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Archives - April 2004

April 30, 2004

"Polluted People?" - "California State Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, is pushing legislation intended to scare Californians about their own bodies. Doing the bidding of environmental extremists, apparently, is more important to Sen. Ortiz than the health and welfare of her constituents." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Epstein's latest hand-wringer: "Report Predicts Asthma Epidemic from Pollution" - "WASHINGTON - Poor and minority children are likely to develop asthma at worsening rates due to global warming and air pollution, environment experts predicted on Thursday.

They released a report showing that as the climate gets warmer, allergens such as pollen and mold will flood the air, interacting with urban pollutants such as ozone and soot to fuel an already growing epidemic of asthma.

"It is affecting the trees, the molds, the subsurface organisms," Dr. Paul Epstein of Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, told a news conference." (Reuters)

"World Bank Warns On Declining Water Availability, Highlights Progress On Ozone Layer" - "NEW YORK, United Nations, April 28, 2004—Global levels of fresh water resources per capita declined by 1.6 percent between 2001 and 2002 due to growing populations’ pressure on water resources, according to the World Bank’s Little Green Data Book 2004, launched today at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-12).

Good news on the Ozone Layer, millions of cases of skin cancer avoided: Significant progress has been made in efforts to protect the ozone layer, resulting in a diminishing trend in the projected cases of skin cancer and eye cataracts. According to the report, between 2000 and 2002, total consumption of CFCs, (Chlorofluorocarbons – the primary ozone-depleting substances) often present in refrigeration systems, has declined by nearly 20 percent." (World Bank)

The projected number of skin cancer cases was never the kind of statistics that you look up and now they've made up a new, smaller figure - well whoopee! Trends in sun exposure-caused skin cancers are driven by lifestyle and fashion, not hypothetical changes in the conceptual "ozone layer," which is highly volatile and seasonally variable anyway.

A must-have for dedicated hand-wringers: "Calculating Catastrophe - New Web Site Assesses Personal Peril of Asteroid Strike" - "April 29 — Asteroids blasting the planet may seem unlikely, but how extreme would the devastation be if it really did happen?

Now you can find out in excruciating detail, thanks to a new Web-based project (http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects) that allows anyone to calculate the grim reality of a cosmic collision like the ones that wiped out the dinosaurs." (ABCNEWS.com)

"Greenies bug $130m film" - "THE filming of a multi-million-dollar Hollywood blockbuster in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, has partly been stopped because of fears over the fate of the larvae of a giant native dragonfly. NSW Premier Bob Carr was preparing last night an urgent appeal against the Land and Environment Court decision, which has brought shooting to a halt on the the $130 million feature film Stealth, and threatens the multi-billion-dollar industry." (The Australian)

Population-panicking Suzuki acolyte, New South Wales Premier Bob Carr appears rather conflicted now that his bug-hugging mates are cutting off the bucks, doesn't he?

"Children's eating patterns show 'striking' changes in two decades" - "Meal patterns among children in the United States have undergone "striking alterations" over the past two decades, but changes in kid's meal patterns during that time may not be related to trends toward increased weight among children, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Researchers at several institutions including the Baylor College of Medicine analyzed dietary intakes from more than 1,500 children who participated in the Bogalusa Heart Study in Louisiana from 1973 to 1994. Among other findings, the researchers discovered:

  • Between 1973-74 and 1993-94, the percentage of children eating a school lunch declined significantly (from 89.7 percent to 78.2 percent); and eating dinners prepared outside the home jumped (from 5.4 percent to 19 percent).
  • The number of children who consumed five or more snacks in a day went from 30 percent in 1973-74 to 8 percent by 1993-94
  • During the same period, the number of kids who limited themselves to one or two snacks per day went from 25 percent in 1973-74 to 52 percent in 1993-94.

