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Archives - April 2002

April 30, 2002

"Coral reefs operate free-market economy" - "Market forces appear to be at work on coral reefs, where fish that perform a cleaning service risk losing customers if they get sloppy. Scientists studying these fish conclude that healthy competition is sometimes important in ecology, helping to stabilise co-operation between species." (New Scientist)

"Philadelphia Daily News | 04 29 2002 | Poor children at peril as lead danger persists" - "The incidence of lead poisoning has declined over the last 10 years, but thousands of Philadelphia children still have elevated levels. In fact, Philadelphia ranks second in the country as the city with the highest number of lead-poisoned children, behind only Chicago. Most at risk are low-income children living in poorly maintained homes built before 1978 when lead-based paint was banned for residential use."

"Deathly Bans" - "President Bush has sent the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to the Senate for ratification amid cheers from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) head, Christie Whitman. It is no wonder that the EPA has hailed the move - the agency found its feet and established its power over the banning of DDT, one of the 12 POPs.

Yet the 1972 banning of DDT in the United States was based more on politics than on any scientific evidence. The judge presiding over the scientific hearings on DDT ruled that DDT should not be banned, based on the evidence, yet he was overruled by William Ruckelshaus, the then EPA head in a move to flex his political muscles." (Richard Tren, TCS)

"Mercury fillings may be affecting dentists - study" - "LONDON - Dentists are more likely to suffer memory and kidney problems which could be due to long-term exposure to mercury in tooth fillings, doctors said today." (Reuters)

"Advise and Dissent" - "'I don't like him.' That’s what Erin Brockovich has to say about me in the New York Times Sunday Magazine piece, "Erin Brockovich, The Brand." The piece is a nice slam on the foul-mouthed opportunistic airhead who ripped off the people of Hinkley, California and the ratepayers of PG&E and received a cool $2.5 million bonus for doing so." (Fumento.com)

"New Zealand Herald - Environment cancer key for migrant children" - "STOCKHOLM - Lifestyle during the first 20 years of life is a more important factor than original nationality when defining the risk of cancer, Swedish studies of immigrants show. The survey of some 600,000 immigrants, who came to Sweden in their 20s and became parents there, showed that their cancer risks were in line with those of their native countries. But their Swedish-born children had a similar cancer incidence to native Swedes, another study of some 600,000 immigrants, mainly from Europe and North America, showed."

Lifestyle matters? Well blimey!

"The Story That Croaked?" - "Those amphibians seem to have it rough. For over six years, we've seen news stories about a global decline of frogs and toads, as well as increasing numbers of amphibian deformities. No one knows exactly what is causing them, but a link to chemical pollution has been the most popular candidate." (Howard Fienberg, TCS)

"UK starts biobank study of nature versus nurture - The Times of India" - "LONDON: Leading British medical bodies said on Monday they were setting up a "biobank" project -- a study of genes, environment and health -- to learn more about what causes common diseases and how to avoid them. Announcing an initial 45 million pounds ($65 million) of funding, the government, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust charity said jointly that the project would be "the world's largest study of the role of nature and nurture in health and disease."

"ctnow.com: Curry, Jepsen Push Environmental Policies" - "NEW HAVEN -- Democratic gubernatorial candidates George Jepsen and Bill Curry, stumping for support this weekend at the Toxics Action Center's annual conference, trashed Gov. John G. Rowland as someone who bows to the energy industry at the expense of Connecticut's air, soil and water."

"FINDING TINY PARTICLES IN HURRICANES MAY HELP WITH PREDICTIONS" - "NASA-funded scientists are looking at microscopic ice particles inside hurricanes to determine if they contribute to the storm's strengthening or weakening. Researchers have discovered that greater numbers of ice particles higher up in a hurricane reflect more energy from the Sun out to space, creating a temperature difference that helps power the hurricane. The particles could also indicate a loss of energy into the surrounding atmosphere." (NASA/GSFC)

"UN stresses public, private partnerships to fight climate change in Asia and Pacific" - "29 April – With Pacific island nations and low-lying coastal areas facing a growing threat from the effects of global warming, a senior United Nations official in the Asia and Pacific region today stressed the importance of public-private sector cooperation in combating the phenomenon." (UN News Service)

"Canada still mulling options to help fund Kyoto" - "QUEBEC CITY - A Canadian minister dismissed a newspaper report last week that the federal government was mulling a gasoline tax of 10 Canadian cents (6 cents) a litre to help pay for implementing the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, but admitted a gas tax of some sort might be an option." (Reuters)

"Alberta's objections could derail Kyoto" - "OTTAWA -- Alberta Environment Minister Lorne Taylor said new, conflicting estimates on the costs to Canada of meeting Kyoto Protocol targets show there's no way the country will be able to reach a consensus on whether to ratify the accord." (Globe and Mail)

"Saving the Earth" - "The David Suzuki Foundation and the World Wildlife Federation have met the business community and government in a clash of numbers — the battle zone in which the war over the Kyoto agreement is currently being waged. In response to a steady bombardment of cost estimates that go all the way up to $40 billion, the WWF and the foundation have fired back with a prediction that Canadians would actually be better off economically if they were to go along with the protocol requiring Canada to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012." (Toronto Star)

"Make Kyoto an offer no one can refuse" - "It only looks like confusion. Canada seems hopelessly tangled in internal disputes over the Kyoto protocol, an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein says ratifying Kyoto will destroy his province. Industry calls it pain without gain. Environmentalists, on the other hand, say it will actually boost the economy and create new jobs. And the Canadian government? After tiptoeing around for so long that the pact's opponents took centre stage, it is now working with provinces on estimates that will show potentially large costs -- or, perhaps, substantial benefits. At last we are getting somewhere." (Globe and Mail)

"British scientists to probe climate change policy" - "LONDON - British scientists launched an investigation today to see if the government should introduce new economic measures to deal with climate change, because it says the current policy isn't working. The probe by the Royal Society, an independent academy, will look at alternative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the possible introduction of a carbon tax. It said the government's Climate Change Levy is flawed because it taxes energy use and not pollution from carbon dioxide (CO2). Neither has it reduced emissions of the greenhouse gas." (Reuters)

"Cali’s Kyoto; Working off a bad model" - "Undaunted by the mess they made of California's electricity marketplace, Sacramento politicians are poised to play havoc with another vital realm of consumer welfare — the marketplace for new cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs." (NRO)

"German household power bills up 7 pct yr/yr - VDEW" - "FRANKFURT - Rising taxes have pushed up German householders' power bills by an average seven percent over levels last year, the VDEW industry association said in a statement yesterday." (Reuters)

"Economic Effects of Kyoto on Europe" - "Throughout the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol, which set targets for countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 to below those of 1990 levels, supporters claimed the costs would be minimal. But a new report on Europe show that Kyoto stands to inflict devastating damage to the economies of European Union (EU) nations." (National Center for Policy Analysis)

"EU halfway to Kyoto target, but emissions up - EEA" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union is almost halfway to achieving the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions it signed up to under the Kyoto climate change agreement, but emissions are creeping up again, data showed yesterday." (Reuters)

"Why Energy Conservation Fails" - "Harry Reid, the assistant Democratic leader in the Senate, recently built a 5,000-square-foot house in Searchlight, Nev., his hometown. This ranks it within the top 1% of homes in terms of size. Sen. Reid said that it would replace the trailer he has been using as his home address. His new abode, while undoubtedly more comfortable, would use a lot more electricity and natural gas than the trailer." (Herbert Inhaber, TCS)

"Being Green At Ben & Jerry’s" - "Some environmental policies are feel-good indulgences for an era of energy abundances." (George F Will, Newsweek)

"Solar's Cloudy Future" - "For over a century, the world has faced a continuing energy crisis. We would run out of oil in 20 years, the alarmists clamored. Maybe some time the predictions will come true: just because somebody has been crying, "Wolf!" for a long time doesn't mean that there is no wolf. The real crisis hasn't happened, but it most likely will happen eventually." (Howard C. Hayden, TCS)

"OECD chief calls for new look at nuclear energy" - "PAMPLONA - Industrial countries seeking to reduce dependence on imported oil and cut greenhouse gases should look again at nuclear energy, the head of the OECD said." (Reuters)

"Worries over water in Wyoming coalbed methane" - "DENVER - An EPA regional office is warning that water from coalbed methane wells could seep into and pollute streams in Wyoming, an area rich in natural gas and important as the United States tries to lessen reliance on imported energy." (Reuters)

"New power plant combustion model lowers pollutant emissions at affordable cost" - "Engineers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a unique combustion method that results in lower power plant pollutant emissions by combining stage-combustion with nitrogen-enriched air." (DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

"German leader, EU seek to ease industry disputes" - "BRUSSELS - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder brought a list of grievances over industrial policy to a dinner with the European Commission's chief yesterday, with both sides seeking to ease misunderstanding. Schroeder met Commission President Romano Prodi and several commissioners at a Brussels restaurant after trumpeting his agenda in the Financial Times, declaring: "European politicians need to listen more closely to the needs of industry." (Reuters)

"University to arm eco-warriors with legal sword and shield" - "They have pursued polluters, challenged developers and chained themselves to trees. Now Britain's eco-warriors have the chance to qualify in the art of environmental activism at university. Sixteen campaigners have been accepted for the UK's first course in "environmental justice", which starts in Edinburgh this week. The year-long course is run jointly by Friends of the Earth and Queen Margaret University College. Graduates will be awarded a certificate in environmental justice, the first qualification of its kind in Britain." (The Guardian)

"UK farm czar urges govt to push through reform" - "LONDON - Sir Donald Curry, the man the government asked to map out a future for British farming, urged ministers last week to push through radical reform and not simply go for easier options. Earlier this year, Curry said British farming, ravaged by mad cow disease and last year's foot-and-mouth epidemic, needed radical overhaul, moving away from intensive operation and heavy subsidies to environmentally sustainable schemes and organic farming." (Reuters)

"No evidence organic produce more nutritious- study" - "Ground-breaking review highlights need for more high quality research. Claims that organically produced food has superior nutritional benefits do not appear to be supported by the available evidence, according to a recent New Zealand study which is the first critical review of research comparing organic and conventional foods to be published by a leading international science journal." (University of Otago)

"Millions ploughed into 'gene bank'" - "The genetic details of 500,000 people are to be collected and stored in a central UK pool, following the approval of £45m in funding. It is hoped the pioneering "biobank" scheme will provide valuable information to help fight illness and disease." (BBC News Online)

"Let them eat canola" - "With China and India embracing biotechnology's hopeful promise of ending hunger and malnutrition among their combined 2.3 billion citizens, America's well-fed activists are showing signs of desperation. How else can you explain why an obscure activist group is threatening to sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) if it approves a new genetically engineered canola seed that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already says is perfectly safe for human consumption?" (Eric Peters, Washington Times)

"Third attack on GM crop site" - "A field of genetically modified crops in Scotland has been damaged by protesters for the third time in a week. The latest attack at the controversial trial site at Munlochy in the Highlands happened between 0400 BST and 0800 BST on Sunday, police said. It came less than 24 hours after five demonstrators were arrested on vandalism charges during an alleged breach of the peace at the same trial site. Campaigners say more than half of the GM oilseed rape crop has now been destroyed. The field at Roskill Farm on the Black Isle was also attacked between Saturday night and Sunday morning the previous weekend." (BBC Online)

"GM hearings put on back burner" - "The Parliament Hill spotlight that shone intensely on genetically modified food labels last winter is about to grow dimmer. The House of Commons health committee has suspended hearings on the issue, likely until the fall. It will spend the rest of this parliamentary season studying bills on pesticide regulation and rules to govern reproductive technologies. (Western Producer)

"Labelling critics plead case" - "Food retailers and manufacturers have warned MPs that mandatory labels on genetically modified food would lead food manufacturers to reject Canadian corn, canola and soybeans, cost farmers lost sales and increase food prices. Laurie Curry, vice-president of Consumer Products Manufacturers of Canada and a strong proponent of voluntary labels, told the House of Commons health committee that polls indicate up to 40 percent of consumers believe a GM label would mean the food is unsafe. She said mandatory labels would lead manufacturers to shy away from such food for fear of losing sales." (Western Producer)

"Monsanto to move ahead with GM wheat approval" - "Monsanto hopes to begin pursuing regulatory approval this year for its genetically modified wheat variety in Canada, the United States and Japan. The Roundup Ready variety already is the subject of intense debate in Western Canada because of concerns it could jeopardize markets for Canadian wheat. However, a Monsanto spokesperson said the bid to secure regulatory approval does not mean the crop will be grown commercially in Canadian fields any time soon. Trish Jordan said Canada's approval process can easily last more than a year and there are other things Monsanto wants settled before releasing Roundup Ready wheat to farmers." (Western Producer)

"Biotech Crops Make Inroads as Consumers Watch" - "CHICAGO - Nebraska farmer Doug Boisen considers himself a "tough sell" when it comes to new products to use on his cost-conscious, highly competitive grain farm. But he said he has gone from zero to 100 percent in about six years in the planting of crops genetically altered to kill insect pests or withstand potent weed killers." (Reuters)

"Belgium refuses licence for Aventis GMO crop test" - "BRUSSELS - Belgium has refused to grant a licence to Aventis CropScience to conduct experimental field tests with a genetically modified strain of oilseed rape on Belgian sites, the Health Ministry said yesterday." (Reuters)

"'Frankenfish' spawn controversy: Debate over genetically altered salmon" - "It looks like a North Atlantic salmon. But it grows seven times faster, and it's much more attractive to the opposite sex than a normal salmon. It's a transgenic fish, the first genetically engineered animal under review for the U.S. food supply. Embedded in every cell of its body are genes from the Chinook salmon and the ocean pout fish that make it grow more quickly. The altered salmon is likely to become the next focus in the battle over bioengineered food, after controversies over the desirability of genetically altered bovine growth hormones in cows and modified corn, soybeans and canola in cereals and tortilla chips." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Tessie O is anti-GMO" - "SEN. Tessie Aquino-Oreta, may yet emerge as this year`s pin-up poster girl of the anti-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) movement in the Philippines. The Dancing Queen is about to transmogrify into the Biodiversity Queen. The recent news of her support for anti-GMO legislation in the Senate was greeted with elation by those well-financed anti-GMO propagandists who have, I must admit, successfully demonized genetically modified foods and crops and poisoned Filipino minds against them." (Financial Times)

"Guilty pleas in GM crop case" - "Five demonstrators have admitted destroying GM crops at a farm in the Scottish Highlands. The attack on the oilseed rape at a farm near Inverness was carried out on Friday night and was the second such incident in less than a week. The crops were attacked for a third time in the early hours of Sunday morning, following which campaigners said more than half of the crop had now been destroyed." (BBC News Online)

April 29, 2002

'Chemical-free' organics at risk from lack of chemicals? "EU: Organic potatoes under threat from ban on copper-based fungicides" - "The UK National Farmers’ Union has warned that organic potato producers are under threat from proposed EU legislation against copper-based fungicides. NFU organic committee chairman Oliver Dowding said that: “The legislation for the removal of copper as a fungicide will cut output (of organic systems) from 60% of conventional crops to just 40%. Even with a 100% organic premium you can do the simple maths and see growers are going to be worse off.” Farmer’s Weekly reported Dowding as saying that alternatives to copper needed to be identified immediately." (just-food.com) [Complete]

"Indianapolis Star - Home is where toxins may lurk, activists say" - "Karen Terrell thought she had an earth-friendly home. She recycled aluminum cans and plastic jugs; she promptly took her toxic products -- cleaners, batteries, paints, solvents and oils -- to hazardous waste collection sites; she was careful in using bug spray. But a basement-to-attic examination uncovered potential problems in her 94-year-old Near-Northside house: Flaking lead-based paint in a stairwell and closet could be dangerous to children, and mold and mildew on damp basement walls could release lung-irritating spores. Those are the types of problems that make the home the new front for environmental activists."

"billingsgazette.com - Reservation housing a danger, group says" - "BROWNING (AP) - A citizen's group says mold and toxic chemicals from the wooden foundations in more than 200 government-financed houses are poisoning residents, and they demand that the houses be replaced."

"statesman.com | It's getting easier to be green" - "From the street, the stately new two-story brick house on a quiet street in Circle C Ranch appears no different than any other house in any other mid-priced Central Texas subdivision. But beneath the carpeting, the pad is recycled. The wall studs are made of engineered lumber, which takes less wood than standard studs. Double-pane windows, a programmable thermostat and a sheath of Styrofoam insulation within its walls all save energy. Extended roof overhangs and a large front porch keep the house cool. An air-cleaning system and a special fresh-air ventilator help improve air quality; a filtration system purifies water in the kitchen. There's a built-in recycling bin in the kitchen. The $291,000 house built by Newmark Homes is a classic example of how so-called green building techniques are going mainstream."

"San Francisco Chronicle - Insurance crisis comes to state Home insurance crisis looms" - "Mold has been a problem since mankind moved indoors. It's caused by moisture trapped behind walls, ceilings and floors. Left alone, it can cause health problems. In the past couple years, insurance companies say mold claims have been growing like a fungus. Some people blame new construction materials and energy- saving building codes that make homes more airtight. Others say consumers are simply becoming more aware of the problem."

"Erin Brockovich, the Brand" - "There are few people alive today who have gotten a better deal from Hollywood than Erin Brockovich. Steven Soderbergh's 2000 film, an anthem to Brockovich's legal crusade against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company for toxic dumping in Hinkley, Calif., turned her name into a brand for flinty righteousness. Julia Roberts, who won an Oscar for playing her, needed a water-padded bra to get her dimensions right. All this has left Brockovich with an undeniably powerful, albeit peculiar, kind of fame." (New York Times)

"Kala-azar a serious public health problem - The Times of India" - "PATNA: A Union health ministry report on kala-azar situation in Bihar says that 196 persons had died of the disease during the first nine months of 2001, an increase of 66 over the previous year. The report describes kala-azar as a serious public health problem in north Bihar and few districts along the Ganga in south Bihar. As many as 33 out of the 38 districts of the state are affected by kala-azar.

The Modified Kala-azar Control Programme was launched in the state on June 16 last year and the Centre released a cash assistance of Rs 70 lakh to the state government on June 11, 2001 to meet the operational cost of the DDT spray. The state government could spray DDT in Patna, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Saran, Nalanda and Madhepura districts only, the report says. This despite the fact, that the Centre had released 1,053 metric tonne (MT) of DDT during 1997-98, 800 MT during 1998-99 and 850 MT each during 1999-2000, 2000-2001 and 2001-2002. The spray was, however, found to be unfit in about 63 sample houses, according to the report."

"Arizona Republic - Gilbert pesticide use questioned" - "A pesticide under review by the EPA for its possible links to cancer is being sprayed twice weekly to control mosquitoes in more than 40 Gilbert parks, schoolyards and neighborhoods. No other Valley communities are fogged so frequently with malathion. Maricopa County handles mosquito complaints in most other Valley areas and is reducing its use of the pesticide in favor of less-toxic alternatives."

"More vets on Gulf nerve gas list" - "WASHINGTON — The Defense Department says an additional 829 military personnel may have been exposed to deadly gases when an Iraqi chemical weapons depot was destroyed during the Gulf War. Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, chief of staff for the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, Medical Readiness and Military Deployments, said the number was increased after veterans contacted Pentagon officials to tell them their locations when the depot exploded." (AP)

"Research suggests some headaches linked to common germ" - "MILAN, Italy - Some headaches may be linked to infection with a common bug and daily doses of friendly bacteria could ward them off, preliminary research suggests. A study presented Friday at an infectious diseases conference found that about 18 percent of chronic migraine sufferers were infected with the stomach bug helicobacter pylori and antibiotics appeared to clear the headaches. Adding the friendly bacteria Lactobacillus seemed to work even better, leaving most people migraine-free for a year and lessening the intensity and frequency of recurring headaches in the others, the lead researcher said. Experts were cautiously receptive to the idea but said the findings were too tentative to draw any firm conclusions." (AP)

"US activists demand lawyers for chimps" - "Animal activists in the United States have launched a new campaign to let chimpanzees go to court. The Chimpanzee Collaboratory says that chimpanzees are so close to humans - sharing 98.7% of our genetic make-up - that they deserve to get the same kind of legal representation as children. Campaigners say this would let activists act as legal guardians for the chimps, potentially lodging law suits against researchers and animal entertainers." (BBC News Online) | Chimps should have right to attorney, say campaigners (Independent)

"Cats, dogs and budgies to get ‘bill of rights’" - "BRITAIN’S pets are set to get their own “bill of rights”. Ministers are planning legislation that would guarantee cats, dogs and other pets a minimum quality of life. Under the rules owners could be prosecuted if they failed to give pets what they needed — ranging from adequate food and water to enough space and companionship. The legislation would be the biggest change in Britain’s animal welfare rules for almost a century. It could include codes of conduct for owners of cats, dogs, horses, rabbits and birds." | Flopsy and Fido know their rights (Sunday Times)

"Guardian Unlimited Observer | Review | The end of the world is nigh..." - "Robin McKie on Edward O Wilson's lament for a dying planet and the first book for the general reader from the godfather of modern biology, Ernst Mayr"

"Warming up to the truth -- The Washington Times" - "For a long time now - indeed, since the first Earth Day in 1970 - self-styled environmentalists have been warning the rest of us that our planet is spinning its way toward ecological Armageddon. It's a depressing litany: Melting glaciers, rising temperatures, violent weather, crop failures and nearly all of it, we're told, the fault of human beings engaged in such unforgivable activities as creating businesses, driving cars and, well, breathing."

"Scientists on snowmobiles explore clues to Arctic warming" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A group of scientists rode snowmobiles more than 700 miles across Alaska to better understand how snow interacts with the atmosphere, and perhaps find clues to global warming. Every few miles, members of the SnowSTAR 2002 expedition hopped off their snowmobiles, started digging snow pits and conducting experiments. By trek's end late Thursday, the six-member team had dug about 400 pits between Nome, a coastal city in west Alaska, and Barrow, the northernmost city in North America." (AP)

"BBC News | SCOTLAND | Fresh warning on climate change" - "Snow could become a thing of the past in Scotland as climate change drives up temperatures and causes the sea level to rise, according to weather experts. Scientists have suggested that the sea level around Scotland could rise by up to 60cm over the next 80 years while temperatures could increase by between 2.5 and 3.5C. A new forecast from the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) also warned that average snowfalls in Scotland could drop by up to 90%, with snowless winters becoming the norm in some regions."

"Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | World's weather hotter than ever" - "Temperatures in the south of England will resemble Bordeaux in France by 2080, say scientists, and most of Britain will be snow-free."

"Temperatures hotting up as warming fears confirmed - theage.com.au" - "The first three months of this year were the warmest globally since records began in 1860 and probably for 1000 years, according to British research. Although Australian temperatures were cooler than average for the same period, CSIRO researchers say the findings are consistent with global-warming models that predict Australian temperatures will soar by up to 7 degrees by 2070."

"BBC News | SCOTLAND | Coral's climate change clues" - "Corals from the depths of tropical waters may help scientists understand how rapidly the earth's climate has changed over thousands of years. Experts at the University of St Andrews have said their research could also uncover information which may be helpful in predicting climate change in the future. The scientists have been awarded £145,000 by the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) for a two year study into the way in which coral skeletons encode climate change over thousands of years."

"Killing Kyoto softly" - "This week, Jean Chrétien delivered assurances his government would ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming only if the provinces give their blessing. If the Prime Minister stays true to his word, the treaty is dead in this country: Most premiers want no part of it -- notwithstanding upcoming negotiations on how it might, theoretically, be implemented. The manoeuvre demonstrates the Liberals' commitment to the treaty was always more about politics than environmental protection. For the first two-and-a-half years after signing on to Kyoto, Ottawa tried to have its cake and eat it, too -- championing the treaty in principle, but also seeking loopholes that would allow Canada to avoid actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions." (National Post)

"NATIONAL POST ONLINE | Klein pushes for alternative to Kyoto plan" - "EDMONTON and VANCOUVER - Ralph Klein planted the seed yesterday for what he hopes will become a ''made-in-Canada alternative'' to the Kyoto Protocol, proposing a first ministers' conference where Canadian leaders could devise their own response to global warming. The idea of a meeting won instant favour from several premiers, including B.C.'s Gordon Campbell, Nova Scotia's John Hamm and Gary Doer of Manitoba -- all of whom are anxious to discuss the agreement's potential impact on their economies. ''The issue for me has always been this: Let's understand what Kyoto is and how it works before we sign it,'' Mr. Campbell said in an interview yesterday."

"Ottawa eyes 10¢/litre gas tax" - " - "OTTAWA - The federal government plans to go to a two-day ministerial summit on the Kyoto Protocol on climate change with a wide-ranging set of policy options that includes a proposed 10¢-a-litre gasoline tax. The proposed gas increase was discussed this week by senior Cabinet ministers as one way to pay the costs of implementing the international treaty. The tax proposal is only one idea contained in a package of options expected to form the basis of discussions with provincial energy and environment ministers on May 21-22 in Charlottetown." (National Post)

"Ministers deny gasoline tax is being considered to fund Kyoto treaty" - "OTTAWA -- Senior Liberal cabinet ministers have categorically denied a report that Ottawa is considering an increase in gasoline taxes to pay for costs of implementing the Kyoto climate treaty. Nor are they supporting Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's proposal for a first ministers' conference to deal with controversy over ratification of the Kyoto protocol." (CP)

"NATIONAL POST ONLINE | Fuel tax talk drives Kyoto opposition" - "OTTAWA - Lorne Taylor, Alberta's Minister of the Environment, believes the federal government's discussion of a 10¢-a-litre gasoline tax is creating an opportunity for Alberta to have its alternative plan to the Kyoto Protocol accepted by other provinces. Mr. Taylor said Alberta's alternative plan -- to be presented at a federal-provincial meeting in mid-May -- can reduce greenhouse gas emissions without the need for something like a fuel tax."

" Calgary Herald - Kyoto debate fuels clean energy drive " - "If nothing else, the Kyoto Protocol has people talking about the environment. Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal is thinking of forcing oil companies to mix ethanol into gasoline. Ottawa is also contemplating subsidies for reinsulation of homes and replacing inefficient washers and dryers. The Alberta government is working on a made-in-Canada version of the U.S. Clean Air Act to encourage industry to adopt energy-efficient technology, rather than punishing business for emitting greenhouse gases."

"Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Big oil's green evangelist" - "Daughter of a labourer, a former schoolteacher and a "person of colour", Paula Banks is no run-of-the-drill oil executive. She glories in the title of senior vice-president for social strategy and policy at BP, and her task is to convince the world that the British oil group is a born-again green organisation that puts its social responsibilities at the very top of its agenda. It is a far from simple mission when BP's business is at the heart of the global warming and climate change debate, when it is operating in countries in which human rights are not a given and when BP refuses to rule out drilling in the Arctic national wildlife reserve."

"Boston Globe Online Metro | Region Fine will pay for clean air, new park" - "Children in Boston neighborhoods where the asthma rate is nearly triple the state average will get some relief from school bus exhaust - thanks to a trash hauler nabbed for illegally crushing refrigerators. The federal penalty that Waste Management of Massachusetts has agreed to pay for releasing harmful chemicals into the air also includes money to clean up and develop parkland in East Boston and a $775,000 fine. The US Environmental Protection Agency discovered in July 1998 that for more than a year the company had been improperly disposing of appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners at its Somerville transfer station, releasing CFC's (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCFC's (hydro chlorofluorocarbons), which deplete the Earth's ozone layer."

"Post-Gazette - Environment striding toward center of political stage" - "WASHINGTON -- Last week's jousting over the environment between President Bush and former Vice President Al Gore might be a harbinger of a 2004 rematch, but it is certainly evidence both parties are listening to voters. The former rivals offered opposing policy statements on Earth Day with numbers like this hovering in the background: A CNN/Time poll this month found 43 percent of Americans supporting stronger environmental laws. Only one in five said current laws are too restrictive; 26 percent said current laws are adequate."

"White House Rejected a Stricter Alternative to Clear Skies Plan" - "In shaping President Bush's Clear Skies air pollution plan, the White House rejected a more stringent proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency." (New York Times)

"Senate backs Alaska gas subsidy" - "CALGARY - The Alaska natural gas pipeline, which was deemed uneconomic by a group of energy producers that was developing the project, has been given a big boost by a U.S. Senate bill that would subsidize it by guaranteeing a floor price." (Financial Post)

"Clean diesel buses" - "Does the District have $40 million to $45 million to waste tilting at environmental windmills? So it would seem, according to a just-released study that found Metro's $94.5 million "clean-running" natural gas-powered buses don't have much of an advantage in that respect over modern diesel-powered buses that run just as cleanly and cost half as much to operate." (Washington Times)

"Grants for solar-powered homes" - "Homeowners willing to switch to solar power could be in line for new "green grants" from the government. A total of £20m will be available from next week as part of a push to persuade thousands of Britons to use renewable energy. Anyone with a house will be eligible to apply for up to half the cost of installing solar panels to their roof. Government research suggests the £7,000-plus price tag for even the most basic system puts a lot of people off." (BBC News Online)

"Daily Yomiuri On-Line - New N-plants said needed to save GDP" - "The electric power industry has warned in an estimation, obtained by The Yomiuri Shimbun, that the country's gross domestic product will contract if it cannot go ahead with plans to build new nuclear power plants early this century. Electric power utilities in the country are now constructing three new nuclear power plants and plan to install 16 others, mostly targeted for completion in the 2010s."

"Gene defects emerge in all animal clones" - "A REVIEW of all the world’s cloned animals suggests that every one of them is genetically and physically defective. Ian Wilmut, co-creator of Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, published his findings this weekend." (Sunday Times)

"GM safety tests 'flawed'" - "Safety tests on genetically modified maize currently growing in Britain were flawed, it has emerged. The crop, T-25 GM maize, was tested in laboratory experiments on chickens. During the tests, twice as many chickens died when fed on T-25 GM maize, compared with those fed on conventional maize. This research was apparently overlooked when the crop was given marketing approval in 1996. Lord Alan Gray, who chairs the government's advisory committee on releases to the environment, voiced his concerns about the tests to BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme." (BBC News Online)

"Mystic farmers get grants for zodiac growing" - "BRITISH farmers are winning government grants to help them to convert to a mystical form of agriculture that requires crops to be planted in line with the movements of the moon." (Sunday Times)

April 26, 2002

"The Great Potato Chip Scare" - "Swedish scientists reported this week that eating potato chips may expose you to dangerously high amounts of the supposedly cancer-causing substance acrylamide. Not to worry, though. You’d choke on the chips before you croaked from the chemical." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Everything Gives You Cancer" - "According to some Swedish scientists, we can now add to the pantheon of homespun wisdom, alongside such notables as "Look both ways before crossing the street" and "Don't go out in the cold with wet hair," a new admonition -- "Bread kills." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Snack attack" - "French fry lovers and potato chip crunchers need not worry much that their favorite snack foods are "dangerous" — the blaring, alarm-sounding news reports about their supposedly cancer-causing qualities notwithstanding. Like so much of what passes for news these days, the report this week that eating chips, fries and other starchy foods cooked in oil may contribute to cancer is probably more hype than fact." (Washington Times)

"Facts About 'Functional Foods'" - "Foods that may have health benefits beyond the traditional nutrients that they contain are often called "functional foods." The concept of functional foods has become popular in recent years, first in Japan and later in other countries, including the U.S. In the U.S., the term "functional foods" has no official, universally accepted definition. Foods don't have to pass any test or meet any standard in order to be described as "functional." (ACSH)

Doh! "Declining physical activity levels are associated with increasing obesity" - "A series of cross-sectional surveys of Finnish men and women were conducted with the aim of assessing the relationship between lifestyle variables and increased obesity over a 15-year period. Food choices, physical activity levels, alcohol consumption, and smoking history were investigated for their associations with body mass index (BMI) and obesity in 24,604 subjects. The results underscore the importance of regular exercise to maximize the chances of maintaining a normal weight. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

II: "High-intensity physical training improves cardiovascular fitness in obese adolescents" - "In a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition of obese adolescents, Gutin et al. investigated whether lifestyle education by itself, or in combination with moderate- or with high-intensity physical training, provided the most significant advantages in the fitness and body composition of juveniles." (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

"Suits Probe Acne Drug, Depression; First jury trial brings a defense win; plaintiffs' lawyers voice confidence" - "The first jury trial over products liability claims that the acne medication Accutane causes depression has ended in a defense verdict. But plaintiffs' attorneys in other lawsuits against the makers of Accutane contend this defense win for Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. in Oklahoma will have no impact on the prospects of future trials or the filing of additional claims." (Law.com)

"High-flier says handyman filler destroyed his life - smh.com.au" - "A high-flying Sydney futures broker who used a handyman filler made by Selleys to stop a chimney draught is suing for $750,000 damages, claiming the product left him brain damaged, destroyed his marriage and career."

"Weed killer ingredient may treat malaria" - "BERLIN, Apr 25 - A chemical used in weed-killer could provide a cheap, fast-acting and safe treatment for malaria, German researchers report. The drug, fosmidomycin, has successfully been used in a preliminary study to treat more than 100 adults and children with the most serious form of malaria, caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum." (Reuters Health)

"Expert Says Asbestos Slightly Raised Risks for Disease Among Residents of Lower Manhattan" - "The risk of asbestos-related disease, including cancer, has risen slightly for tens of thousands of people in Lower Manhattan as a result of the collapse of the World Trade Center, a prominent New York physician said yesterday." (New York Times)

"Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - SIDS, infection could be linked" - "MILAN, Italy -- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, in which apparently healthy babies die inexplicably in their cribs, may be linked to infection with a common bacterium, preliminary research suggests. Researchers told a conference on infectious diseases yesterday that a shock-producing byproduct of E. coli was found in the blood of all SIDS babies tested, but in none of the infants used as a comparison. Experts not connected with the research said the toxic infection theory is plausible."

"The Seattle Times: Local News: Shelter to halt sale of animals to WSU" - "PULLMAN — The Spokane County animal shelter will stop selling live cats and dogs to Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine because too many invasive procedures are being conducted on the animals. The shelter will continue to provide animal cadavers to the school for teaching purposes, said county animal-control director Nancy Hill. The agency's decision was sparked by a phone call from a WSU veterinary student concerned about the number of surgeries and other procedures animals went through before being euthanized, Hill said. "Then we got a call from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and we got posted on their Web site," she said. That led to more calls from individuals and agencies around the state."

Bob Mankoff cartoon comment

"Color of ocean yields global warming clues" - "A green ocean is a productive ocean; the light from the sun helps the phytoplankton -- tiny ocean plants -- to be productive. This production in turn drives ocean food webs. New research, published in Science on April 26, assesses the color of the ocean and finds that key ecosystem parameters describing marine food web function are nearly constant across the North Atlantic Ocean. The research is expected to yield clues about the carbon cycle and global warming." (University of California - Santa Barbara)

"Satellite data to predict plankton blooms by analyzing ocean color" - "Scientists analyzing satellite data on ocean color are gaining new insights into ocean productivity and climate." (NSF)

"Los Angeles Times - The Hot New Trend: Climate Control" - "When Ellie Rogers talks to customers in Ann Arbor, Mich., she often dwells as much on the dangers of global warming as on the virtues of her cosmetics and biodegradable kitchen cleaners. "It may seem like a stretch," allows Rogers. "But I'll ask if they've noticed how hot it has been. And I'll ask if they're concerned about that. And eventually, I'll tell them how more than 2,000 leading scientists around the world say it's a human responsibility, that we're causing this weather change. "I'm a pest about it," says Rogers, 73. Yet she's also convinced that, far from turning people away from her sales pitch, her apocalyptic warnings warm them up to it. The marketing experts at her company, Shaklee Corp., agree. "Global warming is an ice-breaker," sums up Ken Perkins, who masterminds the approach at the firm's Pleasanton, Calif., headquarters."

"2002 'warmest for 1,000 years'" - "THE first three months of this year were the warmest globally since records began in 1860 and probably for 1,000 years, scientists said yesterday." (Telegraph) | Britain goes to extremes as the world warms up (The Times) | BBC News | SCI TECH | Record warm start to 2002 | Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | World's weather hotter than ever

"Climate chaos means rain clouds on the horizon" - "TODAY’S long-range forecast: slightly wetter with fewer, more concentrated spells of rain, more chance of flooding, sea levels rising to threaten low-lying coastal areas, average temperatures up by 5C, the prospect of snowless winters and a much longer growing season - welcome to Scotland 2080. Those enjoying the current unseasonal, but most welcome, heat might argue that when a weather forecast 24 hours ahead is suspect, why trust one by the UK Climate Impacts Programme eight decades beyond our ken?" (The Scotsman)

"Klein calls for first ministers' meeting to come up with alternative to Kyoto" - "EDMONTON -- Canada's first ministers should come up with a new plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as an alternative to the Kyoto accord, Premier Ralph Klein says. Klein said he is heartened by Prime Minister Jean Chretien's recent comments that suggest Ottawa won't ratify Kyoto without the agreement of the premiers." (CP)

"Meet our conditions or reject Kyoto: Alberta environment minister" - "OTTAWA - Alberta's environment minister says the federal government should not implement the Kyoto Accord unless his province gets credit for shipping clean energy exports to the United States. Lorne Taylor told CBC Radio that Alberta does not want the federal Liberals to ratify the treaty, which lays out a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, unless the conditions requested by Alberta are met." (CBC)

"Globe and Mail | Kyoto impact estimates vary widely; Could add $5-billion or cost economy $23-billion in 2012, federal-provincial estimates suggest" - "OTTAWA -- The Kyoto Protocol could cost Canadians as much as $23-billion in 2012 alone in a worst-case scenario, or it could add $5-billion to the economy that year in an ideal situation, long-awaited federal-provincial estimates suggest. The scenarios in a working-group report obtained by The Globe and Mail offer the clearest indication yet that there is no consensus on the final costs to Canadians of ratifying the international deal to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The politically charged estimates of additional, or lost, economic growth under Kyoto will satisfy both skeptics and supporters of the pact in Ottawa and the provinces because they yield wildly divergent numbers."

"Carter Holt wants deal after Kyoto" - "If New Zealand ratifies the Kyoto Protocol, Carter Holt Harvey will press for a deal with the Government to mitigate the impact on its existing mills and any new ones. Chief executive Chris Liddell told the annual general meeting in Wellington yesterday that Kyoto, an international treaty which aims to curb greenhouse gas emissions, could severely hurt New Zealand's attractiveness as a destination for investment in the processing sector of the forestry industry. The industry would need some $6 billion of further investment over the next 20 years if it was to maximise the potential of the coming "wall of wood." (New Zealand Herald)

"California Scheming" - "The Washington Post first reported internal memos revealing that the vocal "global warming" movement and its 1997 Kyoto Protocol were fruit of a stealthy and extensive corporate lobbying campaign. The ringleader? Enron (surprise!). The memos disclosed that "green" groups were courted, funded and even created to spread the gospel that man is killing the planet by burning fossil fuels, a malady Enron offered to mitigate through its natural gas, windmill and solar ventures. Now similar schemes, cloaking issues in green to garner political influence and economic advantage, are arising in the market for fueling America's automobility." (Christopher C. Hormer, TCS)

"Newsday.com - Memo Shows Influence of Lobbyist" - "WASHINGTON -- When President Bush reversed his campaign stance on regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, he said the nation's energy problems -- not pressure from energy industry lobbyists -- changed his mind. Documents released by the Bush administration Thursday in response to a court order shed light on the intense pressure the new president was under. Two weeks before Bush's decision, lobbyist Haley Barbour virtually papered the White House, from Vice President Dick Cheney on down, with a memo suggesting the president must provide a sound energy policy by not taking action against carbon dioxide."

"Independent study says politics has pre-empted science in assessing risks of Yucca Mountain - 4 26 2002 - ENN.com" - "WASHINGTON — A decision on Yucca Mountain as the nation's nuclear waste dump should be postponed until more is known about its geology and how human-made barriers will perform over thousands of years, an independent study of the proposed site says. "A project of this importance ... should not go forward until the relevant scientific issues have been thoughtfully addressed," two researchers argue in an article to be published Friday in Science magazine. The study maintains that politics has overtaken science as the Bush administration has approved the Nevada site for the storage of 77,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste without, they argue, a final decision on its design, nor certainty as to the long-term performance of the mountain or the devices being used to contain the waste."

