuits Shot Down" - "In a blow to anti-gun groups, the Louisiana Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit to hold the gun industry liable for the costs of urban crime, the Wall Street Journal reports. In a 5-2 decision, the state's high court upheld a state law passed to retroactively block the lawsuit, filed by officials in the city of New Orleans in 1998. The New Orleans suit was the first of more than 30 cases filed across the country which accused gun manufacturers of selling unsafe products and creating a public nuisance." (Cato Institute)

"Double Take on Cloning" - "Even if human cloning someday proves safe and easy - and that's still uncertain - living with it may not be. ... Imagine a world in which most or all people are genetic replicas of present or past humans. In such a hypothetical society, people would be mere copies of "real" humans, a futuristic version of the biblical tale of creating Eve out of Adam's rib." (Christian Science Monitor)

Um... not exactly. Even if we could precisely replicate an individual genetically, there's still the problem of precisely duplicating their environment and nurture from the moment of "conception." The Boys From Brazil is pure fantasy and identical twins, who are naturally "clones" (in that they are genetically identical) are distinct and very different individuals, as would be any created clones. I certainly don't recommend you tell any identical twins they are "mere copies of 'real' humans."

"Pill to 'stop cancer'" - "Scientists are developing a once-a-week pill they hope will prevent half of all cancers. The drug - called oltipraz - works by activating the body's natural defence mechanisms to block tumours before they have a chance to form. It is already undergoing trials in China." (BBC Online)

"European Parliament Vote Hurts PVC Industry" - "STRASBOURG, France, April 4, 2001 - The European Parliament voted Tuesday to substitute polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, to ban lead additives in PVC and to enforce separate waste collection of PVC because of concern over its hazardous properties. Voluntary approaches to regulating the environmental impacts of PVC are not enough, according to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), who were responding to a European Commission green paper on the polymer." (ENS)

"Bush administration proposes irradiation of school meat" - "WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is proposing to allow the ground meat that the government buys for schools to be irradiated and would no longer require the meat to be sampled for salmonella bacteria." (AP)

Irradiation is a great way of improving the safety of meat products but it's guaranteed to bring out the metal-underwear crowd, foaming at the mouth about imagined radiation hazards.

"Animal disposal row intensifies" - "As foot-and-mouth disease claims ever more victims, the UK Government stands accused of ignoring the pollution impacts in its haste to halt the outbreak. Local authorities fear that slaughtered animals could contaminate air and water." (BBC Online)

"Tree biomass is the same in tropic or temperate climes" - "ITHACA, N.Y. -- Does the Amazon River basin thrive with more tree biomass than that along the shores of Opeongo Lake in Canada's Algonquin Provincial Park? Is the Congo Basin more tree biomass-rich than the Argonne Forest in northeastern France? Conventional wisdom answers yes, believing that equatorial and tropical regions have far more tree biomass than places like North America, Europe and Asia. Conventional wisdom seems to be wrong." (Cornell University News Service)

"WWF Eco-Forestry Project Operating Without Approval" - "PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea, April 4, 2001 - The Papua New Guinea Forest Authority has revealed that an eco-forestry project run by the U.S. based World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as a model of well managed forestry, is logging mangrove forests without permission. Mangrove forests are excluded from logging under the PNG Code of Logging Practice." (ENS)

"Friends of the Earth Wants EPA's Whitman to Resign" - "WASHINGTON - Conservation advocacy group Friends of the Earth on Wednesday called on U.S. Environmental Protection Administration chief Christine Todd Whitman to resign, saying her credibility at home and abroad is lost." (Reuters)

"Green Nannies Prefer World Hunger to Food Technology" - "In a letter to President George W. Bush today, an international coalition of 100 nonprofits demanded that the U.S. stop sending genetically improved StarLink corn overseas, even when included in a program of humanitarian food aid. The coalition, led by Friends of the Earth, also included the American groups Food First, Pesticide Action Network North America, Organic Consumers Association, and Greenpeace. According to a Friends of the Earth spokesperson: "We are strongly opposed to any shipment of StarLink as food aid. It is outrageous to think that the U.S. may be using food aid as a back door market for products like StarLink." These nanny groups seem to be saying that if this aid includes perfectly safe, genetically improved food, they would prefer to see the Third World starving in even greater numbers." (GuestChoice.com)