The researchers say they found "no associations … between meal patterns and overweight status in children." They add that further research is needed to better understand the impact of dietary intakes on the increasing numbers of children who are overweight and at risk for obesity." (Study reported in Journal of the American Dietetic Association)

"Britons Urged to Exercise More to Fight Obesity" - "LONDON - Britain is urging people of all ages to exercise more in the fight to stave off obesity and diseases such as cancer and diabetes." (Reuters)

But... the CO2! How will the UK meet its emission reduction targets with all those Brits huffing and puffing on tow path and treadmill? And if they are trimmed down, without the blubber to keep them warm they'll all be looking to up that thermostat a tad and much of that heating energy will come from fossil fuels! Surely there must be something in Kyoto about fattening the populace to trim emissions.

"Degrees of difference" - "GLOBAL warming looms, in many people's minds, as one of the biggest threats facing the planet. Over the past 20 years researchers have gathered evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is causing temperatures to rise. However, the exact pace of global warming, as well as the size of mankind's contribution to the warming trend, remain uncertain. Aside from these issues is the question of precisely how greenhouse-gas emissions should be abated, assuming that they need to be reduced at all. In a new paper for the Copenhagen Consensus project, William Cline of the Centre for Global Development and the Institute for International Economics examines these topics." (The Economist)

"Science in the clouds" - "University of Utah meteorologists are using a NASA research jet to examine icy, wispy cirrus clouds high in the atmosphere – a study aimed at determining how much the clouds warm Earth's climate and how much they cool it." (University of Utah)

Letters of the moment: "Heed this global warning" (The Guardian)

"Impacts of Global Warming on U.S. Economy and Natural Resources - Two New Reports Detail Consequences of Global Warming in the United States" - "Two new reports from The Pew Center on Global Climate Change detail substantial impact of global warming on the U.S. economy, its natural resources and the welfare of its citizens." (PRWEB)

"World 'must have carbon stores'" - "The cuts the world will have to make in emissions of carbon dioxide are so huge it will have to find other ways to deal with the gas, a British scientist says. He is Professor John Shepherd of the UK's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, a leading scientific group. Professor Shepherd says this will mean studying ways to store carbon and alter the Earth's albedo (its reflectivity). He also believes nuclear power may be needed to fill the gap until cleaner sources can replace most fossil fuels." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"Prosperity First" - "Environmental officials in Brussels are getting edgy. Energy and economic officials are steadily revising up their estimates of the cost (principally higher energy prices) of implementing the Kyoto targets to reduce greenhouse gases. Claims that the Kyoto targets can be met without slowing growth seem increasingly hollow, especially as doubts mount that Europe can maintain sustainable growth. But it is Asia which spotlights Kyoto's fatal flaws." (Alan Oxley, TCS)

"The City that Never Gets a Break: Anti-Capitalism at the Movies" - "In the upcoming movie The Day After Tomorrow, German director Roland Emmerich lets the glaciers roll over Manhattan following an abrupt change in climate. It's the third time his production company, Centropolis, has destroyed New York in recent years. They leveled it in Independence Day. They had a monster eat it in the Godzilla remake. Now they're freezing it. What do these guys have against New York City?

Plenty, if my theory is correct. New York, you see, is a symbol of the victory of capitalism. Therefore, if you want to make the point that capitalism has done terrible things and needs to be eradicated, the Big Apple will be your number one target." (Iain Murray, National Review Online)

"Germany To U.S.: Cut Emissions or Face Disaster" - "In June, Germany will host a global conference on renewable energies. The country's environmental minister traveled to the U.S. this week to push needed emissions cuts and alternative energies.

The Renewables 2000 conference, announced by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2002 at the U.N. Environment Summit in Johannesburg, is intended to demonstrate that renewable energies -- like wind and solar power -- have developed into fast growing industries that are not only environmentally friendly, but also economically viable solutions.