"Safe, secure and inexpensive power from newest generations of nuclear reactors" - "Despite the bad press that nuclear reactors earned in past years, researchers writing for the latest issue of Physics Today magazine report that more and more people are reconsidering nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuel. In fact, President George Bush's National Energy Policy explicitly supports expansion of nuclear power, in contrast to the policies of previous presidential administrations. The primary reasons for the shift in opinion stem from concerns for the environment and interest in enhancing national energy self-sufficiency. At the moment, nuclear and hydroelectric power are the only technologies that can generate large amounts of energy without emitting copious greenhouses gases. Although dams may initially seem more appealing than nuclear reactors, hydroelectric power plants are impractical in the many regions that lack adequate sources of flowing water. That means nuclear power stands alone as a practical and environmentally friendly resource that is not tied to local geography." (American Institute of Physics)

"azcentral.com - Senate OKs Major Overhaul of Energy Policy" - "WASHINGTON - The Democratic-led Senate approved legislation on Thursday to carry out the first major overhaul of U.S. energy policy in a decade, with greater focus on alternative fuels and energy conservation. The Senate bill, which passed 88 to 11 and includes $14 billion in tax breaks and subsidies, differs greatly from energy legislation approved last year by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Senators rejected President Bush's proposal to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, the centerpiece of the White House's national energy plan. The House bill would allow drilling in the wildlife refuge area and has a $33 billion package of energy tax credits and subsidies, more than double the amount in the Senate legislation. The House bill also pushes more oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power with less attention to alternative fuels and conservation. Senate and House negotiators are expected to spend months trying to work out differences in the two energy bills. It remains unclear if lawmakers can agree this year on a final energy package that can be sent to the White House."

"Energy Bill Favors SUVs, Farmers" - "WASHINGTON -- Motorists can rest assured that their gas-guzzling SUVs won't be threatened by new energy legislation moving through Congress. And there's good news there too for farmers and wind turbine operators. But environmentalists are in an uproar, and California lawmakers predict gasoline shortages and price spikes." (AP)

"Agencies at Odds Over Wyoming Methane Project" - "WASHINGTON -- The Denver office of the Environmental Protection Agency is threatening to give the Interior Department a failing grade for blessing a massive methane drilling project in northeastern Wyoming, according to draft documents. EPA and Interior documents obtained by The Times provide a rare view into the internal discord sparked by President Bush's mandate to expedite and increase energy production from federal lands." (Los Angeles Times)

"ctnow.com: New Deal Tightens Rules For Sooty Six" - "After five years of disputes and defeats, lawmakers and environmentalists reached a bipartisan agreement Thursday with Gov. John G. Rowland to tighten emission standards at six of Connecticut's oldest and dirtiest power plants. Within three hours of the announcement, the state House of Representatives passed the bill, 134-15, that is intended to reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide emitted from the so-called Sooty Six plants by 2005. Rowland, who last year vetoed a similar proposal, is "very much looking forward" to signing the new bill if the details remain the same, spokesman Chris Cooper said."

"ctnow.com: Wind Blows Pollution In From China" - "Wind-borne pollution from China and neighboring countries is spreading to the United States and Canada as a result of surging economic activity and destructive farming practices half a world away. Recent research shows that a mix of pollutants, from dust to ozone to toxic chemicals, travels farther than once realized. As one example, a third of all the mercury pollution in the United States comes from fossil fuel burning in Asia, scientists say."

"Los Angeles Times - Car Makers' Vintage Whine" - "When regulators began cleaning up auto exhaust 30 years ago, the reaction from the car makers was that it couldn't be done. When cars were required to have catalytic converters, one industry executive said the cost could mean "business catastrophe."

And here they go again. The same hyperventilated claims are being made in Sacramento as the state Senate considers AB 1058, by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). The measure requires the state Air Resources Board to adopt standards for controlling carbon dioxide in auto emissions, a modest but important effort to attack the problem of global warming. True, California can't stop global warming on its own, but it can lead the pack in cleaning up emissions, as it always has."

Great - good old California - always assuming that atmospheric CO2 is other than beneficial (a moot point but, hey, you can always hitch a lift eh guys - just like you can always buy electrickery from out of state).

Uh-huh... "Globe and Mail | The environment is under attack, but there is hope. We may be headed to a pollution-free hydrogen economy" - "The world really is changing at breakneck speed, but it's not at all clear if it's for the better or for worse. The worse is pretty easy to catalogue, and a number of prominent speakers did just that at the recent GLOBE 2002 conference in Vancouver, organized by the GLOBE Foundation of Canada, on the Business of the Environment. As shown by the quick disintegration of the massive Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica, the global climate may be changing, for reasons we don't fully understand, with unforeseen consequences."

"Biomass benefits in need of higher profile" - "HELEN McKay of the Forestry Commission’s policy and practice division says that the argument in favour of biomass - including forestry wood-fuel, short rotation coppice and agricultural by-products such as straw - must be made "very strongly" if it is to be recognised. At a meeting in Huntly this week, she said: "If we could get a heat target as well as an electricity target, for example, biomass would win hands down over wind and tide. But margins are going to be very tight and it is up to the forestry and agricultural sectors to work together to taker advantage of a funding ‘window’ which will not be open for long. The sector will also need to introduce efficiencies." (The Scotsman)

"Rail no greener than road, truckers' study finds" - "BRUSSELS - Transferring freight from road to rail is only slightly better for the environment and is not the cure-all that European Union politicians claim it to be, the trucking lobby said in a new study yesterday. A report commissioned by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) found that factors such as road distances to rail terminals, less than full train loads and wasted space on trains meant energy savings compared to road were often marginal." (Reuters)

Book Review: "Ethics and ecofascism; Designer Food: Mutant Harvest or Breadbasket of the World" - "Gregory Pence teaches bioethics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the United States, and he is no stranger to controversy. His views on human cloning, where he argued that it is wrong to rule out the potential for such procedures and portrayed opponents of cloning as 'genetic fatalists' who cannot entertain new ideas and scientific progress, made him a target for quite vitriolic censure.

His new book, Designer Food: Mutant Harvest or Breadbasket of the World, will similarly upset the 'naturalists' and those who oppose even modest applications of science and technology as a means of improving the human condition. It is not so much what Pence has to say, but more the clarity with which he expresses his views - a rare and refreshing exception from the normally more cautious and hedging style of bioethicists. He simply does not mince his words. Take, for example, his analysis of one of the leading groups opposed to GM foods:

"How has Greenpeace International arrived at the morally bankrupt position that preserving plants is more important than feeding millions of starving humans? What has gone terribly wrong in the ethical footing of this elitist organization that it has slipped to this terrible place?" (Peter Marsh, Social Issues Research Centre)

"Scientists Clone Calf From Dead Cow" - "ATLANTA - Savoring a juicy, high-quality steak? Maybe someday you'll be able to order up a duplicate of the best piece of beef you've ever eaten. Scientists at the University of Georgia have produced the first calf cloned from cells of a slaughtered cow, a breakthrough they say will allow cattle producers to select and clone the choicest beef from their stock. The researchers on Thursday introduced K.C., a healthy female Angus-Hereford cross delivered earlier this week. Her genetic material was extracted from the kidney region of a cow two days after it was killed." (AP)

"Single gene leap led to flea-borne transmission of plague bacterium" - "A single gene change in a relatively benign recent ancestor of the bacterium that causes bubonic plague played a key role in the evolution of the deadly disease, researchers report in the April 26 issue of the journal Science. By acquiring this gene, the bacterium gradually changed from a germ that causes a mild human stomach illness acquired via contaminated food or water to the flea-borne agent of the "Black Death," which in the 14th century killed one-fourth of Europe's population." (NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

"Support for US government's National Biotechnology Week" - "Last week’s US Senate resolution to declare this week, 21-28 April, 2002, National Biotechnology Week, has been welcomed by The Alliance for Better Foods, an organisation which aims to raise support for biotechnology. In a statement the Alliance said that the unanimously passed Senate Resolution 243 reflected the growing recognition for the benefits of biotechnology - both in combating world hunger and in the development of more nutritious foods." (FoodNavigator)

"GE farmers may not want other crops too close" - "Farmers seeking buffer zones around GE crops are likely to have to make similar concessions on their own land to avoid "contaminating" the engineered crops. Farmers seeking buffer zones around genetically-engineered crops on their neighbours' properties - when commercial releases of GE plants are eventually allowed - are likely to have to make similar concessions on their own land to avoid "contaminating" the engineered crops. New Zealand has not yet had any commercial releases of GE crops, but a former chief executive of Crop and Food Research, Mike Dunbier, said today he expected growers of high-value GE crops would be very keen to avoid "contamination" from pollen or seed of neighbours' conventional crops. Any standards set for buffer zones to keep GE pollen or seeds out of conventional or organic crops would have to be reciprocal, with farmers growing GE crops able to claim similar crop spacings." (NZPA)

April 25, 2002

Must be 'food concern' day:

"Bread and crisps in cancer risk scare" - "Staple foods including bread, chips and crisps, may contain high levels of a substance believed to cause cancer, a study suggests. Tests showed they all contain high quantities of acrylamide, a chemical which is classified as a probable human carcinogen. Researchers in Sweden found acrylamide was formed when carbohydrate-rich foods such as potatoes, rice or cereals are heated. Such foods could pose a potential health risk to millions of people around the world. The research was deemed so important that scientists took the unusual step of going public with their findings before the details had been officially published in an academic journal." (BBC News Online)

Tomorrow's FoxNews.com column by the Junkman will tell you how many chips you need to eat per day for life to increase your cancer risk -- that is, assuming human cancer risk can even be predicted from lab animal tests.

"SCIENTISTS DEPLORE LATEST FOOD-CANCER SCARE" - ""There is no compelling evidence which supports today's claim by Swedish researchers that fried or baked foods high in starch introduces chemicals which increase the risk of human cancer," according to the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), a nonprofit, consumer education consortium of physicians and scientists based in New York City.

"We are deeply concerned that Americans will unnecessarily worry about safe, nutritious foods after hearing today's news," said Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, President of ACSH.

"The claim that acrylamide, found in common foods such as potatoes and bread, after cooking, poses a human cancer risk is based exclusively on high dose studies in laboratory animals. There is no evidence whatever that humans who eat the observed levels of acrylamide are exposed to any risk of any type of cancer," noted Dr. Whelan.

"Over the past thirty years, scientists have become far more sophisticated in interpreting the findings of high dose animal ingestion studies," Dr. Whelan added, "indeed the more we test naturally occurring chemicals present in food, the more we note that they, too, can increase cancer risk in the laboratory--but we have no reason to believe they play a role in the causation of human cancer.

"ACSH publishes a typical holiday menu of natural foods--from soup to nuts, noting that if Thanksgiving dinner were subject to food scares about "animal carcinogens" even natural foods would be banned." (see http://www.acsh.org/publications/booklets/menu99.html )

"ACSH does not reject the role of animal testing in predicting human cancer risk, but it is important to note that animal tests on one or two species do not provide convincing evidence of human cancer risk," observed Dr. Gilbert Ross, ACSH's Medical Director.

"Food is a highly emotional subject," said Dr. Whelan, "and the news reports resulting from the alarmist study only proves that a rumor about food safety can be half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on." ACSH urges consumers to evaluate the news about 'carcinogens' in potatoes, bread and other food--with great skepticism. "

There is no evidence whatever that chemicals in the American diet--whether from natural or synthetic sources--contribute to the toll of human cancer in the United States." (ACSH)

"Consumer confusion over "natural" foods a cause for concern" - "The National Consumers League (NCL) has expressed concern over the fact that 86% of US consumers believe that products carrying the label “natural” believe that they must also be safe. A report in the NCL’s last Bulletin detailed the results of a national random survey commissioned by the NCL in a bid to discover how Americans view label claims. The report said that consumers were being lead to assume the wrong things, and that greater regulation of product labels and definitions is needed. According to NCL, products labelled or advertised as "natural" are not guaranteed to be any more safe than equivalents without the "natural" label." (just-food.com) [Complete]

"EU project tackles food-borne pathogens" - "It is a fact that the diversity of food-borne pathogens is increasing in Europe, as well as globally. One explanation for this increase is environmental stress factors, such as food preservation methods, that leads to changes in genotypes and consequently enhanced survival, resistance, or virulence in the pathogens.

To tackle the problem, an on-going European funded ‘Quality of Life’ project is currently investigating a simple method for purifying DNA from bacterial cultures in order to establish a central databank of DNA sample materials and key food-pathogen DNA sequences.

The project was motivated by the clear need for improved methods to detect and identify the pathogens complex. For example, a recent US survey revealed that only 18 per cent of 76 million illnesses every year in USA are caused by known pathogens. (FoodNavigator)

"The Most Sustainable Farming in History Gives the World Its Finest Food Choices; A Response to The Johns Hopkins University Authors" - "A group of academics from Johns Hopkins University says the world should abandon the high-yield science-based agriculture that has doubled the world’s food supply in 50 years, increased per capita calories for Third World people by more than 30 percent, reduced soil erosion per ton of food to the lowest levels in history—and saved an estimated 16 million square miles of wildlands (equal to the world’s total forest area) from being plowed for low-yield crops." (Dennis T. Avery, Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues)

Notice (as provided) "Growing More Per Acre Leaves More Land For Nature" - "Press conference next Tuesday, April 30th, with Dr. Norman Borlaug, Dr. Patrick Moore (co-founder of Greenpeace) and Mr. Eugene Lapointe launching High-Yield Conservation Declaration.

High-yield farming -- the Green Revolution -- has been a significant environmental and humanitarian triumph. Since the 1960's it has led to better lives and prevented the deaths and malnourishment of billions of people. Additionally, the Green Revolution's higher yields have protected millions of square miles from being put under plow for food production, thereby saving large amounts of natural habitats for biologically diverse plant and animal species. In the same way, high-yield forestry reduces logging pressures on wild forests.

The world's population is likely to rise to nine billion people in the coming decades. Global demand for food and forest products will double. Yet we are already taking more than one-third of the planet's total land area for farming. Thus, the greatest threat to the Earth's biodiversity is habitat loss through the conversion of natural ecosystems to farmland.

Additional high-yield practices based on advances in biology, ecology, chemistry, and technology are critically needed to improve the human condition and preserve our natural environment." (Alice Killian <cgfi@rica.net> Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues)

"Newsday.com - Bill would bar Hudson sediment dumping in Niagara County" - "ALBANY, N.Y. -- It is unclear where PCB-laden sediments dredged from the Hudson River will end up, but legislators from one western New York county say they know where they don't want them. A bill has been introduced in the state Legislature prohibiting the storage or disposal of contaminated Hudson silt in Niagara County."

"Supreme Court Deals a Blow to Property Rights" - "The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Constitution does not require governments to pay compensation to landowners when agencies temporarily prohibit them from building on their land, a decision that strengthens the hand of environmental regulators against the "property rights" movement, according to The Washington Post." (Cato Institute)

"When to Pay for Land 'Takings'" - "A supreme Court ruling this week left no doubt that on the issue of property rights, the nine justices engage in intellectual combat inside their private chambers. Just reading their written decisions on this case is like watching a wrestling match taking place under a rug. Property rights are a cornerstone of freedom and democracy, and yet social pressures to regulate land or take it for public use often serve the common good. Courts are left to find a balance between a clash of society's needs and the Constitution's protection of private property. And over the past 15 years, a more conservative high court has leaned toward the rights of property owners." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Biodiversity crucial to Earth's ecosystems" - "For more than half a century, ecologists have been aware of the devastating effects of species loss within an ecosystem. In a recent study, which is published in the April 25 issue of Nature, University of Chicago researchers have found that not only the number of species lost within the system, but also the identity of the species lost plays a vital role." (University of Chicago Medical Center)

"Tropical scientists find fewer species than expected" - "An eight-year National Science Foundation-funded study of New Guinean rainforest plants and the insects that feed on them has yielded a new and dramatically lower estimate of the number of species on the planet." (University of Minnesota)

"Picky eaters rare among tropical insects" - "The long-held belief that more than ten percent of tropical insect species feed on a specific plant host is revised by a team reporting their findings from six years of research in Papua New Guinea in the April 25, 2002 edition of the journal Nature. Previous estimates of global biodiversity may be as much as ten times too high because closely related plants tend to share insect herbivores." (Smithsonian Institution)

"Mortal Kombat's Decisive Wins" - "Mining products liability and First Amendment law, U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton of the District of Connecticut found no grounds to sue the makers of the "Mortal Kombat" video game in the stabbing death of 13-year-old Noah Wilson four and a half years ago." (Law.com)

"Germany: Schröder's Green Pals Are Crossing Him Up" - "Germany's Green Party took the nation by surprise when it joined Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's coalition government in 1998. Instead of middle-aged revolutionaries, the Greens turned out to be teachers, dentists, and middle managers who tempered their environmental activism with desire for lower taxes and less bureaucracy. Led by Joschka Fischer, Schröder's pragmatic Foreign Minister, the Greens helped push through $30 billion in tax cuts for corporations and individuals. "The Greens gave Schröder a counterweight against the Socialists in his own party," says Commerzbank economist Eckart Tuchtfeld." (Business Week)

Oh my! "Germany’s Green Party demands a powerful professional army" - "In the course of the current debate in Germany over the future of the country’s conscript army, the Green Party has emerged as the most vehement proponent of the re-emergence of German militarism and advocate of a professional army." (World Socialist Web Site)

"A Cockeyed Optimist Professes the Dismal Science" - "The Earth Institute at Columbia University combines the latest biology, population science and climate research. The institute's new director, Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs, happily admits to being 200-plus years behind the times in his world view. "I basically feel like an 18th-century Enlightenment optimist," he said. Is this a problem? Administrators at Columbia don't think so. They all but crowed from the rooftops at their success in luring Professor Sachs, a 47-year-old economist, away from Harvard earlier this month. Professor Sachs sees 18th-century thinking as a strength, and a means of avoiding despair, in his work on the problems of poverty, environmental degradation and disease in developing nations." (New York Times)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT; April 22, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 13" - "Dr. Terrence Joyce, who is chairman physical oceanography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, wrote an op-ed published in the April 18th edition of The New York Times. Dr. Joyce renewed public fear of global warming when he capitalized on the mid-April heat wave that had set record high temperatures across the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. over the course of a couple of weeks, previous. In printing his op-ed "The Heat Before the Cold," Times editors apparently felt it was time to spread what amounts to little more than global warming hype when they turned to Dr. Joyce to give them a good scare story. This is because they were unable to find anyone else to link the heat wave to global warming. From beginning to end, the piece is rooted in half-truth and old ways of thinking." (GES)

"ctnow.com: It May Be April, But It May As Well Be May " - " Have the sense that spring is getting ahead of itself this year? That's putting it mildly, no pun intended. Scientists and naturalists, amazed at the furious pace of spring, say it constitutes an acceleration of nature's deliberate ways not seen in perhaps 40 or more years. Many songbirds are migrating into the state two weeks early, while trees and shrubs are blossoming and leafing out weeks ahead of normal. Some wildflowers that ordinarily blossom in late April have bloomed, withered and disappeared already."

"Kyoto approval hinges on provinces, PM says" - "Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, said yesterday provincial approval is needed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, casting more doubt on his government's commitment to the international pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." (National Post)

"New Zealand Herald - Penguins dwindling as Antarctic iceberg blocks breeding ground" - "Penguin numbers on Ross Island in Antarctica have plunged in the past two years - but scientists are wary about drawing any long-term conclusions. Nelson scientist Dr Peter Wilson today told the New Zealand Antarctic Conference in Auckland that a huge iceberg the size of Sicily forced Adelie penguins to walk for 40 hours to their usual breeding grounds, and then blocked their access to fishing waters. Thousands of penguins died. Chick numbers crashed to 10 per cent of usual at Cape Bird and 2 per cent of normal at Cape Royds and Cape Crozier. "And those birds were so behind [in the breeding season] that we doubt any would have survived," he said. But the disaster followed 40 years of gradually rising penguin numbers on Ross Island, believed to be associated with global warming which is happening roughly twice as fast in Antarctica as elsewhere."

"Green roofs cool for summer, environmentalist says" - "Green roofs composed of special infrastructure to support soil and plants are better than conventional roofs at insulating homes in winter and keeping them cool in summer, according to preliminary study results at the University of Toronto." (University of Toronto)

"Bill: SUV Emissions Major Part Of World Pollution" - "The Golden State is going dry and your pickup truck is partially to blame, according to a bill making its way through the California legislature. To counteract the problem, the bill, authored by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Woodland Hills, would require the state to adopt regulations to cut emissions of sports utility-type vehicles." (KGTV TheSanDiegoChannel.com)

"ctnow.com: House Zaps Veto Of Power Line Moratorium; But Override Of Governor May Not Survive Senate" - " The state House of Representatives dealt a political setback to Gov. John G. Rowland Tuesday by voting to override his veto of a yearlong moratorium on the installation of new energy lines under Long Island Sound. The victory was expected to be short-lived."

"Times Online - Blowing in the wind; The debate over the utility of renewable energy" - "Britons are obsessed with their weather, yet are strangely slow to use it to their advantage. Although the UK has the greatest supplies of wind and wave energy in Europe, it is a decade behind most other EU countries in exploiting it. Germany has built 15 times the wind energy capacity of the UK, and this clean, cheap and renewable source accounts for just 0.38 per cent of our energy, compared with 18 per cent in Denmark."

"UK wind farms threatened by defence concern - report" - "LONDON - Britain's Ministry of Defence has blocked plans to build five offshore wind farms, jeopardising the government's renewable energy targets, the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) said yesterday." (Reuters)

"UCR scientists developing process to convert wet bio-waste into energy" - "Scientists at the University of California, Riverside are developing a way of converting "wet waste," such as sewage sludge and grass clippings, into synthetic diesel fuel and electricity in a move that could potentially reduce the need for landfill space and provide a cost-effective alternative to increasingly restricted land application. Dr. Colin Hackett, manager of the Alternative Fuels and Renewable Energy Program at UCR, is overseeing the research." (University of California - Riverside)

Workshop: "Genetic Engineering and the Intrinsic Value and Integrity of Animals and Plants" - "Wednesday 18th to Saturday 21st September 2002, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh" (International Forum for Genetic Engineering)

April 24, 2002

"Health Canada to ban bug repellents with high concentrations of DEET" - "OTTAWA - Health Canada is phasing out insect repellents with high concentrations of DEET by December of 2004. DEET is one of the most popular chemicals used against bugs. The department says even though DEET is a safe product, it will only allow bug repellents with less than 30 per cent concentration of DEET. Combination sunscreen/bug lotions won't be allowed at all." (CBC)

"Growth promoting hormones pose health risk to consumers, confirms EU Scientific Committee" - "The EU Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health (SCVPH) confirmed today that the use of hormones as growth promoters for cattle poses a potential health risk to consumers, following a review of 17 studies and other recent scientific data. Publishing its third opinion on the risks to human health from hormone residues in beef products, the SCVPH found no reason to change its previous opinions of 1999 and 2000." (SCVPH release)

"Behind the Headlines; What Laymen Should Know About Everyday Issues in Science and Health" - "Presentation by Gregory Conko, Director of Food Safety Policy, Competitive Enterprise Institute at the International Association of Culinary Professionals 24th Annual International Conference, San Diego, California, April 19, 2002" (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"Globe and Mail | Mittelstaedt | Study finds DDT may spur disease" - "Frogs given trace amounts of DDT and other pesticides experience a near-total collapse in their immune systems, a finding that could help explain the rise in human autoimmune diseases such as asthma and allergies, Canadian researchers say. The scientific team also says the work could shed light on the global decline in amphibians, animals that may no longer have strong enough immune systems to survive exposures to viruses and parasites."

Sure Marty. Say, uh... why are amphibians demonstrating similar declines (and chytridiosis) in areas where DDT/DDE is absent and the only known change is that biologists (and eco-tourists) are entering otherwise 'pristine' regions? Couldn't be that the biologists and 'leave-nothing-but-footprints' eco-tourists are actually the vectors for chytrid fungus and other amphibian diseases could it? And the massive increases in migratory birds, whose populations are so greatly enhanced by human agronomic enterprise, they couldn't be increasingly important amphibian disease vectors either eh?

"Animal antibiotics speed resistance in people" - "NEW YORK, Apr 23 - The use of antibiotics on farm animals is hastening drug resistance among humans, a new study concludes.

According to the results, published in the April 30th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, agricultural antibiotic use has a small effect on the prevalence of drug-resistant bacteria overall. However, it may accelerate the rate at which resistance develops in humans." (Reuters Health)

"AP Wire | 04 24 2002 | Most livestock waste lagoons in NU study didn't pollute groundwater" - "LINCOLN, Neb. - Most Nebraska livestock waste lagoons are not polluting groundwater, a two-year University of Nebraska study indicated. Researchers monitored 26 swine, dairy and beef cattle waste lagoons at 13 sites in central and eastern Nebraska. They tested nearby groundwater and lagoon water to assess the lagoons' potential threat to groundwater quality. "The majority of the waste lagoons in the study have not adversely impacted groundwater," said Roy Spalding, director of the university's Water Sciences Laboratory who headed this research. "This is particularly significant because of agriculture's importance to our state and to the public, considering roughly 85 percent of Nebraskans drink groundwater," he added."

"Swedish study finds cancer agent in staple foods" - "STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Scientists in Sweden have found high levels of a substance believed to cause cancer in staple foods eaten by millions of people around the world, such as bread, rice and potatoes, Swedish media reported Tuesday. Research carried out by scientists at Stockholm University's department of environmental chemistry showed starch, a carbohydrate found in cereals and potatoes, transforms into acrylamide when heated up, the daily newspaper Expressen reported on its Internet Web site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies acrylamide, a colorless, crystalline solid, as a medium hazard probable human carcinogen. Detailed findings of the Stockholm University pilot study would be made public at a news conference Wednesday called by Sweden's National Food Administration." (Reuters)

"UB study finds early nutritional modification programs metabolism, predisposes to obesity" - "Consuming a milk formula high in carbohydrates during the critical early weeks of postnatal life causes permanent changes in pancreatic islets and leads to overproduction of insulin and development of obesity in adulthood, University at Buffalo biochemists, working with rats, have found." (University at Buffalo)

"Jelly role model" - "Obesity is moving up the ranks of the world's public-health priorities. The World Health Organization says it is replacing undernutrition and disease as a major contributor to ill health. In Britain, the Public Accounts Committee has tabled a report estimating that it costs 30,000 lives a year and roughly $5-billion." (Globe and Mail)

"Atlantic Hurricanes: Their Response to Global Warming" - "Summary: We respond to some challenging critical comments made by Mike MacCracken about this topic." (co2science.org)

"Gulf of Mexico Landfalling Hurricanes" - "Summary: Are they becoming more frequent? Are they getting stronger? Are we all doomed? Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 79: 1327-1328." (co2science.org)

"A Drought History of Northern California and Nevada, USA" - "Summary: Information gleaned from sediment cores taken from Pyramid Lake, Nevada, suggests that a drought greater than any of the historical past could well envelop much of the country, independent of any of the activities of man. No wonder climate alarmists predict such catastrophes: they don't have to be right to have their predictions come to pass! Quaternary Science Reviews 21: 659-682." (co2science.org)

"Pollen Production by Ragweed in a Doubled-CO2 Atmosphere" - "Summary: Is it really enhanced? Yes. Is it really bad? No. Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology 88: 279-282." (co2science.org)

"Carbon Dioxide Benefit Offset by Increased Air Pollution" - "DURHAM, NH, April 23, 2002 - Professor Scott Ollinger of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at the University of New Hampshire and his colleagues have thrown a new wrench into the debate over whether forests can take in enough carbon dioxide to offset global warming. He finds, while the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide seems to increase plant growth and the ability of forests to act as carbon sinks, the simultaneous impacts of land use and ozone pollution decreases plant growth, often resulting in no net gain of carbon uptake." (EarthVision Environmental News)

"Greenpeace plans protests against ExxonMobil" - "AMSTERDAM - Greenpeace said on Monday it would target ExxonMobil in a new campaign to protest against what it said was the U.S. oil company's drive to have the controversial head of a U.N. climate advisory body removed." (Reuters)

"Climate body chief sees declining use of oil, coal" - "NEW DELHI - Global energy consumption will shift rapidly towards renewable sources as concerns of global warming rise and high oil prices fuel a shift to new sources, the new chief of the U.N. climate advisory body said." (Reuters)

Groan... "INTERVIEW - Small islands could drown, warns climate body chief" - "NEW DELHI - Imagine a world without the Maldives, or the Caribbean islands. According to the new chief of the U.N.'s climate advisory body small islands are in severe danger of drowning as climate change is expected to raise sea levels." (Reuters)

"Senate's Reid backs compromise on greenhouse gases" - "WASHINGTON - The Senate's second-ranking Democrat endorsed a compromise plan for U.S. companies to voluntarily report their greenhouse gas emissions for five years, shifting to mandatory reporting if companies fail to cooperate. The Republican-authored compromise would weaken a Democratic plan to require companies that emit more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon annually to register their output with the government." (Reuters)

"US farmland, forests can absorb greenhouse gases" - "WASHINGTON - An estimated 3.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, could be removed from the atmosphere by using farmland and forests to absorb it, a U.S. Energy Department researcher said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Globe and Mail | Provinces have Kyoto role, PM says; Protocol can be ratified at federal level, but premiers must co-operate on targets" - "OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said yesterday that Ottawa will need the co-operation of the provinces -- several of which have major reservations -- to implement some greenhouse-gas-reduction measures under the Kyoto Protocol. "We have to take the time, because for the implementation of Kyoto, we need the collaboration of the provinces. We don't have all the jurisdiction to do it," Mr. Chrétien told reporters yesterday after a cabinet meeting."

"Shipping CO2 could help Norway hit Kyoto targets" - "LONDON - Norwegian state oil company Statoil's shipping division believes it has engineered a revolutionary tanker design that could help the Scandinavian country meet U.N. carbon dioxide emission targets." (Reuters)

"US, EU at odds on global warming despite meeting" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. and European Union officials yesterday resolved none of their fundamental differences over how to respond to global warming, a U.S. State Department official said following a three-hour meeting." (Reuters)

"Business wants tax breaks to help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions" - "WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Business groups in New Zealand called for tax breaks Tuesday to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions to meet targets set by the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Early next week the government will outline its policy for meeting New Zealand's Kyoto greenhouse gas reduction targets and many observers expect it to impose a new tax on carbon emissions to make sure polluters cut their production of gases which are blamed for heating the atmosphere." (AP)

"Kyoto could save Canada billions, study finds" - "OTTAWA - Two environmental groups say Canada will save money and create jobs by implementing an international agreement on global warming." (CBC)

"Renewable Realities" - "In the realm of energy, as in card games, luck does not exist." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"Britain must invest in nuclear power - govt adviser" - "LONDON - Britain must invest in its nuclear power industry or it will fail to meet its goal of cutting emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for causing climate change, a government adviser said yesterday." (Reuters)

"House Panel Votes to Put Repository at Yucca Mountain" - "A House subcommittee voted overwhelmingly to override Nevada's objections to building a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain." (AP)

"US Senate to consider $14 bln in energy tax breaks" - "WASHINGTON - The Democratic-led U.S. Senate, struggling to complete work on a broad energy bill this week, agreed yesterday to consider a $14 billion package of tax breaks to boost renewable fuels, cut the energy used by appliances and find ways to make coal cleaner to use." (Reuters)

"Senate Backs More Ethanol; Nears Passage of Energy Bill" - "The Senate agreed to a package of tax incentives for energy production and conservation and voted to expand the amount of ethanol in the nation's gasoline." (New York Times)

"Europe Considers Financial Future for Renewable Energy" - "SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain, April 23, 2002 - More than 40 parliamentarians from throughout the European Union and accession countries met in this Spanish city over the weekend to discuss financial support mechanisms for renewable energy sources." (EarthVision Environmental News)

"The Macon Telegraph | 04 24 2002 | State holds first hearing on power plant pollution" - "SAVANNAH - Fifteen-year-old Katie Hall walked away disappointed from Tuesday's state environmental meeting on power plant pollution. For six months, she has suffered from asthma, and she wants to know if Savannah Electric's Plant Kraft is the cause. The coal-fired power plant, along with Plant Scherer outside Macon and Plant Bowen near Cartersville, is part of a federal lawsuit suggesting electricity production here was increased illegally, creating more pollution. The state will hold meetings next month in Cartersville and Macon, as it did in Savannah Tuesday, to hear residents' concerns. "Something in the air is causing me not to breathe," Hall said. "And I thought tonight I'd get those answers, but all I heard were different sides arguing which is right."

"Study gives edge to clean-diesel buses" - "A new study says the $94.5 million that Metro has spent on "environmentally friendly" natural-gas buses would have been better spent on diesel buses that operate just as cleanly — and cost about half as much." (Washington Times)

"Gas Mileage and Caribou" - "The environmental lobby in Washington fought like wolves to save the caribou in Alaska's Arctic wilderness from oil drilling. It even strongly backed a presidential aspirant, Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts, in his threatened filibuster against the pro-drilling bill. The tactic worked. Last week, the full Senate didn't even get to vote directly on the measure.

The heart-string issue of saving wilderness was used by many environmental groups to raise money and gain members through mass mailings. Perhaps this opportunity to exploit such an obviously emotional cause helps explain why the same lobby has been far less successful, and less diligent, in pushing a seemingly mundane issue with far more impact on the environment than saving a remote wildlife refuge: raising the nation's average gas mileage." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Business groups lobby to save SUVs in California" - "LOS ANGELES - A coalition of business groups unveiled yesterday an ad campaign aimed at stopping a proposed California law they say would drive popular sport utility vehicles off the road by limiting emissions of greenhouse gases from cars and trucks." (Reuters)

"Vegas freeway a test case in cancer risk debate" - "LAS VEGAS - The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against plans to widen a Las Vegas freeway, arguing the Federal Highway Administration hasn't adequately studied possible cancer risks for people living nearby. The lawsuit, called a test case by the environmental organization, was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas. It is based on health studies that the environmental organization said show a connection between vehicle emissions and cancer in residents living near heavily traveled highways." (AP)

"Newsday.com - LIPA Tilts Toward Offshore Windmills" - "Armed with a new study that says Long Island has vast potential for generating electricity with ocean winds, the Long Island Power Authority yesterday said it will seek to build a 100-megawatt windmill farm in the waters off Jones Beach. Flanked by environmentalists who often oppose LIPA policies, LIPA Chairman Richard Kessel said he and critics would work together to get 33 three-megawatt windmills built."

"Wind farm generates a storm of protest on Skye" - "PLANS to build a wind farm on the Isle of Skye will ruin one of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain, home owners say. They have run into opposition from crofters who stand to benefit financially and who say that it will bring much-needed investment to the Hebridean island. This being the Highlands, the affair has grown into rather more than just a routine planning skirmish." | Protesters ready to fight other schemes (The Times)

"The PMA OnLine Power Report - Sri Lanka: Laws to Plug Power Crisis Worry Activists" - "COLOMBO, Apr 23 (IPS) - Environmentalists and scientists in Sri Lanka are up in arms against new laws that allow the set-up of emergency power plants, saying they would stifle legitimate protests and override environmental concerns although they are aimed at addressing serious power cuts in the country."

"Sowing the seeds of a better future; Ignore the doubters. GM crops can help to feed the world" - "While we in the west continue in our narcissistic obsession with our own genome and the futuristic possibilities of human cloning, scientists in the developing world are more interested in the crops that put food in hungry mouths. This month a group of them laid bare the complete genome sequence of rice in what may prove to be a turning point for science in the developing world." (Johnjoe McFadden, The Guardian)

"Kirk report refuses to rule out GM crops" - "A KIRK committee report on sustainable agriculture recommends more encouragement for organic methods, but does not rule out genetically modified crops or intensive farming." (The Scotsman)

April 23, 2002

"Anti-technology rhetoric won't help feed world" - "IT'S Earth Day and once again we are discussing ways of saving the environment. In the new millennium, feeding the hungry has been added to the agenda as if the anti-technology rhetoric of past Earth Days, when the poor were forgotten, can somehow accommodate this newly discovered concern. Since the first Earth Day, the planet has added close to 2 billion people bringing the population to 6 billion, who are living longer, better fed and in better health than ever before. A look at some of the changes of the past two centuries might give us guidance as to how we might move forward to further the goals of environmental action and feeding everyone in the next half century when the world is expected to add another 3 billion people before leveling off or even declining." (Thomas R DeGregori, Houston Chronicle)

"In Public Health, Definitive Data Can Be Elusive" - "A debate over using hormone replacement therapy is focusing new attention to a quandary in science: When different types of studies reach very different conclusions, what can be called truth?" (New York Times)

"Study observes no association between cell phone use and auditory tumors" - "The risk of acoustic neuroma, or auditory tumor, was unrelated to the frequency and duration of cellular telephone use, according to a study published in the April 23 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology." (American Physiological Society)

"Nutritionists wake up to mealy methods; Fortification and false memory could foil food and drug trials" - "When nutritionist Andrea Pontello went shopping for apple juice she got a "wake-up call". Apple juice is normally low in vitamin C, but she found that 9 out of 11 brands had been boosted with additional vitamins. Supplementation could scupper clinical trials for antioxidants, she realized, if participants' intake of vitamins C and E from fortified foods is not taken into account." (NSU)

"A New Organic Stew" - "A classic canard from supporters of organic food is that it is more healthy for you than regular, pesticide-grown food. Decent scientific evidence to support this position has never materialized and some supporters have had to admit that the health claims of organic food seem hollow." (Howard Fienberg, TCS)

"Diesel fumes hit asthmatics with one-two punch" - "NEW ORLEANS, Apr 22 - As many asthmatics know, a blast of diesel exhaust can trigger bouts of wheezing, coughing and other asthma symptoms. Now researchers say they have figured out why these fumes are so tough on those afflicted with the illness.

According to researcher Dr. Fred D. Finkelman of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, the fine particles in diesel exhaust hit the human immune system with a double whammy, upping the production of an immune protein that triggers asthma attacks while suppressing a second protein that might otherwise bring symptoms to a halt." (Reuters Health)

"No Kidding On Recycling" - "What will we tell the kids? The kids that have been so assiduously putting newspapers, glass and metal in separate containers so that, according to their teacher the world will be a better place this Earth Day? Dare we tell them that recycling, while noble in intent, often doesn't work?" (Herbert Inhaber, TCS)

"To save money don't recycle; New York mayor wants temporary halt to recycling" - "NEW YORK -- The recycling movement has been steadily expanding for three decades -- so much that it has become almost standard practice for people to separate their paper, plastic and glass.

But in the country's biggest city -- and the one that produces the most garbage -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to temporarily do away with most recycling in an effort to close a nearly $5 billion US budget gap.

It's a notable retreat from the recycling movement and one that has been trashed by critics. Despite the opposition and the plan's major political hurdles, Bloomberg stuck with the proposal when he released a new version of his budget last week." (AP)

"Newsday.com - EPA Ombudsman Quits Over Transfer" - "WASHINGTON -- An embattled ombudsman at the Environmental Protection Agency submitted his resignation Monday, complaining the agency was transferring him into a job where he would "merely answer a telephone" and have no power. Robert Martin, who for nearly a decade has held the $118,000-a-year job as ombudsman for EPA's hazardous waste office, has been embroiled in lengthy feud with senior EPA officials going back to the Clinton administration."

"USATODAY.com - Bush, Gore offer two takes on Earth Day" - "WASHINGTON — Dueling speeches with a déjà vu feel to them mark Earth Day today. President Bush is headed to Upstate New York's Adirondack Mountains to discuss environmental stewardship, while Al Gore, his rival in 2000 and perhaps 2004, takes aim at Bush's policies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville."

"On Earth Day, Bush V. Gore (washingtonpost.com)" - "On the 32nd anniversary of Earth Day, President Bush said yesterday that his environmental initiatives would reduce power plant emissions more than those of any previous administration. But he faced a barrage of criticism from environmental groups and former rival Al Gore, who charged that Bush has broken his word and sold out to polluters and special interests."