"Debate steams over GM golden rice" - "The promise is as revolutionary as life itself. Not yet on the market, golden rice is the latest poster child of the biotechnology industry. Its proponents promise that it will rescue at least a million children who die from vitamin A deficiency each year. Vitamin A deficiency is the most important cause of blindness among children in developing countries." (ENN)

"Vitamin A Deficiency A Major Killer In Uganda" - "Up to 65, 000 children in Uganda die due to lack of Vitamin A, a tragedy reflecting the widespread malnutrition afflicting the country's population. Poverty and ignorance are to blame for the debilitating condition, which health experts say is easy to avert but is complicated by a host of other health factors. A Ministry of Health report has stated that lack of Vitamin A alone contributes to 25 per cent of childhood deaths in Uganda. The same figure is also quoted for malaria. An ongoing study is trying to establish whether the deficiency contributes to maternal mortality as well." (The East African)

"Precaution without principle" - "Remember the admonition not to believe a bureaucrat who claims that “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you?” Well, government regulators now have a more subtle, updated version of that assertion: a wolf in sheep’s clothing called the “precautionary principle”. It has already laid waste to several industries and boasts a body count in the tens of thousands. It is now being used to cripple public sector and academic researchers as well as the biotechnology industry." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, Nature Biotechnology)

"Herbicide-tolerant Wheat Variety Receives Registration" - "BASF Canada, Sask Pool and Agricore have picked up registration for their herbicide-tolerant CWRS wheat variety BW755, the first such wheat variety in the Clearfield production system, which is tolerant to BASF's Adrenalin herbicide. The variety, considered non-GMO, was initially rejected registration in February, but was approved this week on appeal." (AgWeb.com)

"No Danger From GM Foods" - "Experts from around the world have agreed that there is no scientific justification for special labelling of GM foods. These experts include the American Medical Association and, in Canada, the Royal Society Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology. In North America, we label food for two main reasons: to inform the consumer of nutritional information, and to warn the consumer of possible hazard (e.g., contains peanuts). To date there has never been a documented case where a GM food has been responsible for harming an individual." (Times Colonist)

"Public Opinion Swings Towards GM Foods" - "As the DETR this week announces new trial sites for genetically modified (GM) maize, a national survey conducted by NOP reveals that support for GM foods amongst the British public has increased over the last 12 months." (CropGen)

"Editorial: Genetic Advances in Food May Help Feed World-(Virginia Tech)"  - "BLACKSBURG, Va. -- The seafood trade show in Boston this week may have an unexpected exhibitor. The environmental activist group Greenpeace plans to protest against a new practice of the fish industry that has nothing to do with indiscriminate fishing techniques or the rights of endangered animals. Greenpeace plans to fight against the industry's incorporation of genetically engineered fish into fish farm populations. Some of the fish show's fish farms have genetically developed salmon and other types of fish that grow faster than ordinary fish. The fish farms are thus able to produce more fish for eating faster than usual. ... Just because methods of farming animals and harvesting crops through new genetic techniques are new does not necessarily mean they will be harmful. The world's food needs are increasing daily with its population, and fear of genetically engineered food, especially in the case of seafood, is helping to feed a growing problem." (U-WIRE)

April 4, 2001

"Scrapping Kyoto May Prove To Be Bush's Finest Act" - "Something akin to mass hysteria has erupted in certain circles over George Bush's announcement last week that the U.S. will not support the Kyoto protocols designed to defend us all against "global warming." His reason was that the United Nations plan could put a sputtering U.S. economy into the tank. He could have added a second reason: There is no plausible evidence that a significant global-warming trend exists." (George Melloan, Wall Street Journal, April 3)

"Europeans pressure U.S. on global warming" - "WASHINGTON -- European leaders are trying to salvage a 1997 agreement for reducing global warming despite President Bush's declaration that its mandatory cuts on carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and short timetable are no longer acceptable to the United States. Ambassadors from the 15-nation European Union scheduled meetings Tuesday with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman and other administration officials." | EPA chief stands up to European pressure on global warming treaty (AP) | EU Urges U.S. to Reconsider Global Warming Treaty (Reuters) | US cool on global warming plea (BBC Online)