But renewable energies have played a marginal role in the U.S. market, and during a number of stops on his transatlantic trip this week, Jürgen Trittin has sought to draw attention to the upside potential of green energy. Trittin also urged the United States to shift its environmental policy by adopting the Kyoto Protocol." (Deutsche Welle)

"UK atomic shutdown 30 years early" - "The UK's Atomic Energy Authority is to decommission a former nuclear research site 30 years earlier than planned. The site, at Winfrith in Dorset, is due to be cleared completely by 2020, and much of the area will revert to nature." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"U.S. Says Fewer People Sickened by Food Bacteria" - "ATLANTA - The number of food-borne illnesses caused by a potentially fatal strain of E. coli bacteria fell sharply in the United States last year due partly to improved testing and processing of meat, federal officials said on Thursday.

There were 443 laboratory-confirmed cases of Escherichia coli O157 reported in 2003, 36 percent less than in the previous year, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's FoodNet surveillance system.

The number of Campylobacter, Salmonella and Yersinia infections -- three of the most common food-borne diseases -- also continued to decline last year.

"The overall trends for these important infections suggests that the efforts by industry, individuals and the regulatory arena seem to have us headed in the right direction," said Dr. Robert Tauxe, chief of the CDC's food-borne diseases branch." (Reuters)

Containing most contemporary 'toxic GM' myths:  "Independent Scientists Call for Enquiry into GM Food Safety" - "At a briefing to be held in Parliament tomorrow, the Independent Science Panel (a group representing more than 1 000 scientists around the world) will release its new dossier of evidence on the problems and hazards of GM as well as the proven successes and benefits of sustainable agriculture. It makes the case for banning all environmental releases of GM crops and for a comprehensive shift to sustainable agriculture." (Press Release)

"Genetic Engineering Urban Legends" - "Communication about a complex science like genetic engineering may always have some inaccuracies and biases, but there are some stories on the subject that are so incorrect— and so often repeated— that they deserve their own section. Some started with a kernel of truth that has been distorted over time under layers of "spin"; others have stretched credulity from the start. Here's a few of our favorites:" (GEO-PIE)

Eek! Genetic pollution! "Mexican farmers effectively cultivate phenotypic diversity in maize" - "A joint IRD-CIMMYT research team studying the maize varieties, or landraces, grown in Mexico have provided the first genetic proof that cultivation practices and farmers' behaviour play a crucial role in maintaining a large diversity by favouring the frequent introduction of varieties from outside. In-situ conservation could therefore be considered as a dynamic model favourable to genetic exchange, rather than a model founded on the isolation of the varieties to be preserved." (Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement)

"Sea of dreams" - "Genetically modified microbes will lead to a revolution in industrial biotechnology" (The Economist)

"Genetic Engineering: Man Playing God?" - " The Telegraph asked Keith Moore whether genetic engineering was 'Playing at God'. He said: "Was Edward Jenner playing at God when he transferred serum from cowpox blisters to man? "Without his work there would be no vaccines. "Was Alexander Fleming playing at God when he investigated the effect of chemicals from a fungus on the growth of bacteria? "Without this work there would be no antibiotics. "Are doctors playing at God when they prolong life and ease pain by the vast array of technologies available to them? "Do genetic engineers have a responsibility to progress their technology when there are so many potential benefits to mankind?" (Scunthorpe Telegraph)

"Biotech Destruction" - "America's comparative advantage in the world economy has been its ability to invent and produce what has been referred to as "the next new thing". We succeed because we reward risk taking and innovation through patent protection, free markets, relatively low tax rates and relatively high rates of return on investment for the inventive contributions to our economy and well-being." (Robert Goldberg, TCS)

"Spain to Ban Syngenta Corn, EU's Biggest Biotech Crop" - "April 29 -- Spain, the only European Union country where genetically modified crops are commercially grown, banned the planting of a Syngenta AG corn variety as of January, saying it may boost resistance to antibiotics.