"Newsday.com - Bush Shrugs Off Gore's Green Rebuke" - "WILMINGTON, N.Y. -- After a muscle-burning walk through snowy Adirondack Mountain woods, President Bush defended his environmental record on Earth Day and dismissed a chorus of Democratic critics, including former rival Al Gore. "Hadn't paid attention to him," Bush said of the former vice president he narrowly defeated in 2000."

"Clearing the Air (washingtonpost.com)" - "ONCE UPON A time it was Labor Day that kicked off the political season. But this year you could hear the starting gun on Earth Day. Former Vice President Al Gore took the occasion to assail President Bush's record on the environment. Echoing environmental lobbyists, he declared that "polluters" are "pretty much in charge of the energy and environment policies of this administration . . . threatening to take us back to the days when America's rivers and lakes were dying, when the skylines were some days not visible because of the smog, and when toxic waste threatened so many communities around America."

Zounds. Pretty scary stuff. But on the issue of air pollution, for example, the debate is about the scope of future improvements in air quality that is already substantially better than it was 10 years ago."

"Earth Day Report: Is Environment Bleak or Healthy? - Crosswalk.com News Channel" -Contrasting views on the health of the earth are being debated on the 32nd annual Earth Day, with a defector from the environmental movement saying the earth is healthier than ever and an environmentalist saying the earth is headed for a "pretty bleak future," if we don't change our habits."

"Newsday.com - Tests to reveal cities' effects on Lake Ontario's health" - "YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y. -- Scientists hope extensive air and water sampling will reveal what effects cities including Rochester and Toronto are having on the environmental health of Lake Ontario. A weeklong excursion concluding this week aboard an environmental research vessel also will test a theory that the lake has become not only a repository for pollutants but a source of them."

"Researchers say trees could affect land use, reduce skin cancer" - "A Purdue University method to estimate the amount of protection trees provide against ultraviolet-B radiation may influence how communities are built and the incidence of skin cancer." (Purdue University)

"Massive icebergs may affect Antarctic sea life and food chain" - "NASA-funded research using satellite data has shown large icebergs that have broken off from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf are dramatically affecting the growth of minute plant life in the ocean around the region -- plant life vital to the local food chain." (NASA/GSFC) | Icebergs’ devastating impact on Antarctic marine life revealed by satellite data (Stanford University)

"UPDATE - New climate body chief denies US lobbied for him" - "NEW DELHI - The new chief of the U.N.'s climate advisory body said yesterday the United States had not lobbied for his election but environmentalists said Washington had engineered his victory to oust a less acceptable candidate." (Reuters)

"IPCC's ex-"Political" Scientist" - "Environmental activists are attacking the Bush administration for orchestrating the ouster of an American scientist, Robert Watson, as chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the supposed ultimate scientific authority on global warming. They've picked the wrong culprit. Watson orchestrated his own demise. As Friday's vote for IPCC chairman showed, the administration was hardly alone in its opposition to him.. Seventy-five other nations also voted for Indian challenger, Rajendra Pachauri, an engineer and an economist . Only 49 nations supported Watson. Why?" (Paul J. Georgia, TCS)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT; April 20, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 12" - "In a stunning turn of events Friday, April 19, members of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the world’s most influential body on the subject of global warming – on a vote of 83-49 rejected IPCC chairman Robert T. Watson’s bid to continue in that capacity. Watson’s been replaced by Rajendra Pachauri, an Indian engineer. There were seventy-six votes for Pachauri, forty-nine for Watson, and seven for José Goldemberg, Brazil’s environmental minister, who candidacy was characterized as a compromise.

The vote’s geographic distribution dispels an important myth Watson and European Greens formulated: the United States is isolated and out of step with the rest of the world on the issue of global warming. Nearly all of Watson’s support came from Europe and from Pacific Island States. In terms of square miles of landmass or percent of world population, Watson and his supporters carried a tiny minority. Based on this consideration and the vote’s outcome, we would posit that it is Europe – not the U.S. – that is isolated and out of step when it comes to global climate change." (GES)

"Daily Yomiuri On-Line - Steps urged to tackle El Nino" - "A number of scientific research institutes around the world, including the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, are predicting that an El Nino is likely to occur this year. Meanwhile, the early arrival of cherry blossom season and the unseasonably high temperatures are believed to be further signs that Earth is being affected by global warming, which will eventually cause catastrophic changes worldwide."

"Ice coring team heads for Alaskan glaciers" - "Glaciologist Lonnie Thompson hopes that once his latest expedition ends in early summer, he will have one of the so-far missing pieces to the global climate change puzzle -- a record of ancient weather trapped inside ice from Alaskan glaciers that could date back thousands of years. Thompson, professor of geological sciences at Ohio State University, is leading the expedition -- his 44th -- next week to a rugged and remote region of the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountain range on the U.S.-Canadian Border." (Ohio State University)

"New Hampshire Passes Nation's First CO2 Cap" - "CONCORD, New Hampshire, April 22, 2002 - New Hampshire has become the first state to pass legislation aimed at reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the so called greenhouse gases linked to global warming. State officials said they hope that other states, and the federal government, will follow New Hampshire's example and take action to curb climate change." (ENS)

"Emissions cut will hit UK industry hard - economists" - "LONDON - Reducing greenhouse gas emissions as called for by the United Nations Kyoto Protocol would cut Britain's GDP growth rate, economists said yesterday. "Under the protocol growth would be slowed from 2.4 percent to 2.0 percent (of GDP) over the next 10 years - annual net job losses could be as high as one million," David Goldsack of the U.S. economic forecasting group Dri-Wefa, told a conference on the European Union's climate change policy. His comments are based on a study by Dri-Wefa, looking at the economic impact of the UK implementing the Kyoto Protocol." (Reuters)

"Business group details Kyoto alternatives" - "A new carbon tax should be a last resort in attempting to curb greenhouse gas emissions – and only if it was matched by cuts in company and personal tax rates, Business New Zealand said yesterday. Reinforcing its opposition to the Government's intention to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in September, it outlined a series of greenhouse emission policies that it argued would be both more effective and more affordable economically." (The Dominion)

"Feds announce program to reduce farm greenhouse gases" - "OTTAWA -- The federal government will spend $21 million over five years to help farmers reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving their farming methods, Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief announced Monday." (CP)

"UK company pays for cut in US greenhouse gases" - "LONDON - A British company paid a U.S. forestry conservation group for helping reduce carbon dioxide emissions, marking the first transatlantic trade giving credit for improved woodland conservation, the company said yesterday." (Reuters)

"With Alaska Exploration Rejected, Senate Looks to Ethanol" - "The Senate is likely to vote on legislation this week that would expand of the amount of ethanol that has to be added to gasoline." (New York Times)

"Globe and Mail | Misguided Bush blessing keeps Big Oil smiling" - "You would think the oil industry would be in a foul mood. Last week, its campaign to open the Arctic Wildlife National Refuge to drilling died on the U.S. Senate floor. Yesterday -- Earth Day -- provided a platform for greenies everywhere to encourage energy conservation and the development of alternative fuels. Don't think for a second, though, that the Bush White House is caving in to the environmentalists. Big Oil is, in fact, about to get one of the biggest windfalls in American history."

"Japanese to sue to shut down some nuclear reactors" - "TOKYO - More than 1,000 people are set to sue one of Japan's major utility firms, demanding it shut several accident-hit nuclear reactors they say pose a danger to local residents, one plaintiff said yesterday." (Reuters)

"The Star Online - Farmers turning to bio-pesticides" - "KUALA LUMPUR: About 50% of the estimated 10,600 vegetable farmers in peninsular Malaysia have already begun using naturally occurring pest-control agents to protect their crops. Called bio-pesticides, these agents are harvested from plants, insects and micro-organisms (such as viruses, fungi and bacteria), and are used to kill pests. Unlike chemical pesticides, they are safe for human and animal consumption and environmentally friendly, said Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding after launching the Third International Conference on Bio-pesticides at the Renaissance Hotel here yesterday."

"The Hartford Courant - Scientists Near Big Victory In Mosquito Wars " - " A new day is dawning in the mosquito wars. Gene researchers are about to announce success at deciphering the first mosquito genome, and others soon will report that a mosquito's ability to transmit malaria finally has been erased, at least in lab experiments. Mosquito-borne ailments - including viruses such as dengue, West Nile and yellow fever, and parasitic disorders such as malaria - take enormous human tolls, causing disability and death every year, especially in tropical regions."

"Rules, Regulations of Global Economy Are Increasingly Being Set in Brussels" - "HEBRON, Ind. -- For four years, Michael Aylesworth didn't plant insect-resistant corn on his 2,100-acre farm. The reason: regulations written by bureaucrats 4,000 miles away, in Brussels.
Since many Europeans doubt the safety of such genetically modified crops, the European Union requires any product that contains even 1% of a genetically altered ingredient to say so on its label. It doesn't matter that many Americans don't care one way or another about eating so-called genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Multinational food processors don't want to buy any corn that might create marketing problems in Europe.

By shunning the high-tech seeds, Mr. Aylesworth figures he lost about 7% of last year's crop to a voracious pest called the corn borer. This spring, he took a risk and decided to plant 400 acres with corn that's genetically modified to poison the bug. He hopes to sell the grain as animal feed, which Europe doesn't require to be labeled for GMO content -- yet.

"I refuse to suffer anymore," Mr. Aylesworth says. "Because of Brussels, I've been using technology that was five to 10 years old." (The Wall Street Journal)

"UK consumer attitudes to GE and organics- survey" - "The anti-genetically modified (GM) food lobby seems to be fighting a losing battle. Research from BMRB's Target Group Index (TGI), which has examined long-term consumer attitudes on GM food, indicates that it is older people who take the most fervent stance against the development of such foodstuffs. Younger people are far more open-minded and accepting of the suggestion that GM food is safe." (Marketing Week via AgBioView; The Life Sciences Network)

"GM talks seek to protect environment" - "Scientists and environmental experts from nearly 200 countries are gathering in The Hague, Netherlands, for a week of talks on how to prevent genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from damaging the environment." (BBC News Online)

"India Min: Government Plans Checks On GMO Food Imports - Report" - "NEW DELHI - The Indian government is planning to introduce checks on imports of genetically modified farm products, the Financial Express newspaper reported Monday, quoting Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh. "We are planning to introduce a form that will have to be filled by all importers of agri-products - including vegetable oils - in the country," Singh was quoted as saying in the report. "The WTO has not objected to such checks." The form will indicate whether the product is made with genetically modified ingredients, the report said." (Dow Jones)

April 22, 2002

"Looking up on Earth Day" - "EARTH Day was designed to be a celebration of nature, but it's mostly been used as a rallying point for anti-this, anti-that protests. That's why it's important on this day to note some bright spots in the health of the planet." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Stop With The Guilt About Earth Day" - "Monday is Earth Day, which should be cause for celebration. OK, there are always a few flat-earth anti-environment types who complain about kids in public schools who can't pray to Jesus but are taught to worship dirt.

But for the rest of us, Earth Day should be a time to appreciate the beauty of nature and humans living in harmony with nature.

Trouble is, nobody is celebrating. Instead of lauding success, environmentalists think that the true meaning of Earth Day is fear: Environmental groups tell Americans to fear for the air, the forest, the food supply and the whales. With fear comes guilt." (Mark Carberry and Robert Maranto, The Hartford Courant)

"Trees gain ground over Scotland" - "SCOTLAND has more woods and forests than 700 years ago when Robert the Bruce and William Wallace were fighting the English, according to a new Forestry Commission survey.

The National Inventory of Woodland and Trees for Scotland shows that tree cover has increased by 50 per cent since the last national survey in 1980 and has more than trebled in the past 100 years. Around a sixth, or 17 per cent, of the Scottish landscape is now forested, compared with 5 per cent in 1900.

For the first time the number of indigenous, broadleaf trees being planted has outstripped conifers, rising from 15 per cent to 18 per cent of the total wood cover, showing a new trend in forestry towards more natural looking, native woods, instead of the bland regimented plantations of the 20th century." (The Times)

"EU environment policy puts focus on soil quality" - "BRUSSELS - Soil is the next big green challenge for the European Union, the EU's executive Commission, the body which drafts most of the bloc's environmental legislation, said. "We are placing soil protection on a level with cleaning up our water and air," EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said in a statement." (Reuters)

Great, now Maggie wants clean dirt.

Wacko book promo du jour: "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Sowing hope: Author of 'Diet for a Small Planet' writes a new book on hunger" - "Thirty years ago, Frances Moore Lappe wrote the seminal book "Diet for a Small Planet" in which she analyzed the causes of hunger and became the first to put food and this green orb's social and environmental health on the same plate."

"Stalemate over car recycling" - "Britain has missed a deadline to implement a European ruling on recycling old cars. The European directive came into operation on Sunday but the UK, like most other European Union countries, has failed to decide how to make the idea work." (BBC News Online)

"Facing the challenges of world's aging population" - "Baby boomers are going to live considerably longer on average than members of generations past.

Due in part to improved health measures and better nutrition, mortality rates will drop faster between now and 2022 than they did during the 1915-to-1988 period, calculates Dora Costa, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist.

This is part of a worldwide phenomenon – a "revolution in longevity."

Since 1950, average life expectancy worldwide has increased 20 years, to 66 years. United Nations demographers expect the average lifespan to reach 76 by 2050. In the United States, people will live even longer than that.

By 2050, the UN says, 21 percent of the planet's population will be over 60. It's currently 10 percent.

This "aging" of the world's population has enormous social and economic consequences for this century. "The shift in policy that is going to be necessary is dramatic," says John Scholvinck, director of social and policy development at the UN in New York." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"New Zealand Herald - Parasites pushed into prime time" - "Worms may be the key to preventing allergies, researchers say. For years doctors have been saying a little dirt may be good for children, helping to "prime" their immune systems and preventing allergies from developing. This so-called hygiene hypothesis is based in part on the observation that people in developing countries and those who live in the countryside are less prone to allergies than people who live in modern towns, with their sanitised floors and filtered air."

"Scientists say wood dust can cause cancer - The Times of India" - "HYDERABAD: Workers in the wooden furniture industry are vulnerable to genetic damage that can lead to cancer, according to a new study by a team of geneticists, biotechnologists and medical researchers at Chennai. Reporting their findings in Current Science, D Elavarasi and co-workers at the University of Madras and the Institute of Cardio-Vascular Diseases have called for improved safety measures to prevent this occupational hazard in the wooden furniture industry. That wood dust causes respiratory diseases like asthma is well known but the Chennai study is the first to show that it also causes damage to DNA, the genetic material inside the cell's nucleus."

"Some plants pose health hazards - The Times of India" - "NEW DELHI: Plants grown in adverse environment of industrial effluents get adapted to it over a period of time, thereby carrying more and more of hazardous metals into the food chain and "leading to maiming, blinding or even killing," a study has said. "Plants get adapted to the adverse environment and show improvement in growth and yield parameters from generation to generation, carrying more and more of toxic metals into the food chain," a study published in the Journal of Environmental Biology said.

"Daily Yomiuri On-Line - Japanese-U.S. team studying air pollution" - "The National Space Development Agency of Japan, Tokyo University and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration embarked Sunday on a joint investigation to learn how air contaminants, including nitrogen oxide from China--which is believed to be the cause of of acid rain in Japan--are spreading."

"Satellite quartet to track Earth's most precious resource and gain new perspective on climate" - "LOS ANGELES -- A successful launch next month of a nearly $1 billion satellite would mark the fourth spacecraft NASA has sent into orbit recently to follow the global movement of life's most precious resource: water. The satellite Aqua will follow the Jason 1 and a pair of twin spacecraft called Grace, launched in December and March, respectively. Although each is different, the missions are designed to help piece together the puzzle of how water moves between the Earth's atmosphere, oceans and land." (Houston Chronicle)

"Perils beyond Earth's 2002 orbit -- The Washington Times" - "On this 32nd anniversary of Earth Day, it's important to remember that the Jeremiahs of the environmental movement actually do have it right. One day, life as we know it will be wiped off the Earth. It has happened before, and it will again, not as a consequence of evil corporate capitalism, but rather devastating orbital dynamics."

"Clouds in the Greenhouse; As vexing as they are beautiful, clouds play an important role in Earth's planetary greenhouse" - "Clouds may be a delight to children lying in a field on a summer day, letting their imaginations bend the wispy shapes into ducks or boats or dinosaurs. But clouds can be a real pain in the neck for climate researchers. To understand why, consider again that warm summer day: If a big, fluffy cumulus cloud comes drifting by, it's usually good news. Low thick clouds cast a refreshing shadow and reflect sunlight back into space. They cool the planet and the people beneath them. On the other hand, high wispy clouds drifting by are less refreshing. Such clouds cast meagre shadows and, because they are themselves cold, they trap heat radiated from the planet below. The air temperature near the ground might actually increase. It is this schizophrenic behavior that makes clouds so vexing to researchers who are trying to predict the course of climate change." (Science @ NASA)

"US Senate marks Earth Day with global warming debate" - "WASHINGTON - The Democratic-led Senate, which soundly defeated a White House plan to drill in an Alaskan wildlife refuge, is set to mark Earth Day by pressing ahead with legislation to force U.S. companies to report global warming-linked emissions." (Reuters)

"Times Online - Green Gore tears into Bush's record" - "AL GORE'S political comeback moved into high gear yesterday with a withering attack on President Bush for having 'sold out' on the environment at a time when global warming meant that people were 'wearing bikinis in Boston in the middle of April'."

Speaking of Ozone al: "New Zealand Herald - Pharmac takes issue over asthma inhalers" - "Government medicine-buyer Pharmac is trying to foil a drug company's bid to lure at least 44,000 asthma patients on to more expensive inhalers. GlaxoSmithKline says it is phasing out its Becotide and Becloforte corticosteroid inhalers, which use a CFC propellant, "later this year". This is to comply with an international protocol on the reduction of CFC use."

"BW Online | April 23, 2001 | Commentary: Global Warming: Look Who Disagrees with Bush" - "When President Bush discarded the Kyoto Protocol--an international agreement to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases--he blamed the decision on a slowing U.S. economy and an energy crisis. "The idea of placing caps on CO2 does not make economic sense for America," Bush said on Mar. 29. Some of the world's largest companies disagree. DuPont, for example, has already made substantial cuts in its greenhouse-gas emissions and says it will continue to do so despite the Administration's reluctance."

"Environmentalists attack world climate body vote" - "GENEVA - A U.S. scientist who advocates action against global warming was ousted last week as head of the U.N.'s climate advisory body and environmentalists said Washington engineered his defeat." (Reuters)

"Hoover's Online - A Climate Change In The Offing With Pachauri In Hot Seat" - "In a rare victory for the developing world, the US-backed Indian nominee for the post of the chairman of the inter-governmental panel on climate change (IPCC), Rajendra K Pachauri, emerged the winner in a three-way electoral battle fought in Geneva on Friday. The director-general of Tata Energy Research Institute, an economist and engineer, member of the Prime Minister's economic advisory council, author of 21 books, and former advisor to the United Nations Development Programme in the fields of energy and sustainable management of natural resources, Dr Pachauri defeated the incumbent Robert Watson, and Jose Goldelberg by capturing 76 votes out of the 132 on offer. Mr Watson and Mr Goldelberg settled for 49 and seven votes respectively."

This item claims the IPCC is a 'scientific body, with no role to play in the political process governing the climate change discussions...' Had that been true under Watson's reign of terror campaigning he would not seriously have been challenged. However, the chair should be filled by an advocate for science, most definitely not an advocate of a radical (see also "rabid," "preconceived") misanthropic, anti-energy policy and Watson is singularly unsuited on those grounds.

"California may limit greenhouse gases, hit SUVs" - "LOS ANGELES - California lawmakers are looking at limiting greenhouse gas emissions, a move automakers call a veiled effort to tighten fuel economy standards and push gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles off the road." (Reuters)

According to US PIRG: "statesman.com | Texas' next senator should support Clean Power Act, fight air pollution" - "America has made great strides in the fight for cleaner, healthier air. But air pollution -- particularly from the nation's electric power plants -- remains a life-threatening problem in many areas. In Washington there's an important battle under way to protect our clean-air laws against an attack by coal, utility and other big energy industries. The outcome will have a giant impact on how well we live and breathe for years to come."

"Newsday.com - Group says energy industry lobbying in Albany is intensifying" - "ALBANY, N.Y. -- With the landscape of New York's utility industry undergoing major changes, those with a financial stake in the makeover have intensified lobbying in Albany, an analysis showed Sunday. Common Cause-New York detailed a steady increase in energy industry spending at the Capitol, from $1.2 million in 1999 to $1.8 million in 2000 to $2.6 million in 2001."

"Bird lovers fight gas plant in eastern Germany" - "FRANKFURT - A long-standing struggle by environmentalists to stop a planned gas-fired power plant at Lubmin on the eastern German Baltic Sea coast is headed for a court decision on April 24, a court official said." (Reuters)

"BW Online | April 23, 2001 | A Comeback for Nukes?" - "In the hand-wringing over America's energy future, most people have studiously avoided a dirty word--nuclear. For years, conventional wisdom has been that the 103 nuclear plants in the U.S. would be shut even before their 40-year licenses expire--and no new ones would ever be built. At nuclear-industry conferences, the most popular sessions were on how to decommission the dinosaur-like facilities. Amid public apathy, if not outright hostility, plant builders such as Westinghouse Electric Co. failed to win orders for advanced new technologies."

"GM crops vandalised" - "A field of genetically modified (GM) crops which has been at the centre of an environmental row has been destroyed. Northern Constabulary said about five acres of GM oilseed rape was destroyed overnight between Saturday and Sunday at Roskill Farm, Munlochy, Easter Ross. Police said they were investigating the matter and appealed for information. It comes just days after a Scottish Parliament committee called for the crop trial, which had just started to flower, to be ploughed up." (BBC News Online)

April 21, 2002

"Environmental Movement at 40: Is Earth Healthier?" - "Forty years ago Rachel Carson, a writer and marine biologist, published Silent Spring, a book documenting the chemical warfare that human beings were waging on the natural world. The book is widely credited as the launch pad of today's environmental movement." (National Geographic News)

While Carson's book certainly had a powerful influence on the budding green movement of the era, it was actually the wrong influence. Variously described as "scientist", "biologist" and "visionary," Carson was apparently a document clerk with the Bureau of Fisheries (later the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Her notoriety stems from her fourth book, the fanciful and somewhat embittered tome, Silent Spring, published in 1962 as she sought to blame some outside malevolence for the breast cancer that was to claim her life just two years later.

Carson began Silent Spring with the statement "This is a fable of tomorrow..." and then filled subsequent pages with seemingly unintended misstatements, invalid conclusions and highly selective citation. Some have unkindly accused Ms Carson of being a fraud and a liar although I prefer the more charitable view that she was simply a frightened and confused woman, seeking to blame some external influence for the failing of, and betrayal by her own body. Regardless, Rachel Carson held and expounded the bizarre notion that humanity should return to the use of lead arsenate, an extremely toxic, highly persistent and demonstrably carcinogenic substance in lieu of near-benign and very low toxicity organochlorins. That her particular target, DDT, was not a human hazard should have been obvious from its use during and immediately following the second world war. It is difficult to imagine a larger or more revealing cohort study of people with compromised health than the soldiers, death camp survivors and liberated prisoners of war who were literally and liberally doused with DDT powder to kill disease-spreading lice and fleas. Rather than poisoning these unfortunate people, DDT saved a great many of their lives by protecting them from vector-borne diseases such as typhus. Nor was there an "explosion" of cancer incidence among people so treated in the subsequent half-century, thus virtually eliminating the possibility that DDT might be a human carcinogen (Carson had, at most, two decades of follow up data available prior to succumbing to breast cancer so there might have been slight residual doubt, long since extinguished. The first large-scale use of DDT occurred in 1943 when 500 gallons of DDT were produced by Merck & Company and delivered to Italy to help squelch a rapidly spreading epidemic of louse-borne typhus. Later in 1943, the U.S. Army issued small tin boxes of 10 percent DDT dust to its soldiers around the world who used it to kill body lice, head lice and crab lice.).

Whatever Rachel Carson's motivation might have been she was completely wrong about DDT and so were those who claimed it caused raptor extirpation and myriad other ills. See Facts Versus Fears: DDT and DDT FAQ for the real situation. Worse, the fluorescent green brigade have extended the anti-chemical campaign to include all chlorine compounds with quite disastrous results, such as the outbreak of cholera from inadequately disinfected water in Peru in 1992. Of enormous concern is that this misinformation campaign is likely to cost millions more lives every year by making DDT unavailable to Third World countries where it remains the major affordable defence against malaria. See the human toll of not using DDT for more on this.

Rachel Carson proliferated some of the errors upon which the modern pseudo-environment movement is founded. Multimillion-dollar multinational fundraising bodies have compounded the falsehoods and myths for their own selfish purposes and are further entrenching them in order to line their own pockets. There is nothing either environmentally or human friendly about that.

See also Rachel's Folly: The End of Chlorine [PDF] (Michelle Malkin, Mike Fumento)

"Earth Day focus ranges far, wide and into overtime" - "Earth Day has grown into a week of celebrations and activities. They begin even before the 32nd annual Earth Day on Monday, with thousands of volunteers participating Saturday in more than 90 projects sponsored by SOLV and Portland General Electric. Earth Day celebrations continue through April 28, with the traditional Procession of the Species in downtown Portland. Last year, 1,500 marchers transformed themselves into colorful dragonflies, scorpions, lions, snow leopards and a host of other creatures." (The Oregonian)

"Conservative Radio Host Burning Green Swastika for Earth Day" - "In advance of Earth Day 2002, the day when environmentalists celebrate their efforts to preserve the planet from what they consider human destruction, working-class Americans in one rural Montana city plan to condemn the "green left" for allegedly killing their livelihood. KGEZ Radio, an AM station broadcasting out of Kalispell, Mont., is celebrating Earth Day on Friday, three days early, by burning a twelve-foot green swastika in front of the station." (CNSNews.com)

"Rural America declares war on 'green fascists'" - "THE crowd cheered as the flames took hold of the 15ft-high green swastika. With the Stars and Stripes waving above their heads, they celebrated as the structure they had erected as a symbol of the hated environmental campaigners burned." (Telegraph)

"Secretary Norton, Interior Officials Will Call for 'New Environmentalism' at Earth Day 2002 Events" - "This Earth Day, more than ever, Americans are ready to take action as self-motivated stewards of the environment we hand down to future generations," Norton said. "To accomplish this, we need a new environmentalism, based on the Four Cs -- communication, consultation, cooperation, all in the service of conservation. At the heart of the Four Cs is the fact that successful conservation calls for involving the people who live on, work on, and love the land." (U.S. Newswire)

"The Nando Times: Gore to deliver speech on environment in Tennessee" - "WASHINGTON - Al Gore will follow up his spirited appearance before Florida Democrats with a policy speech on the environment in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday. Other Democrats considering a run at the White House in 2004 will stop soon in important states from New Hampshire to South Carolina."

"Environmentalists say boastful forestry chief can't see the wood for the trees" - "The claim by the Scottish Executive that the country's forests have returned to the state they were in at the time of William Wallace has been dismissed as 'a bit of a joke' by environmentalists. Scotland has more trees and woodland than in the days of King Robert the Bruce and William Wallace 700 years ago, according to a survey made for the Executive by the Forestry Commission. The area covered by forests has increased by nearly half to 1,347,500 hectares (3,329,673 acres) since the previous survey in 1980." (The Observer)

Hmm... "DC CIRCUIT UPHOLDS WATER POLLUTION DISCHARGE LIMITATIONS FOR PULP AND PAPER MILLS" - "WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In an opinion issued today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously affirmed updated Clean Water Act discharge limitations for pulp and paper mills adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1998. The new regulations will substantially reduce discharges of numerous toxic pollutants, including dioxin, and will encourage mills to use the most modern and effective pollution control technologies.

"Implementation of the standards upheld by the court today will assure that American paper mills take advantage of the latest pollution control technology, resulting in significant water quality improvements nationwide," said Tom Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The court's decision is a strong reaffirmation of the strength of EPA's technical record and the reasonableness of its approach in finding the right balance to clean up the environment without imposing excessive costs on American industry." (USDOJ)

"Hill GOP targets sludge in Potomac -- The Washington Times" - "House Republican lawmakers are demanding that the Bush administration revoke a permit allowing the dumping of sludge in the Potomac River. In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman, a dozen lawmakers expressed their concerns that the federal government allows hundreds of thousands of tons of sludge, which coats and kills wildlife, to be discharged through a national park and into the river."

"Duluth News Tribune | 04 20 2002 | Senators criticize EPA handling of PCB cleanup" - "WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan Senate tag team Friday piled on the Environmental Protection Agency for its handling of PCB-saturated Anniston, Ala., blasting Bush administration officials for conflicts of interest and accusing the agency of ignoring the city's problems for years."

"Dredging the Upper Hudson River, Without Slinging the Mud" - "The political and human dimensions of the Hudson River dredging program will be crucial to its success" (New York Times)

The assault on chemicals continues: "Ban on insect killers after cancer alert" - "ALMOST 50 makes of insect killer were ordered to be removed from shop shelves yesterday amid fears that they could cause cancer. The Government, acting on scientific advice, decided to suspend from sale a list of products, including some from household names such as Boots, Superdrug and Vapona. The decision makes it illegal to sell, advertise or supply the products concerned. Health chiefs stressed that it was a precautionary move until further chemical tests had been conducted." (Telegraph) | Insect sprays withdrawn in cancer alert (The Times)

"Newsday.com - EPA Settles Pesticide Lawsuit" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to consider for the first time in a decade how 18 commonly used pesticides may affect endangered salmon and woodland plants. Agency officials said the review is part of a settlement of a federal lawsuit that will be signed Friday with three California environmental groups."

"Herbal eczema cures damage children" - "DANGEROUS, unlicensed steroids are being disguised as herbal medicines and illegally sold as treatment for children with eczema, a medical investigation has discovered.

The discovery has prompted calls for tighter regulation of alternative medicines, which do not have to undergo the same stringent tests and licensing as conventional medicines. “We don’t have much control over herbal medicines,” said the Medicines Control Agency. “We are calling for greater powers to regulate what is allowed to be sold.” (The Times)

"Casting a cold eye on hot remedies; Scientists raising new doubts on popular alternative medicines" - "Every year, Americans spend $27 billion on alternative medicine: potions, pills, and treatments that fly from the shelves of health food stores, supported more by the hopes and expectations of their users than by rigorous scientific research." (Boston Globe)

Oh dear... "Pass legislation to protect food" - "... Provisions being hammered out in a House-Senate conference committee include measures to increase stockpiles of antibiotics needed to fight smallpox and anthrax as well as creating an interstate network to connect various health agencies --- including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention --- charged with responding quickly to emergencies." (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Antibiotics... for smallpox? When did antibiotics become effective against a virus?

"Medicalising everyday life" - "The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has published a special issue on 'medicalisation' - the growing tendency to treat all kinds of personal and social issues as medical conditions or diseases. Many have welcomed this as a sign that the medical profession is waking up to the problems resulting from the spread of medical influence over wider and wider areas of life. A closer look reveals that the leading journal of British medicine is in a state of confused introspection rather than engaged in serious questioning of current trends in practice.

The BMJ's Top 20 leaves out a wide range of conditions that in recent years have come under the medical umbrella, yet many would consider to be 'non-diseases'. These include ME/chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, whiplash, repetitive strain injury; syndromes such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or social phobias; addictions to alcohol and drugs, and also to nicotine and gambling; teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, bullying. It is perhaps not surprising that the BMJ doesn't consider these conditions within the framework of medicalisation: many have been promoted in recent issues of the BMJ." (Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, sp!ked)

"Medicine contracts a deadly disease" - "Ultimately, liberalism destroys everything it touches. The disease's carriers, however, go on and on, infecting innocent bystanders and even entire institutions with a dread disease without so much as a single pang of conscience.

The latest casualty is medicine. In their efforts to save an increasingly violent segment of society from itself – a favorite leftist pastime – liberals have enlisted the aid of epidemiology, a branch of medicine that studies how and why large numbers of people die. Now, the Journal of Trauma (February 2002), a peer-reviewed publication, has shaken off the shackles of science and published a study suggesting that "a statistically significant association exists between gun availability and the rates of unintentional firearm deaths, homicides and suicides." (Craige McMillan, WorldNetDaily)

"Pill panics and food fights" - "From the contraceptive Pill to kids' eating habits, women and children were in the panicmongers' firing line in March 2002." (Brendan O'Neill, sp!ked)

"High ozone levels hurt sperm count, study finds" - "RANCHO MIRAGE, California, Apr 19 - Ozone can adversely affect a man's sperm, reducing their numbers as well as their crucial ability to move or "swim," according to new research that evaluated more than 14,000 sperm samples. "Our most significant finding was that as the ozone level went up, the sperm concentration went down," said Dr. Rebecca Z. Sokol, a professor of medicine and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. Sokol presented her findings here Friday at a meeting of the Pacific Coast Reproductive Society." (Reuters Health) | USC researchers find ozone lowers sperm counts (University of Southern California)

"Fertility: Diet and Higher Sperm Counts" - "Men with low sperm counts have increased them significantly by taking combinations of zinc and folic acid, a new study conducted in the Netherlands has found. The study, published in the current issue of Fertility and Sterility, the journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, compared the effect of giving 103 patients either folic acid, zinc sulfate, both, or a placebo. A control group consisting of fertile men was given the same regimens. The researchers, from the University Medical Center in Nijmegen, noted that diet had a major effect on male fertility and that both the zinc and the folic acid were thought to be important in the creation of sperm." (New York Times)

"More festival than science" - "Living to eat, greenhouse gas and 'rethinking everything': two science journalists report on the Edinburgh International Science Festival." (Stuart Blackman and Richard Northover, sp!ked)

"MEPs call for FMD vaccination plan" - "A COMMITTEE of MEPs taking evidence on the foot-and-mouth epidemic are giving clear hints that the whole European Union should return to a vaccination policy to control the disease." (The Scotsman)

"PETA Says Tape Shows Rat Research Violations" - "Members of Congress are used to being lobbied creatively, but House and Senate conferees hammering out this year's farm bill received especially memorable packages yesterday morning: A videocassette featuring gruesome footage of laboratory mice and rats being experimented upon.

The film was taken by a spy who infiltrated a University of North Carolina animal research facility with a hidden camera and documented apparent violations of federal animal-care guidelines.

The video was shot by a 24-year-old technician who worked at the university for six months undercover for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA is one of several groups trying to kill a farm bill amendment, introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), that would keep rats, mice and birds from coming under the protections of the the Animal Welfare Act. Helms and others have claimed that rodents and birds are adequately protected by other federal and institutional rules." (Washington Post)

"Climate scientist ousted" - "One of the most outspoken scientists on the issue of global warming has been ousted from his job. Dr Robert Watson was voted out of the chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Friday and will be replaced by one of the current vice-chairs, Dr Rajendra Pachauri.

Many sceptics were deeply critical at what they saw as the politicisation of the UN group under the chairmanship of Dr Watson. They claim humanity's influence on the climate has been overstated - that the changes we see around us today are the products of natural variability." (BBC News Online)

The Guardian prefers the big, bad US & big, badder oil line: "US and oil lobby oust climate change scientist" - "The head of the international scientific panel on climate change, which has called for urgent action to curb global warming, was deposed yesterday after a campaign by the Bush administration, Exxon-Mobil and other energy companies to get him replaced. At a plenary session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Geneva, Robert Watson, a British-born US atmospheric scientist who has been its chairman since 1996, was replaced by an Indian railway engineer and environmentalist, R K Pachauri." (The Guardian)

"Bush energy policy critic ousted as head of climate change panel" - "The Bush administration was accused of pandering to the oil industry last night after an outspoken critic of America's energy policy was voted out of his job as chairman of the world's premier scientific body on climate change. In a secret ballot held at a meeting in Geneva, the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change elected the India delegate, Rajendra Pachauri, as its chairman. He beat the current chairman, Robert Watson, the US delegate, by 76 votes to 49." (Independent)

"New Scientist - Top climate scientist ousted" - "Robert Watson, one of the world's leading climate scientists, has been ousted from his job as chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This followed the withdrawal of support by the US government, apparently at the behest of the oil company ExxonMobil, which had lobbied against him."

"ABC News - Outspoken scientist ditched as head of climate change panel" - "One of the most outspoken scientists on the issue of global warming has been removed from his job as head of the International Panel on Climate Change."

"ABC News - Oil company forced US to dump climate panel chair: Greenpeace" - "Greenpeace claims the removal of the head of the United Nations panel on climate change is due to political pressure from oil companies."

"The Seattle Times: Nation & World: U.S. scientist is voted off climate panel; backers say White House caved in to oil industry" - "GENEVA — A U.S. scientist who advocates action against global warming was voted off an international climate panel yesterday after what campaigners claimed was pressure from the oil industry and Washington, a claim rejected by the United States."

"Why Canada's on the Kyoto spot" - "The Chrétien government's all-over-the-map climate-change policy -- Will Canada ratify the Kyoto Protocol? And, if so, when? -- flows from the government's initial confusions more than four years ago. Jean Chrétien, as is his wont, judged climate change by the political optics of the issue rather than the substance. He issued one instruction to Canada's negotiators at Kyoto in 1997: Beat the U.S. commitment. Whatever the United States accepted for emissions reductions, Canada was to go one better. Such a position would sell well in Canada, where moral superiority vis-à-vis the Americans is a political staple. The substance of the file -- What would emissions reductions cost? How would they be achieved? -- mattered little. What counted for Mr. Chrétien was a post-Kyoto ability to say that Canada had bettered the Americans. Such was the ephemeral triumph of optics over policy, which partly explains the policy disarray so evidently on public display. How did all this happen?" (Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail)

"Swissinfo - Global warming is here to stay" - "Using a series of computer simulations, they have concluded that after the warmest hundred years on record, temperatures will keep on rising - at least until 2100."

"Hoover's Online - In the Hot Seat" - "PICTURE this: Polar ice caps melting, sea levels rising, rain falling where it shouldn't. Coastal areas will be destroyed. Island states like Fiji, Micronesia, Kiribati will disappear, while the Philippines will be down to 2,000 islands. The heat wave would kill off animals, plants and people who can't afford air-conditioning. Drought in places needing water, like rice fields, would mean we'd have to eat adobo with bread or worse, we'd have to endure famine. This is not another sci-fi scenario. These are the possible effects of global warming. "The weather is slowly but surely getting out of control. Already the effects are being felt," says Jose T. Villarin, S.J., atmosphere scientist and assistant professor of physics at the Ateneo de Manila University. "Pollution from fossil fuels is the main culprit. UN scientists have confirmed this link, and the urgency of the threat of climate change."

"The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Global warming may force species to move" - "DALLAS — As Earth warms, people might be able to cope by revving up the air conditioner in summer and turning down the heater in winter. But animals, scientists say, might have to pick up and move just to survive. A new study predicts that global-warming trends will force as many as 40 percent of wildlife species to find new homes. Those moves will result in close encounters never seen previously in the animal kingdom, scientists say, creating ripples in the world's ecosystem that may reach into the lives of every citizen."

"Tiny harbinger of death lurking in our seas - smh.com.au" - "It's the size of a peanut, and its sting can kill. Greg Roberts writes pollution may be feeding this monster."

"Nixing Alaska Drilling is Shortsighted" - "On energy policy the U.S. Senate has spoken -- and many Americans may not like what they hear. Yesterday's vote against opening an airport-sized sliver of the vast, 19.5-million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration was the Democratic-controlled Senate's way of saying that America's energy future will be secured chiefly by curtailing the American way of life." (The Oklahoman)

"The Selling of an Energy Policy" - " Under the presidency of George W. Bush, oil interests have taken over the global warming debate." (Al Gore, New York Times)

"Bush Policies Have Been Good to Energy Industry" - "The energy industry lost a round when drilling in Alaska was blocked, but it has won an abundance of appointments and regulatory decisions." (New York Times)

"Radical targets set for green cars" - "Ministers are to push for a massive increase in green cars and buses to combat asthma and global warming." (Independent)

"Push for greener engines 'threatens 50,000 car jobs'" - "A top UK car industry figure this weekend accused Britain of jeopardising its leading European role in engine manufacturing and thereby putting at risk up to 50,000 jobs.