"Canada Calls on U.S. to Stick with Kyoto Accord" - "OTTAWA - Prime Minister Jean Chretien called on the United States on Tuesday to stick with the Kyoto accord to combat global warming, and reiterated Canada's intention to honor its commitment to cut greenhouse gases." (Reuters)

"U.S. Rebuffs European Plea Not to Abandon Climate Pact" - "WASHINGTON, April 3 — The Bush administration turned down a European request today that it reconsider a decision seen as likely to doom the international treaty on global warming known as the Kyoto accord.  In meetings with European Union emissaries, who had been dispatched to Washington on an emergency mission, administration officials restated a view that the 1997 treaty was "unfair to the United States" and that it was not worthy of American support." (New York Times)

"EU: U.S. Has No Global Warming Treaty Alternative" - "WASHINGTON - Senior European Union officials met with the Bush administration for the first time on global warming issues on Tuesday, and said the United States remained opposed to an international treaty to curb greenhouse gas emissions and had no alternatives at this point." (Reuters)

"Europeans seek to preserve Kyoto pact" - "European ministers, stung by President Bush's rejection of the global-warming treaty, say they will try to get other industrial nations to ratify the treaty over the United States' head. "We are prepared to go on alone, to go on without the United States," said Kjell Larsson, the environment minister of Sweden, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, after failing to convince top Bush administration officials at meetings yesterday to reconsider their stance on the treaty." (Patrice Hill, Washington Times)

Pop quiz: who liberates more GHG (greenhouse gas) to atmosphere, The U.S. or the E.U.?

If you said the U.S. you'd better have another guess.

"German Minister Tells U.S. Not to Hinder Kyoto" - "BERLIN - The United States should not block the 1997 Kyoto accord on global warming even if it no longer agrees with it, German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said on Tuesday. "If they don't want to participate, we expect that the United States will tolerate the process and not block it," Trittin said." (Reuters)

"U.S. Confident of Innovations on Climate Change" - "WASHINGTON - The United States was optimistic of finding ways to handle global warming, Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Whitman said on Tuesday. In a statement, Whitman said she told European Union officials the Bush administration was ``optimistic ... that, working constructively with our friends and allies through international processes, we can develop technologies, market-based incentives and other innovative approaches to global climate change." (Reuters)

"Saudis 'understand' why Bush abandoned protocol" - "Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has singled itself out by proclaiming its "understanding" of President George W. Bush's decision to abandon the Kyoto protocol on climate change. Mohammad al-Sabban, senior economic adviser to the Oil Ministry and head of the Saudi delegation to the United Nations, said in an interview with the Middle East Economic Survey that his country understood why Mr Bush baulked at the economic consequences for the US of implementing Kyoto. "Such measures would be justified if the science of global warming were sound", Dr al-Sabban said, but there were "huge remaining scientific uncertainties". However, Saudi Arabia disagreed with the US contention that developing countries must do their share in any cutting of greenhouse gases." (Financial Times)

"Australia committed to greenhouse gas reductions" - "CANBERRA - Australian Prime Minister John Howard yesterday dismissed reports his conservative government was set to follow the United States in abandoning the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gas reductions. Howard said U.S. President George W. Bush was "absolutely right" in arguing that developing countries should be included in the 1997 pact, aimed at combatting global warming. But he also said that Australia - which won an increase in greenhouse gas emissions under the treaty - would continue to implement the pact's policies. "There's no question of are we for or against Kyoto. It's a question of what is a balanced reasoned attitude and you can't always explain a balanced reasoned attitude in terms of 'I am for' or 'I am against Kyoto'," Howard said in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Corp radio. "I am for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, I am also in favour of an arrangement which is comprehensive." (Reuters)

Translation for those who don't follow Australian politics: there will be a tough election later this year and the Prime Minister isn't about to hand any ammunition to the Green/Labor preferential vote-alliance by stating categorically that Australia will never ratify Kyoto. He should, however, because there are a lot more votes to be had from a decisive position than the miserable few that could be picked up from a couple of percent "Green" vote, most of which resides on the far-left and will not allow preference leakage to the center-conservative Coalition Government anyway.