The Bt176 variety of feed corn from Syngenta, the world's biggest maker of agricultural chemicals, ``will no longer be allowed to be sown or cultivated,'' Spain's food-safety agency said on its Web site.

Syngenta, based in Basel, Switzerland, has sold the corn in Spain since 1998. Bt176 occupies almost two-thirds of the 32,000 hectares (79,000 acres) of Spanish land given over to gene- altered crops." (Bloomberg)

"Reports: European group to discuss Monsanto corn" - "The European Food Safety Authority is set to vote Friday on whether to approve a variety of Monsanto Co.'s genetically modified corn, according to published reports.

The request is for industrial processing of its NK603 corn. The commission said the corn was safe for animal and human consumption last December. If the maize is approved, it would be possible to place it and derived products on the market." (St Louis Business Journal)

April 29, 2004

"The troubling fight against old killer" - "The Chinese call their sweet wormwood extract Qinghaosu. Chemists call it artemisinen. The Zulu are so bowled over by its effectiveness that they've given it their own name, which translates roughly as "miracle."

Public health experts agree that artemisinen, when given with other drugs, can cure malaria in three days. And they're meeting in New York today to examine ways to make it the mainstay of a new assault on the mosquito-borne disease, still the leading killer of African children." (USA TODAY)

"DDT vs. Death by Malaria" - "The pervasive superstition that DDT is utterly noxious remains immune to scientific evidence to the contrary. These myths are much more persistent in some minds than DDT is in the environment." (Michael Arnold Glueck and Robert J. Cihak, NewsMax.com)

"Editorial: DDT ban played with people’s lives" - "Most political movements and public policies have their good points and bad, so it’s imperative that Americans try to subject everything to hard-headed analysis. Unfortunately, the environmental movement still basks in the glow of unquestioned praise, so some of the ills that have occurred as the result of environmentalist policies go unchecked." (Valley Morning Star)

"'Malaria Prevention and Control in Ethiopia - Progress and Prospects' Speech by UNICEF Rep Bjorn Ljungqvist" - "As we all know malaria is one of the top killer diseases in Ethiopia and has a devastating impact on the country's most vulnerable children and women. During any given year malaria accounts for the most outpatient visits and admissions in clinics throughout the country and represents the largest single cause of morbidity." (United Nations Children's Fund (New York))

"New Assault On Kenya's Biggest Killer" - "A patient receives treatment for highland malaria in Eldoret hospital. The disease is a big killer. Scientists are in a desperate search for an early warning system which can help tame Highland Malaria, a disease with a high mortality rate. It strikes mostly during heavy rains and is common in highlands of 2,000 metres above sea level, mostly Western Kenya areas such as Kisii, that were traditionally not malaria-endemic zones. Some scientists have rightly or wrongly attributed it to global warming.

"The term Highland Malaria is a misnomer and what we should be talking about is malaria in the highlands," Prof Omlin says. The key factor behind malaria in the highlands is the land use changes that have taken place in such areas in the last 15-20 years when the disease became a marked feature, he says. "Environmental alterations resulting from land use changes have brought about a proliferation of new anthropogenic (man-made) larval habitats whose net result has been an extremely high mosquito vector density and consequent high malaria transmission rate," says Prof Omlin." (The Nation (Nairobi))

"European plan to test chemical products irks US" - "The European Parliament will debate a proposal to apply the 'precautionary principle' to 30,000 widely used chemicals." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Abusing Substance Abuse Data" - "haven't covered the issue of alcohol for a while, but a recent set of headlines had a reek of moonshine about them. "Heavy social drinkers show brain damage" ran the Reuters headline in many news outlets. The UK press, as usual, was more creative. "Three glasses of wine a day 'a health risk'" said the sober Scotsman, while the Glasgow Herald was more direct: "Boozers face brain damage." Yet the study actually told us little we didn't know already. Social drinkers can continue their imbibing without worry." (Iain Murray, TCS)