Professor Garel Rhys of Cardiff University Business School, who is a venerated motor industry commentator, researcher and consultant, said the Government and its advisers were too keen to back hydrogen fuel cell technology at the expense of the internal combustion engine.

Rhys was speaking as BMW launched what it called 'the next industrial revolution' - normal-looking BMW saloons run on engines powered by liquid hydrogen. Rhys is in favour of hydrogen as the long-term alternative to petrol, but argued that the current engines should be adapted to run on it, rather than be replaced by a fuel cell.

The UK is increasing its engine-making capacity and will manufacture 4 million of them a year by 2004 - led by Ford at Bridgend and Dagenham and BMW at Hams Hall near Birmingham." (The Observer)

"Reuters - Whales, Salmon, Seabirds Recovered From Valdez Spill" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Salmon, killer whales and some seabirds are now thriving in Alaska's Prince William Sound and fully recovered from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, government scientists said in a report released on Thursday."

"ABC News - World grains expert urges use of GMOs" - "Australia will need to double its grain growing capacity in the next 10 years to provide for a rapidly increasing world population, according to international grains expert Professor Timothy Reeves."

"Purdue experts says controversial gene technology needed" - "A genetic plant sterilisation technology, known as the Terminator gene, that is heralded by scientists as a possible solution to the ecological problem of gene drift, is being scorned by many environmentalists.

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which is being held in the Hague this week (15-19 April), is examining the issue of whether plant sterility genes should be banned internationally. So far, India is the only nation to ban the technology, although the technology is not being used in any nation.

Purdue University bioethicist Paul Thompson says much of the opposition to plant sterilisation technology is misplaced fury: "It's an issue that's not very well understood, and I think environmental groups haven't thought through the potential benefit of the gene," Thompson says. "The important thing that is being overlooked is that incorporating the gene is a good strategy for limiting the environmental impact of GM plants." (just-food.com) | Terminator tussle: Controversial technology needed, experts say (Purdue University)

"Finnie suffers GM crop defeat" - "Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie has suffered a defeat at the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Perth over the issue of GM crop trials. Representatives voted by two to one against the continuation of the trials. They also urged Mr Finnie to make the party's policy of caution on genetically-modified technology clear." (BBC Online)

April 19, 2002

"Frog Study Leaps to Conclusions" - "This week’s eco-horror claim is that the most commonly used herbicide in North America supposedly deforms the sex organs of frogs." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Amphibians and crippling parasites" - "In recent years, the frequency of malformed frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians found with missing limbs, extra limbs, and skin webbings has increased. The shrinking populations of many North American amphibian populations underscore the need to understand the causes and implications of this phenomenon. Now a new study suggests that a parasite may be to blame for many of the abnormalities found in amphibians of the western United States." (Ecological Society of America)

"Fungus threatens to croak New Zealand frogs" - "WELLINGTON - A toxic fungus blamed for decimating amphibian populations around the world has been found in New Zealand, prompting fears that the country's four unique frog species could be wiped out. Six months ago the native Archey's frog population was found infected with the chytrid fungus, believed to be responsible for a rapid decline in a number of species, Canterbury University ecologist Bruce Waldman said yesterday." (Reuters)

"CDC and Florida Department of Health investigate a likely case of new variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease in a U.K. citizen residing in the U.S." - "Atlanta: The Florida Department of Health and the CDC are investigating a likely case of new variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (vCJD) in a 22-year-old citizen of the United Kingdom living in Florida. The clinical diagnosis was made at a hospital in the U.K and she has since returned to the U.S. Preliminary analysis of information provided by the U.K. indicates that the patient’s clinical condition and history are consistent with vCJD acquired in the U.K. However, the only way to confirm a diagnosis of vCJD is through study of brain tissue obtained by a brain biopsy or at autopsy." (CDC) [New Variant CJD: Fact Sheet (CDC)]

"Newsday.com - House Argues Over Gun Lawsuits" - "WASHINGTON -- House Republicans argued Thursday for blocking cities and counties from filing more lawsuits against gun manufacturers, saying anti-gun activists are using nuisance suits to "bleed" gun makers to death. "They are only suing because they happen to dislike a product that a company produces and markets legally," said Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., chairman of the House Commerce, subcommittee on trade and consumer protection. "This is absurd as suing a car manufacturer for drunk driving accidents, or suing a fast food company because its burgers have too many calories."

"Is Accutane To Blame?" - "America's blame culture was in evidence when 15-year-old Charles Bishop crashed a plane into the 28th floor of the Bank of America building in Tampa on Jan. 5. The media first asked whether he was emulating the 9/11 Al Qaeda terrorists. A few days later, when the acne drug Accutane was discovered in his room, the question changed: Did Accutane make him do it? USA Today's headline on Jan. 10 was typical: "Teen pilot may have been taking acne drug linked to suicide." (Howard Fienberg, TCS)

Some reporting on the incident was better than others and acknowledged that Charles Bishop was not from the most stable background imaginable: Teen pilot's parents had suicide pact in '84 (AP Jan 10, 2002)

"Lung disease remains leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada" - "TORONTO - Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. And the number of new cases of many types of cancer is on the rise among young people.

But cancer continues to be primarily a disease of older people. Among men, 74 per cent of new cancers and 83 per cent of cancer deaths happen at or after the age of 60. Among women, 63 per cent of new cases and 79 per cent of cancer deaths occur among those who are at least 60." (CBC)

"CDC reports decline in foodborne illness in US" - "NEW YORK, Apr 18 - From 1996 to 2001, there was a decline in the incidence of four major foodborne infections in the US--Yersinia, Campylobacter, Listeria and Salmonella, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, reported Thursday." (Reuters Health) | Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence of Foodborne Illnesses --- Selected Sites, United States, 2001 (CDC)

"Associated Press - Your Cubicle Desk Is Filthier Than Toilet" - "TUCSON, Ariz. (Wireless Flash) ­- Would you consider working while sitting on a toilet? Chances are, it would be cleaner than the desk at which you currently sit. In fact, according to a new study by University of Arizona microbiologist Chuck Gerba, the average desk is covered with 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet. The study, which was funded by Clorox, shows office toilets actually have the lowest levels of germs out of all of the surfaces tested. So what's the most disgusting part of your workspace? The phone is says Dr. Gerba, closely followed by the desk top, water fountain handles, microwave door handles and the computer keyboard. Dr. Gerba says without regular cleaning, these areas can "... sustain millions of bacteria that could potentially cause illness."

"Heinz baked beans, spaghetti shapes to count as ‘vegetables’ in daily intake guidelines" - "Health experts were astounded today [Thursday] to learn that baked beans and canned spaghetti shapes in tomato sauce can now count towards the recommended daily intake of five portions of fruit and vegetables. Backed by the Department of Health, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) has given food manufacturer Heinz the green light to label more than 70 canned food products as counting towards the recommended portions. Considering that many of the products in question contain high levels of salt, sugar and fat, specialists in heart disease are appalled." (just-food.com)

"Food Junkies" - "The much hyped BBC2 TV series, Food Junkies, is typical of its genre. Find some stupid people who claim that they are unable to control what they eat - or whose lifestyles are such that they "don't allow us to come home and make a salad" - and portray them as hapless victims of cynical multinational food companies whose perverse aim is seemingly to kill off the principal consumers of their products. Add in some 'experts', whose life's mission is to rid the world of fat/salt/sugar or whatever, and a few celebrity chefs for good measure - "Yourr feeshancheeps are so deesgusting" mutters Raymond Blanc darkly - and that's 'cutting-edge' television? (Peter Marsh, Social Issues Research Centre)

"Duluth News Tribune | 04 19 2002 | EPA report finds air toxin levels too high" - "WASHINGTON -- Americans have a cancer risk from toxic chemicals in the air that's at least 10 times the Environmental Protection Agency's acceptable level and 12 million people experience risks 100 times as high, according to an unreleased Environmental Protection Agency study. "Millions of people live in areas where air toxics may pose potentially significant health concerns,'' says the report, portions of which were obtained by Knight Ridder. "Although air quality continues to improve, we feel that more needs to be done to reduce the potential for harm from exposures to these chemicals.''

"Newsday.com - Sierra Club begins ad campaign vs. GE on Hudson PCBs issue" - "ALBANY, N.Y. -- An environmental group started running television advertisements Thursday challenging the General Electric Co. to disclose how much it spent on its anti-PCBs dredging campaign for the Hudson River. The Sierra Club ads say GE "wasted" nearly $60 million in its lobbying and public relations effort to persuade the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that dredging was not the best solution to Hudson PCBs contamination."

"U.S. Environment Continues To Improve, Annual Earth Day Report Finds; Researchers Highlight Top-10 Positive Environmental Trends" - "SAN FRANCISCO, April 18 -- Environmental quality continues to improve dramatically in the United States, according to the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators 2002, released today by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI). Authors Steven Hayward and Julie Majeres show that environmental quality has been improving since the first Earth Day 32 years ago, despite public perception that it is getting worse." (U.S. Newswire)

"AP Wire | 04 19 2002 | UW study finds invasive, noxious plants in wildflower mixes" - "SEATTLE - With names like "meadow mixture," "wedding wildflowers" and "backyard biodiversity," you'd think packets of wildflower seeds would sprout nothing but a medley of fragrant blooms.

But when a student at the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture grew 19 packets of wildflower seed mixes marketed in the Pacific Northwest, she found that each contained anywhere from three to 13 invasive species, and eight had seeds for plants considered noxious weeds in at least one state or Canadian province.

A third of the packets listed no contents, and only five of the packets correctly itemized the seeds they contained, the study found."

Terrorists is terrorists: "ABC News - Anti-terrorism law may threaten Greenpeace" - "The Democrats claim organisations, such as Greenpeace, could be banned under the Federal Government's anti-terrorism legislation."

Not before time: "Desal foe: Goliath is winning" - "APOLLO BEACH -- By the end of its uphill battle against Tampa Bay's first desalination plant, the group fighting the $108-million project was reeling from a double whammy. Not only did administrative law Judge J. Lawrence Johnston side with the plant's government and big-money supporters, but the grass-roots group Save Our Bays, Air and Canals was completely broke.

Now SOBAC members and other environmentalists are upset with a recently passed bill making it even harder for citizens groups to gain legal standing. It would require any group interested in mounting an administrative challenge to be incorporated at least one year and have 25 members in the affected county." (St. Petersburg Times)

can't beat this lot for burning up finance and wasting everyone's time though: "Earth Summit 2 in danger from dithering - EU" - "BRUSSELS - A global summit in August aimed at saving the environment while pulling people out of poverty faces failure unless preparatory talks are accelerated, the European Union's top environment official said yesterday. Around 60,000 delegates, including many heads of state, are expected to attend the August 26-September 4 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg." (Reuters)

"UK asteroid centre opens" - "The UK's first government-backed centre to provide public information on asteroids and other near-Earth objects opens to the public on Saturday. Part of the National Space Centre in Leicester, the project is receiving £300,000 of government money to feed an increased public appetite for knowledge about objects relatively close to Earth." (BBC Online)

Speaking of Henny Penny: "UK intervenes in climate row" - "The UK is seeking to dampen the row which threatens to divide the IPCC, the global climate research group. The IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is the UN-sponsored body researching human influences on the climate. The US is seeking to replace the IPCC's chairman, the respected scientist Dr Robert Watson. So the UK is proposing that the IPCC sidesteps the problem by electing two co-chairs. The Bush administration is backing an Indian scientist, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the Tata Energy Research Institute." (BBC Online)

"The IPCC’s “Political” Scientist" - "Environmental activists are up in arms over the Bush Administration’s decision to withdraw its support for Robert Watson as chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the supposed ultimate scientific authority on global warming.  They should be.  Watson has proven to be a master manipulator, willing to twist science to promote a radical anti-energy agenda." (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"Scientists firm up global climate forecasts" - "LONDON - While some meteorologists have difficulty getting the five-day forecast right, climatologists have firmed up their predictions of how much warmer the climate will be over the next 20 to 30 years." (Reuters)

"Hot weather's ill effects seen even at lower temps" - "NEW YORK, Apr 18 - Even a relatively modest increase in outdoor temperatures may send death rates climbing, according to a study by British researchers. While it has long been known that sweltering days are associated with increases in mortality, especially among the elderly, an analysis of temperature and death rates in London revealed that death tolls appear to rise right around 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Centigrade)." (Reuters Health)

Really? That's called 'cold' where I live.

"New report explains ice-age mystery" - "University of California researchers have solved a longstanding mystery for scientists trying to understand how Earth's climate can quickly shift between cold and warm modes. The mystery revolves around the source of a rapid change in the geochemistry of oceanic carbon that occurred just as the last ice age ended, between 16,000 and 20,000 years ago." (University of California - Davis)

"Anchorage Daily News | Homer's weather to be like Juneau's" - "Homer -- When oceanographer Tim Barnett went fishing this week on Kachemak Bay, he was happy to catch king salmon and halibut. No tuna, green turtles or giant sunfish marred his visit to the cold waters of Alaska. Barnett knows, better than most visiting sportfishermen, that such warm-water creatures could be heading back north -- and not just for brief appearances, as they did five years ago during the biggest El Nino climate shift in a century. Barnett is a marine research physicist at the Scripps Institution in La Jolla, Calif. Before going fishing, he galvanized a weekend science conference in Homer with a portrait of Kachemak Bay in 2100."

In praise of vandalism? "Editorials - Montreal Gazette - Sticking it to SUVs" - "Criticism of sport utility vehicles, or SUVs, has become so commonplace that no one pays attention to it. Drowning out the critics' whine is the din of SUV dealerships' cash registers: the latest figures, which cover January and February, show that sales across Canada of gasoline-guzzling light trucks are roaring along at 18 per cent ahead of last year's record pace."

"Greenhouse gas on rise: report" - "The Federal Government has defended its environmental credentials despite a leaked report showing Australia is failing to curb greenhouse-gas pollution. The report, compiled by the Australian Greenhouse Office, found the nation's greenhouse-gas emissions would climb 33 per cent between 1990 and 2010. Australia had pledged under the Kyoto Protocol to limit greenhouse-gas emission growth to 10 per cent. The report says the situation will only get worse, as the 33 per cent figure fails to take into account the impact of land clearing - one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases. Written in September, the report has yet to be issued." (AAP) | Emissions set to soar, says report (The Melbourne Age)

"ABC Sci-Tech - Kemp dismisses Opposition's greenhouse emission claims" - "The Federal Environment Minister has dismissed Opposition claims Australia's greenhouse gas emissions will be more than four times the Kyoto target for 2010. Labor says a leaked document from the Australian Greenhouse Office shows projections are for a 33 per cent increase on 1990 levels by 2010. That is compared to the Kyoto target of an 8 per cent rise."

"Charlotte Observer | 04 19 2002 | Study ties utilities to future dirty air deaths" - "Power plant emissions from Duke Energy and seven other utilities could cause premature deaths in 560 adults a year in the Carolinas, even after more effective pollution controls are installed, says a study by a consulting firm. Abt Associates did the report on fine-particle pollutants for the Rockefeller Family Fund, a New York philanthropy that advocates for the environment and other causes. Abt is an air-pollution consultant for the Environmental Protection Agency, and the EPA's former enforcement chief served as project manager for the study."

"The Seattle Times: Local News: Seattle air ranked in nation's worst 5%" - "WASHINGTON — The Seattle area is in the worst 5 percent of the country for air toxics, and the cancer risk from diesel emissions alone may be roughly 500 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's acceptable level, according to state research that was a follow-up to an unreleased EPA study."

"Green lobby loses eco-vote at BP meeting" - "LONDON - Green groups and ethical shareholders in oil major BP lost a vote yesterday on reporting environmental risks, but said they would keep pushing the company to live up to its green marketing image." (Reuters)

"Business Day - Diesel from plant seeds" - "Diesel made from seeds could provide SA's vehicles with more environmentally friendly fuel and turn today's rural poor into tomorrow's oil barons. A biodiesel project set up by the Africa Eco Foundation to make diesel from plant seeds has been chosen as a legacy project by the organisers of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August. The refining process will be exhibited at the Ubuntu Village at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. The project could power all diesel summit vehicles. But it's still looking for R1,6m to build the first small refinery.

The summit project committee is picky about investors in the project. It's unlikely to allow in large oil companies or leftwing environmental groups."

"EU environment chief expects rough ride in Washington in talks on Kyoto and genetically altered foods" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium - EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstroem said Thursday she expects a rough ride next week when she discusses climate change, genetically altered foods and other divisive topics with U.S. government officials and lawmakers." (AP)

"Doctors reportedly reverse rare 'bubble boy disease'" - "In the most striking success yet for gene therapy, French doctors have apparently cured four little boys of the rare and deadly immune system disorder known as "bubble boy disease." The boys, followed for up to 2 years, now have healthy immune systems, are growing normally and live at home after spending their first months in a sterile environment because they could not fight off disease. The immune system of a fifth boy was only partially restored and he is improving with other treatment. The doctors two years ago reported initial success with the first two patients; the update in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine shows the treatment is still working." (AP)

"UConn's cloned cow delivers first-born" - "A University of Connecticut dairy cow, which was the first farm animal in the United States cloned from nonreproductive cells, has given birth for the first time.

Amy, a 3-year-old Holstein, delivered a healthy 103-pound bull calf on Tuesday, said Dr. Jerry Yang, director of UConn's Center for Regenerative Biology.

Amy's birth in 1999 broke new ground when researchers cloned her from cells taken from the ear of a 14-year-old Holstein named Aspen. Researchers grew the embryo in a lab for seven days before transferring it to a surrogate mother. Mice had been cloned with a similar procedure, but the UConn cow was the first large animal produced, Yang said."

"ABC News - Growers strive for 'green' cotton" - "Cotton Australia says more Australian farmers are growing genetically modified cotton to protect the environment."

"Benefits of GM foods far outweigh the risks" - "Biotechnology already offers benefits to the Australian people, the environment, and the economy through better and safer medicines and diagnostic testing, reduced chemical usage, rehabilitated degraded land, and the creation of a world-renowned bio- industry. Biotechnology has the possibility to further improve our lives, particularly in relation to food. But before people make up their minds about genetically modified food they need to look at the risks and the benefits on a case-by-case basis." (Canberra Times)

"'Worst ever' GM crop invasion" - "THE world's worst case of pollution by genetically-engineered crops has taken place in southern Mexico, the gene bank for maize, one of the world's staple crops, the Mexican government said yesterday. Findings by Mexican scientists mark a new twist to a story that has provoked a bitter scientific battle on both sides of the Atlantic." (Telegraph)

April 18, 2002

"BBC News | HEALTH | Foam mattress link to cot death" - "Baby vomit which soaks into foam mattresses might help explain some cases of cot death, research suggests. Bacteria linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) seem to thrive in vomit-soaked polyurethane foam, especially if the babies drink formula, rather than breast milk, it is revealed. The situation is worse if the mattress is old or has been used previously by another baby. Experiments at De Montfort University in Leicester also found that if mattresses are disturbed to mimic a baby's movements, enough bacteria can rise into the air to cause life-threatening throat infections."

"Irradiated ground beef goes mainstream" - "If irradiated ground beef sounds a bit spooky, a bit futuristic, think again. You already might be eating it. Two years after its national debut in Minneapolis grocery stores, irradiated ground beef is available at thousands of supermarkets across the country. And in a move that could open the irradiation floodgates in the $115 billion fast-food industry, Edina, Minn.-based International Dairy Queen has begun testing it at two Minnesota stores. "This is historic," said Ron Eustice, executive director of the Minnesota Beef Council. "In two short years, we've grown from the zero to the point now where irradiated ground beef is expanding rapidly... ." The growing availability of irradiated ground beef gives many consumers confidence the burgers they cook medium rare on the back-yard grill won't make them sick and that the burgers slung by a teenage cook at a fast-food joint are safe." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Los Angeles Times - Dispel the Myth That Cheap Food Comes Without High Costs" - "Earth Day is a perfect time to celebrate the first, true gift of the Earth to us: food. Before we toss our hats into the air, though, we might want to start with an admission. While we in the United States like to think we're blessed with the world's best and cheapest food, we've actually let market prices lie to us. They don't register all the hidden costs of our "factory farming" model, costs that undermine the very sustainability of nature's gifts."

From California - the land of fruits and nuts eh?

"Environmental News Network - Hidden Pesticide Hazards Lurk in Newly Built Homes" - "Current termite control practices are hazardous for new homeowners, who are not even required to be notified of toxic chemical use (soil poisons)," said Jay Feldman, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based group Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides. A 2000 square foot home requires that 380 gallons of pesticide be pumped into the ground. In a 100 home subdivision, that's about 38 thousand gallons put where children and pets play, and the family gardens."

Children play underneath the house foundations now? Not convinced that gardening under the foundations is such a good idea either...

"Newsday.com - Two Efforts Seek to Halt Pesticide Use" - "Long Island environmentalists and some key allies in the State Legislature this week launched a two-pronged assault on chemical weed-killers, including a far-reaching proposed state law that would ban many lawn chemicals that cause cancer in lab animals."

"FEATURE - Planet's health source of much debate" - "JOHANNESBURG - Life on the planet and the ills that plague it will be marked on Earth Day on Monday with "green events" planned by governments and activists around the globe." (Reuters)

"Britain's Prescott dampens hopes for environment meeting - 4 18 2002 - ENN.com" - "BRASILIA, Brazil — British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott tried Wednesday to lower expectations for a world leaders summit on the environment in August, saying some nongovernmental groups were making unrealistic demands. On a visit to Brazil to help draw up an agenda for the meeting in South Africa, Prescott said it would be "disastrous" if the World Summit on Sustainable Development set overly ambitious goals and was ultimately seen to fail."

"EU plays down "leaked" trade plans, greens angry" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission dismissed reports yesterday its efforts to bring about trade liberalisation would hit state-run services in poor nations. But green groups raged at what they called threats to people and the environment contained in documents which they said the Commission, the EU's executive arm, wanted to keep secret. The controversy centres on efforts to liberalise the worldwide market for services, in which cross-border trade is estimated at more than one trillion dollars a year." (Reuters)

"INTERVIEW - World needs global green tax - EU agency head" - "BRUSSELS - As the world tries to shake off recession, few policymakers would recommend hiking energy prices as a way to kick-start the global economy, but the head of the European Environment Agency is calling for exactly that. EEA Executive Director Domingo Jimenez-Beltran wants a global tax on environmentally harmful fossil fuels, with the proceeds used to help develop the world's poorest countries. "Unless you get some global taxation it will be impossible to tackle the effects of globalisation," he told Reuters in an interview." (Reuters)

"Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Jefferson Hills council considers ban on fly ash in building materials" - "Jefferson Hills council could ban the use of fly-ash-mixed concrete in private and public road and construction projects in the borough. That's the latest development in the fly-ash controversy that has simmered since fears surfaced that Orion Power, which dumps fly ash from its Elrama plant at Fern Valley, would start another dump site in the borough once Fern Valley is filled to capacity this year. Orion claims it will not start another dump site in the borough and that everything it does is legal. The state Department of Environmental Protection backed Orion. Environmentalists argue that fly ash is toxic and, if spread through the ground and local streams, is dangerous to residents' health."

"Lake mud holds secrets to forecasting future salmon abundances, Queen's researchers say" - "Startling research by Queen's University biologists reveals that surprisingly wide fluctuations in salmon populations occurred long before humans began fishing, or concerns were raised about depleted stocks. The researchers, who's findings appear in the April 2002 edition of Nature, say they were shocked to document very low population numbers in the period ca.100 BC to 300 AD, solely as a result of natural fluctuations." (Queen's University) | Fish follow weather; Salmon and climate have been linked for millennia (NSU) | Fisheries productivity in the northeastern Pacific Ocean over the past 2,200 years (Nature)

"Rift Valley Fever" - "Scientists are learning that the key to predicting certain epidemics -- like Rift Valley fever in Africa or Hanta virus in the U.S. -- lies in an unexpected place: the ocean." (Science@NASA)

"Massive weather study heads for the skies and roads of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas" - "One of the largest weather-related studies in U.S. history will track the nearly invisible swaths of moisture that fuel heavy rain across the southern Great Plains from Texas to Kansas. Led by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the study will take place May 13 to June 25." (NCAR/UCAR)

"Studies: Global warming could be worse" - "LONDON, England -- Two new climate studies predict that global warming by the end of the century will be even more dramatic than a United Nations group has predicted." (CNN) | Rate of global warming accelerates (The Times) | Climate change: The 20-year forecast (Nature) | Constraints on radiative forcing and future climate change from observations and climate model ensembles (Nature) | Origins and estimates of uncertainty in predictions of twenty-first century temperature rise (Nature)

"April surprise" - "NO PIT in this peach. It's summer, and we'll enjoy it for as long as it lasts. Let the Cassandras estimate payment due for April's kindness. Let them sink into a funk about global warming, the drought, the strange mild winter, and the memory of even stranger springs when, yes, it did snow in May. We'd rather listen to Bill Babcock. Asked to explain the weird climate, the cheerful meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton says: ''Weather is always weird. That's what draws some of us to it.'' He says he's open to the global warming research but notes that ''in the 1970s, people were talking about a global ice age.'' He advises that people ''put it all in perspective.'' (Boston Globe)

"The Heat Before the Cold" - "WOODS HOLE, Mass. — This week's unexpected heat wave across much of the Northeast and Midwest, coupled with recent reports about the surprisingly fast collapse of an Antarctic ice shelf the size of Rhode Island, has heightened fears of a long-term rise in temperatures brought about by global warming. But this fear may be misguided. In fact, paradoxically, global warming could actually bring colder temperatures to some highly populated areas like Eastern North America and Western Europe." (New York Times)

World Climate Report Volume 7, Number 16, April 22, 2002 (co2andclimate.org)

"Global warming row heats up" - "The UN-sponsored scientific body charged with gathering evidence on global warming has started its annual meeting in Geneva. The meeting will be dominated by the election for chair, with the United States aiming to oust the incumbent, Robert Watson.

Robert Watson says he is confident of winning - but the US is one of the IPCC's biggest financial donors, and environmental groups fear that if Mr Watson does prevail, the Bush administration could withdraw its financial support for a body whose conclusions it disputes." (BBC Online)

"No more delays on global warming" - "The keenest insights into a country often come from people who live outside its borders. That observation certainly applies to Ottawa's commitment to the Kyoto agreement on climate change. Margot Wallstrom, European Union commissioner for the environment, left Canada this week with the clear impression that Ottawa is backing away from the protocol. "I am worried about Canada," she said. "I don't feel that I can be convinced that they will ratify." Attempting to dispel that concern in the Commons on Monday, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien managed to create even more doubt. Saying his government would make a decision "when we have all the data," the PM went on to talk about the possibility of signing Kyoto "one day." (Toronto Star)

The Globe taking climate advice from 1st graders (nothing unusual about that, the Ol' Gray Lady seems to do it a lot): "Boston Globe Online Metro | Region Sun beams" - "As summery temperatures were slated to break records today after flirting with previous highs yesterday, the lunchtime talk in parks around Boston was about daffodils and tulips, cherry blossoms, and the polar ice caps.

Polar ice caps?

''Days like this are bad for them,'' said Christian Raymond, a first grader at the Forestdale Elementary School in Sandwich, while waiting in a long line yesterday for a swan boat ride in Boston's Public Garden.

''Days like this,'' he explained, ''melt 'em.''

Perhaps it's the nature of New Englanders to find foreboding in a beautiful day. But an informal poll of the many revelers in an April sunbath found quite a few also were fretting about global warming.

About half of the 24 people surveyed at the Public Garden, Boston Common, and the Esplanade expressed varying degrees of guilt about the fine weather out of concern that it signals danger for the earth."

"Martin backs Kyoto only if it is a sure fix" - "OTTAWA - Paul Martin, the Minister of Finance, entered the debate on the Kyoto Protocol yesterday for the first time, saying Canada wants to ratify the treaty but only if it can be shown that it makes a difference in stopping climate change. Mr. Martin was one of several ministers expressing caution about proceeding with ratification of the Kyoto agreement after a Cabinet discussion on the issue yesterday." (National Post)

"ABC Australia News - 18 04 02 : Govt failing at reducing greenhouse emissions: Opposition" - "The Federal Opposition has released figures which it says shows the Government's greenhouse reduction measures are failing. Labor's Environment spokesman, Kelvin Thompson, says figures from a leaked document show that by 2010 emissions will be 33 per cent above 1990 levels."

"Study Sees 6,000 Deaths From Power Plants" - "WASHINGTON, April 17 — A study prepared by a private contractor estimates that pollution from more than 80 power plants owned by eight electric utilities will cause nearly 6,000 premature deaths in the year 2007. The number is lower than the estimated number of deaths by pollution now because the air is getting cleaner, but the utility industry still cast doubt on the study's credibility." (New York Times) | Study Says 8 Utilities' Pollution Causes Premature Deaths (Washington Post) | U.S. utility pollution kills 5,900 a year, says study - 4 18 2002 - ENN.com

"San Francisco Chronicle - 2 oil giants deceived public on MTBE's hazards, jury finds" - "In a landmark case, a San Francisco jury has found that gasoline with the additive MTBE is a defective product and that two major oil companies were aware of the chemical's dangers but withheld the information when they put it on the market.

The Superior Court jury made its finding in a product liability case brought by the South Tahoe Public Utility District over contamination of the district's groundwater. The district sued in 1998 after MTBE pollution forced it to close a third of its drinking water wells.

In its verdict Monday, the jury said Shell Oil Co., Lyondell Chemical Co. (formerly Atlantic Richfield Chemical Co.) and Tosco Corp. (now part of Phillips Petroleum) had placed a defective product on the market when they began selling gasoline with MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether."

"Landmark UK offshore wind farm wins approval" - "LONDON - North Sea winds, bane to generations of shivering tourists, were set to find a more positive role after the government's approval yesterday of Britain's first commercial offshore wind farm. The scheme will be the largest offshore wind farm in the country, consisting of 38 turbines with a capacity of 76 megawatts, at Scroby Sands off Great Yarmouth on England's east coast." (Reuters)

"North Ireland offshore wind power plan hits snag" - "LONDON - Plans to build Northern Ireland's first offshore wind farm have suffered a setback after none of the interested companies were able to meet the terms of the tender, said Britain's Crown Estate yesterday. The Crown Estate, which grants leases for building wind farms on the seabed, closed the tender last week without awarding a contract, Frank Parrish, head of marine estates at the Crown Estate told a news conference." (Reuters)

"UK Brown's budget placates road lobby and greens" - "LONDON - Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) Gordon Brown managed the trick of pleasing both the road lobby and environmentalists in the annual budget yesterday. The transport industry said a freeze on fuel duty and vehicle excise duty was a relief to business, while green groups said new incentives for the cleanest fuels and vehicles were a step in the right direction." (Reuters)

"Consumers not really worried about avoiding GM, says study" - "While previous studies have found that 80% to 90% of Europeans don't want GM foods, manufacturers who sell both GM and conventional products have noticed that the two versions sell about the same. This paradox is an important one for food producers, farmers and other agribusinesses, argues Charles Noussair, associate professor of economics at Purdue University. However, Noussair says it is common for public opinion and consumer behaviour to differ: "Opinion surveys capture the respondent in the role of a voter, not in the role of a consumer. "The two behaviours can be quite different, as many studies have shown." (just-food.com) | Europeans can't tell modified food by their labels, study finds (Purdue University)

"World not ready for GM wheat - conference" - "MELBOURNE - The world market was not ready for genetically modified (GM) wheat, which occupied a special category in the world food chain, industry leaders told the Grains Week conference yesterday. Millers and bakers would not deal with GM wheat, while stores would not put GM wheat or noodles on their shelves amid current public concern, Alan Tracy, president of U.S. Wheat Associates, said." (Reuters)

"Destruction of experimental GMO field trials is unacceptable, says European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin" - "Following the destruction of an experimental field trial with genetically modified colza in Alost, Belgium, last week, the latest in a series of recent attacks on field trials across Europe, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin today expressed his firm disapproval for these acts of violence. Field trials are conducted for developing genetically modified as well as conventional plant varieties. The plant trials destroyed during the attacks had been authorised by Belgian authorities and were carried out under the appropriate health and safety conditions, in full compliance with EU and local legislation. Plants targeted by vandals had been modified through new, more precise and efficient genetic methods. Adding the same genes through conventional plant breeding methods is a far more imprecise and longer process. If carried out in the proper safety framework, promising GMO technologies are expected to enhance EU performance in health, environmental and agricultural policy.

"This is an example of ignorance and prejudice leading to illegal acts of violence, that in the long run can only deny society the benefits that scientific progress will bring about", said Commissioner Busquin. "The freedom of research is a fundamental value in democratic societies. This kind of research is key to overcoming suspicion and uncertainty about such crops. If we do not invest enough in GMO research, our ability to innovate and assess potential risks could be hampered. Ultimately, European citizens will be the losers." (ERC Press Release)

April 17, 2002

"Mother of Teenage Suicide Pilot Sues Maker of Acne Drug She Says He Used" - "MIAMI, April 16 — The mother of a teenager who killed himself by flying a Cessna plane into a Tampa high-rise office building in January has sued the maker of an acne medication, contending that the drug had made her son psychotic and suicidal. In the lawsuit filed today in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, Julie Bishop contends that her son, Charles, 15, killed himself in a psychotic episode caused by the prescription drug Accutane, which is manufactured by Hoffman-LaRoche Inc., based in Nutley, N.J." (New York Times)

See Bumps in the Night (Michael Fumento)

"Environmental factors should be linked to health care: CMA Journal" - "HALIFAX - The Canadian Medical Association Journal is launching a campaign to help doctors link the effects of the environment with the health of their patients, a connection some say is being overlooked. The Nova Scotia Environmental Health Centre's Dr. Jonathan Fox says he sees many patients who report that their family doctors are confused by their collection of symptoms.

He estimates 15 to 20 per cent of the population may show symptoms that are linked to exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides, lead or any of the 70,000 industrial chemicals used in Canada." (CBC)

"Minster defends animal experiments" - "The UK Government has made a strong defence of those scientists who experiment on animals for medical research. The health minister Lord Hunt said the testing could be "absolutely essential" to the discovery of new treatments. In a speech setting out the administration's attitude towards animal experimentation, the minister criticised those who had tried to harm or intimidate researchers. A number of UK institutions and companies where animal testing is conducted - such as Huntingdon Life Sciences in Cambridgeshire - have been the target of sustained protest by animal welfare groups." (BBC Online)

"Homegrown Terrorism" - "We have seen the results of ignoring early signs of terrorist threats; why are we now disregarding the growing danger of eco-terrorism?" (Elan Journo, Ayn Rand Institute)

"Skepticism toward The Skeptical Environmentalist" - "In its January 2002 issue, Scientific American published the feature "Misleading Math about the Earth," in which four environmental experts—Stephen Schneider, John Holdren, John Bongaarts and Thomas Lovejoy—criticized The Skeptical Environmentalist’s arguments on global warming, energy, overpopulation and biodiversity. Lomborg has since written a detailed online rebuttal to our feature; we also have some responses to that rebuttal." ([allegedly] Scientific American)

"Rewarding Private Conservation; Private property can be nature’s best friend" - "The Center for Private Conservation (CPC) held its third annual private conservation award ceremony this past weekend at Natural Bridge in Virginia. The award was presented to the owners of the 1,600-acre site, Angelo and Millie Puglisi, by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. "No Washington law ordered the owners of Natural Bridge to keep the wildflowers or protect the huge diversity of bird species that live here," Norton declared. She praised the Puglisis as worthy examples of stewardship that protects and enhances the environmental quality of privately owned landscapes." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

Oh, horse spit! "ABC News - Crean pledges to stop Barrier Reef drilling" - "Federal Opposition leader Simon Crean says Labor is prepared to legislate to stop oil drilling on or near the Great Barrier Reef."

He's about a quarter-century too late - drilling on the reef has long been illegal under the GBRMP Act (1975), protection strengthened again under the Environment, Sport and Territories Amendment Act Number 2 (1995) and reinforced yet again by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999).

No wonder Australia's Labor Party is 'The Lost Left,' totally clueless about all things environmental, they haven't caught up with the last 3 decades. Sheesh!

"Extensive research survey confirms life on Earth now being affected by global warming" - "A comprehensive summary has revealed, for the first time, the dramatic extent of disruptions now being experienced by Earth's species as a result of global warming. The extensive report compiles the results of over 100 research studies on the effects that recent climate changes have had on animals and plants throughout the world. "That anyone can question whether living things are being affected by climate change now seems incredibly dubious itself," says one of the researchers." (Penn State)

"The Future of Earth's Vegetation: What Will the Landscape Look Like in a High-CO2 World? A Case Study of the Mediterranean Region" - "Summary: What if the earth experiences a CO2-induced warming somewhere in the middle of the ever-widening range of what is currently predicted for the future? What will happen? Specifically, what will happen in areas where moisture is at a premium and warming might be expected to exacerbate the situation? A recent study of lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea gives us a glimpse of what we could logically expect to occur." (co2science.org)

"Carbon Sequestration Commentary: Are Natural Lakes and Man-Made Reservoirs Significant Sinks for Anthropogenic Carbon?" - "Summary: Read on. The answer may surprise you." (co2science.org)

"Climate Change At the Source of the Holy Ganga" - "Summary: The site is a long ways from the North Atlantic Ocean, but the climatic histories of the two locations proceed in lockstep fashion over the past 2000 years, revealing the global nature of the millennial-scale climatic oscillation that rules the world and is ushering in the planet's Modern Warm Period. Current Science 82: 347-351." (co2science.org)

"Thousands at risk of Himalaya glacier floods - study" - "LONDON - More than 40 Himalayan lakes could burst their banks in five years' time, sending millions of gallons of floodwater down into the valleys and killing thousands, scientists said yesterday. The lakes, formed by water from melting glaciers, are filling up faster and faster as glaciers succumb to global warming. Average temperatures in the Himalayas have risen by one degree Celsius since the 1970s." (Reuters)

"Earlier Springs: A Consequence of Global Warming or North Atlantic Oscillation?" - "Summary: Inquiring minds want to know. Journal of Climate 15: 435-445." (co2science.org)

"Florida Wildfires and ENSO: Is There a Relationship?" - "Summary: Yes, there is. And you've got to love it! Physical Geography 22: 187-203." (co2science.org)

"El Nino chances increase slightly - Australia" - "SYDNEY - The chances of an El Nino event affecting Australia this year have slightly increased, the Bureau of Meteorology said yesterday. "With continued warming in the eastern Pacific and a fall in the Southern Oscillation Index, the chance of an event has risen slightly," it said. "Climate scientists at the Bureau of Meteorology suggest the odds for an El Nino event this year are now around 60-40, which is more than double the normal level of risk." (Reuters)

"Trade battle soon to escalate -- The Washington Times" - "President Bush's recent tariffs on steel imports drew threats of retaliation, particularly from Europeans who are most directly impacted. They and others are presently cobbling responses, to not only leaven the hit on their industries but to modify U.S. behavior, present and future. Wrangling over the legality of these maneuverings likely will only have begun when later this year the Europeans threaten trade sanctions dwarfing this debate. This during two weeks in August and September when the world's trade, economic and environment ministers meet in Johannesburg for the World Summit on Sustainable Development."

"Canada takes swipe at EU after Kyoto showdown" - "OTTAWA - Canada accused the European Union yesterday of behaving bizarrely by rejecting Ottawa's plea for a further dilution of the already troubled Kyoto protocol on global warming." (Reuters)

"PM reaffirms Ottawa's plans to ratify Kyoto; Won't be tied to deadline, Chrétien says, cost-benefit analysis needed first" - "OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Jean Chrétien reaffirmed his government's intention to ratify the controversial Kyoto Protocol despite mounting doubt about whether Canada can afford it -- but he signalled that he won't be nailed down to a deadline. "A cost-benefit analysis is being carried out and when we have all of the data we will make the decision," he told the House of Commons. "I think it's important for Canada to position itself so as to sign Kyoto one day," he said." (Globe and Mail)

"Not a good day, mate" - "The Kyoto Protocol is bad news for Australia's economy, which lives or dies by its exports of commodities.

"Global warming" didn't become irrelevant to business after the U.S., the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol last year. It remains very much an issue in boardrooms and factories in places that are still on board, like Australia.