"Life In The Greenhouse" - "There is no such thing as normal weather. The average daytime high temperature for New York City this week should be 57[degrees]F, but on any given day the mercury will almost certainly fall short of that mark or overshoot it, perhaps by a lot. Manhattan thermometers can reach 65[degrees] in January every so often and plunge to 50[degrees] in July. And seasons are rarely normal. Winter snowfall and summer heat waves beat the average some years and fail to reach it in others. It's tough to pick out over-all changes in climate in the face of these natural fluctuations. An unusually warm year, for example, or even three in a row don't necessarily signal a general trend. Yet the earth's climate does change. Ice ages have frosted the planet for tens of thousands of years at a stretch, and periods of warmth have pushed the tropics well into what is now the temperate zone. But given the normal year-to-year variations, the only reliable signal that such changes may be in the works is a long-term shift in worldwide temperature." (Time.com)

Time got this much right and then promptly degenerates in a list of just about every bizarre (and mostly misused) proxy in captivity. Shame they didn't check for any facts in the process.

"Global Climate Change: According to Hoyle... and Wickramasinghe Too!" - "The last two million years have seen earth's climate regularly oscillate back and forth between glacial and interglacial conditions, the former lasting approximately 90,000 years each and the latter lasting about 10,000 years each. Scientists have long struggled to understand the underlying basis of this geological clockwork pattern, as well as what makes it tick. For the past several decades, theories based on the thinking of Milankovitch, which attribute the periodic climatic pattern to regular variations in earth's orbital parameters, have enjoyed much prominence. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, however, present several reasons why such theories cannot be correct; and they develop a new theory of the phenomenon that has many important implications." (co2science.org)

"Variations in Atmospheric CO2, Temperature and Global Ice Volume Derived from the Vostok Ice Core" - "The results of this study, along with those of many others we have described (see CO2-Temperature Correlations in our Subject Index), should put to rest the notion that atmospheric CO2 is a major driver of climate change.  Throughout the greatest temperature transitions experienced by the planet over the past 420,000 years, atmospheric CO2 concentration has been proven to have been a follower, and not a leader, of climate change, rising from one to five thousand years after major increases in air temperature, and falling in similar manner throughout the course of the past four glacial/interglacial cycles. Also evident from this study is the even longer delayed response of global ice volume to changes in air temperature.  Because this lag stretches an additional 4,000 to 6,000 years beyond the lag in CO2, it suggests that any present decline in global ice volume may be more related to the warm temperatures experienced during the Holocene Maximum - 4,000 to 7,000 years ago, when global temperatures were around 2°C warmer than present - than it is to 20th Century warming. (co2science.org)

"Backbenchers protest at phone mast rules" - "Proposed changes to planning laws governing mobile telephone masts fail to address public concerns about possible risks to health, a committee of MPs warned yesterday. They said changes to extend the consultation periods for mast applications still did too little to allow residents to object. Under the changes, announced last month, companies will have to wait eight weeks before gaining planning permission for masts. But unlike building plans, authorisation comes automatically if councils do not object." (Independent)

"NRC considers plan to convert plutonium to reactor fuel" - "NEW YORK - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said it was considering an application for construction of a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina. The MOX facility would convert surplus weapons-grade plutonium, supplied by the Department of Energy, into fuel for use in commercial nuclear reactors. Such use would render the plutonium essentially inaccessible and unattractive for weapons use." (Reuters)

"Bush budget won't reflect energy crisis warning - sources" - "WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush has warned that the United States is facing its worst energy crisis since the 1970s, but the White House is still planning huge cuts in funds for energy-related research programs, Democratic lawmakers and industry experts say. The hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts in funding for research to reduce energy use and promote renewable resources - like wind and solar - would slash the Energy Department's efficiency and renewable research programs by about one-third, they said. "We're evaluating how we spend our energy dollars," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told ABC News over the weekend. "We're going to look at these programs, which have been widely scorned and criticized as not having returned a very good investment for the taxpayers." (Reuters)