The Aussies emit just 1.4% of the world's greenhouse gases but have the highest per capita emissions in the developed world, in good part because so much of their electricity, 80%, is generated by coal-fired plants.

Estimates of Kyoto's cost in Australia range as high as 2% of annual GDP (news - web sites) (now $385 billion), with the full effect kicking in around 2008. The estimate of 2% is the highest in the industrialized world. "In simple terms, [it] means cutting your fossil fuel output by 20% to 40% of what it would be in 2008 or finding another way to reduce your emissions," says Warwick McKibbin, an economics professor at Australian National University, who with the government is doing a forecast of likely effects." (Forbes Magazine)

"New Zealand Herald - Stepping on gas to cut greenhouse emissions" - "Almost all of the pastoral sector, including listed company Wrightson, has formed a research consortium that aims to reduce methane gas emissions from belching livestock. Wrightson, its cornerstone shareholder Fonterra, Meat New Zealand, the Wool Board, the Game Industry Board, AgResearch and the Fertiliser Manufacturers' Research Association have lodged a bid for matching state funding under the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology's new research consortium scheme. The scheme aims to boost private sector research and development by providing up to half the money for research projects costing around $5 million a year for up to seven years. Methane released by New Zealand's 45 million sheep and 8 million cattle accounts for 44 per cent of greenhouse gases. Reducing it is a priority as the Government prepares to ratify the Kyoto climate-change agreement."

"EPA going it alone on utility emission rules - Democrats" - "WASHINGTON - Democrats assailed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday for charging ahead with a plan to relax air pollution standards for aging U.S. power plants without seeking advice from health and environment experts." (Reuters)

"Entergy eyes early permit for Mississippi nuclear site" - "SAN FRANCISCO - Entergy Nuclear said yesterday it will prepare an early site permit for a possible new nuclear reactor at its Grand Gulf site in Mississippi, making it the third utility to announce plans to seek such permits. Although plans are preliminary, the fact that three companies are considering permits is a big step for an industry that has been virtually in a deep freeze for decades." (Reuters)

"BBC News | ENGLAND | UK's biggest wind farm sets sail" - "The UK's biggest offshore wind farm, which is planned near Great Yarmouth, is set to be approved by Energy Minister Brian Wilson. It is understood the minister will give the go-ahead for the plans to build the £78m farm off the Norfolk coast at a conference on Wednesday. The scheme would be the second largest offshore wind plant in the world and would provide enough electricity to power more than 50,000 homes. A total of 38 wind turbines, towering to a height of up to 300 feet (100m), are planned, which would be built on a sandbank in the North Sea."

"CNW - Vehicle anti-idling campaign comes to Mississauga schools" - "MISSISSAUGA, ON, April 16 - "Turn off your car" is the message Mississauga children will soon be giving their parents. The year-long Anti-Idling Campaign, launched last October by the City of Mississauga and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), is now bringing youth-oriented messages to area schools."

"'E Diesel' Could Help Corn Farmers (washingtonpost.com)" - "URBANA, Ill. –– Mixing the corn in his fields with the diesel powering his tractors has worked so far for farmer Paul Keiser. Now experts are trying to prove it can work for others, too. University of Illinois researchers are studying an experimental fuel that combines ethanol – produced from corn – with diesel. They hope testing of the so-called E diesel at two Illinois farms and in the lab will show the blend is durable, cost-effective and better for the environment than normal diesel."

"Poor nations lose out in gene crop trials - UN" - "GENEVA - Trials of genetically modified crops will fail to help developing countries because most of the testing is more concerned with developing herbicide tolerance and pest resistance than improving yield, the U.N. said yesterday. Only a quarter of field tests in the United States and 12.5 percent in the European Union relate directly to crop yield, an analysis released by the U.N. University Institute for New Technologies (UNU/INTECH) showed." (Reuters)

Just why pest resistance and improved weed management wouldn't relate to improved yields in developing countries is something of a mystery since crop yield loss to predators, parasites, disease and competing species (weeds) is highly significant.

"Unapproved Canola Seed May Be on Farms, Makers Say" - "Monsanto and Aventis CropScience said yesterday that some genetically modified canola seeds that have not been approved in the United States might have found their way to farmers' fields. The two companies are now seeking regulatory approval of those seeds to prevent possible recalls of seeds or food. The canola does not appear to present a health threat. While the Aventis canola has not been approved for planting in the United States, it is approved for food use when imported directly to food processing factories from Canada. The Monsanto crop has not been approved for food use, but the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it deemed the canola safe." (New York Times)

April 16, 2002

"RADIO DEBATE: ACSH Weighs In on Chemical Industry" - "ACSH's Jeff Stier contributed to the debate on the chemical industry broadcast April 15 on NPR. You can hear it here: Toxic Torts: The Chemical Industry and Public Health" (ACSH)

"The WTC 'Cough'?" - "Sometimes science ain't sexy, especially when it's accurate." (Howard Fienberg, TCS)

"Pesticide 'causes frogs to change sex'" - "Frogs and toads are rapidly disappearing around the world and nobody knows why. Climate change, pollution, and unknown diseases have all been blamed. Now, a US biologist has put forward another explanation - pesticides. In the lab at least, one of the world's best selling weedkillers seems to cause male frogs to change sex. Dr Tyrone Hayes of the University of California, Berkeley, claims atrazine could be a danger to amphibians in the wild. Environmental campaigners are calling for a ban on the herbicide, amid concerns about human health." (BBC Online) | Popular weed killer demasculinizes frogs, disrupts their sexual development (University of California - Berkeley)

So, frogs are dying of ozone depletion/chytrid fungus infection/environmental toxins/parasitic nematodes/pollution/climate change/endocrine disruption from effluent discharges/power plant- and/or traffic emissions/introduced predators/competitors/habitat disturbance and now the fickle finger of blame points to atrazine. It's a real surprise they haven't turned their toads up.

For The Children™ du jour: "Children face environmental risks" - "Children across Europe have to cope with health risks they should not be expected to tolerate, experts say. The warning comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Environment Agency (EEA)." (BBC Online)

Wail, hand-wring - risks for children in the developed world have...declined dramatically over the last century (which is basically why life expectancies have increased steadily) while they have reduced, albeit far less dramatically, for children even in less developed countries (much work remains to be done).

"Fight Fat in Children by Enacting a Plan. Now." - "The nation's children — indeed, the world's — are fatter than ever. Unless something is done now, the health costs will be astronomical." (Jane E. Brody, New York Times)

Providing consumers with what they want (whoever heard of consumers forced to eat a burger and fries at gunpoint?) and doing so cheaply is a requirement of staying in business, not something requiring immediate redress.

Kids are packing on the pounds because their exercise level is inadequate but Brownell, CSPI, et al should be very careful about finger-pointing. After all, someone might start wondering why challenging (interesting and fun) playground equipment is being stripped from public places and who it was that so terrified parents about the nonexistent consequences of their children's exposure to trace amounts of toxic compounds on play equipment, playgrounds, sports fields, in urban air and even the toxicity of sunlight that these kids are not permitted - let alone encouraged - to run, climb, swing and generally engage in the myriad activities that used to allow the expenditure of excess calories and the development of fit, healthy young bodies.

Seems to me that ambulance-chasing lawyers seeking to sue owners of playgrounds and equipment and the toxic scare industry must share a super-sized portion of the blame for sedentary kids with little better to do than eat and gain weight.

Specious scare campaigns are making the population really sick. "For the children"? Hah!

"Asking if Obesity Is a Disease or Just a Symptom" - "Underlying obesity warnings are some assumptions about health that, some leading researchers say, have yet to be supported by facts." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"New Growth Charts Dispel the Myth That One Size Fits All" - "New studies address the inaccuracies associated with standardized growth charts that have long been criticized by pediatricians." (New York Times)

"Maya Children Face Serious Weight Problems" - "A Maya child growing up in the United States is three times as likely to be overweight as the average American child." (New York Times)

"Health Panel Advises Consumers About New 'Functional Foods' Category" - "New York, NY—April, 2002. Consumers today are inundated with ads for so-called "functional foods" that will supposedly improve their health. But scientists and physicians associated with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) find that many of the supposed health benefits of these foods are not backed by substantial scientific information." (ACSH)

"We consume more alcohol, but have fewer adverse health effects" - "Everyone knows that drinking too much alcohol can ruin a person’s liver or lead to accidents. So why are Miami Valley death rates for liver disease and accidents lower than nationally, even though more people drink heavily here than in national averages?" (Dayton Daily News)

"Hidden Danger of Long-Haul Flying, or Sitting" - "That issue is about to get a very public hearing. In the last year, a flurry of lawsuits has been filed around the world, contending that failure on the part of air carriers to inform passengers adequately about the malady, known as deep vein thrombosis, or colloquially as economy-class syndrome, has resulted in needless injury and death. And last week in Britain, a parliamentary committee called for more research into the possible links between the ailment and air travel." (New York Times)

"Scientists Seek Logging Ban on U.S.-Owned Land" - "HELENA, Mont., April 15 — A letter signed by 221 scientists and sent to President Bush today calls for ending all logging on federally owned forests, arguing that the value of the timber produced was minuscule compared with the environmental damage caused by the harvests. The letter, a project of the Sierra Club and signed by Dr. Edward O. Wilson, Dr. Anne Ehrlich and other prominent scientists, primarily biologists, asserted that the American taxpayer not only subsidizes logging directly, but also indirectly, because logging reduces the economic value of the forest for other uses." (New York Times)

"Migrating monarchs recover from Mexico storm" - "Monarch butterflies have criss-crossed this continent every year since the Ice Age -- and a single freak freeze in their winter homes this year apparently hasn't stopped them. The monarchs are making their annual northbound trek through Texas this month in higher numbers than previous years, scientists say, in spite of a January storm that killed an estimated 270 million in Michoacan, Mexico. The storm, and their strong numbers in Texas this year, has deepened the mystery surrounding the butterflies and their migratory patterns -- most notably, scientists say, how many monarchs there actually are. Before the storm, the population was estimated at 100 million. Now, some researchers say there may have been as many as a half-billion monarchs wintering in Mexico. Theories are varied on why so many are being seen in Texas after their deaths in Mexico. But there is little doubt the monarchs weathered the storm." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

"Irish Newspapers - Even lawyers held in higher esteem than politicians, poll finds" - "DOCTORS are the most trusted professionals in Ireland - but politicians are the group who are held in least esteem, according to the results of a new poll.

... When Irish people were posed a series of questions to test their scientific knowledge they emerged as one of the least informed countries along with Portugal, Greece and Spain with Sweden, Denmark and Finland managing the highest scores. The topics covered included air pollution, the greenhouse effect, genetically modified organisms and mad cow disease. A large number wrongly believed holes in the ozone layer are caused by "more storms and tornadoes." One quarter of Europeans say they are unable to say whether genetically modified foods are harmful to health but there remains strong scepticism about the impact of technology on the environment."

"Green Alert; April 12, 2002 Vol. 1, No. 25" - "Earth’s rising atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide certainly ranks among the most highly publicized environmental changes of modern time. The change is believed by many to be driven by the combustion of fossil fuels and to be the primary cause of global warming during the past century. Less well known is a parallel human-induced phenomenon of similar global reach and significance: the release of nitrogen to the atmosphere. This rise is an important phenomenon because it is assured the nitrogen returns to earth’s surface. In this way it is able to influence a number of biological processes, including the sequestration of carbon in soils. Does atmospheric nitrogen deposition help or hinder soil carbon storage?" (co2andclimate.org)

"BBC News | NORTHERN IRELAND | NI climate change risks outlined" - "People in Northern Ireland should not be complacent about climate change affecting their lives, the environment minister has warned. Dermot Nesbitt was speaking after a study revealed the impacts of climate change on Northern Ireland's environment, economy and natural resources. Entitled "The Implications of Climate Change for Northern Ireland", the study said coasts could change over coming years due to higher sea levels."

"Canada heading for showdown over Kyoto protocol" - "BANFF - For months now the world's major powers have twiddled their thumbs politely as they waited for Canada to stop its endless agonizing over whether to ratify the Kyoto protocol on global warming.

But any hope that Ottawa had of stringing along its partners for much longer ended with a shocking bang on the weekend when the powerful European Union lost its temper and told Canada to stop pleading for more lenient treatment.

Kyoto poses energy-rich Canada several tough political and economic challenges and some suspect the showdown will help push Ottawa down the same path taken by the United States, which abandoned the treaty last year and immediately became an international pariah." (Reuters)

"Kyoto Protocol dominates G8 environment talks" - "BANFF, Alberta -- A weekend of talks on strengthening the role of environmental issues in development became another forum for European countries to criticize the U.S. rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and its policies on greenhouse gas emissions. Environment ministers of the world's industrial powers finished their annual meeting Sunday by calling for the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development to include environmental concerns in setting policy." (AP)

"Senior ministers to tell Chrétien to withdraw from Kyoto accord" - "OTTAWA and BANFF - Senior ministers are expected to urge Jean Chrétien at a Cabinet meeting tomorrow to forgo ratifying the Kyoto treaty on climate change and instead look for a made-in-Canada alternative. The ministers are expected to argue that the treaty is unworkable and a danger to the national economy, sources said." (National Post)

"CNEWS Politics - 'Reject Kyoto,' says minister" - "Alberta's environment minister is disappointed the European Union rejected Ottawa's plan to swap clean energy credits for its Kyoto responsibilities. "The federal government should reject the Kyoto agreement (over this). Clean energy exports are the deal-breaker," Lorne Taylor said yesterday, following a G-8 environment ministers meeting in Banff."

"EU fridge rules cost £60m" - "A £20 MILLION industry exporting refurbished fridges was inadvertantly destroyed under new European Union regulations, Michael Meacher, the environment minister, admitted yesterday." (Telegraph)

"Offshore Harvest of Wind Is Proposed for Cape Cod" - "If three wind-power proponents succeed, 170 slender turbines will one day appear in Nantucket Sound and, if the winds are right, generate nearly half the electrical supply for Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket." (New York Times)

"Unpredictable wind energy - the Danish dilemma" - "With limited reserves of only oil and gas and the perceived onset of global warming, Denmark has a great incentive to develop new technologies for exploiting alternative sources of renewable energy and reducing energy demand. One of its many options is the harnessing of wind energy - a route that it has explored in great detail. This report describes some serious problems encountered in the extensive deployment of wind turbines in Denmark, and briefly summarises published accounts of the experiences and opinions of variously implicated Danish and foreign organisations and bodies." (Landsforeningen Naboer til Vindmøller, LNtV)

"Charlotte Observer | 04 16 2002 | Panel offers steps to clean air" - "With recommendations that range from getting smoke-puffing cars off the road to promoting urban forests, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg advisory group gingerly steps this week into a new realm of air-pollution control. The 28-member Breathe committee began work in September, a few months after Mecklenburg commissioners and the Charlotte City Council called for "proactive" steps to clean up local air. The group, whose draft recommendations will be the subject of a Thursday night public meeting, came down on the side of voluntary, reward-driven measures instead of new laws."

"Exelon drops out of nuke plant design group - US government" - "WASHINGTON - Exelon Corp , the nation's biggest owner of nuclear power plants, is dropping out of an international consortium developing a smaller, cheaper kind of nuclear plant, a U.S. Energy Department official said yesterday. The Chicago-based utility will halt its funding of the so-called pebble bed modular reactor, currently in the design stage, said Norton Haberman, a DOE official." (Reuters)

"Dutch govt buys nuclear waste storage operation" - "AMSTERDAM - The Dutch government said yesterday it had agreed to take over the domestic organization for radioactive waste storage COVRA from the owners of nuclear power plants in the Netherlands and a Dutch energy research center." (Reuters)

"Council admits its green fleet is running on petrol" - "A FLEET of “environmentally friendly” gas-powered vehicles in Glasgow have been running on petrol for the past six months. Officials at the city council admitted that their award-winning vans had not used the less environmentally damaging fuel after technical problems meant that alterations were needed to the engines. The 110 Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) vehicles were bought by the authority 18 months ago as part of a £2 million deal, a move recognised by a prestigious award from the environment magazine Greenfleet." (The Scotsman)

"Getting power from the moon" - "If a physicist in Houston has his way you’ll be able to say good-bye to pollution-causing energy production from fossil fuels. In the April/May issue of The Industrial Physicist Dr. David Criswell suggests that the Earth could be getting all of the electricity it needs using solar cells – on the moon." (American Institute of Physics)

But it's a darn long way to go to plug appliances into the power outlets.

Peace? "Greenpeace worker unjustifiably dismissed" - "Greenpeace New Zealand's wrongful dismissal of a senior employee was in the context of a campaign department “in turmoil”, an Employment Tribunal ruling has found. It ordered Greenpeace to pay genetic engineering and toxics campaigner Carl Reller $35,000. The judgment issued by adjudicator Rick Mirkin pointed to a “lack of clarity” in the environmental organisation's management. The turmoil of just over a year ago is conceded in evidence given by former Greenpeace executive director Di Paton. Evidence was also given of an audit by Greenpeace International which referred to a “raft of issues.” (NZPA via The Life Sciences Network)

"Asian genome project to be launched" - "Genetic research looking into diseases that specifically affect people living in Asia is to be launched in China and Japan. Scientists meeting at the Seventh International Human Genome Meeting in Shanghai hope the project will place particular emphasis on creating treatments for people in the developing world." (BBC Online)

"Developing GM tomatoes: an uphill struggle" - "While researchers announced last week that they can genetically engineer a longer-lasting, better-tasting tomato, some former employees of US biotechnology company Calgene greeted the news with bemusement and a sense of deja vu, reports Dale Kasler in US newspaper The Sacramento Bee. According to the report, the scientists said that although the new discovery is intriguing, it doesn't guarantee success. The report continues that in 1994, the food industry listened with intent to the small Calgene company when it introduced the world's first genetically engineered food, the slow-ripening Flavr Savr." (FoodNavigator)

"UPDATE - Monsanto says GMO canola approvals awaited" - "CHICAGO - Monsanto Co. , the world leader in developing genetically modified seeds, said yesterday it was seeking full U.S. regulatory approval for a gene-altered canola variety that sparked a product recall in Canada last year." (Reuters)

"Greens blast Finnie’s GM response" - "A MINISTERIAL response to questions about genetically modified crop trials in Scotland has been described as "inadequate and contradictory" by Robin Harper, Green Party MSP." (The Scotsman)

April 15, 2002

"Conservatives test greens' tax status" - "Another environmental group has found its charitable status under attack after a conservative think tank filed a complaint asking the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Natural Resources Defense Council. The nine-page complaint, filed Friday by the Frontiers of Freedom, charged that the council "routinely" engages in political advocacy and lobbying on behalf of environmental causes, despite IRS rules that place strict limits on the advocacy activities of nonprofit charitable organizations." (Washington Times)

"Britain's green taxes unfair, ineffective - report" - "LONDON - One pound in every eight of Britain's business tax comes from environmental charges, but the green tax regime is unfair and does not work, a report by the Confederation of British Industry said last week. In a report published less than a week before finance minister Gordon Brown announces his annual budget, the CBI said some tax proposals had been rushed and insufficiently thought through, and plans for the integration of others into the tax system remained unclear." (Reuters)

"Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Councils face burning issue of rubbish" - "Government failure to come up with safety rules for composting waste from dustbins is forcing local authorities to build controversial incinerators to burn millions of tonnes of household rubbish.

Local authorities have to choose new methods of disposing of rubbish because the government has set deadlines for waste going to landfill to be reduced. In three years councils have to compost or recycle 25% of rubbish, rising to 30% by 2010.

Although Michael Meacher, the environment minister, has insisted that composting garden waste and food in household rubbish is a priority along with recycling paper, plastic and metal, composting on a large scale is currently impossible.

Converting waste to compost, to produce a useful material that could be re-used, cannot proceed until quality standards for compost are set - and this has still not been done seven years after the department agreed it was a priority."

"Oil price fears force Brown to freeze duty on petrol" - "Gordon Brown is poised to freeze duty on petrol for another year in his Budget on Wednesday as he softens up the middle classes for big tax rises in the run-up to the next general election." (The Times)

"EU green law may bump up home appliance prices" - "LONDON - Toasters, tumble dryers and even the kettles in kitchens across the European Union may cost more as a new law forces manufacturers to pay for the recycling of their products, industry analysts said last week." (Reuters)

"Mould monitored; Fungi that trigger allergies go under scrutiny" - "Industry researchers have produced the largest study yet of airborne fungi in US buildings. The fungal fingerprints may help scientists understand their role in triggering allergies and other medical conditions. Exposure to spores released by moulds is known to cause or worsen allergies and trigger asthma episodes in sufferers. Spores enter buildings through air ducts or open windows and can thrive in moist indoor conditions." (NSU)

Gasp! "New Zealand Herald - Noxious mould thrives in damp rooms" - "An ugly explosion of green and black is crawling up the walls of a worrying number of New Zealand homes. It is not a common mould, and it may be responsible for unexplained ill-health. HortResearch microbiologist Dr Nick Waipara is searching New Zealand homes for the toxin-producing fungus stachybotrys, which has been linked to serious illness and deaths in the United States." | Toxic rot crisis in new homes

You mean forced 'energy efficiency' (creating ventilation-free environments) and the stripping of all useful chemical defences (fungicides, timber preservatives...) may actually have, like... consequences?

"The Mercury: Cancer rate on rise in Tasmania [13apr02]" - "THYROID cancer rates in Tasmania have increased four-fold in the past 24 years. The revelation comes from Royal Hobart Hospital endocrinologist John Burgess, who has been part of a three-year medical research program. He said the increase could be due to fallout from weapons testing in the southern hemisphere in the 1950s and 1960s. Half the rise could be accounted for by improvements in testing and diagnosis procedures, he said."

Hmm... could be a testing and diagnosis artefact. Then again, it could be a downside of the anti-salt campaign (the vast majority of iodine in the Australian diet is derived from iodised table salt).

"Los Angeles Times - Burger King Uncowed" - "OAKLAND -- The addition of a vegetarian option to Burger King's sandwich menu last month was greeted with a rousing cheer by a one-time nemesis of the fast-food giant. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which only last year engaged in a heated (and ultimately successful) effort to get the company to hold its meat suppliers accountable to basic animal welfare standards, had high praise for the "BK Veggie."

Before rolling out the red carpet, it's worth taking a closer look at Burger King's new product. Nutritionally, the BK Veggie has little to recommend it."

It ain't just a BK veggie problem... Regardless, surrendering to the noisy fringe is never sound business practice, all that can happen is to be seen as a weak (and therefore desirable) extortion target. Either ignore them or just say "No."

"The lost battle: one in 10 boys obese" - "Obesity rates among primary school boys have trebled in just five years, according to alarming figures which for the first time quantify how childhood weight problems skyrocketed in the latter half of the 1990s. One in 10 boys aged 7 to 11 is obese, while another 16 per cent were found to be overweight, according to the 2000 survey of Central Coast schoolchildren - said to be representative of problems across Australia. An even larger number of girls - more than one in five - was judged to be overweight, but the girls were slightly less likely to be obese." (Sydney Morning herald)

"Green with Ideology" - "The hidden agenda behind the "scientific" attacks on Bjørn Lomborg’s controversial new book, The Skeptical Environmentalist." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Political Battle Looming Over Superfund Plan" - "Democratic leaders of the Senate are moving to force a showdown vote on a measure that would provide billions of dollars to clean up toxic waste sites."

"Officials debate limits on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants" - "OTTAWA -- The federal and provincial governments are trying to set a national standard for mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, but there's no consensus on how tight the limit should be. The major coal-using provinces -- Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan -- are expected to argue for a "capture rate" as low as 20 per cent, meaning 80 per cent of the mercury contamination released from the coal would be allowed to escape." (CP)

"Banff G8 environment meeting - Protest? What protest?" - "BANFF, Alberta - Jeremy Kitson took time out from bicycling around Banff on the weekend to chat with friends and sip cappuccino as typical Rocky Mountain spring weather brought drizzle one moment and sunshine the next. Like most locals and tourists along Banff Avenue, the main drag lined with shops selling Canadian Winter Olympic team sweatshirts and teddy bears dressed as Mounties, the 25-year-old hotel worker is only vaguely aware of the high-level environmental meeting taking place in town." (Reuters)

"Climate Change Hits Green Activists at G8 Meeting" - "BANFF, Alberta - Environmental activists experienced climate change first-hand on Sunday when their demonstration outside a major environment summit in the alpine town of Banff was buffeted by driving rain, then blinding sleet and snow within just a few minutes. About 50 Greenpeace members and supporters, most dressed up as owls, began their 2 km (1.2 mile) march in the sunshine of downtown Banff to bring attention to what they called Canada's poor record on protecting its forests, the birds' habitat. But notoriously unpredictable spring Rocky Mountain weather prevailed, battering hooting demonstrators with high winds and precipitation." (Reuters)

"The Nando Times: G-8 ministers discuss environment, development issues" - "BANFF, Alberta (April 13, 2002 10:10 p.m. EDT) - With new global policies emerging to help poor nations develop, environment ministers of the world's industrial powers convened Saturday to discuss how to make environmental concerns a major component of those efforts. The meeting - called the first by G-8 environment ministers on links between environmental and development issues - is a prelude to the G-8 summit in nearby Kananaskis, Alberta, in June and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa in August." | G-8 Ministers Focus on Environment (washingtonpost.com)

Good Grief!: "NATIONAL POST ONLINE | G8 Ministers mindful of emissions; Environmentalists unhappy with agenda" - "BANFF, Alta. - The world's most powerful environment ministers will ride in buses powered by natural gas and greenhouse gas credits have been exchanged to negate their environmental impact on Banff, a World Heritage Site, during meetings here this weekend.

The ministers, from Canada, the U.S., France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and Russia, still will produce tonnes of the emissions as a result of air travel, car and hotel accommodation during the three days of meetings .

However, under the scrutiny of environmental organizations gathered here, the ministers have attempted to avoid embarrassment by purchasing carbon-dioxide credits from a solar-powered housing project in South Africa that will make the gathering "an emission-neutral meeting," said David Anderson, Canada's Minister of the Environment

The ministers will also dine on organically grown food."

Why try to appease the dipstick brigade? It doesn't work but it does give the impression their alleged 'concerns' may have some legitimacy - too foolish for words.

"Germany critical of Canada's clean-fuel credit plan" - "BANFF, Alta. -- Canada hit a sour note on the last day of the G-8 environment ministers meeting as the powerful German delegation joined the criticism of Ottawa's plan to swap clean energy credits for Kyoto responsibilities. German Environment Minister Jurgen Trittin said the Canadian plan was not well conceived. "This is not an idea that has been thought to its real final consequences," he said Sunday after a morning meeting on climate control and greenhouse gas reductions." (CP)

"Thestar.com EU rejects Canada's bid for clean fuel credits" - "BANFF, Alta. (CP) - Canada felt the pinch Saturday between the European Union and United States over its controversial plan to be credited for the cleaner energy it exports. On the first day of the G-8 environment ministers meeting, the EU flatly rejected Canada's bid for extra credits under the Kyoto climate change protocol. Margot Wallstrom, the EU's environment commissioner, said previous negotiations for Kyoto were very favourable to Canada, and said it was not prepared to give more concessions. "We will not accept that Canada now comes back saying `We want even more,' " said Wallstrom." | EU rejects Canada's bid to get credits for cleaner energy sales; Kyoto targets must be met domestically, G8 ministers say (Edmonton Journal)

"EU Official Says Kyoto Still Worthwhile Without US" - "BANFF, Alberta - The Kyoto protocol will fall far short of its goals to cut greenhouse gases because of the pullout by the United States and possible foot dragging by Canada, but it is still a pact worth fighting for, a senior European Union official said." (Reuters)

"Globe and Mail - Canada still pushing for green credits under Kyoto" - "CALGARY -- Federal Environment Minister David Anderson said yesterday he will continue his push for clean energy export credits under the Kyoto Protocol, despite harsh criticism from Europe.

The export credits are seen as a way to reduce the potential cost of ratifying the Kyoto treaty, which business groups and the Alberta government have pegged at tens of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs. The federal government has yet to release an official cost projection.

Mr. Anderson said Canada will unveil a formal proposal for the credit plan at a United Nations meeting in Whistler, British Columbia, next month."

"G8 in Open Disarray Over Kyoto Protocol" - "BANFF - The divisions between the world's leading nations over the Kyoto protocol on global warming deepened dramatically on Sunday, when an informal discussion on climate change ended in disarray with both the United States and Canada looking increasingly isolated.

Washington has been relentlessly attacked since abandoning Kyoto last year but after environment ministers from the Group of Eight leading nations ended their 45-minute meeting it was clear European leaders were fast losing patience with Canada's dithering over whether to ratify the accord.

Ottawa, which is under heavy pressure from energy producers and several powerful provinces to follow the U.S. lead and ditch Kyoto, has abandoned all talk of ratification this year and is calling for more nationwide consultations." (Reuters)

Isn't it funny how the stagnant/basket case economies are pushing to have successful ones crippled by Kyoto - most curious...

"FreeRealTime.com - Russian foot-dragging to block 2002 Kyoto pact enforcement" - "MOSCOW, Apr 12, 2002 (Kyodo via COMTEX) -- Russia is unlikely to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming by the year-end, leading the international community to miss the deadline for the pact's entry into force, a high-ranking Russian official said Friday.

"There is little possibility that Russia will ratify the pact by the end of the year. We do not especially need to be in a rush," said Alexander Bedritsky, head of the Russian Federal Hydrometeorological and Environmental Monitoring Service, in an interview with Kyodo News.

Bedritsky said Russian government entities concerned need three months to analyze how the pact will impact the country's industry and other areas and to compile reports for submission to the cabinet.

The Russian State Duma will deliberate the ratification of the pact after the cabinet makes a decision on the matter, he said.

"Other countries see this issue from a political point of view, but it would be meaningless to ratify the protocol unless it becomes an effective document," the Russian representative in international climate talks said, indicating the country's intention to further negotiate with other countries on the pact's rules."

"US Admits Doing Poorly Selling Environment Policies" - "BANFF, Alberta - The Bush administration's top environmental official admits Washington has done a bad job of selling its policies and says the abrupt way it pulled out of the Kyoto climate change protocol has helped obscure U.S. achievements. Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman told Reuters she was frustrated that the United States received little credit for implementing green policies which she said were among the most advanced in the world." (Reuters)

"Rising water levels good news for Great Lakes cottagers, marinas" - "TORONTO -- An unexpected rise in Great Lakes water levels is promising relief to southern Ontario cottagers and marina operators plagued by bone-dry docks last year. Thanks to unusually heavy rainfalls and a warm, wet winter, forecasters say the fresh-water lakes are due to rebound this August from worrisome trends that had panicked environmentalists in recent years." (CP)

"Global Warming Accelerates China's Sea Level Rise" - "Large sections of Chinese coastal regions gradually disappear under rising sea levels because of global warming, severely impairing the country's social and economic progress." (People's Daily)

Global warming?: Shanghai sinking into the sea - report (July 5, 2000)

Shanghai - The city is slowly sinking into the sea as a result of its breakneck development and global warming, the China Daily reported on Wednesday.

"The city has been sinking at the speed of nearly 10 millimetres a year," said Zhang Xiangyu, director of the Shanghai water supply administration office.

The city's rapid development has sparked excessive use of local ground water which will also undermine Shanghai's foundations, said the paper.

The exploitation of ground water to support the huge population, as well as underground construction of subways, basements below skyscrapers and overpasses has all led to ground sinkage, the paper reported. (Sapa-AFP) [emphasis added]

From the 'Uh-huh...' file: "Campus Invasion: When the Anti-Smoking Campaign Turned Left" - "... In short, the anti-tobacco campaign message has changed from "don’t smoke lest you die", to "don’t smoke lest you exploit children and contribute to global warming." (taken from a column by Bryan Auchterlonie, FrontPageMagazine.com)

"AH!" comes the anticipated smokers' response, "but particulates from tobacco smoke increase cloud albedo and cool the planet! Anti-smoking campaigns cause global warming!" [No, tobacco smoking will not 'save the planet,' nor will any realistically anticipated warming trend harm it.]

"Environmentalists to press BP over Alaskan drilling plan" - "BP will face renewed pressure this week from environmental campaigners to prove its credentials as a progressive energy company and pull out of a plan to drill in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The oil giant's annual general meeting on Thursday, which takes place in London, will debate a special resolution on its environmental policy filed by 100 individual and institutional shareholders." (Independent)

"TVA Harnesses Big Power For Suit Against the EPA (washingtonpost.com)" - "Ever since Congress established the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933 to build dams and tame rivers across seven states, the TVA has battled a host of adversaries, from private utility companies to conservative ideologues wary of giant government enterprises. Now the TVA is taking on its creator and owner, the federal government, in a fight that may test the limits of its independence and influence the government's effort to reduce air pollution."

"Charlotte Observer | 04 15 2002 | Utilities reject `dirty' labels" - "CHARLESTON - People can breathe a little easier in the Lowcountry after two utilities found flaws in the way a national environmental report calculated power plant emissions.

An environmental group lists South Carolina among the nation's "Dirty Dozen" and "Sooty Seven" in its recent report on air emissions at the nation's coal-burning power plants. It says South Carolina's increase in power-plant emissions of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide from 1995 to 2000 was the sixth-highest in the nation."

"The Seattle Times: Local News: Commercial vessels add to Columbia's haze" - "VANCOUVER, Wash. — Ships and boats that use the Columbia-Snake River system pump more pollution into the air than previously believed, according to a study conducted for the state Department of Ecology. Commercial marine vessels in the river system discharge 6,900 tons of smog-producing nitrogen oxides annually — about 2.6 times the amount estimated in previous studies."

"Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - The corn earworm uses saliva to trick plants into making themselves tastier" - "Cross my heart and hope to spit!" was the solemn oath used by TV's Theodore "the Beaver" Cleaver in his most sincere moments. But when the drool starts flowing from a caterpillar, it's best to assume deceit is at hand.

The saliva of the corn earworm contains at least 20 different proteins and one of those -- an enzyme called glucose oxidase -- can trick a plant into cutting back its production of anti-insect toxins, making the plant's leaves and other parts more palatable for a hungry caterpillar.

Plants are known to react to the munching of insects by producing poisons to make them stop, but this new finding by researchers at Penn State University and the University of Arkansas is the first proof that insects actively counter the plants defenses."

"Canny corn beetles get to the root of the problem" - "Darwin would have been proud of the corn rootworm. The beetle has proved it can adapt, survive and thrive despite every strategy devised by man to eliminate it." (The Guardian)

"Monsanto Says Crops May Contain Genetically-Modified Canola Seed" - "Monsanto Co. believes that some of its canola seed might contain genetically modified material that isn't federally approved, Monday's Wall Street Journal reported. Angling to avoid a massive recall of food products, the company is asking regulators to forgive any presence of it. The St. Louis -based biotechnology company has yet to detect it in the seeds it has tested, but says trace amounts of the material were found last year in Canadian seed, leading it to believe the same is possible in the States. In conceding that for three years U.S. farmers have been planting canola seed that may contain certain genetic material that was never meant to leave the laboratory, Monsanto has become the latest example of the biotechnology industry failing to control plants whose genes it has altered." (Dow Jones)

"Cabinet split over seeking GM crops view" - "The Cabinet is deeply divided over whether to consult the public before it goes ahead with the widespread planting of genetically modified crops.

Downing Street and ministers from the Department of Trade and Industry are eager to block plans for a long consultation on the future of the controversial crops. However, senior government sources said yesterday that "ministers are at loggerheads" over whether to press ahead with a series of government-sponsored videos, regional meetings and focus groups before deciding on commercial licensing.

Downing Street and Lord Sainsbury, the Science Minister, are understood to be keen to "stick to the science", using the results from farm trials on GM crops which are due to finish next year." (The Independent)

"ABC Sci-Tech - 14 04 02 : Bid for national biotechnology centre knocked back" - "A high-profile Canberra bid to establish a national biotechnology centre of excellence, with federal funding has failed to make the consideration short-list. The Canberra-based Australian BioScience Centre Consortium and 10 other science groups submitted applications for the centre, in the areas of health, genetics, agriculture, nanotechnology, engineering and the environment."

"Top science forum is set" - "SCIENTISTS from throughout the Arab world meet in Bahrain to take part in the Second Arab Conference of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, which starts today." (Gulf Daily News)

"Interview: Bangalore is the BT hub" - "BANGALORE: Kiran Mazumdar, the ace entrepreneur and chairperson of Karnataka's Vision Group on Biotechnology is spearheading BangaloreBio2002. She spoke on the relevance of this year's three-day extravaganza and the tremendous strides taken by the state." (Times of India) | Issues before the biotech industry (Times of India)

"Experimental GM rape plants in Belgium destroyed" - "BRUSSELS - Environmental activists destroyed an experimental field containing genetically modified (GM) rapeseed planted by Aventis CropScience in Belgium last week, the company said." (Reuters)

April 14, 2002

"Watch out for the alligators in ‘Everglades’ Britain" - "CLIMATE change caused by greenhouse gas emissions could lead to an Everglades-style environment in Britain in which species such as alligators, salamanders and mosquitoes would thrive, according to government scientists.

The UK Climate Impacts Programme has issued a warning that conditions similar to the Florida swamps or the tropics could develop by 2080 unless drastic action is taken to curb emissions.

Although some experts have criticised the government’s stance as “bringing science into disrepute”, Climate Change Scenarios, to be published this week, is likely to be used by Labour to justify levying heavier taxes on the emission of gases thought to contribute to climate change. (David Cracknell, Political Editor, Sunday Times)

"Alternative Medicine Is Finding Its Niche in Nation's Hospitals" - "Hospitals in search of paying patients and a competitive edge are increasingly offering their patients some form of alternative medicine." (New York Times)

Hmm... alright as long as you seek an 'alternative' outcome - personally, I think hospital treatment should be either curative or at least palliative, there's no alternative that would cut it for me.

"The Verdict Is Still Out on Alternative Medicine" - "Medical experts remain sharply divided over alternative medicine, and the subject is one of the most touchy and contentious in health care." (New York Times)

"The Zero Risk Fiction" - "Arguments against constructive change take many forms. One is what I have called the myth of the "riskless alternative."

Every change has its risks, whether the change is political, scientific, or technological, but a simple assertion of risk is not in and of itself an argument against change. The risks of change have to be measured against the benefits of change and the risks of not changing. Increasingly, we hear impossible demands for a zero-risk society. In public discourse, scientists are asked to guarantee that an innovation, be it genetically-modified food or a new pharmaceutical, has no possibility of ever causing harm. Given that no reputable scientist can ever answer such a question with absolute certainty, the interrogator has seemingly won the argument by default — if one believes that there is some totally risk-free alternative, either in the status-quo or in some presumed prior way of doing things." (Thomas R. DeGregori, HealthFactsAndFears.com)

"BA hauls in flyers to check DVT risk" - "British Airways has launched an investigation among passengers into the risks of 'economy class syndrome' on its flights. Europe's biggest airline wants to know how many customers are taking measures to guard against developing potentially deadly blood clots during flights. The airline has joined the University of Birmingham medical school in a research project that will provide the first definitive evidence of how many passengers take precautions, and measure the level of alarm over deep-vein thrombosis." (The Observer)

"Newsday.com - Assembly would boost Superfund, delay reform" - "ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Assembly's Democratic majority on Friday proposed bonding to revive the state's Superfund program to speed pollution cleanup while delaying reforms that Gov. George Pataki seeks."

"Newsday.com - Environmentalists call for EPA to reject GE's offer" - "WASHINGTON -- A coalition of 11 environmental groups on Friday urged the federal government to reject General Electric Co.'s "good faith offer" to dredge PCBs from the Hudson River."

"Canada Angrily Denies G8 Plans to Harm Environment" - "BANFF, Alberta - Canada angrily denied claims by green activists on Friday that the world's most powerful nations are willing to sacrifice the environment by turning to big business to boost sustainable development. Canada is president this year of the Group of Eight leading nations, whose environment ministers are meeting this weekend to work on the agenda for a summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg this August. Activists, who already accuse the United States and the oil industry of trying to sabotage the summit, reacted angrily when they obtained the draft communiqué of the Banff meeting that praises World Trade Organization efforts to launch a new round of trade liberalization. Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson said the private sector could teach governments a great deal about how to sensibly boost the cause of sustainable development." (Reuters)

"Tree Sitter Dies in Platform Fall" - "PORTLAND, Ore. - A tree sitter in the Mount Hood National Forest fell 150 feet to the ground, was badly injured and died before rescue crews could reach the remote site. The timber sale she apparently was protesting had been canceled three days before her death, and the protesters expected to leave the area within a week." (AP)

Earth Day 2002 Fact Sheet: Myths and Facts About the Environment (National Center for Public Policy Research)

Earth Day 2002 Fact Sheet: Environmental Progress Since the First Earth Day (National Center for Public Policy Research)

Earth Day 2002 Fact Sheet: The Rising Cost of Regulations Since the First Earth Day (National Center for Public Policy Research)

Earth Day 2002 Fact Sheet: Earth Day Reflections (National Center for Public Policy Research)

Earth Day 2002 Fact Sheet: The History of Earth Day (National Center for Public Policy Research)

"Earth Day Interview Locator Service" and Earth Day Fact Kit Available to Journalists (National Center for Public Policy Research)

"White House Ends Environmental Fellowship" - "WASHINGTON, April 13 — The Bush administration is eliminating a respected fellowship program for graduate research in the environmental sciences, administration officials said this week. The fellowship provides $10 million a year to students pursuing graduate degrees in environmental science, policy and engineering, as part of an Environmental Protection Agency program called Science to Achieve Results, or STAR." (New York Times)

"A Not-So-Silent Spring" - "CAMBRIDGE -- Thanks to the immutable laws of the natural world, Spring has dutifully returned again. But the predictability of seasonal change is quite unlike many of the climate predictions reported in the media over the last two months.

So, what is really in store this wonderful Spring and for the foreseeable future? Depends on whom you ask." (Dr. Willie Soon, TCS)

"Newsday.com - Study finds greenhouse warming destroys Chesapeake's marshlands" - "ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Rising sea levels caused by global warming may erode the marshlands in the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays by the end of the century, according to a new study using satellite imagery.

If sea levels continue to rise at current rates - or the higher rates predicted in climate models - the two largest marshes on the East Coast could disappear by 2100, the study said. Marshlands are spawning grounds and nurseries for saltwater fish, so the erosion has serious repercussions for Maryland's fisheries."

"How Ice Ages increased our brainpower" - "Scientists believe climate catastrophes that triggered droughts and forest fires in mankind's African homeland two million years ago were responsible for the evolution of our large brains. Faced with massive, rapid changes to their woodland homes, early humans had rapidly to learn to live in a changing landscape. Only those with the most flexible, adaptive minds survived. 'Climate change is the engine of evolutionary change, and it drove the development of our brains,' said US brain expert William Calvin, of the University of Washington School of Medicine." (The Observer)

Hmm... if so, perhaps we need another one to arrest the 'dumbing-down' of a society seemingly becoming so scientifically illiterate that 'cancer epidemics,' exposure to trace amounts of compounds toxic at high dose, hypothetical 'enhanced greenhouse'-forced 'global warming' and similarly irrelevant vague possibilities are elevated to credible, urgent crises.

"Environmentalists push Anderson on Kyoto" - "CALGARY - Environmentalists are angry that the Kyoto Accord on climate change will not be on the agenda when environment ministers from the G8 countries meet in Banff, Alta., this weekend. They fear that the Canadian government my be backing away from its commitment to the deal, intended to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming." (CBC)

"No 'set timeline' on Kyoto accord, Anderson admits" - "CALGARY - David Anderson, the federal Minister of the Environment, signalled for the first time yesterday that Canada might not move as rapidly as planned toward ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. While reaffirming the Chrétien government's commitment to the deal, Mr. Anderson told a group of business leaders that Canada would sign on to the accord only after discussions with stakeholders. He later told reporters that could mean Canada might not ratify the accord by the end of the year as indicated by Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister. "We don't have a set timeline," Mr. Anderson said. "We don't want to put timelines on discussions. We want them to be realistic and we cannot say at this time how long they will take." (Robert Remington, National Post)

"Stakeholders mad Kyoto accord not full part of G-8 environment talks in Banff" - "BANFF, Alta. -- Anger that the Kyoto climate accord is not on the agenda at the G-8 environment ministers meeting this weekend boiled over Friday at a session of a diverse group of stakeholders. Some environmentalists accused the federal government of pandering to the United States, the only G-8 country that refuses to ratify the deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." (CP)

"Kyoto not top priority: Anderson" - "BANFF, ALTA. - Environment ministers from the world's industrial powers touched briefly Saturday on the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse gases during talks at their weekend conference in Alberta. During a breakfast session, they set aside about 45 minutes to discuss a background paper that called on the G-8 to demonstrate a commitment to implementing international agreements. But the accord is not on the official agenda and won't be in the communiqué. And on the eve of the conference, Canada's environment minister said he was in no hurry to sign the protocol." (CBC)

What a silly game this is: "Environment Canada Buys Emissions Reductions For G8 Mtg" - "CALGARY - The Canadian government announced Friday its engagement in what is believed to be its first official foray into international greenhouse gas emissions trading. The effort seeks to offset carbon dioxide and other air emissions that may result from air travel, car travel and hotel accommodations tied to an Alberta meeting of global environment ministers this weekend. Environment Canada said emissions reductions were purchased from South Africa to make up for the Group of Eight ministers' meeting, set to take place in the Rocky Mountains. "In this case at least, we've used an opportunity to make this event carbon- neutral," senior policy adviser Bernie Latreille said from Ottawa." (Dow Jones)

Fortunately, anthropogenic CO2 emission is of little relevance, if any, to global climate. The talk fest will emit no less CO2 than it would otherwise have done regardless of such token offerings placed on the alter of carbon correctness. Carbon neutral? Sheesh!

"Son of Kyoto Returns — Again; A treaty’s many lives" - "Bad policy ideas never die; they just get recycled. Like the monsters in old B horror films, big-government schemes keep coming back, remake after remake, with nary a change in plot line. Witness the recent re-return of the Son of Kyoto.

"Kyoto" is, of course, the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations-sponsored climate treaty that would cost industrialized nations over $900 billion annually by the year 2050 — all to reduce global warming by a hypothetical and undetectable .07 degrees C. What then is the Son of Kyoto? Read on and find out." (Marlo Lewis Jr., National Review)

"April Fools" - "April 1st is usually reserved for jokes, but what happened in the California Senate last week was no laughing matter.

The Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, after just an hour of testimony and 30 minutes of discussion, made a scientific decision without one statement from a qualified scientist. The committee's five Democrats voted to approve the bill AB 1058 while its two Republican members opposed the measure.

AB1058 is a bill that would give the state the power to regulate CO2 emissions from passenger cars. Passenger cars generate CO2 emissions when they burn fossil fuel - gasoline. So this bill will likely result in a significant increase in car prices or gasoline prices or a reduction in auto safety." (Larry Weitzman, TCS)

"Energy Giants Push to Weaken a Pollution Rule" - "An e-mail message released by the Energy Department is the latest piece of evidence that shows the energy industry's push to overhaul an arcane air pollution rule." (New York Times)

"U.S. Presses Utilities on Pollution Settlements" - "Government lawyers are pressing to conclude settlement talks with two utilities accused of violating clean-air laws. The stepped-up pace comes after environmentalists' complaints that the Bush administration was trying to undermine tough enforcement actions against major polluters." (Washington Post)

"Russia May Import British Nuclear Waste" - "MOSCOW, Russia, April 10, 2002 - Moves by Russia to import nuclear waste from the United Kingdom and United States were clarified in the first meeting of environmentalists with the chief of the Russian Ministry of Atomic Power (Minatom) Alexander Rumyantsev since he assumed the post last year." (ENS)

"Sainsbury's pet GM project hits grants jackpot" - "Lord Sainsbury, the billionaire Science Minister and the Labour Party's biggest donor, has overseen a massive 300 per cent increase in his department's funding for the Sainsbury Laboratory which he helped to found, The Observer can reveal. The disclosure of the huge funding rise for the laboratory, which researches genetically modified crops, has triggered a row. Opposition MPs and environmental groups want to know why the Minister's 'pet project' has had so much while research into food safety and renewable energy struggle for help." (The Observer)

Perhaps they've figured out that at least biotech offers realistic promise of societal and environmental good, enhances food safety and reduced fossil energy inputs - a shining example of economically sound research budgeting.

"GM bugs could eat chemical weapons and agro-waste" - "Scientists want to create hungry bugs which will eat their way through the world's toxic chemical stockpiles. A team at the University of California has genetically engineered a species to consume banned organophosphates and make them safe. The bacteria could also break down leftover pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers which would otherwise pollute the environment." (Ananova)

"A voice to make the world heed NZ's biotech strength" - "New Zealand should be ''shouting from the mountaintops'' about its biotechnology, says new Government biotechnology chief Peter Lennox. If he has his way, the rest of the world will soon be listening. Lennox takes up his role as director of Industry New Zealand's biotechnology sector in July. But he is taking a few weeks' leave in May from his job as head of biotechnology at Scottish Enterprise - the main economic development agency in Scotland - to familiarise himself with the local scene. In February, Prime Minister Helen Clark named biotechnology as one of three sectors that held the key to New Zealand's prosperity, and the creation of Lennox's position reflects that." (New Zealand Times Herald)

April 12, 2002

"College Drinking Study Is Intoxicating Scam" - "This week’s news about excessive college drinking is another shocking example of statistical deception by shameless activists manipulating a media panting for sensationalism." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Action needed to stop 'disease mongering'" - "A lot of money can be made from telling healthy people they’re sick despite clear conflicts of interest. Pharmaceutical companies sponsor disease definitions and promote them to prescribers and consumers. In this week’s BMJ researchers give examples of “disease mongering” and suggest how to prevent the growth of this practice." (BMJ)

Fanciful but oh-so-PC statistics du jour: "Newsday.com - CDC Estimates Cost of Smoking" - "ATLANTA -- Each pack of cigarettes sold in the United States costs the nation $7 in medical care and lost productivity, the government said Thursday. The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the nation's total cost of smoking at $3,391 a year for every smoker, or $157.7 billion. Health experts had previously estimated $96 billion. Americans buy about 22 billion packs of cigarettes annually. The CDC study is the first to establish a per-pack cost to the nation." (AP) | CDC release | Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Economic Costs --- United States, 1995--1999 (MMWR)

I'm certainly not going to suggest that smoking is a good thing for anyone to do and, if you do smoke, you'd certainly be healthier and feel (and smell) a damn-site better if you quit (wait for it, here it comes) but there's no excuse for flights of pure fantasy like the above. A first cursory glance shows about 8% of SAMs (Smoking-Attributable Mortalities) are supposedly due to ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke) when the most polite thing that can be said about evidence of such causation is that it is 'less than compelling.' Nonetheless, such inconveniences didn't stop them attributing 38,000 bodies to ETS annually. Similarly, there are 10,000 perinatal mortalities listed (almost one-third SIDS), roughly 10% SAMs (with a breakdown for SIDS as SAMs despite SIDs remaining largely mysterious). Peppered with such outrageous assumptions, this estimate is instantly invalidated and filed as an essay in zealotry.

Smoking isn't a healthy activity and, in general, smokers will die younger than non-smokers but the question of whether they represent a net cost to society is moot. Throwing around wild figures like these will not do anything for anyone - it just wrecks the credibility of the anti-tobacco lobby. Foolish.

Check out the following for an example of the bizarre actions of the lifestyle police. Smoking isn't a good thing but it just might be a whole lot better than anti-smoking zealots.

"Gotta sell more booze in order to smoke!" - "Have you seen those Humpty's Family Restaurant TV ads featuring pro wrestler Bret "The Hitman" Hart? Well, the owners of a couple of Edmonton-based Humpty's might well need a grappler like Hart to help them fight some owly bureaucrats charged with enforcing our city's stupid smoking bylaw. One thing's for sure, Brian Griscowsky, who owns two local Humpty's, says he's prepared for an all-out war over the city's amended smoking bylaw that took effect almost a year ago. We all know how silly things can get when bureaucrats and politicians try to regulate every aspect of our private lives." (Kerry Diotte, Edmonton Sun)

"Research shows insulin helps regulate fat, too" - "NEW YORK, Apr 11 - Scientists in Massachusetts have discovered that the sugar-regulating hormone insulin plays a crucial role in moving fatty acids from the blood to fat-storage cells after a meal." (Reuters Health)

"Asthma alert on synthetic bedding" - "Synthetic duvets - long recommended to help asthma sufferers - can make the condition worse, says research published today. Quilts with man-made fillings, by far the most common type used in New Zealand, contain 15 times more of a kind of bed dust that causes allergic reactions than feather duvets, the study found." (New Zealand Herald)

"President Bush Sends The Stockholm Convention On Persistent Organic Pollutants To Senate For Ratification" - "EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today announced that President Bush is submitting the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. Additional legislation to amend existing U.S. laws needed to implement POPs and two other related treaties is also being submitted to Congress today. President Bush endorsed the treaty in a Rose Garden Ceremony on April 19, 2001. The treaty was signed by Whitman on behalf of the United States in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 23, 2001." (EPA release)

"Jeffords demands ability to add new pollutants to toxic chemical hit list" - "WASHINGTON -- James Jeffords, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, took issue Thursday with a White House proposal to enact a treaty phasing out a dozen highly toxic chemicals without offering a means to eliminate future pollutants. "To send up this proposal without the ability to regulate new harmful substances is shortsighted and does not fulfill our commitment to this global treaty," said Jeffords, I-Vt., who introduced a bill that would restore such an ability." (AP)

"New Zealand Herald - Ban call over products' side-effects" - "A community group is calling for the Ministry of Health to ban some use of pesticide-based products for the treatment of headlice, claiming they can cause dangerous side-effects. A spokeswoman for the Toxins Action Group, Alison White, said the treatments should be outlawed for children and pregnant women."

"Tests Fail to Rule Out Mad Cow" - "MONTPELIER, Vt. - A first round of tests failed to rule out the possibility that two sheep seized last year from a Vermont farm carried mad cow disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday. Additional tests taking two or three years will be done to see if the sheep suffered from mad cow disease or a common ailment — scrapie — that poses no harm to humans. "Our intent is to continue with further testing to try to define which (condition) the sheep had," said USDA veterinarian Linda Detwiler." (AP)

"Environment Council Says Can Deposit 'Dubious'" - "BERLIN. The body that advises the German government on crucial environmental issues on Thursday questioned the feasibility of a federal law passed in March requiring deposits to be imposed on canned drinks beginning next January. In a report handed over to the government, the German Council of Environmental Advisors warned that such deposits were of "dubious environmental value," and that they would lead to "huge and unjustifiable additional costs." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

"Russian firm working on safer, eco-friendly rockets" - "MOSCOW -- Trying to cling to its niche of the global market for commercial space launches, Russia's leading rocket company is developing an array of more efficient boosters that would also be safer for the environment, company officials said Wednesday." (AP)

Bored! (again) "Earth's warming trend is truly global" - "A team of Michigan and Canadian researchers has found that over the past half-century, the rocks of Earth's continental crust have warmed significantly, similar to the warming of the oceans, atmosphere and ice reported by other investigators last year." (University of Michigan)

"Sea level rise threatens marshes in Chesapeake and Delaware Bays" - "Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, the two largest estuaries on the east coast of the United States, are losing marshland to rising sea levels caused by greenhouse warming. Virtually all coastal marshes along these bays could disappear before 2100. Loss of these marshes would be devastating, due to its effect on the food chain, water quality, and the amount of carbon that would be released into the oceans and atmosphere." (AGU)

?!! "Irish Newspapers - Holidaymakers warned as tropical diseases increase" - "A WARNING about serious infections has been issued to Irish people travelling to exotic destinations this year amid fears that Ireland is to experience an increase in tropical illness. The National Disease Surveillance Centre of Ireland said surveys show that many tourists are travelling abroad to high-risk areas while neglecting to seek medical advice prior to departure. Several potentially serious infections have emerged in the past three decades because of global warming which enables diseases formerly confined to hot countries to prosper in cooler climes."

"UPDATE - US to take more heat on global warming at G8" - "CALGARY, Alberta - The United States will come under more pressure over its decision to abandon the Kyoto climate change accord when environment ministers from the world's leading countries meet this weekend in Canada. The divisive topic of global warming is not officially on the agenda for the meeting of ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations, which starts on Saturday in the Rocky Mountain resort of Banff, Alberta." (Reuters)

"Greenpeace targets Alberta premier's house due to his opposition to Kyoto" - "CALGARY -- Greenpeace activists climbed atop the roof of Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's Calgary home Thursday and set up solar panels, frightening his wife who was inside. They targeted Klein because they say he is Canada's leading opponent to the Kyoto Accord, an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases. Klein reacted angrily, mostly because the incident scared his wife, Colleen, who remained inside their bungalow as their dog Jessy barked at the commotion." (CP)

"Drill Alaska -- for the children" - "NOW THAT Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has threatened to cut oil exports for 30 days to protest Israel's military presence in Palestinian territories, the U.S. Senate has urgent reason to vote in favor of drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)." (Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle)

"theage.com.au - Push for reduced reliance on fossil fuels" - "Most Australians want fossil fuels taxed and coal-fired power stations phased out to reduce greenhouse emissions, according to a report on attitudes to climate change. The report, to be released today, found 77 per cent of Australians believe government should be planning to phase out coal-fired power stations over the next 20 years, while 80 per cent supported governments building or subsidising solar and wind-power facilities. Two-thirds of respondents were also prepared to pay higher fossil fuel taxes if the revenue was partly used to develop clean alternatives and public transport. They also believed in laws to ensure greater energy efficiency."

Makes you wonder who the 'Climate Action Network' polled.

"Russia aims to build Vietnam nuclear power plant" - "HANOI - Russia has offered to build Vietnam's first atomic power plant, a senior Russian executive said yesterday, in a long-term project which could take about a decade to materialise." (Reuters)

"Ireland faces hefty fines over cruelty to animals" - "IRELAND has been warned it must update legislation controlling cruelty to laboratory animals or risk fines. European Union Environment Commissioner Margo Wallstroem said bluntly: "I urge Ireland to take urgent steps to bring its current 19th-century legislation into line with EU rules on animal experiments." (Irish Independent)

Reminder, EPA comment period closing: "Corn Comments" - "Currently the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are soliciting public comments on the proposed use of rootworm-protected corn, developed through biotechnology. This product will help save farmers hundreds of millions of dollars yearly and will reduce the use of chemical pesticides. Your input will help ensure that regulators get a wide range of input from consumers, farmers, academics and other important stakeholders as part of their decision-making process.

Comments to US EPA must be submitted by April 12, 2002 and comments to USDA must be submitted before May 13, 2002.

This web site offers you the ability to provide your comments directly to USDA and EPA on-line." (Corn-Comments.org)

"Would cloning necessarily undermine human potential and sense of self?" - "In the April 12 issue of Science, Brown University philosopher Dan W. Brock argues human cloning should not undermine our sense of self. Although genetically identical, clones would not have the same traits, character, decisions and life history." (Brown University)

"Genomic study breathes new life into asthma research" - "Research published in this month's Genome Biology has identified 149 genes that may be involved in the development of asthma. This research, the first of its kind, is exciting, as 52 of these genes were previously unknown. Further analysis of these genes could give us an improved understanding of the underlying genetic causes of asthma." (BioMed Central)

"ABC Sci-Tech - 12 04 02 : Australian heart patient takes part in world first stem cell operation" - "Cardiologist Suku Thambar of the Hunter Medical Research Institute says it was the first ever clinical trial of a procedure that doctors hope could help almost a third of all patients with end stage coronary artery disease. But it was a procedure targeting what are known as "no option patients" - those with little or nothing to lose, Dr Thambar said."

"Cartilage made from stem cells tested in animals" - "The research lab that made headlines last year for turning fat cells into cartilage has taken the work a step further by successfully implanting the altered cells in mice." (Whitaker Foundation)

"ABC Sci-Tech - 12 04 02 : DNA tests developed to detect toxic blue green algae" - "This year's young water scientist of the year has developed DNA tests that detect toxic blue green algae in Australia's waterways. Kim Fergusson from the Co-operative Research Centre for Water Quality and Treatment says the tests analyse algae gene structure to determine whether it is toxic. While current methods take a week, this test provides same-day results."

"ABC Sci-Tech - 12 04 02 : New research nothing to sneeze at" - "Hayfever sufferers may in the future be relieved of sneezing when near grasses. The Molecular Plant Breeding Research Centre, based in Adelaide, has discovered the gene in ryegrass which causes hayfever and has "switched it off". Centre director Dr Brian Whan says the discovery is good news for Australia's 1.8 million hayfever sufferers. "In about eight years we'd be seeing new commercial grasses that would become available and these would be planted in people's lawns," he said."

"Tomato ripening gene could make store tomatoes tastier" - "Scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Inc., at Cornell University, and the U.S.D.A have discovered a gene that controls ripening in tomatoes. (Science, April 12, 2002)" (Cornell University News Service)

April 11, 2002

"Nutrition Expert Tells California Health Panel That Restricting Soda Sales In Schools Will Not Prevent Obesity" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 10 -- A top nutrition scientist told the California Senate Health and Human Services Committee today that state legislative efforts to restrict or ban the sale of carbonated soft drinks in schools is not the ``silver bullet'' that will put an end to obesity. Guy Johnson, Ph.D., a noted nutrition researcher, told the Committee, ``California and the nation are in the midst of a nutritional epidemic of obesity. Adults and children are taking in far more calories than they are expending. We need more nutrition education not food restrictions that healthcare professionals who counsel overweight patients know will not work. ``We need programs based on good science, not emotion. We need every school-aged child to receive at least 20 minutes of physical activity each school day, as the Surgeon General recommends." (PRNewswire)

"Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Mary Hart: More vitamins are not always better; some high dosages can cause harm" - "Take your vitamins." Caring parents say it. Television ads shout it. It can be good advice. Many of us don't eat the right variety of foods to supply all of our nutritional needs. Although not a substitute for a balanced diet, a daily vitamin offers a small insurance policy against too many hurried meals or empty calories. A generation or two ago, most vitamin supplements were of the one-a-day variety in dosage (and sometimes brand name). A single foul-smelling tablet, gulped down with the morning orange juice, supplied a daily alphabet soup of vitamins. Today, we can choose our vitamin based on our age, sex and lifestyle, supporting a multimillion-dollar industry."

"ME is not a disease, say GPs" - "INFERTILITY and depression are "non-diseases" according to some doctors polled by a leading medical publication, provoking an angry response from patients' groups." (Telegraph) | What is and what is not a disease? (BMJ)

"EPA Reverses Itself on Pesticide Registration" - "A bird in the hand is indeed worth two in the bush. Just ask Syngenta Crop Protection Corporation. EPA recently indicated it will grant a registration for the herbicide metolachlor, a grass killer, to another manufacturer. Syngenta, then known as Novartis, was the original registrant of metolachlor. The company voluntarily gave up its registration at EPA’s request. The goal was to move the old metolachlor off the market and replace it with a so-called lower risk pesticide. EPA’s decision to grant a new registration for the product it once wanted cancelled has left most expert observers flummoxed. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Leonard Gianessi of the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy. Gianessi wonders aloud “why EPA would back out of their agreement.” (Dave Juday, Center for Global Food Issues)

"Bush administration decides against making it easier to eliminate more toxic chemicals" - "WASHINGTON — President Bush plans to ask Congress to support a global treaty phasing out a dozen of the world's most highly toxic chemicals but won't back a provision making it easier to eliminate more toxins, administration officials said Wednesday.
An announcement was scheduled for Thursday by EPA Administrator Christie Whitman and Acting Assistant Secretary of State Anthony F. Rock, whose agencies drafted the proposed legislation." (AP)

"Democrats Assail Shift in Superfund Cleanup (washingtonpost.com)" - "Senate Democrats yesterday accused the Bush administration of dramatically slowing the pace of toxic waste cleanups under the Superfund program partly to help relieve industry of much of the associated costs."

"The Nando Times: Official says Congress may reimpose 'polluter tax'" - "The Bush administration might ask Congress to revive a "polluter's tax" to pay for cleaning up highly toxic waste sites, an Environmental Protection Agency official said Wednesday. "We will look at that again" in the 2004 budget year, which begins in October 2003, said Marianne Horinko, the administrator of the Superfund program. She told a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee that the White House is reconsidering its opposition to the tax, which expired in 1995."

"Prescription drug pollution may harm humans, aquatic life" - "Researchers unveil two new tools to aid in the investigation of prescription drug pollution, caused when pharmaceuticals do not disappear harmlessly into the digestive system, but instead make their way into the environment." (Johns Hopkins University)

"Survey identifies drugs most likely to be found in the environment" - "A team of Johns Hopkins researchers says antidepressants, anticonvulsants, anticancer drugs and antimicrobials are the types of pharmaceuticals most likely to be found at “toxicologically significant” levels in the environment. Their conclusions are based on a survey of the 200 most sold and prescribed drugs in the United States." (ACS)

"Severed spinal cord regenerated" - "Scientists have succeeded in restoring movement to rats paralysed by spinal injuries. The breakthrough could ultimately lead to new treatments for people who have been paralysed by damage to their spinal cord." (BBC Online) | Spinal cord recovery hurdle cleared (NSU)

"Scientists warn against irradiated meat" - "OTTAWA - Health Canada is poised to approve irradiation for meat but some scientists say allowing the process could cause even more health problems. When meat is irradiated, it is zapped with as much radiation as 150 million chest X-rays. The process kills deadly bacteria such as E-coli, salmonella and camplyobacter. "Irradiation is probably the most powerful untapped technology currently available to us to reduce the incidence of food-borne disease," says John Lynch, a scientist at the University of Guelph, Ontario who studies food poisoning. Companies pushing for the technology say it's time Canada follows the lead of the United States, which allowed irradiation of meat five years ago. "Irradiation does have overwhelming benefits, compared with any perceived risks there might be," says Bruce Lauer of Health Canada. The department may clear the way for irradiation of meat by the end of the year." (CBC)

Odd, they said 'scientists warn against' but actually quoted Samuel Epstein.

"Alberta premier revives cellphone ban proposal" - "EDMONTON - Alberta's premier says driving and dialing could still become an offence in his province. Ralph Klein says his government may take another look at cellphone legislation. Members of the Alberta legislature voted down a bill Monday to ban cellphone use while driving. It would have marked a first in Canada. Conservative MLA Judy Gordon sponsored Bill 204 after being hit by a driver who was on his cellphone. MLAs voted 27 to 12 against a measure banning drivers from using hand-held phones. Many said other activities, such as eating or applying make-up, were more distracting than using a cellphone." (CBC)

"Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | EU scientists defend animal tests" - "Scientific advisers to the European Union have taken the offensive against the increasingly active protest movement against research using monkeys and apes. They say such experiments are vital in the battle against global diseases. They argue there are no alternatives to trials that might prevent and cure conditions such as malaria, Aids, CJD, diabetes and asthma, and that researchers will move elsewhere if work stops in Europe. The European commission's 16-member scientific steering committee, which has four members from Britain, is so worried by mounting opposition from pressure groups and some MEPs to tests using non-human primates, that it has warned of EU scientists having to rely on research done outside the EU, where they would be unable to control standards."

"EU green law's 'junk mountain'" - "LOCAL authorities could face "electronic mountains" of old washing machines, computers, toasters and clocks under an ultra-green recycling law passed by the European Parliament yesterday." (Telegraph)

"Trees aren't going to solve global warming" - "The world can't rely on forests to solve the problem of global warming. This follows an American study which found that trees mop up less carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than expected, where pollution has raised levels of the gas." (New Scientist)

"Dutch timber yard workers clash with Greenpeace" - "AMSTERDAM - Dutch timber yard workers clashed with Greenpeace activists yesterday when the campaign group protested against the firm's logging activities in Cameroon, Africa. Greenpeace said over 40 environmental activists chained themselves to gates and railings at Wijma timber yard, located in the northeastern Dutch town of Kampen. "But we had to stop our protests after employees (of the timber yard) became too aggressive, throwing stones and sticks," Greenpeace spokeswoman Ingrid Visseren said." (Reuters)

"37 held over Whitehall rainforest protest" - "A protest which saw Greenpeace campaigners invade Government buildings in a hunt for illegal rainforest wood today ended with 37 arrests today. The protesters scaled scaffolding outside the Cabinet Office building, draped it in massive banners and searched the Whitehall offices for doors and windows made from rainforest wood." (Telegraph)

"Greenpeace protests Chile native forest destruction" - "SANTIAGO, Chile — Greenpeace activists chained themselves to a Japanese ship docked in Chile Wednesday to protest the use of native tree species to make wood chips." (Reuters)

Gosh! Rainforests really are 'lungs': "Rainforest breathes out" - "The rivers and wetlands of South America's Amazon rainforest breathe out as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year as the dry regions of the forest absorb, new research shows." (NSU) | Tropical streams, rivers ‘exhaling’ millions of tons more CO2 than thought (UW)

"Researchers say artificial flood failed to help Grand Canyon sediment distribution" - "SALT LAKE CITY — An artificial flood created six years ago failed to distribute sediment along Colorado River beaches in the Grand Canyon as intended, a group of researchers concluded. After opening Glen Canyon Dam floodgates and letting high water flow for two weeks in the spring of 1996, then–Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt declared the $1.5 million experiment a success. The idea was to churn sand and silt from the bottom of the river channel and distribute it on banks, sandbars, and side canyons to help fish in the river. However, scientists say the benefits of the artificial flood apparently were short-lived, if not illusory." (AP)

"Three Gorges Dam will raise temperatures in central China, meteorologist predicts" - "SHANGHAI, China — China's Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric project, will create a reservoir massive enough to raise temperatures and force crop changes in nearby areas, a government meteorologist predicted Wednesday. Zhu Changhan, a researcher at the China Meteorological Administration, said temperatures around the reservoir site in central China could rise by an average of 1 degree after the dam's completion in 2009." (AP)

"Climate change will unbalance ecosystems - study" - "LONDON - Climate change over the next 50 years will throw delicate ecosystems off balance, reduce the geographical range of many species and bring new predators and prey together, scientists said yesterday. Fewer species than expected will become extinct but their distribution could be radically different in the years to come which will have unpredictable results for humans." (Reuters) | Climate to change wildlife (NSU)

"connected.telegraph.co.uk - Some of our sunlight is missing" - "SWARMS of satellites sweeping over Earth provide crucial data for scientists attempting to predict the health, wealth and future of the planet. There is, however, a problem that climate scientists don't often discuss in public: the difficulty of using this data to give a straight answer. Using the findings of satellites to chart the effects of global warming is like trying to compare measurements made with different rulers, some marked in inches, others in millimetres, others lack a zero or stretch like rubber. The "rulers" in this case are the satellites' onboard instruments and when you ask a question, such as how much of the Sun's energy falls on the Earth, you find that there is a difference of five per cent between the measurements and the computer model. This does not sound much, but the warming caused by this "missing" sunlight is about 10 times greater than that thought to be caused by man-made greenhouse gases."

"Ice shelf breakup challenges researchers" - "Why did the ice shelf break up and what does this mean, if anything, for the future? Around 60 scientists from about a dozen nations spent April 4 and 5 wrestling with these questions during a conference at Hamilton College, sponsored by Hamilton, Colgate University and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The consensus seemed to be that melting Antarctic ice isn't a threat for at least the next few decades, but could be some day, and scientists need to learn more about how the oceans, atmosphere and ice interact." (USA Today)

"ABC News - Ultra clean coal ready for export soon" - "The CSIRO says the first shipment of ultra clean coal from its pilot plant at Cessnock should be ready to export to Japan by the middle of the year."

"China Grains-No swift farm imports seen as trade awaits GMO" - "SHANGHAI - China has issued the bulk of low-duty import quotas on agricultural imports for its freshman year in the WTO, but some issues need to be sorted out before it sees quick arrivals of foreign farm produce, traders said. Bioengineered farm products like soyoil and corn will find it difficult to enter China without temporary safety permits, while private importers, allocated with paltry quotas of other crops like wheat, have to grapple with logistic problems, they said." (Reuters)

"India designs GM cotton for Indian farmers" - "The National Agriculture Research System (NARS) has developed three varieties of Bt cotton, which will enable the farmers to recycle seeds from crops cultivated in a season for the next season. Cotton crop can also be made resistant to both bollworm and spodetetra pests. These seeds are likely to be released for commercial cultivation within three years. The Bt cotton seeds developed by multinational Monsanto being hybrids cannot be recycled from the cultivated crops for the next season. Also, Monsanto seeds are resistant to only American bollworm pests." (Financial Times via The Life Sciences Network)

April 10, 2002

"Fat and fed up? You're not really ill" - "Doctors say disorders such as obesity, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome are not diseases. A leading medical journal is about to risk the wrath of patient groups by asking whether certain conditions, from chronic fatigue syndrome to obesity to depression, ought to be reclassified as "non-diseases". The British Medical Journal, with the help of its doctor readership, has put together a list of 174 conditions which it feels could be reclassified. They range from social phobia and Gulf war syndrome to obesity and diabetes to jet lag, warts, big ears and bad breath." (The Guardian)

"US Colleges Fail to Curb Student Drinking" - "WASHINGTON - A government report released Tuesday calls on American colleges and universities to comprehensively attack the culture of binge drinking that encourages alcohol abuse by students. A review of federal statistics included in the report showed that 1,400 students between 18 and 24 years of age died of alcohol-related injuries in 1998 and that over a quarter of 8 million US students had driven after drinking during that year. The report's authors said that spotty and unproven interventions have largely failed to dent growing numbers of alcohol-related injuries and deaths on US campuses." (Reuters Health) | Study Links Alcohol-Student Deaths (AP) | College drinking problems and research solutions (NIH/NIAAA release) | A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges (NIAAA report) [Download Adobe PDF version (1.17 MB) here]

"A Surge in Asbestos Suits, Many by Healthy Plaintiffs" - "Decades after American companies largely stopped using asbestos, a wave of asbestos-related lawsuits is again flooding the nation's courts. The suits, once filed mainly against shipbuilders, makers of asbestos and companies in a few other industries, now touch thousands of companies. In the last two years, they have forced at least 18 companies, with more than 100,000 employees, into bankruptcy protection." (New York Times)

Speaking of an urgent need for tort reform: "Los Angeles Times - Ed McMahon files suit over mold that made him sick, killed his dog" - "LOS ANGELES - Entertainer Ed McMahon is suing his insurance company for more than $20 million, alleging that he was sickened by toxic mold that spread through their Beverly Hills house after contractors cleaning up water damage from a broken pipe botched the job. Both McMahon and his wife, Pamela, became ill from the mold, as did members of their household staff, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court suit. The McMahons also blame the mold for the death of the family dog, Muffin."

"Judge throws out anthrax suit again" - "In a rambling letter to a federal judge two weeks ago, James N. O'Neil demanded a ruling on his suit, which claims the military's anthrax vaccine is killing soldiers. He threatened to file "criminal charges" against the U.S. government if nothing happened. He got his ruling Friday, when U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster threw out the suit. It was the second time Lancaster has dismissed O'Neil's claims." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Fish 'good' today: "Eating Fish Cuts Risk of Sudden Death -Study" - "BOSTON - Eating fish a few times a week significantly cuts the risk of death from a heart attack or other heart problems, two new studies published on Tuesday show, adding to a growing body of evidence that oils in fish are good for you." (Reuters)

and: "More Support for Eating Fatty Fish" - "Eating fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, already recommended to lower the risk of death from heart disease, received strong new support from three studies being published this week." (New York Times)

but: "Fish sauce blamed for sleep deaths" - "BANGKOK - Fish sauce is causing healthy Asian men to die mysteriously in their sleep, says a Thai researcher. Associate Professor Somporn Triamchaisri of Mahidol University said that although it was difficult to determine the cause of lai tay or sleep death, fish sauce and other fermented foods appeared to play a part in the fatal illness." (The Straits Times)

This appears to be from the department of imaginative extrapolation: "Passive smoking 'killing thousands'" - "More than a thousand Londoners alone die from coronary heart disease every year because of passive smoking, a report says. The study comes as more than 20 health organisations are demanding the government spends more tobacco tax trying to help low-income smokers to quit. It has been carried out by the London Assembly's Smoking in Public Places Committee." (BBC Online)

"Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can increase breast cancer risk, study finds" - "Gaining more than 50 pounds during pregnancy, and not losing the excess weight post-pregnancy, could triple a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer after menopause, according to a study conducted by researchers at Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, DC, and in Finland. Pregnancy weight gain of 40 pounds increased breast cancer risk by 40%. The findings are to be presented April 9 at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in San Francisco." (Georgetown University Medical Center)

"Test Proves Fruitless, Fueling New Debate on Cancer Screening" - "For years, it was a medical truism that the earlier cancer could be detected, the better. Most cancers would inevitably worsen if left untreated, the theory went. Spontaneous remissions were so rare as to be almost unheard of. But last week, those assumptions were shattered, at least in the case of a childhood cancer. A screening test that looked as if it would save children from terrible deaths from a cancer of the nervous system utterly failed to fulfill its promise. Now the story of that screening and questions about tests for adult cancers like mammography and a blood test for prostate cancer are ushering in a broader debate about cancer screening in general, with questions about what is known of the benefits and risks of tests that look for cancers in healthy people with no symptoms." (New York Times)

"Healthy Elderly Essential for Prosperity Worldwide" - "MADRID - With the world's population rapidly ageing, it is in governments' economic interest to focus efforts on preventing heart disease, cancer and other diseases so growing old does not necessarily mean growing ill, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday." (Reuters Health)

"Why an ageing population is the greatest threat to society" - "Of all the threats to human society, including war, disease and natural disaster, one outranks all others. It is the ageing of the human population. No invading army, volcanic eruption or yet undreamt of plague can rival ageing in the breadth or depth of its impact on society. Over the next half century the proportion of people aged 60-plus around the world is expected to more than double. By 2050, for the first time in human history, old people will outnumber child-ren on the planet." (Independent)

"Genetic connection in link between permanent hair dye use and bladder cancer risk" - "Certain women may be more susceptible to bladder cancer associated with the use of permanent hair dyes than other women, based on their genetic makeup, according to study results released today by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and colleagues." (USC)

"'New' pesticides affect immune system, study finds" - "WASHINGTON - Pesticides developed in the hope that they may be safer than older chemicals known to cause cancer may be only slightly better, researchers said yesterday.

Whalen said she did not want to worry the public but believes her findings merit further studies to see if agricultural workers may be at risk" (Reuters)

"Federal Study Calls Spending on Water Systems Perilously Inadequate" - "Annual spending to maintain and expand water and sewage systems is lagging tens of billions of dollars behind what is needed to keep up with population growth and tightening health and pollution standards, federal environmental officials have found." (New York Times)

Revealing much about the bizarre mindset of those obsessed with sirenians: "The Seattle Times: Editorials & Opinion: Letters to the editor - Dwindling species; Lamentable manatee" - "There really isn't any alarming history of killer whales getting hit by boats or propellers, unlike the rather dimwitted manatees of Florida," is a quote Brian Gorman of the National Marine Fisheries Service should rethink ("Orca grows fond of Vashon ferry," Local News, March 28).

As a recently transplanted Florida marine biologist, I want him and Times readers to know that manatees are not endangered due to their own lack of intelligence, as Gorman suggests. Rather, I suggest he call his own service's Southeast regional administrative office in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he can learn the following:

1) When manatees are killed by boat strikes, it is due to careless operation by uneducated boaters in shallow, murky water. Manatees often have nowhere to go to get away from a boat, and they are very hard to see, even on the surface.

2) Adult manatees in Florida all bear scars from propeller strikes, which Gorman's colleagues at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service use to identify and track individual manatees. These repeat scarrings also dispel the notion that manatees are always killed by boat strikes.

3) Adult manatees will, when given the chance, guide their young away from boats. The orca in Vashon has no one to guide her but NMFS.

Perhaps Gorman will consider picking up a phone before he impugns the intelligence of another of our nation's endangered species." (Philip Hoffman, Seattle)

I still think it takes a very lonely person to view them as 'mermaids.' Regardless, orcas are predators and predators tend to rate rather higher in the smarts stakes than do herbivores (possibly explaining much about vegans?). Consequently, even if the apparently maligned Gorman did mean to imply that orcas are rather smarter than your average manatee, it's highly unlikely that he'd be wrong.