"Ministers at odds over plan for farms inquiry" - "The Government's strategy for the future of agriculture was plunged into confusion last night after it withdrew a ministerial promise of a public inquiry into the implications of the foot-and-mouth epidemic. The Environment minister Michael Meacher had pledged that there would be a wide-ranging public inquiry into the crisis and called for "a fundamental rethink of what we expect farming to produce". But Mr Meacher's remarks were contradicted by Tony Blair and Downing Street officials within hours." (Independent) | WRAPUP - UK minister demands farming rethink after epidemic (Reuters)

Wonder if environment ministers will ever wake up that they are irrelevant public relations sops dangled out for the "green" vote and that they should never open their mouths without first checking with the real government ministers over what the situation might actually be.

"The Politics of Foot-And-Mouth Disease In Europe" - "CHURCHVILLE, Va.--Pity poor Europe. Plagued by fears of mad cow disease and gene-altered crops, the continent is now suffering a plague of foot-and-mouth disease among British livestock. The European answer to all such problems is always the same: organic farming. True to form, "industrial farming" is being blamed for the new outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe. The facts show quite a different story. First, the affluent countries with intensive agricultures are the ones free of foot-and-mouth disease, while the disease is running rampant among the world's peasant farms." (Dennis Avery, Bridge News) | Save cows, not Blair legacy (Washington Times editorial)

"Water tainted by cow burial blunder" - "THOUSANDS of animals buried since the start of the foot-and-mouth outbreak are likely to be exhumed because they risk contaminating household water supplies, government advisers said last night. ... MAFF said it was not clear how the mistake had been made. It is feared that many similar blunders occurred amid the panic and confusion of carcass disposal before the Army was drafted in to fight the disease a fortnight ago. Water contaminated by infected carcasses can spread the disease to livestock but not to human beings, although it can cause stomach upsets. ... Since the outbreak began in February 631,000 animals have been slaughtered. It is estimated that at least 50,000 animals have been buried in dozens of sites across the country." | Foot and MAFF (The Times)

"Separating Remedies From Snake Oil" - "For the past 18 months, Dr. Straus, 54, has been director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which Congress has voted to give almost $90 million for studying the usefulness of such popular nontraditional remedies as acupuncture, food supplements, homeopathy and body manipulation. Now, 42 percent of Americans use various forms of alternative medicine, according to a study by Dr. David Eisenberg of Harvard. Finding out just what works and what does not is the task of Dr. Straus and his staff." (New York Times)

"Consuming more protein, less carbohydrates may be healthier" - "CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — New research suggests a diet higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than currently recommended may help people maintain desirable body weight and overall health. For 30 years fad diets and various nutritional recommendations have come and gone, said Donald Layman, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois. The result: Americans take in more calories than ever, obesity is at an all-time high, and heart disease rates equal those of the 1970s. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta recently announced a 10 percent rise in the rates of cardiac deaths among 15- to 34-year-olds between 1989 and 1996, and that just 25 percent of Americans over age 18 met basic physical activity recommendations in the 1990s. "The situation is one of the worst public health fiascos we've ever seen," said Layman, who also is a professor of internal medicine in the UI College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign. "We may have fewer people dying from heart disease, but that's only because our medical recovery is better. We also are looking at an approaching onslaught of Type 2 diabetes. I think we have a very good reason to re-evaluate where we are at nutritionally." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Canadian Study Links Peanut Allergy to Breast Milk" - "CHICAGO - In a development that could help fight peanut allergy, researchers said on Tuesday they have proven nursing mothers can pass on peanut protein and the risk of the sometimes fatal allergy to breast-fed babies. The finding is significant, one expert said, because children born to families where one or both parents has a history of asthma, eczema or other allergy-based diseases are often at risk for peanut allergy." (Reuters) | JAMA | FDA: 25 Percent of Cookies, Candy Contain Allergen (Reuters) | F.D.A. Finds Faulty Listings of Possible Food Allergens (New York Times)