"Mercury News | 04 09 2002 | Suit tests conflicting animal laws" - "In an unusual public battle between environmentalists and animal rights activists, the National Audubon Society will argue in federal court today that California's voter-approved ban on animal leg-hold traps should be weakened so that government trappers can kill foxes, feral cats and other predators that eat endangered and migrating birds."

"INTERVIEW - South Africa sees US on side at UN Summit" - "JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has said it is confident that the United States would not torpedo a global action plan for environmentally sustainable development to be adopted at a U.N. summit in Johannesburg. Environmental groups have voiced concern that the United States and oil exporting nations will try to scale down the World Summit on Sustainable Development's action plan because of fears about the impact it could have on business and profits." (Reuters)

"Science, Economics, and Morality" - "Accept all but the most extreme environmentalists' claims about climate change and you still come down to the question: What ought to be done about it? That was the core of the debate Monday between Bjorn Lomborg, Danish statistician and author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," and Rafe Pomerance, a former deputy assistant secretary of State for environmental affairs under the Clinton administration and a co-author of the 1997 United Nations' Kyoto Protocol for capping carbon emissions." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

"The Real Threat to the Planet" - "...[G]lobal warming [is] the most serious threat that we have ever faced..." (Al Gore, Earth in the Balance, p. 40)

"...[A large asteroid striking the earth is a] serious and surprising danger posed to our global civilization from outer space." (Carl Sagan)

Two global threats - one supposedly human-made, the other natural. How much worry should be parceled to each? Calamitous global warming from human activities like fossil-fuel burning finds little support in reliable measurements of the temperature of the earth - either at the surface or in the sensitive lower atmosphere. On the other hand, an eventual asteroid strike is a dead certainty." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

Roll on 'global warming'? "Xinhuanet - Monsoon Likely to Return to World Roof: Experts" - "BEIJING, April 9 -- Thanks to global warming, monsoon rains are likely to return to the "Roof of the World", the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, after an absence of 30,000 years. Shi Yafeng, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua that rising temperatures are increasingly approaching that of the interglacial era, dating back 30,000 to 40,000 years, when the weather was warm and humid throughout the area of today's China. China's western region was then dotted with lakes and rivers as well as abundant tree growth, Shi said."

"Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment: An Equal Opportunity Provider" - "Summary: Allowing the air's CO2 content to rise has recently been criticized because its beneficial effects on plant growth and development extend to weeds as well as crops and other desirable plants. Some Harvard professors take this observation to suggest we should curtail anthropogenic CO2 emissions in a move akin to "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" or, worse yet, biting the hand that feeds us." (co2science.org)

"Hurricanes (Atlantic Ocean - El Niño Effect)" - "Summary: Climate alarmists claim future global warming will increase both the frequency and intensity of hurricanes. One way to test this claim is to determine how these hurricane characteristics have varied in the past between warmer El Niño years and cooler La Niña years. This summary reviews the results of several studies that have done just that." (co2science.org)

"The Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in China" - "Summary: An analysis of a stalagmite found in a Beijing cave reveals the existence of the past millennium's two most outstanding climatic features, one of which is claimed by climate alarmists to be but a regional anomaly of lands bordering on the North Atlantic Ocean and the other of which is claimed to have not existed at all. Quaternary Research 57: 109-119." (co2science.org)

"Cautions About Putting Too Much Faith in Climate Models" - "Summary: A fresh perspective on the issue of climate change and its impacts concludes that demonstrable empirical correlations between various solar phenomena and earth's climate may well be better predictors of the planet's climatic future than today's best climate models. Hydrological Processes 16: 559-564." (co2science.org)

"Urban CO2 Concentrations of Phoenix, Arizona, USA" - "Summary: A year-long minute-by-minute study of near-surface atmospheric CO2 concentration in a residential neighborhood of a major urban complex sheds new light on the urban CO2 dome phenomenon. It's even bigger than originally believed. Atmospheric Environment 36: 1655-1660." (co2science.org)

"Imagine no restrictions on fossil-fuel usage and no global warming" - "Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory are studying a simple, cost effective method for extracting carbon dioxide directly from the air - which could allow sustained use of fossil fuels while avoiding potential global climate change." (DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory)

"'Greens' May Have Run Out of Gas In Senate Fight Over Energy Plan" - "WASHINGTON -- In politics, as in comedy, timing can be everything. So, as the Senate debates a long-delayed energy bill this week, Alaska's Frank Murkowski is just one of its members trying to seize the moment. As early as Wednesday, the Republican senator will make his long-awaited move to add language allowing oil exploration in Alaska's federally protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Tuesday, just 24 hours after Iraq pulled its oil from the world market, Sen. Murkowski rose in the Senate to try to marshal enough votes to quash a likely Democrat-led filibuster against his White House-backed proposal." (Wall Street Journal) [Subscription required]

"Newsday.com - Judge voids New York law against Midwest plant emissions" - "ALBANY, N.Y. -- A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a state law limiting emissions from factories in the Midwest and South blamed for causing acid rain in New York. The result could be an increase in the emissions scientists believe are destroying fish and plant life in hundreds of lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks and Catskills, said Marc Violette, spokesman for state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who defended the state law. U.S. District Judge David Hurd in Utica called the state law "protectionist" and in violation of federal law governing pollution "credits" for industries and interstate trade. The credits can be sold by industries that have reduced their own emissions."

"New Harvard Medical School Report: Oil-Focused Energy; Policy Takes Toll on Human Health" - "BOSTON, April 9 -- Amid highly charged energy policies being debated in Congress, a new report published today by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School captures the full spectrum of human health and environmental damages associated with our dependence on oil. "Oil: A Life Cycle Analysis of Its Health and Environmental Impacts," is the first report to catalog the dangers to people and ecosystems from exploration, drilling, extraction, transport, refining and combustion. Among these dangers are elevated rates of fatalities and injuries for oil extraction workers and high risks of exposure to cancer-causing chemicals for refinery workers and neighboring communities." (U.S. Newswire)

Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment produces a lot of this sort of guff, they've got a Bush/fossil fuel-bashing letter published in the Old Gray Lady today too.

"Scripps Howard News Service - Overseas dust, pollution are blowing across U.S." - "Increasing evidence shows that giant dust storms originating in China and Africa may be blowing a toxic soup of air pollution, pesticides, insects, bacteria and viruses thousands of miles across the ocean to the United States. Although dust has blown across oceans for time immemorial, scientists think the prolonged drought and increasing desertification that began in Africa in the early 1970s, and more recently in parts of China, is intensifying the giant dust storms. At the same time, industrialization in China and greater use of pesticides and other pollutants in Africa may be worsening the toxic mix of substances that get blown along with the dust."

"UK firm hopes for tax boost for its 'green' gas" - "LONDON - Alkane Plc says its use of methane which seeps out of old mines is as good for Britain's environment as taking thousands of cars off the roads, and hopes for a tax rejig to give it the same status as renewable power." (Reuters)

"EU greenhouse gas trading scheme seen facing delay" - "BAD SODEN - Proposals by the European Union on compulsory trading of emissions certificates by 2005 are too patchy and unclear for an early implementation, experts at a German industry seminar said yesterday." (Reuters)

"EU motorways grow 25 pct in 10 years, rail shrinks" - "BRUSSELS - The motorway network in the European Union grew by one quarter over the last decade while the railways shrank, EU statistics agency Eurostat said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Schools closed, commuters stranded as court orders polluting buses off roads" - "NEW DELHI, India — Schools were closed and commuters stranded Tuesday as nearly half of New Delhi's public buses were ordered off the roads by the Supreme Court for failing to switch to cleaner fuel. The court has ordered all public buses in the Indian capital to modify their polluting diesel engines to run on compressed natural gas (CNG), whose emissions are less noxious. Only about half of New Delhi's 12,000 buses have switched to CNG during the three-year deadline the court set in 1998." (AP)

"New Zealand Herald - Renewed attacks by Australian nuclear plant protesters" - "Environmental groups yesterday opened another front in their resistance to plans for a new nuclear reactor in Sydney. The reactor has been given the go-ahead despite strong opposition and criticism of an atomic treaty with Argentina, which will build the plant. The A$320 million ($388 million) plant will replace the ageing Lucas Heights reactor, used for medical purposes including cancer treatment and research. Green groups and the Sutherland Shire, the large Sydney local government area containing the Lucas Heights facility, last week lost a long and bitter fight against its replacement."

April 9, 2002

"Different Conclusion From the Same Study" - "Dr. Donald Berry, the head of biostatistics at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, has a Ph.D. in his field and long years of expertise in designing and interpreting results of clinical trials. Dr. David Freedman, a statistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, has similar credentials. Yet, when they examine data from one of the most widely cited studies of mammography, they come to different conclusions. And therein lies the conundrum: how can experts look at the same data and disagree over their meaning?" (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"Newsday.com - Bill would extend worker's comp to cover WTC illnesses" - "ALBANY, N.Y. -- Months after the collapsing World Trade Center towers sent smoke, ash and building materials billowing out across lower Manhattan, the prognosis for long-term health affects from the debris remains cloudy. A new bill in the state Legislature would extend worker's compensation benefits to rescue and recovery personnel at the trade center for exposure-related illnesses."

"Agricultural fungicide could cause irreversible immune system damage" - "Natural killer cells in the body’s immune system could be rendered irreversibly powerless to guard against invading tumors and viral onslaughts after only a brief exposure to a compound found in some agricultural pesticides and fungicides. The finding will be presented April 8 during the American Chemical Society national meeting in Orlando." (ACS)

"GE files `good faith offer' with EPA for plan to clean up Hudson River" - "WASHINGTON -- General Electric Co. met Monday's deadline to file a "good faith offer" with the federal government on the cleanup of tons of toxic PCBs from the Hudson River, avoiding a potentially huge fine. GE spokesman Mark Behan declined to discuss specifics of the offer, which could simply be a promise to do the dredging work or a far more detailed plan for carrying out one of the nation's largest environmental cleanups." (AP)

Some myths are particularly durable: "Bald eagle comeback trail leads to West Coast" - "A hefty legal settlement with a polluter will pay for the reintroduction of eagles to California's Channel Islands." (The Christian Science Monitor)

The studies actually didn't show that DDT caused eggshell thinning. While DDT is not suitable for the 'one compound fits all' abuse to which it was subjected it most certainly was not guilty as charged and has useful application today.

"Kampala, British Researchers Disagree On Malaria in Kabale" - "A TEAM of British researchers have published what they claim is evidence that recent malaria epidemics in Kabale should not be blamed on climate change. However, Ugandan health and meteorology authorities say something must be wrong with the research or its conclusions.

Since the mid-1990s Kabale District and the surrounding areas, which had been considered too cold for mosquitoes, have suffered severe and repeated outbreaks of malaria. The Ministry of Health says that unlike before, Kabale is now warm enough for mosquitoes to thrive. They also blame wetland encroachment as well as the depletion of trees.

However, a research team led by Simon Hay of the University of Oxford, UK, say they have established that there is no significant temperature change in the highland areas. The team studied climate data from 1901 to 1995 in Kabale and three other highlands of Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi. They found no significant trends in temperature or rainfall." (New Vision (Kampala))

"A chilling of science" - "IT WAS BAD enough when the Bush administration adopted wholesale the recommendations of big oil, coal companies, and the utilities in drawing up its energy policy for the United States. Now the administration is trying to extend US corporate influence to the international arena by blackballing the scientist who has led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1996." (Boston Globe)

Wonder how The Globe arrives at the impression that 'Intergovernmental' somehow equates to 'Science.'

"theage.com.au - Brace for a meltdown, snowfields told" - "Global warming will start to have a significant impact on Victoria's alpine resorts within 20 years, according to a State Government report that predicts big reductions in snow cover. The state's alps will be "particularly vulnerable" to the hotter and drier weather associated with global warming, the Environment Minister Sherryl Garbutt said yesterday."

"Despite strains, Ottawa denies it is split on Kyoto" - "OTTAWA - Despite signs of top-level disagreements inside Ottawa over whether to ratify the Kyoto protocol, Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson insisted yesterday the government was united in its backing for the treaty, which some critics say will cripple the economy. The government originally made clear it intended to ratify Kyoto this June but suddenly called for more consultations in the face of strong resistance to the treaty on global warming from businesses, energy producers and several provincial governments." (Reuters)

"canada.com - G-8 environment ministers confine climate issue to margins of Banff meeting" - "OTTAWA (CP) - The future of the Kyoto Protocol, easily the hottest environmental issue of the day, won't be on the formal agenda when G-8 environment ministers meet in Banff this week. But it will be discussed informally, behind closed doors, and the outcome of that discussion could have a crucial impact on Canada's debate over ratification of the treaty."

"Thestar.com Rock changes tune according to portfolio" - "When Allan Rock was minister of health, his department told Canadians that the risks of global warming were real. Health Canada's principal remedy was the Kyoto agreement, reached in 1997, under which Canada pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions to pre-1990 levels. But now that Rock is industry minister, he is having second thoughts about the Kyoto agreement. Visiting the Alberta oil patch last week, he told the Calgary Herald, "I'm concerned about preaching on the one hand about us becoming more productive and competitive and, on the other hand, not having measured the impact of Kyoto on the economy. I'm not comfortable until we get some reliable information on that."

"Globe and Mail | The high cost of Kyoto is pure gas" - "News reports about the high costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Kyoto protocol targets miss the point. Costing analyses typically assume there is a baseline against which the mitigation case can be compared. So they predict energy demand assuming no mitigation policy. Then they calculate how much it would cost to reduce emissions, compared to that base case."

Anything spent addressing a non-issue is pure waste, not 'opportunity.'

"Globe and Mail | Kyoto costs could hit $15-billion in five years" - "OTTAWA -- Canada's bill for meeting Kyoto Protocol obligations to shrink its balance sheet of greenhouse gas emissions could total much as $15-billion over five years, an unofficial federal government estimate suggests. The figures refer to the potential cumulative cost of measures required by Canada under the Kyoto accord's compliance period, 2008 through 2012."

"Vancouver Sun - Husky boss spearheads pro-Kyoto lobby" - "OTTAWA - A plastic industry multi-millionaire is breaking corporate ranks to spearhead a lobby in favour of the Kyoto climate-change protocol. Robert Schad, founder and CEO of the Ontario-based Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., is threatening to quit the powerful Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters industry association, unless it changes its anti-Kyoto stance."

"IHT: Oil growth boomerangs on Houston" - "HOUSTON The ozone air pollution in Houston has been the worst in the United States in two of the last three years, but more than one-quarter of the passenger vehicles registered in this state, Texas, are heavy-polluting pickup trucks or sports utility vehicles. The Galveston Bay shoreline near here retreats by about 2.4 feet, or 73 centimeters, a year and is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, yet million-dollar houses still go up steadily along its beaches. The Houston area already suffers more than most from the effects of climate change, but this capital of the world petroleum industry has been slow to curb its energy-consuming, pollution-generating ways."

"Beacon Journal | 04 07 2002 | Synthetic fuel tax credits generate money, outrage" - "Something new soon may be burning in Ohio power plants. It's coal that's been sprayed with a latex polymer. It won't produce any more energy than untreated coal. It won't be any cleaner to burn -- an issue of importance at the plants, which have the dirtiest emissions in the nation. What it will do, is generate federal tax credits worth hundreds of millions of dollars."

Could have a point: "DesMoinesRegister.com | U.S. has coal to burn for another 250 years" - "Is America's future energy really blowing in the wind as the Register's March 22 editorial ("Global Warming - So What?") suggests? Is our coal a resource to be blown off in one dismissive paragraph?" (Jack N. Gerard, president & CEO, National Mining Assn.)

"Mountain of Controversy Brews Over Nuclear Waste Site (washingtonpost.com)" - "AMARGOSA VALLEY, Nev. -- Here in the Nevada desert, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas and a thousand feet beneath the surface of an ugly mountain ridge, the Bush administration is preparing to bury the nation's least desired waste: 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel that will remain radioactive for at least 100 centuries. Over the past 20 years, government engineers and scientists have carved a vast underground netherworld of tunnels, vaults and test bores to assess Yucca Mountain's geology, part of a controversial plan to store the byproduct of the nation's nuclear power plants."

"Foes of Nuclear Dump Gear Up Campaign" - "As Congress returns from recess this week, the Senate is the focus of an intensifying lobbying campaign over whether radioactive waste should be sent to Nevada." (New York Times)

"Bulgaria to restart building new nuclear plant" - "SOFIA - Bulgaria said yesterday it planned to restart building a new nuclear power plant in Belene to compensate for the early closure of old reactors at its existing plant in Kozloduy." (Reuters)

"GM activists call for ban to protect poor farmers" - "Environmentalists will press delegates at an international conference on biodiversity this week to ban a controversial form of genetic modification that deliberately sterilises crop seeds. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, held in The Hague, will be told that so-called "terminator genes" are immoral because they prevent the world's poorest farmers from saving some of their harvest for planting the following year. Seed companies say introducing terminator genes into some GM crops will ensure the seed does not spread in the wild, but it would also offer them obvious commercial benefits because farmers would have to buy fresh seed each year." (Independent)

"China mulls first law to regulate biotech - media" - "BEIJING - China is considering a law to regulate the use of biotechnology in agricultural production to protect people's health and the environment, state media said yesterday. Such a law would ensure such biotechnology would undergo regular inspections to reduce harm to the ecosystem, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. It would also require risk evaluations on the mass production of transgenic or genetically modified foods to protect human health, it said." (Reuters)

April 8, 2002

"Make-up kit holds hidden danger of cancer; New study claims legal loopholes allow beauty products to contain deadly toxins" - "Women are being exposed to deadly diseases through the everyday use of common cosmetics bought over the counter, according to a new study. The growing list of synthetic ingredients manufacturers add to their products are turning the most innocent-looking shampoos and moisturisers into cocktails of toxins that could cause cancer over years of sustained use. In Drop Dead Gorgeous: Protecting Yourself From The Hidden Dangers of Cosmetics, to be published in Britain next month, authors Kim Erickson and Dr Samuel S. Epstein reveal how manufacturers exploit loopholes in legislation designed to protect the public." (The Observer)

Epstein? Epstein... Ah! That Epstein!

In response to Mobile phone radiation gives Gro Harlem Brundtland headaches, featured on the 7th, our favourite professor of electrical engineering writes:

Re: "Mobile phone radiation gives Gro Harlem Brundtland headaches"

And this is the Director-General of the World Health Organization? Assume for a moment that this is true. In our world there is no escaping from electromagnetic radiation, man-made or natural, and she probably knows this (I'm an incorrigible optimist). Therefore she must be in a constant state of pain, all of the time, if she really believes this crap. No wonder these UN-based entities are so loony.

As I write this, I feel an intense pain in my posterior, caused by EM radiation emitted by the zillions of electrons moving round in my chair's seat. This is not my imagination, as I have found in my research that the intensity of squealing in laboratory mice glued to chair seats is, on the average, 60dB higher than in control mice not glued to chair seats. I have also found a remedy for this. If you dip the mice in liquid nitrogen for 60 seconds prior to gluing them to the chairs, their squealing drops below the noise floor, much lower than the control mice. I am now conducting experiments to determine the biological mechanism that causes this effect.

Yup, that about covers it...

"Newsday.com - Federal judge extends temporary restraining order halting EPA plan to move ombudsman's office" - "WASHINGTON -- A federal judge on Friday extended his temporary restraining order prohibiting the Bush administration from moving the office of the Environmental Protection Agency's hazardous waste ombudsman. After the hearing, ombudsman Robert Martin's supporters lingered in the courtroom and angrily confronted the EPA's spokesman. "I've never seen an agency where so many people are so dishonest," Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told EPA spokesman Joe Martyak."

"statesman.com | Bush ergonomics policy relies on voluntary action" - "WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration unveiled a new workplace safety policy Friday that requires no mandatory steps by industry and instead relies on voluntary actions by companies to reduce injuries from repetitive motions on the job." | Los Angeles Times - White House Will Leave Job Safety to Employers

Australia's 'RSI epidemic' was easily controlled - as soon as we realised it was really ISI (imaginary stress injury) the epidemic was over.

"Soft drinks can be as addictive as cigarettes" - "When those of us who eat our bran and exercise for 45 minutes a day are done purging cigarettes from society, we will need a new moral crusade to embark upon. After perusing a list of potential villains, the new target is obvious -- carbonated sucrose water. Or as they call it in the Midwest: pop. No longer can we ignore the increasing carnage to society caused by soft drinks. Cigarettes kill 400,000 people a year, but close behind is obesity with more than 300,000 victims. The main cause of obesity is sugar. The main source of sugar is pop. Soft drinks are nothing more than a delivery vehicle for sugar. Each American consumes an average of 115 pounds of sugar per year. Sugar is an addictive drug and should be regulated by the FDA." (Mike Thomas, The Orlando Sentinel)

"Study Says 38 Percent of Adults Are Sedentary in Leisure Time" - "Nearly 40 percent of American adults are sedentary in their leisure time, basically never exercising. In contrast, about 30 percent exercise on a regular basis, either vigorously several times a week, or even more often at lower intensity. The rest do something in between. Those are among the findings of a survey, whose results will help the federal government track behaviors in the American population in the coming decades." (Washington Post)

"Warning: too tubby tots face lifetime of obesity" - "Early infancy is a critical period in establishing obesity and the first few months of life should be a special focus of intervention" (The Observer)

"The Virginian-Pilot - Snags in ship's cleanup show why so few are recycled" - "CHESAPEAKE -- The asbestos is going to a landfill near Richmond, the lead paint to a Pennsylvania waste site, the toxic PCBs to South Dakota. Disposing of the environmental hazards from the Spiegel Grove, a former Navy ship being converted to an artificial reef for the Florida Keys, will cost about two-thirds of the overall salvage project, according to managers at Bay Bridge Enterprises in Chesapeake. The high expense and a seven-year paper chase over potential liabilities, ownership and regulations illustrate in explicit detail why so few surplus vessels are being recycled these days."

"From Tree-Hugger to Terrorist" - "Critter glares at me across an empty table. ''I'm sorry you've come all this way,'' he says. Critter, whose legal name is Craig Marshall, is an intense young man with short-trimmed hair, a scraggly beard and flared side chops that give him the look of a singer in a rockabilly band. He is a vegetarian anarchist who spent several months living nearly 200 feet up a Douglas fir to prevent it from being cut down. Now he sits in an interview room at the Snake River Correctional Institution in the eastern Oregon desert. I've come to talk to him about crossing lines. If he'll talk. ''Corporate media protects corporate interests,'' he tells me. ''You'll probably use inflammatory quotes and say I'm some crazy son of a bitch,'' he says." (New York Times)

Well, if the hat fits...

"San Francisco Chronicle - Trial to plumb mystery of Earth First bombing" - "Oakland -- The case seems to have as many conspiracy theories as the Kennedy assassination: On May 24, 1990, Earth First environmentalists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney were on their way to Santa Cruz to promote the protection of ancient redwoods, when all of a sudden a nail-studded bomb under the front seat of Bari's Subaru station wagon exploded. The blast maimed Bari, injured Cherney, besmirched their reputations and discredited Earth First, leaving a cloud over the environmental movement -- and a trail of questions that to this day have never been answered."

51st state smarter than the average bear? "Globe and Mail - Species at risk" - "For a country that is largely wilderness, Canada has shown an alarming tendency to slough off its responsibilities to preserve the wild and what lives there. Never mind the more complex demands of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to cut greenhouse gases. When it comes to protecting endangered species, this country has been all but paralyzed. Both Mexico and the United States have laws protecting endangered wildlife -- the U.S. law dates from the Nixon administration of the early 1970s. But Canada has seen two federal bills since 1996 die during election calls."

"Seven Atlantic hurricanes forecast for 2002" - "MIAMI - The 2002 Atlantic hurricane season will pack above-average activity - including seven hurricanes - with a 75 percent probability of at least one major hurricane hitting the U.S. coastline, a noted hurricane forecaster said last week. In an update to his earlier 2002 predictions, Colorado State University professor William Gray, who has had some success predicting hurricane seasons in the past, also said a growing El Nino warm-water phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean will have little effect on the Atlantic hurricane season." (Reuters)

" Calgary Herald - No one is certain of deal's impact" - "Business exaggerates the costs, just as environmental groups exaggerate the benefits," says Carleton University professor Bruce Doern, co-author of The Greening of Canada. For bystanders to the debate being waged by industrialists, politicians, academics and journalists, the Kyoto business can be as tough to grasp as the geo-thermal clouds at the centre of the controversy. We want to know about our jobs, the cost to heat our homes, and the price for a litre of gas? On the last front, federal Environment Minister David Anderson predicts no more than a 20-cent increase on a $30 tank. Meanwhile, one U.S. study projects a $10 hike, thus illustrating the uncertainties of Kyoto."

Actually, there's one certainty regarding Kyoto, agreed by advocate and skeptic alike. Even if enhanced greenhouse poses any form of threat, a completely implemented Kyoto would not, could not, change the climate situation in any meaningful way. Arguments about cost are immaterial. It can't help, it can hurt, so don't do it. Simple, isn't it?

"Newsday.com - Scientist predicts climate change of 10 degrees" - "CLINTON, N.Y. (AP) - Last month, an ice shelf about the size of Lake Ontario rapidly disintegrated in the Antarctic Peninsula. Just one of those things? A new study of global-warming trends suggests otherwise. Jonathan Overpeck, a climate researcher at the University of Arizona, says new computer simulations suggest that global warming this century will be about four times greater than what the planet experienced in the 1900s."

Jonathan Overpeck engaging in melodramatic 'enhanced greenhouse' hand-wringing? Imagine that...

"sunspot.net - opinion - Watching Antarctica as the world warms" - "An amazing ice collapse sends an uncertain but troubling warning about our future."

"theage.com.au - Electricity bills to record greenhouse gas emissions" - "Victorian households and businesses will be the first in Australia to have their individual greenhouse gas emissions reported to them in their electricity bills. Energy and Resources Minister Candy Broad will today announce government plans to introduce new-look energy bills this year, which will inform households and businesses how much greenhouse gas was produced to supply their electricity. Ms Broad said yesterday that the government hoped that linking electricity consumption to greenhouse gas emissions would make Victorians more responsible energy users."

Oh... "Australian Greenhouse Office to Farewell Inaugural Chief Executive" - "The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today announced that Ms Gwen Andrews, Chief Executive of the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO), intends to leave her position early in May. Ms Andrews is coming to the end of her second contract period as Chief Executive of the AGO." (Media release)

"Warnings On Drilling Reversed; U.S. Quickly Revises Arctic Caribou Study" - "One week after a U.S. Geological Survey study warned that caribou "may be particularly sensitive" to oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the agency has completed a quick follow-up report suggesting that the most likely drilling scenarios under consideration should have no impact on caribou.

The new, two-page report, obtained by The Washington Post, was written by the same scientist who led the original caribou study. The new report, commissioned by Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton almost immediately after the initial report came out, bolsters the Bush administration's case that drilling can proceed in the Alaska refuge without harming the fabled Porcupine caribou herd." (Washington Post)

"Clinton agencies assisted Enron rise -- The Washington Times" - "Enron Corp. grew in the 1990s from a small Texas natural gas company to a $50 billion global energy-trading giant - with extensive help from the Clinton administration. The company's international stature grew remarkably in the 1990s, to a point that Clinton officials sought its help in solving problems big and small, including drumming up support for the global-warming treaty, promoting economic development in the war-torn Middle East and Bosnia and drafting the details of an arcane bankruptcy reform measure."

"Forecast No Longer So Cloudy At Shenandoah National Park (washingtonpost.com)" - "ALONG SKYLINE DRIVE, Va. -- The air pollution at Shenandoah National Park got so bad in recent decades that rangers put up an exhibit explaining the hazy veil that often obscures the park's spectacular views.

But after decades in which increasing industrial emissions upwind ranked Shenandoah as one of the nation's most polluted large parks, a dramatic reversal appears to be underway."

"The Detroit News - Air rules will choke Michigan - 4 8 02" - "ROCHESTER HILLS -- As many as 20 Michigan counties -- including all of Metro Detroit -- won't meet air quality requirements that the federal Environmental Protection Agency will now dictate."

"Hoover's Online - Power Companies Criticize Newly-Issued Emissions Report" - "Apr. 5--Most of the nation's oldest power plants are dirtier than they were in 1995, according to Seth Landau, clean air field organizer for U.S. Public Interest Research Group. American Electric Power Co. spokesman Pat Hemlepp said the report is "flat -- out inaccurate." Pollution emission data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency supports both arguments. Seven of the nine coal-fired power plants in Virginia have increased their emissions of sulfur dioxide, but the nine plants' collective sulfur dioxide emissions have fallen. Total emissions per year of nitrogen oxide have also dropped nearly 42,000 tons per year since 1995, but carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 10.6 million tons."

"UPDATE - US companies eye early permits for nuclear sites" - "SAN FRANCISCO - Several energy companies are taking early steps that might lead to licensing the first nuclear power plant in the U.S. since the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979, although the plans appear likely to remain on the drawing boards for the next few years." (Reuters)

Groan... "Prime Time for Yucca Controversy Gives Wing to Opponents' Message" - "Opponents of a government plan to store most of the nation's nuclear waste beneath a mountain in Nevada got a little help this week from a rather unlikely source: the television show "The West Wing." The popular White House drama aired an episode Wednesday in which a truck carrying nuclear waste crashes inside a tunnel in rural Idaho. The waste spills, authorities are unable to clean up the mess, and the president complains that, for all of his administration's precautions, it still isn't safe to move the waste." (Washington Post)

I thought it was funny last week when NM Gov. Gary Johnson thought it prudent to advise people that The West Wing's just Tinsel Town fiction ("All Fiction, and All-Clear", NYT) but, apparently not.

"telegraph.co.uk - No extensions for Magnox plants" - "BNFL has dropped plans to extend the lives of its two largest Magnox nuclear reactors, Wylva in Angelsea and Oldbury on the Severn Estuary. The decision will increase pressure on the Government to come to a decision about the building of new nuclear power capacity in the UK."

"Company drivers hit by emissions tax" - "FROM last Friday, the 1.7m drivers of company cars have had to struggle with Gordon Brown's new tax regime and its paradoxical results. For instance, the new system will seriously penalise genuine business users with high mileage on company business, and make things cheaper for directors whose car is just a perk with little business use." (Telegraph)

"Newsday.com - Car inspection reprieve gains support" - "HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Environmental groups and agencies are among those supporting a proposal to let New Jersey drivers wait four years before getting a new car inspected. "Our expectation is that newer cars typically don't fail inspection," state Environmental Commissioner Bradley Campbell told The Record of Hackensack. New vehicles must be tested for emissions after two years. According to Gov. James E. McGreevey's budget proposal, a four-year grace period before emissions and safety inspections would save taxpayers nearly $7 million next year."

"Hopes of rethink on green fuels" - "THE continuing crisis in the Middle East is again fuelling hopes of a real government commitment to kick-start a programme for renewable energy from field crops. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says that the rising price of crude oil - up by about one-third to around US$28 (£19.54) per barrel in the last three months - is a timely reminder to the government of the opportunities offered by such a programme. But in spite of encouraging noises about more green power from Energy Minister Brian Wilson, the sole concession to this lobby remains the 20p per litre cut in road fuel duty on bio-diesel from oil seeds due to take effect from the coming budget." (The Scotsman)

"Oslo says rejects wind farm to protect environment" - "OSLO - Norway's energy minister last week rejected state utility Statkraft a license to erect 35 wind turbines at Stadlandet in western Norway, saying the wind farm would harm the environment." (Reuters)

"India takes baby steps to GM crops, Greens fume" - "BOMBAY - India's path-breaking move to allow commercial production of genetically modified (GM) cotton hybrids has raised prospects for other transgenic crops even though it could be years before most win approval, analysts say. In a nation of over a billion people, GM technology offers India the tool to boost abysmally low farm yields, raising hopes for more such crops like potato, tomato, rice and mustard." (Reuters)

April 7, 2002

"Judges exclude expert testimony" - "WASHINGTON, April 4 -- When plaintiffs and defendants go into civil courtrooms in the United States, along with their lawyers they often bring so-called expert witnesses to help them make their cases. These technical and scientific experts can play significant roles in trials dealing with product liability, negligence, intellectual property, and civil rights, and juries or judges often decide a case based on whose experts they believe are better.

But are the experts really all that expert? How can the courts screen out courtroom "experts" who may be presenting flawed evidence that lacks credibility?" (United Press International)

"Environmentalists say U.S. hijacking U.N. summit" - "UNITED NATIONS, April 5 - Environmental groups on Friday accused the United States and oil exporting nations of trying to gut a global action plan for environmentally friendly development to be adopted at a U.N. summit in South Africa. Organizers of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, opening in Johannesburg in August, acknowledged the meeting could fall far short of what they had hoped, but said it could still succeed if governments wanted. Greenpeace International accused Washington of trying to use the conference to dismantle "more than three decades of international efforts to protect the environment, enhance social justice and ensure economic opportunities for all." (Reuters)

Okay... so, illuminate me. What have contemporary Greenpeace and their misanthropic ilk to do with environment, social justice and economic opportunities for all? No rude answers please, it's a serious question. Anyone aware of any environmentally and socially efficacious campaign or activities undertaken by the loosely-termed "green" organizations in the last decade should feel free to write coordinator@altgreen.com.au. Any action description convincing a skeptical panel that they are of net benefit to the world published on this site.

Please try really hard - I'd like to think they've done something useful with all that public money and extorted donations over the years.

"Soldiers' illness not caused by radiation: study" - "A scientific study of Canadian Forces soldiers who served in the Gulf War and Kosovo has found normal levels of uranium in their bodies, casting doubt on claims that they faced toxic exposure to radiation from armour-piercing bullets. An analysis of urine and hair samples from soldiers and, in one case, a piece of skeleton from a dead veteran, found no elevated levels of depleted uranium, according to a study published this week in the American academic journal Health Physics." (National Post)

Uh-huh... "Mobile phone radiation gives Gro Harlem Brundtland headaches" - "WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland gets headaches from talking on a mobile phone. That is not enough: People in her proximity must turn their phones off in order to prevent discomfort. "It's not the sound, but the waves I react on. My hypersensitivity has gone so far that I even react on mobiles closer to me than about four metres," Gro explains." (English translation from Cover story in Norwegian newspaper "Dagbladet" of March 9, 2002)

Well, Gro's never been short on imagination...

Hmm... "Pollutants found in fish oil capsules" - "Enormous variations in the level of potentially cancer-causing pollutants have been found in fish oil capsules. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) examined a range of the capsules for the presence of dioxins." (BBC Online)

Spawned by this month-old FSAI release apparently: Food Safety Authority Investigates Potential Dioxin Contamination In Irish Fish And Fish Oil Capsules - "The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today released details of a study on the potential dioxin contamination of fish and fish oil capsules. The study was carried out in advance of new EU safety limits for dioxins in foodstuffs due to come into effect on 1st July 2002. The study's findings show that the incidence of dioxins in Irish farmed trout and salmon are well below the maximum limit set by the pending European legislation. In contrast, some fish oil and fish liver oil capsules representing a small percentage of the Irish market were found to exceed the new European maximum limits. The FSAI stated that the levels of dioxins detected posed no health risk once consumers used the supplements in accordance with manufacturer's instructions. This study was carried out to examine the contamination of certain foods and notify manufacturers prior to the July deadline so that appropriate action could be taken where necessary." (Press release) | A copy of the study can be found on here (FSAI)

Not the Beeb's most dazzling reporting.

"World Cup fans face a dry run to Japan" - "IRELAND'S army of World Cup fans due to take the long-haul flight to Japan have been warned by doctors to guard against the potentially fatal "economy-class syndrome" - and abstain from drinking alcohol on board, writes Eilish O'Regan. A leading consultant who is planning to conduct research into the condition among Aer Lingus passengers said he feared airlines could be facing a raft of compensation claims. Speaking at the IMO conference, Tony Healy, an anaesthetist in St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, said although there remained doubts about the precise links between the condition, known as deep vein thrombosis, up to 300 cases by passengers who developed the condition and their families were being taken in Australia and one of these, which is due to be heard shortly, may set a precedent for further claims." (Irish Independent)

"Get off couch, Ottawa tells overweight kids" - "EDMONTON - Canadian children are increasingly overweight and that spells trouble for the country's medical system, Health Minister Anne McLellan says. She wants kids to get off the couch and out the door. (CBC)

"theage.com.au - Diabetes in children reaching epidemic levels" - "Thanks to modern food and a less physically active society, thousands of obese Australian children and teenagers, some as young as 10, have diabetes. Ten years ago, children with type-two diabetes - brought on by obesity - were virtually unheard of. Now diabetes is set to reach epidemic levels. Endocrinologists predict a twentyfold rise in the disease over the next decade among teenagers. Unless the disease is diagnosed and treated, diabetic children may suffer from heart attacks, blindness and kidney disease in their late 20s."

"Horror On The Hudson" - "The Hudson River is one of America's most treasured natural resources. An early avenue of commerce, it offered New York City the first gateway to the Midwest, assuring the city's premier place on the American continent. A broad vista of aching natural beauty, it gave birth to the nation's first school of painting. Even today the river is a centerpiece of commerce and history, a broad avenue of recreation and tourism that teems with fish.

Yet all this has now fallen under a shadow. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Administration will begin the largest dredging operation in history in a quixotic attempt to rid the Hudson of the last traces of a relatively harmless industrial chemical present only in a few parts per million-one ounce in 32 tons or a teaspoon over five acres." (William Tucker, The American Spectator)

"Green Taliban" - "LONDON -- With the sad death of The Queen Mother, two contrasting news items relating to 'global warming,' the Kyoto Protocol and the United Kingdom have received far less coverage in the British press than they would normally have merited.

One marks the establishment of the first fully developed national scheme in the world for trading so-called greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). Pilot projects already exist in Denmark and the Netherlands, and similar schemes are under discussion elsewhere, such as in Canada and New Zealand. The British scheme, however, has now started (with only 36 companies, although it is open to all types of business).

But the second news item is even more interesting. Despite the British government's high moral rhetoric on curbing the emission of greenhouse gases, the emissions of carbon dioxide have risen in Britain for the second year running. In 1999, 150.8 m tons of CO2 were produced. That amount rose by 0.5% in 2000 and by 0.4% in 2001. And the trend continues upwards. Brian Wilson, the Energy Minister, admitted that Britain would have "a real and tough challenge to meet its environmental targets."

Clearly, UK companies wish to ensure that they have something to trade under the new scheme!" (Philip Stott, TCS)

" Calgary Herald - Klein vows to fight Kyoto" - "Alberta won't be unfairly penalized for being the energy capital of Canada, promises Premier Ralph Klein, as the province prepares a constitutional argument to keep Ottawa from signing off on the Kyoto Protocol. "This government will not allow Alberta to be punished for producing much of the low-cost energy being consumed in Ottawa and Toronto and Montreal," Klein told a Calgary fundraiser Thursday night, in a tone that echoed the province's 1980s-era campaign against the federal Liberals' National Energy Program."

"Klein says Alberta won't be 'crippled' by the Kyoto climate accord" - "CALGARY (CP) -- The Alberta government will not allow the province's energy industry to be crippled to reduce greenhouse gases, Premier Ralph Klein warned Thursday.  In a Tory fundraising speech in Canada's energy capital, Klein said Alberta is willing to address climate change but won't allow the federal government to put the province's economy at risk."

"NATIONAL POST ONLINE | Alberta Premier vows to fight 'punitive' Kyoto" - "Province should not be penalized for supplying cheap fuel to East, Klein says."

"Harris ups anti-Kyoto pressure" - "OTTAWA - The pressure on Ottawa to rethink the Kyoto Protocol on climate change continued to mount yesterday as Mike Harris, the outgoing Ontario premier, called on Jean Chrétien to consider a new North American greenhouse-gas accord among Canada, the United States and Mexico. At the same time, Gordon Campbell, British Columbia Premier, said he questions whether the international treaty will have any impact on climate change, and joined the growing chorus of those urging Ottawa to not ratify until the provinces, industry and the public are assured about its potential social and economic effects." (Financial Post)

Aside: While David Anderson runs around worrying about Canada heating up, interesting little contradictions appear in non-sensational news items, things like this little item: "... The Post thought readers could use some weather information to assist with their contest predictions, given that the Prairie provinces have had record-breaking cold this spring. The low in Regina sank to -28C on Wednesday, breaking a 103-year-old record. March, 2002 was the second-coldest in history in Calgary and Edmonton." If these regions were fashionably warm, such 'records' would be headline news around the globe but, not fitting the desired 'toasted globe' image, they are rightly viewed as merely interesting extensions of the data set. Of course, a few decades ago, such 'records' were 'proof' of catastrophic cooling and the looming ice age.

See also: March Cold (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Brrrr-ing on that global warming!" - "I've been patient, more than patient, for a long while now. We've had bulletins for years and years, each one more sanguine than its predecessor, that change was imminent, that a bright new shining day -- a really shiny day -- was about to blossom. But here I was yesterday, on the fifth day of April, in Toronto, a mere hour's drive away from the lush vineyards of the Niagara Peninsula -- one of the true Edens of our ancient green Earth -- and it was snowing." (Rex Murphy, The Globe and Mail)

"Climate Changes Key to Sustainable Development" - "The influence of climatic changes on China's social and economic development has aroused heated discussion among more than 200 participants in the country's first climate conference, which opened here Friday." (People's Daily)

This old chestnut - again: "Global Warming Brings Half World's Population Under Threat of Diseases" - "BEIJING, April 6 -- While the focus of globalization is usually on the economic sector, the effect of global warming on the dissemination of diseases has only been noticed of recent. Chinese meteorological experts gathered at the country's first national climate conference Saturday sent out a warning that global warming may cause wide prevalence of deadly infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, which potentially  threaten half of the world's population." (Xinhuanet)

still from the wacky world: "Independent News - 'Boycott Esso' call over attempt to oust green expert" - "Motorists across Britain are being urged by environmentalists to boycott Esso petrol stations following claims that their parent company collaborated with the Bush administration in a bid to undermine the world's most influential exponent of global warming theory. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth will today launch a poster campaign with the slogan "Don't buy Esso – it doesn't give a damn about global warming", to be followed by a picket at hundreds of Esso garages on 18 May."

"Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Oil giant bids to replace climate expert" - "The Bush administration, at the urging of the world's biggest oil company, ExxonMobil, is trying to oust Robert Watson, the British scientist and chairman since 1996 of the panel that has advised the world about the dangers of global warming. In what had been a nonpolitical process, the US has proposed alternative candidates for the post that Mr Watson holds, in effect attempting to remove a strong advocate of urgent action to save the planet."

and the response: "BBC News | AMERICAS | ExxonMobil hits back in memo row" - "The row erupted when a Washington-based environmental group revealed that the company had requested the removal of American atmospheric scientist Dr Robert Watson from his post as the head of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "In the US, as a citizen, or as a group, as an environmentalist, you have a perfect right to contact your government and tell them what you think about various issues," ExxonMobil spokesman Tom Cirigliano told BBC News Online. "That's what a free society is all about."

"IPCC Leadership" - "It looks as though the tenure of Robert Watson, co-chair of the IPCC is now in serious jeopardy. An election for the post he now holds will be held at a meeting of the IPCC in Geneva in two weeks - the first such contest since the body was formed in 1989. The reason is that the US Government has withdrawn its support for Watson, whom it regards as having become too political for what is meant to be an impartial scientific advisory body." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Tuvalu Stung" - "The bluff of the Tuvalu government has finally been called. They were the government group who led the cry about small nations being swamped beneath the waves of rising seas. Theirs were the coral atolls which the Greens cried crocodile tears over, mourning the `desperate plight' of the islanders. Tuvalu even wanted international compensation, and for Australia and New Zealand to guarantee `residency' to their 12,000 islanders in the event of inundation." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Yet Another Dump on the `Hockey Stick'" - "The IPCC and their discredited `Hockey Stick' took another blow in Science this week. This time, lake bed evidence not only detects the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, but does so from the remoteness of the Southern Hemisphere, in Malawi, Africa. These two events were dismissed by the industry as purely European happenings, so local as to not even register on the Northern Hemisphere temperature, let alone south of the Equator." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT; April 4, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 11" - "Prior editions of Virtual Climate Alert concern the southern Pacific Ocean atoll nation known as Tuvalu and what is happening there as a consequence of reputed sea level rise triggered by global warming (see http://www.co2andclimate.org/Articles/2002/vca7.htm and http://www.co2andclimate.org/Articles/2001/vca42.htm). Tuvalu’s Prime Minister is attempting to build international support for an effort to rescue his citizenry by declaring them to be environmental refugees from the effects of global warming and asked Australia and New Zealand to provide refuge. His case is eroding faster than the atolls’ beaches as the world scientific community takes a closer look." (CO2andClimate.org)

"Green Alert; April 4, 2002 Vol. 1, No. 23" - "Intriguing research published in Soil Biology & Biochemistry by Cole et al. (2002) reminds us, "It has been predicted that global warming will influence the productivity of ecosystems indirectly by increasing soil biological activity, and hence organic matter decomposition." This release of CO2 is expected to be greatest from the organic soils and peatlands of wetland, tundra and boreal zones say the researchers. "In the peatlands of northern England, which are classified as blanket peat, it has been suggested that the potential effects of global warming on carbon and nutrient dynamics will be related to the activities of dominant soil fauna, and especially enchytraeid worms." In other words, worms are at the core of the onset of global warming." (CO2and Climate.org)

"Green Alert; April 4, 2002 Vol. 1, No. 24" - "Students of this website already know that atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment stimulates photosynthesis in nearly all plants. A major consequence of this phenomenon is that plants exposed to elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 typically produce more non-structural carbohydrates, which can subsequently be used to manufacture more carbon-based secondary compounds (CBSC) or phenolics. So what, you ask?" (CO2andClimate.org)

"statesman.com | Study: Texas plants top carbon dioxide emissions" - "Texas had a larger increase in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants from 1995 through 2000 than any other state in the nation, according to a study released Thursday."

"The Arizona Republic - Smog rise leads nation at Arizona's power plants" - "Arizona's power plants increased their production of nitrogen oxides, which contribute to smog, more than power plants in any other state from 1995 to 2000, according to a report issued Friday."

"Charlotte Observer | 04 06 2002 | Coal power plants blamed for dirty air" - "An environmental group says South Carolina's air is becoming increasingly dirty and could harm residents living near old coal-burning power plants. The U.S. Public Research Interest Group released a report this week saying the state had the sixth-largest increase nationwide in certain power plant pollutants during 1995-2000."

"Newsday.com - Whitman says ``Clear Skies'' plan would help Adirondacks" - "ALBANY, N.Y. -- The head of the Environmental Protection Agency lauded President Bush's "Clear Skies" plan Friday as a quicker way to both save the Adirondacks from destructive acid rain and improve residents' health."

"Fuel cell work rises above Kyoto hot air" - "While debate rages -- in this newspaper and elsewhere -- about whether Canada should ratify the Kyoto Accord on climate change, scientists in corporate and government labs are doing the real work to cut greenhouse gas emissions. They don't really care when, or if, Canada signs this or that environmental agreement. They know the technology they're developing will soon replace the smoggy old internal combustion engine." (Financial Post)

Soon replace? Very relative term apparently.

"Organic Food -- Healthy, or Just for the Wealthy?" - "LONDON - Organic fruit, delivered right to the doorstep. That is what Gabriel Gold prefers, and he is willing to pay for it. Failing that, the 26-year-old computer technician is willing to spend the extra money at the supermarket to buy organic food. "Organic produce is consistently better," Gold said. "Theoretically the food is free of pesticides, and you are generally supporting family farms instead of agora-business. And more often than not it is locally grown and seasonal, so it is more tasty." Gold is one of a growing number of shoppers buying into the organic trend, and supermarkets across Britain are counting on more like him as they expand their organic offerings. But how many shoppers really know what they are getting, and why are they willing to pay the price for organic produce?" (Reuters)

"Doubts over Mexican GM maize report" - "An intense scientific debate has opened up over whether genetically modified (GM) crops in Mexico have contaminated wild maize (corn). Last November, the magazine Nature published data from two authors who said they had detected DNA from GM plants in wild crops growing in a remote area.

In the current issue of Nature, though, the editor says he received "several criticisms" of the paper. He writes: "The authors have now obtained some additional data, but there is disagreement between them and a referee as to whether these results significantly bolster their argument. "Nature has concluded that the evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper. "As the authors nevertheless wish to stand by the available evidence for their conclusions, we feel it best simply to make these circumstances clear, to publish the criticisms, the authors' response and new data, and to allow our readers to judge the science for themselves." (Alex Kirby, BBC Online)

There's been a number of requests for the text of Nature's editorial note:

Nature Editorial note, page 1:

In our 29 November issue, we published the paper "Transgenic DNA introgressed into traditional maize landraces in Oaxaca, Mexico" by David Quist and Ignacio Chapela. Subsequently, we received several criticisms of the paper, to which we obtained responses from the authors and consulted referees over the exchanges. In the meantime, the authors agreed to obtain further data, on a timetable agreed with us, that might prove beyond reasonable doubt that transgenes have indeed become integrated into the maize genome. The authors have now obtained some additional data, but there is disagreement between them and a referee as to whether these results significantly bolster their argument.

In light of these discussions and the diverse advice received, Nature has concluded that the evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper. As the authors nevertheless wish to stand by the available evidence for their conclusions, we feel it best simply to make these circumstances clear, to publish the criticisms, the authors' response and new data, and to allow our readers to judge the science for themselves.

Editor, Nature

"Attack on safety of GM crops was unfounded" - "BRITAIN’S leading scientific journal has disowned a paper it published questioning the environmental safety of genetically modified crops, in an unprecedented step that weakens the scientific case against the technology." (Mark Henderson, The Times)

April 5, 2002

"Fat Police Raid Classroom" - "Schools have long been involved with their students’ health. But one Pennsylvania school district crossed the line in sending letters to elementary and middle school parents about their children being "underweight," "at risk of becoming overweight" and "overweight." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Obesity Ruled a Protected Status Under State Bias Law" - "In a unanimous ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court for the first time recognized morbid obesity as a handicap under the Law Against Discrimination, though the court overturned a plaintiff's verdict due to faulty jury instructions." (New Jersey Law Journal)

"Fat Deductions From the IRS" - "Grab a doughnut and digest this: The Internal Revenue Service, the maligned bureaucratic ogre that emerges like a groundhog every April around the 15th, has announced that obese people can deduct out-of-pocket expenses for weight-loss efforts (Yay!). But restrictions are tight (Boo!). You can deduct diet expenses without deducting pounds for the rest of your possibly shortened life (Yay!). But you can amend only three past returns, meaning recent corpulence is deductible but older fat isn't (Boo!)." (Los Angeles Times)

"Unhealthy way of life is a threat worldwide" - "PHYSICAL inactivity is no longer a scourge of affluent, Westernised societies but may now be one of the top 10 causes of death and disability worldwide, the World Health Organisation said yesterday. Sedentary ways of living increase all causes of death and double the risk of heart diseases, diabetes and obesity." (Telegraph)

"Nuclear terrorism: Facts and fantasies" - "Following the attacks of September 11, there has been much concern about further acts of terrorism, with nuclear terrorism heading the list. For some reason, the public seems to be more afraid of radioactivity than poison gas or even biological agents. This even though radioactivity is easy to detect, rarely lethal and cannot cause epidemics as can viruses or bacteria. This fear is being exploited by opponents of nuclear power who keep coming up with a multitude of scary scenarios." (S. Fred Singer, Washington Times)

Oh dear... "All Fiction, and All-Clear" - "A truck carrying uranium fuel rods crashed on Wednesday night inside an Idaho highway tunnel, and officials said there might be a terrorist connection.

Well, no.

The crash and resulting alarm occurred only on the NBC drama series "The West Wing." But in New Mexico, where there is a large underground storage complex for radioactive waste near Carlsbad, Gov. Gary E. Johnson guarded against any chance that the people of his state might fear that it really did happen, or could. He instructed his office to reassure them." (New York Times)

People need to be told it's only Tinsel Town make believe? Oh dear again...

"Tallahassee Democrat | 04 05 2002 | Dioxin found at refinery" - "ST. MARKS - Dioxin, one of the most toxic chemical compounds known to exist, has been found at the St. Marks Refinery, raising state concerns about contamination and the need for quickly cleaning up the closed facility."

Should read: "... dioxin, a broad class of compounds, some of which are toxic, although none have any demonstrated effect on humans at environmental exposure levels."

From the Association of Sufferers of Getalifeitis: "Contra Costa Times | 04 04 2002 | Group sues to protect frog" - "SAN FRANCISCO - In an effort to save the threatened red-legged frog, a group of environmentalists has sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Center for Biological Diversity accuses the EPA of ignoring the Endangered Species Act by allowing certain pesticides to remain on the market even though they are known to kill or deform the frog, according to the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court."

"Marijuana headlines are half-baked" - "What's a pot smoker to think? He wakes up one morning and reads three incongruous headlines: Heavy Marijuana Use Lowers IQ, Study Finds, (Canadian Press/The Toronto Star); Effect of Pot on IQ Temporary, Study Says, (National Post); and Smoking Pot No Risk to IQ, Study Says, (The Globe and Mail). No, he thinks, this isn't April Fool's; that was the day before.

How do we explain the dueling headlines? In the immortal words of Buffalo Springfield, nobody's right if everybody's wrong. The study's results, reported by Carleton professor Peter Fried in the current edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, were largely inconclusive owing to a number of factors, not least the small sample size." (Neil Seeman, National Post)

Coffee 'good' today: "Coffee stops the rot" - "Brew could protect teeth from colonizing bacteria. Coffee may protect teeth from decay. In lab tests, some of its compounds stopped bacteria taking hold, the first step towards dental cavities." (Nature Science Update)

"Canadian companies to phase out CCA wood" - "OTTAWA - Canadian lumber companies say they will follow their American counterparts and stop using wood treated with a compound containing arsenic by the end of 2003. Pressure-treated wood is made with cooper chromated arsenate, or CCA, and is used to build things like fences, decks and playground equipment. CCA is a powerful preservative used to protect wood from insects and decay." (CBC)

"BBC News | ENGLAND | Children 'harmed by pollution' claims" - "The UK's worst water pollution incident may be linked to a higher than average number of Cornish children having special educational needs, an MP has said. The comments come from Liberal Democrat MP Paul Tyler, who led the campaign for an inquiry into the pollution of water supplies to 20,000 people in north Cornwall in July 1988. Members of a government committee are interviewing people who claim their health suffered when 20 tonnes of aluminium sulphate was dumped into the wrong tank at the South West Water Authority (SWWA) treatment works, Lowermoor, near Camelford. The committee heard that a higher than average number of children who were very young - or unborn - in July, 1988, and who were now at secondary school, had special educational needs."

"Tricky science of predicting asteroid collisions" - "SAN FRANCISCO – Today, for the first time, a scientist backed by decades of data is predicting that an asteroid – similar in size to the one thought to have destroyed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago – might well crash into Earth. That's the good news." (The Christian Science Monitor)

Groan... "smh.com.au - Bean counters get to the heart of the matter" - "It must almost have broken their cold, calculating hearts. The Bureau of Statistics has set aside its abacuses to write and think of love and friendship, trees and threatened species, crime and social attachment. Measuring Australia's Progress is a statistical snapshot that charts new territory for the nation's official bean counters, attempting to correlate social and environmental outcomes beside the traditional truckloads of economic data. It is the first official attempt at a national triple bottom line accounting, the modish concept fostered by US investors seeking a way of assessing the broader health of a company and its social and environmental contribution."

"AAP - Life improving but not for environment: study" - "The lives of everyday Australians are getting better, but the environment is worse off for it. A snapshot of Australia and whether life is getting better, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, gives a mixed report card."

"theage.com.au - Healthier, wealthier, but a pale shade of green" - "Australians are better educated and are living longer but the biggest threat to quality of life is posed by environmental damage, according to a report released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics."

"theage.com.au - The slow process of harmonising profit and nature" - "In the first week of February, more than 100 chief executives and managing directors gathered in the chamber of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. The occasion was the annual Business Leaders Forum on Sustainable Development. Those gathered listened to the debate about climate change, specifically the question: Should Australia sign the Kyoto Protocol?"

"Green group warns about Klamath River -- The Washington Times" - "An environmental group says the Klamath River is being polluted from farming activities and has listed it as the third most endangered waterway in the country. This is the first time American Rivers has listed the waterway, which runs through Oregon and California and is the center of a sometimes violent war among farmers, environmentalists, and Indian tribes. "Poor agricultural practices in the headwaters means that the river gets its start as the most polluted body of water in Oregon," Rebecca R. Wodder, president of American Rivers, said in announcing this week her group's annual list of the nation's most endangered rivers. The announcement stunned federal lawmakers and locals, who said the new listing was political and scientifically inaccurate."

"Truce over Canadian rainforest seen fraying" - "VANCOUVER - A year after environmentalists, timber producers, Indians and the government called a truce in a fight over logging in the "Great Bear Rainforest" on Canada's Pacific coast there are signs the agreement is under threat. Green groups marked the first anniversary of the historic pact yesterday by complaining the government of British Columbia was not following through on a pledge to help protect old-growth timber in the remote coastal mountain region known for some of North America's most dramatic scenery." (Reuters)

Actually, there's no such place:

"In Canadian Logging Dispute, Names Carry Weight

PRINCE RUPERT, British Columbia — In the fight over logging on Canada's Pacific coast, what you call the battleground and its resident white bears is a quick sign of where you stand.

International environmental groups created the name "Great Bear Rainforest" for the region of British Columbia between the southern tip of the Alaska Panhandle and the northern end of Vancouver Island. They refer to the animals as "Spirit Bears."

Use those names around someone from the logging industry, however, and you will be pointedly reminded the region is marked on maps simply as the Central Coast and North Coast and the animal denizens are officially Kermode bears.

"It (Great Bear Rainforest) sounds sexy. It is a name they've decided to give it as part of their business of selling memberships," British Columbia Forestry Minister Jim Doyle complained.

'Rain Coast' Did Not Catch On

Green groups began looking for a name for the area in the 1990s as they pushed for international support of a boycott on lumber products from the region, according to Christopher Hatch of the California-based Rainforest Action Network.

"For awhile people had called it 'the Raincoast' and that never really caught on, and then in 1997 'the Great Bear Rainforest' really caught," he said.

Historic or not, the name has been very successful from a marketing standpoint. It is regularly used to identify the region in international media reports and a search of the Internet finds it popular in Web sites." (Reuters, Aug 17, 2000)

"Dust helps to keep world healthy, say scientists" - " - "DUST has an essential and overlooked effect on regulating climate, scientists have found. It now appears that a dirty planet is a healthy one. Tiny fragments of rock and soil, almost too small to be detected by the naked eye, are blown away each year, especially from desert regions where huge dust clouds can be seen from space. A lot of this lands on the sea, providing the iron that is crucial to the development of plankton. These tiny marine plants soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, regulating the climate." (Telegraph)

"Globe and Mail - Anderson says bill for Kyoto could top $10-billion" - "OTTAWA -- Environment Minister David Anderson has acknowledged for the first time that it could cost Canada a total of up to $10-billion to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. "It's certainly true we could," Mr. Anderson said in an interview yesterday. "This is the discussion we are going to have over the next few months." He defended the figure as a worthwhile expenditure when compared with Canada's $1.1-trillion economy and spending for other programs such as defence. "Ten billion dollars -- well, we spend more than that on the military every year. . . . Defence is about $12.5-billion annually."

"Corporates voice concern over global warming" - "The regional president of BP Australia, Greg Bourne, yesterday launched a stinging attack on Australia's "energy policy vacuum" in the face of global concern about climate change. Mr Bourne said neither government nor business were attaching enough importance to the issue, despite fears that global warming would inevitably lead to higher prices for burning fossil fuels." (The Age)

Probably because we've looked at the purported 'issue' and decided it lacks merit.

"Los Angeles Times - Charges Fly Over Science Panel Pick" - "WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is pushing for an engineer from India to take over the helm of an influential international science panel on global warming that is now headed by an American atmospheric chemist who has been criticized by the energy industry."

Hedging their bets? "IHT: Boom in hothouse farming yields more desert in Spain" - "ALMERIA, Spain Gazing across the plain toward the distant blue Mediterranean from the heights of a craggy sierra here, it is hard to believe this land was green and wooded a century ago. In the bleak terrain below, row upon row of hothouses cover virtually every square inch of ground. The pole structures, covered in plastic sheeting, are used to grow fruits and vegetables destined for markets in northern Europe. They invade villages, illegally cover dry river beds, teeter on mountaintops, abut beaches and even occupy most of a state nature reserve just outside the town of Adra. The explosive growth of such greenhouse agriculture has made Almeria province one of Europe's most remarkable economic success stories. But the use of vast amounts of water for hydroponic cultivation in the hothouses has severely depleted the region's underground water supply, thus degrading the soil by increasing its salinity. This has turned Almeria into a vivid illustration of desertification, a worldwide environmental hazard aggravated by global warming that threatens to turn parts of southern Europe into landscapes resembling the Sahara."

If not excessive water use then global warming...

"Booth Newspapers - Environmentalists' warning: More power plant emissions could drop lake levels" - "WASHINGTON -- Michigan environmentalists today kicked off a campaign against global warming with a report warning that a continued rise in power plant emissions could mean a continued drop in Great Lakes water levels."

Only a worry if they happen to be pregnant: "Finns on baby strike to protest nuclear power" - "HELSINKI - Hundreds of Finnish women are protesting with their wombs, vowing they will not give birth for the next four years unless parliament scraps plans to another nuclear power station." (Reuters)

"U-WIRE Column: New Manhattan Project Needed for Clean Energy" - "MEDFORD, Mass. -- In 1942, the United States assembled the greatest collection of scientific minds ever brought together in a desert of New Mexico. They had one purpose: to develop an atomic bomb. Now, a new Manhattan Project is needed, this time for peace. Because a meaningful global warming treaty is unlikely to ever be adopted, the United States should take the lead in aggressively investing in cleaner energy."

"Gazette Online - DEP won't release air pollution study" - "Last week, the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a news release about a toxic air pollution study. This week, DEP officials refused to release the study. Stephanie Timmermeyer, director of the DEP Division of Air Quality, rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for the report from The Charleston Gazette. In a Wednesday letter, Timmermeyer said the study, currently in draft form, is not a "public record," and therefore can be kept secret. The study in question was prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is part of EPA's National Air Toxics Assessment, a nationwide project to estimate the health risk from toxic air pollutants."

"The Miami Herald | 04 05 2002 | Report: Power plants get dirtier" - "Most of the nation's 500 oldest and dirtiest power plants, including Port Everglades in Broward and Turkey Point in Miami-Dade, are pumping out millions more tons of soot and pollution than they did five years ago, according to a report released Thursday by a coalition of environmental and public health groups. ''They're getting dirtier, not cleaner,'' said Margie Klein of the coalition, called Clear the Air, which used the report to urge tougher federal standards for power plants and upgrades for aging facilities."

"OrlandoSentinel.com: Utilities must cut pollution, critics say " - "A coalition of environmental activists joined Thursday to accuse the electric-utility industry and regulators across the country of not doing enough to lessen air pollution. The Florida Public Interest Research Group, known as PIRG, said air pollutants from the nation's coal-burning power plants grew much worse in the 1990s because of limited federal efforts to curb emissions."

"The Indianapolis Star - Officials challenge report on dirty air" - "There's no doubt that Indiana's skies are filled with more carbon dioxide than ever before. But whether that's a risk to Hoosiers' health is up for debate. Environmental and industry officials took aim Thursday at a new report stating that Indiana's skies are growing dirtier by the year, causing more health problems for Hoosiers who live near power plants. The report -- released by the U.S. Public Research Interest Group, a consumer and environmental watchdog organization -- studied emissions at the nation's power plants, including the 21 dirtiest coal-burning plants across Indiana. It found that Indiana had the third-largest increase of any state in the emission of carbon dioxide from 1995 to 2000."

"Food Standards Agency plans new advice for farmers on keeping manure safe" - "The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) is planning new guidance to help farmers deal with manure more safely. The draft guidance is based on FSA-backed research into the presence of problems including Listeria, salmonella and E coli in farm manure spread on vegetables, fruit and salad crops. Some 90 million tonnes of farm manure is used on cultivated farmland used to produce both conventional and organic food. Crops that are unlikely to be cooked before consumption, such as salad vegetables and fruit, are particularly vulnerable to microbiological contamination of this sort." (just-food.com) [To read more about the guidelines, click here]

"Shoppers wrong to believe organic is healthier" - "UK consumers are buying organic food wrongly believing it is healthier for them than the cheaper, standard alternative, according to Which? magazine. Organic products cost on average 40 per cent more, but the consumer magazine suggests many people assume they are better for them. However, in a number of cases processed organic products such as cakes and cereal contained more fat and sugar than the same food in the standard range." (Independent Newspapers (UK) Limited via The Life Sciences Network)

"Science Journal Retracts Genetically Engineered Corn Study" - "The science journal Nature has concluded that a controversial article it published last year on the discovery of genetically engineered corn growing in Mexico was not well researched enough and should not have been published, according to The Washington Post.

In a highly unusual "editorial note" in this week's edition of the journal, the editors said that based on criticisms of the article and assessments by outside referees, "Nature has concluded that the evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper."

That article had reported that corn from the southern state of Oaxaca contained genetically modified material, although Mexico has prohibited all engineered corn since 1998. The finding was especially important because corn originated in the southern valley of Mexico and Central America and the region remains the international center for corn diversity.

In "Taco Terrorism," Steven Milloy dismisses concerns that the genetically engineered corn is dangerous. Milloy is the author of the Cato book "Junk Science Judo: Self-Defense Against Health Scares and Scams," in which he takes the methods of scientific journals to task. (Cato Institute) | Mexican Maize Resource Library (AgBioWorld)

"Journal Raises Doubts on Biotech Study" - "Five months after publishing a report that Mexican native corn was contaminated with genetically engineered DNA, the journal Nature made the highly unusual move yesterday of announcing that it should not have published the work." (New York Times)

"Nature backs off GM crop claims" - "Britain's premier scientific journal, Nature, has disowned a paper it published last year that offered evidence supporting the argument by the green lobby that genes from GM crops could hop over to non-GM plants. In an unprecedented and highly embarrassing statement last night, Nature said: "In the light of criticisms and advice from referees [scientists who had been consulted], Nature has concluded that the evidence available is not sufficient to justify its publication of the original paper." (The Guardian)

"Journal Regrets Printing Corn Study" - "In an unusually bitter and public dispute among scientists, the journal Nature says it should not have published a study concluding that DNA from genetically engineered corn contaminated native maize in Mexico." (AP)

"Scientists Doubt GM Corn Found in Mexico" - "LONDON - Scientists cast doubt on Thursday on American researchers' claims they had found evidence genetically modified corn had contaminated wild maize grown in a remote area of Mexico." (Reuters)

"Rice genes offer grains of hope for hungry" - "In what could herald the start of a second "green revolution," plant scientists in the United States and China have identified nearly all the genes in rice – a food staple for more than half of the world's 6.2 billion people.

The results, considered rough drafts of the rice genome, represent the first time the genes of an important crop has been sequenced. Armed with this new information, which will allow researchers to begin to identify the genes' functions, scientists say they expect to shorten the time it takes to develop more-nutritious rice strains that are better equipped to weather a drought and fend off disease." (The Christian Science Monitor) | Scientists detail rice code (BBC Online) | Researchers at the University of Washington and in China release genome sequence of rice (UW) | Rice, first crop plant to be sequenced, may help fight world hunger, Science authors say (AAAS)

"Plant genes 'cannot transfer to humans'" - "GENES in plants cannot pass to humans, as feared by some environmentalists, according to a natural experiment that has been conducted for millions of years. Today's conclusion, which will help to allay some concerns about GM crops, has come from an analysis of arguably the most important genetic code on the planet - rice, staple diet for more than half the world's population." (Telegraph)

"Gene could stop plants from wilting" - "SCIENTISTS have identified the gene that causes wilting, a discovery that could lead to plants being kept fresh for months after being cut. The breakthrough by Professor Peter Meyer and Dr Elena Zubko could have profound implications for keeping vegetables fresh for long periods." (Telegraph)

April 4, 2002

"Journal Editors Disavow Article on Biotech Corn" - "The science journal Nature has concluded that a controversial article it published last year on the discovery of genetically engineered corn growing in Mexico was not well researched enough and should not have been published.

In a highly unusual "editorial note" in this week's edition of the journal, the editors said that based on criticisms of the article and assessments by outside referees, "Nature has concluded that the evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper."

That article had reported that corn from the southern state of Oaxaca contained genetically modified material, although Mexico has prohibited all engineered corn since 1998. The finding was especially important because corn originated in the southern valley of Mexico and Central America and the region remains the international center for corn diversity." (Washington Post)

REMINDER: The Campaign has an automated site where activists can send comments to USDA. The Campaign is responsible for over 90% of the form letters submitted to USDA so far (about 500).

An alternative site, for those who wish to show their support to farmers and consumers who would benefit from this product and help protect the environment, has been set up at www.corn-comments.org.

As noted here previously: "Corn Comments" - "Currently the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are soliciting public comments on the proposed use of rootworm-protected corn, developed through biotechnology. This product will help save farmers hundreds of millions of dollars yearly and will reduce the use of chemical pesticides. Your input will help ensure that regulators get a wide range of input from consumers, farmers, academics and other important stakeholders as part of their decision-making process.

Comments to US EPA must be submitted before April 12, 2002 and comments to USDA must be submitted before May 13, 2002.

This web site offers you the ability to provide your comments directly to USDA and EPA on-line." (Corn-Comments.org)

Remember that politicians and departments are reactive entities, driven purely by noise and it is frequently noise coming from shrill campaigns fomented by professional activists. If you want rational decisions to be made you must apply some personal effort. The form provided at corn-comments.org is quick and easy to use, it is equally applicable to scientist and the wider population alike and offers an expedient means of combating neo-Luddism. Have you had your say yet?

"'Bubble boy' saved by gene therapy" - "In one of the first treatments of its kind, UK doctors have used gene therapy to cure a toddler of a potentially fatal disorder. Scientists at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London successfully treated 18-month-old Rhys Evans, who had a condition preventing him from developing an immune system. The problem, called severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) is caused by a single mutated gene, and meant that he had to live in sterile conditions or risk picking up a life-threatening infection." (BBC Online)

"The Nando Times: Misshapen proteins linked to Alzheimer's and other diseases" - "Illnesses as diverse as Alzheimer's, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and adult-onset diabetes may be caused by proteins that fold themselves into defective shapes rather than proteins that have undergone harmful chemical changes, new research suggests. As they develop, these aberrant protein forms can clump together and wreak molecular havoc on healthy cells, according to two studies in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. Previously, scientists believed that misfolding was an unusual occurrence limited to perhaps 20 or more protein types. Instead, the effect may be common to any protein in the body, the researchers reported. Why it occurs remains unclear, but the process is believed to be associated with diseases that take decades to develop."

"The Safety Myth" - "Photo-radar cameras are designed to catch speeders and save lives. Only, there's not much evidence that the speed limit is any safer. Part 3 in a series." (The Daily Standard)

"Rail and road travellers at risk from DVT" - "AT least 3,000 British travellers suffer potentially fatal blood clots each year because of long-haul travel, new research suggests." (Telegraph)

"Travellers' clot nothing to worry about: study" - "LONDON - A study of patients who suffer deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a type of blood clot, suggests travellers shouldn't be worried about getting it on airplanes." (CBC)

"U.N. health agency urges Europeans to walk or bicycle to become more physically active" - "COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Physical inactivity has become the second most important health risk factor in Europe after tobacco smoking, the World Health Organization said Wednesday as it called on people to walk or bicycle more. Figures released ahead of World Health Day on April 7 showed that more than 30 percent of adults in the U.N. agency's 51-nation European region were insufficiently active. "In Europe and chiefly in western Europe ... this is a major problem," said Marc Danzon, WHO's regional director. The WHO's regional headquarters for Europe are based in the Danish capital." (AP)

"Bread blamed for short sight" - "Short-sightedness could be linked to childhood over-consumption of bread, rather than holding books too close, researchers suggest. Scientists say diets high in refined starches, such as breads and cereals increase insulin levels in children. This, they say, may then affect the development of the eyeball. The theory put forward by the researchers from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and the University of Sydney is that the excess hormone makes the eyeball abnormally long and causes short-sightedness." (BBC Online)

Guess we should Just Say No To Toast

Late April Fool? "Early puberty linked to shampoos" - "Unbeknown to many parents, a few hair products - especially some marketed to black people - contain small amounts of hormones that could cause premature sexual development in girls." (New Scientist)

"Chloroform high in swimming pools" - "Public swimming pools contain high levels of chloroform, a chemical linked to miscarriage, say researchers in the UK. Chloroform is formed in water when the disinfectant chlorine reacts with organic compounds. A team led by Mark Nieuwenhuijsen at Imperial College, London, found the chloroform content of water in eight pools in the city was on average 20 times higher than that of drinking water." (New Scientist)

That proves it! Pregnant women should not drink swimming pools - there are other ways to empty them.

"Lawsuits Link Mercury With Autism" - "ATLANTA -- The families of nine autistic Georgia children claim in lawsuits that mercury exposure from dental fillings, vaccine preservatives and power plants caused or worsened the disability. The lawsuits filed Tuesday and Wednesday name four drug makers, two dental industry groups and Georgia Power Co. as defendants. Autism, caused by a neurological disorder, can severely impair development. A similar suit was filed last month in California." (AP)

"The Seattle Times: Local News: Natural-yard plan moving at a nice clip" - "Four Shoreline neighborhoods are going au naturel in the yard. As part of King County's Natural Yard Care Neighborhood program, which started two years ago in Renton, about 60 families have changed habits in exchange for free training and tools — and safer yards."

'Safer'? Safer than what?

"Lancet report backs sheep dip campaign" - "A REPORT published in the Lancet last month concluded: "Our results support the hypothesis that organophosphates contribute to the reported ill health of people who dip sheep." Some campaigners against OP dips, such as Brenda Sutcliffe and Brian Anderson, have never doubted that. They have argued for years against what they see as a medical, veterinary and health and safety establishment agog with apathy. The majority of sheep farmers have not helped by insisting that OP dips are the best bet to control sheep scab, an irritating, debilitating, potentially fatal mite infection endemic in the British sheep flock." (The Scotsman)

?!! "Did Game Play Role in Suicide?" - "EverQuest players often joke about the addictive nature of the game -- often referring to it as "EverCrack" -- but for 21-year-old Shawn Woolley the game became deadly serious, and his mother is preparing to sue Sony Online Entertainment over his suicide." (Wired News)

"Who's 'Willing To Do It'?" - "Our nonviolent tactics are not as effective. We ask nicely for years and get nothing. Someone makes a threat, and it works."

So says PETA's Ingrid Newkirk in this week's U.S. News and World Report article "Terrorize People, Save Animals," commenting on the activities of SHAC, a violent animal rights group that, in U.S. News's words, "published the names and addresses" of employees of a targeted research firm on the Internet, "and detailed measures 'used by animal-rights extremists campaigning against HLS and similar companies.'

"These ranged from legal demonstrations to death threats, firebombings, and assaults… [One executive] was badly beaten outside his home by three masked thugs swinging baseball bats... Others received packages filled with feces and dead rodents or booby-trapped with razor blades. Property was vandalized, a senior manager was sprayed in the face with a caustic substance, and 11 cars were firebombed -- two parked adjacent to homes where children slept."

PETA is closer to SHAC and other violent extremists than Newkirk would like you to think. Through the PETA-controlled Foundation to Support Animal Protection, PETA has funneled over $400,000 to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an anti-meat, anti-dairy front group, that has worked on a letter-writing campaign with Kevin Jonas of SHAC.

SHAC has also teamed up with the FBI-certified terrorist group the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), which has burned down restaurants, and which also has ties to PETA. PETA has given $5,000 to the "Josh Harper Support Committee" to assist an ALF-affiliated criminal arrested numerous times and convicted for assaulting a police officer, and served as the de facto spokesgroup for ALF in the late 1980's, holding press conferences to praise ALF criminals and field media questions just hours after laboratories were destroyed or buildings burned down. In 1995, PETA even gave $45,200 to the "support committee" of Rodney Coronado, a convicted arsonist who firebombed a research facility at Michigan State University, and also "loaned" $25,000 to Coronado's father. (He never paid it back, and PETA never complained.)

Last summer, PETA's Bruce Friedrich said "it would be great if all the fast-food outlets, slaughterhouses, these laboratories and the banks who fund them exploded tomorrow… Hallelujah to the people who are willing to do it." It turns out "the people who are willing to do it" are directly tied to PETA." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Social values to drive tomorrow's companies - UN" - "UNITED NATIONS - Tomorrow's companies will have to pay more attention to social and environmental values in an economic shift that will create major new business opportunities as well as pitfalls, according to a new report released at the United Nations yesterday. Increasingly, "future growth will be in the competitive space in which winners are those that create value without environmental costs," said the report by the U.N. Environment Program, the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development." (Reuters)

They won't be companies for long if they lose sight of shareholder values though.

"Greens Infiltrate Boardrooms to Urge Corporate Surrender" - "The corporate perception of the anti-globalization movement is of unkempt, youthful demonstrators taking to the streets to disrupt gatherings of international commerce. They are viewed as naughty children with little real influence over the “suits” running multinational corporations. But it’s not street mobs posing major danger to business; instead it is the roosters in the henhouse of economic prosperity -- anti-capitalists in pinstripe." (Investors Business Daily)

"Impact events' kinetic energy may be key to understanding the severity of mass extinctions" - "The kinetic energy created by extraterrestrial impacts may be key to linking some impacts with mass extinction events. Michael Lucas from Florida Gulf Coast University believes that the severity of four extinction events can be correlated with the total kinetic energy released by impacts that occur during the geologic age of the mass extinction. Lucas will present his findings April 4 at the Geological Society of America’s North-Central Section and Southeastern Section Meeting in Lexington, Kentucky." (GSA)

"Sunshine 'helps fight cancer'" - "PEOPLE who live in sunny climates have a reduced risk of dying from several types of cancer compared with those who see little sun, although the risk of skin cancer is higher." (Telegraph)

"Cooler summer ahead as El Nino looms" - "The Meteorological Agency predicts a cool summer this year despite the recent wave of high temperatures as global weather patterns are expected to be influenced by the so called El Nino phenomenon, officials said. The average temperature in Wakayama Prefecture in March was 11.6 degrees Celsius, the highest level in 60 years. The agency attributes the high temperature to the stable westerlies above the Japanese archipelago that have blocked cold air. Agency officials denied it was the result of global warming." (Daily Mainichi)

"Tuvalunacy -- The Washington Times" - "As many now know, the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu loudly blames its gloomy future on purportedly rising sea levels resulting from man-made "climate change." The truth, as detailed by climatologist Patrick Michaels, is somewhat different: "In short, Tuvalu is a Tuvalu-made ecological disaster that is now an economic disaster. The natives want out because they wrecked the place."

?!! "As global warming rises, so do tree-killing infestations of bark beetles - 4 4 2002 - ENN.com" - "According to Ed Holsten, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska, about 2 million acres of spruce forests were infested in Alaska between 1920 and 1990. Three million acres were infested during the 1990s alone, and the epidemic reached its peak of 1 million in 1996. The hardest hit was the Kenai Peninsula, where nearly 70 to 80 percent of the trees have been killed. Scientists attribute the epidemic not only to the mismanagement of forests, where crowded trees compete for light and nutrients, weakening their defenses against insects, but also to global warming."

"Scientists to discuss climate change on Antarctic Peninsula" - "Scientists from around the globe will meet in New York State later this week to discuss environmental changes on the Antarctic Peninsula, the effects of a long-documented warming trend there on plants, animals and ice conditions, and whether similar conditions have existed previously over recent geological time." (NSF)

"News - Hamilton - canada.com network - Federal cabinet not split on global warming accord, says environment minister" - "MONTREAL (CP) - A schism doesn't exist within the federal cabinet over ratification of the Kyoto accord on global warming, Environment Minister David Anderson said Wednesday during his cross-country tour promoting action on climate change. Industry Minister Allan Rock appeared to signal a difference of opinion on the international agreement when he told western Canadian busines