"Smoking Gun" - "If Smith, 52, has her way, the companies making the paper will soon go the way of Big Tobacco. Smith and several other women who used the paper and now blame infirmities on it are suing 12 manufacturers. “This is a product used almost everywhere,” says Smith. “The potential for litigation from worker’s compensation to product liability is huge,” she told TAE. In addition to money, Smith and the others who formed the Carbonless Copy Paper Injury and Information Network want the federal government to classify the product—of which an estimated 700,000 tons are shipped each year in the U.S.—as a chemical substance, requiring that it be regulated and include warning labels. If the feds and trial lawyers get involved, a replay of Alar on apples, “sudden acceleration syndrome,” electrical power line panic, and similar cases could occur." (Scan, The American Enterprise)

"Soldiering may seriously damage your health" - "THE Ministry of Defence is preparing for battle. Hostilities will begin on February 4, and they are expected to last between five and six months. The battleground will be the High Court and the enemy - 350 strong at the moment - are former soldiers who are suing the ministry for failing to prepare them for the horrors of war. Casualties are likely to be very heavy indeed." (Daily Telegraph)

"High Dioxin Levels Alarm Scientists" - "Scientists are continuing to find very high levels of dioxins in food, up to 22 times the recommended maximum level established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Levels of the highly toxic chemicals remain high despite efforts to reduce their presence in the environment, according to a news service story from ABC News. The findings were based on a study by scientists at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston." (HealthScout)

Why do these allegedly high dioxin levels "alarm scientists?" There's  more Dioxin in Ben & Jerry's ice cream than the US EPA's recommendations too, but that doesn't mean that B&J's is toxic. See also NATURE'S CHEMICALS AND SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS: COMPARATIVE TOXICOLOGY.

Still on the dioxin non-issue: "Pyres prompt health fears" - "Air tests are to be carried out after fears that the smoke from foot-and-mouth pyres could cause health problems. Monitoring is to start in Dumfries and Galloway within days after a local group raised concerns that the smoke could have an effect on those living nearby. But health officials are playing down the risk and hope the research will back them up." (BBC Online)

Here we go yet again: "Plastics may get EU restrictions" - "STRASBOURG, France - The European Parliament called Tuesday for tighter rules on the use of polyvinyl chloride, a plastic commonly used in household plumbing pipes, citing health and environmental risks related to the use and disposal of the plastic. The European Union's assembly voted 292 to 180, with 43 abstentions in favor of a resolution asking the EU's head office to draw up strict restrictions on the use of polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC. EU lawmakers and environmental groups insist that PVC plastic products are a potential health risk because they contain harmful dioxins, chlorine, phthalates and lead." (AP)

Hmm... dioxins are probably the most overrated and inconsequential scare in the fear industry's arsenal and anti-everything activists target chlorine simply because the chemical industry will collapse without it. Environmental lead exposure is declining throughout the developed world and thrown in for good measure we have those nasty HHAs (Hormonally Active Agents), phthalates again, never mind that their activity is pitifully weak, activists still like to call them "gender benders."

Ah! But HAAs are good for us this week: "Soy 'cuts Alzheimer's risk'" - "Soy may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, especially in postmenopausal women, say researchers. The discovery follows research suggesting that soy also helps reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. A three-year animal study shows that chemicals found in soy, called phytoestrogens, appear to reduce the number of protein changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease. Phytoestrogens mimic the action of the female sex hormone oestrogen. Oestrogen is known for its ability to reduce a woman's risk for heart disease and osteoporosis, and there is evidence that suggests it can protect against Alzheimer's disease." (BBC Online)

"Tackling toxins is as easy as surfing the Web" - "In real life, legal secretary, single mom and environmental researcher Erin Brockovich took two years to expose the source of contaminated water in a small California town. She eventually forced a power company to pay up in court. ... Now, the creators of a new Web site would like every homeowner or potential home buyer to tackle the role of researcher Brockovich." (ENN)

Erin Brockovich? See: 'Erin Brockovich,' Exposed; 'Erin Brockovich,' Affirmed (includes response); see also the longer versions of the first article: The Dark Side of Erin Brockovich; Errin' Brockovich.

"Child health experts at loggerheads" - "A visiting British child health advocate has infuriated one of the world's foremost child psychiatrists by claiming that attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an "overdiagnosed cop out". Peter Wilson, director of British child mental health charity YoungMinds, said ADHD was being diagnosed when children were simply