Imagine that... "Iraq, terror divert focus from environment -Annan" - "UNITED NATIONS, April 28 - The Iraq war and terrorism have shoved critical environmental problems like global warming and dwindling natural resources out of the world spotlight, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

The Week That Was April 24, 2004; April 17, 2004; April 10, 2004; April 3, 2004 (SEPP)

"Clouds caused by aircraft exhaust may warm the U.S. climate" - "NASA scientists have found that cirrus clouds, formed by contrails from aircraft engine exhaust, are capable of increasing average surface temperatures enough to account for a warming trend in the United States that occurred between 1975 and 1994." (NASA/GSFC)

"Particles cloud researchers’ judgement" - "Ernest Weingartner is a man with his head in the clouds. As an expert in atmospheric chemistry at the Paul Scherrer Institute in northern Switzerland, he spends a lot of time measuring them. His particular interest is the particles in the air, known as aerosols, which influence cloud formation and affect both our climate and health. Along with an international group of collaborators working at Switzerland’s Jungfraujoch research station – 3,500 metres above sea level in the Bernese Alps – he’s starting to unravel the mystery of how aerosols and clouds interact. “We still need a lot more knowledge about aerosols,” says Weingartner. “There’s still a great deal of uncertainty about how they act.” (SwissInfo)

The fevered brows... "This is what we know about global warming ... so why haven't we done anything about it yet?" - "Climate change moved dramatically back to the centre of the political agenda in Britain this week. According to Tony Blair, it is now the greatest long-term threat facing the planet.

On Tuesday he helped launch a new international organisation called the Climate Group, with an impressive range of business chiefs from both sides of the Atlantic in support.

The event followed a report the previous week which predicted the UK was in for catastrophic floods over the next 80 years.

Tomorrow the government's long awaited caps on pollution from industry are being announced so that carbon trading can begin in earnest. The leaks have not been encouraging - the Department of Trade and Industry has listened to protests from the Confederation of British Industry that too strict caps would damage competitiveness." (Tim Radford and Paul Brown, The Guardian)

Interesting manner of listing CO2 emissions too, with North America occupying a single listing but Eastern and Western Europe split (could it be because Europe would then appear too similar to other "nasty" list members?). Also missing is any mention of terrestrial sinks, possibly because North America is a net consumer of atmospheric carbon while Europe is a net emitter - couldn't go admitting that the home of the "Toxic Texan" actually cleans up some of Europe's "mess" now, could we?

"Tomorrow Stirs Debate Today" - "The upcoming SF disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, which deals in part with the consequences of global warming, has become a political football in recent days, as environmentalists embrace it as a warning about the perils of greenhouse-gas emissions and the Bush administration looks to avoid being tagged with accusations about its ecological policies, Variety reported. A rally featuring former vice president and environmental advocate Al Gore will take place a couple of blocks away from the film's May 24 premiere in New York, hosted by MoveOn.org, the trade paper reported." (SciFi.com)

You go guys! The more eco-theistic zealots bond to an obvious fantasy the more people will realise that the enhanced-greenhouse "global warming disaster" is plain old hot air. Tell 'em about the Patagonian Sheep Al, an' don't forget the one about blind rabbits in our backyards (my kids loved that one).

Speaking of Al, C. K. Rairden has a cute take on movies, Al and the 9/11 commission.

Moonbat spanked again: "Nannies Needed" - "It isn't often that a confused pundit perfectly encapsulates their central confusion, but little George, apparently unwittingly, has done so." (crumbtrail.org)

"Court rules on smog, hands loss to environmentalists" - "WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a Southern California agency may have gone too far in imposing its own antismog rules for city buses, airport shuttles and other vehicles. Justices, on a 8-1 vote, sided with oil companies and diesel engine manufacturers who claimed that local pollution rules conflict with national standards." (AP)

"Mercury rising" - "Heavy reliance on coal is boosting mercury levels. How should the US limit emissions from the power industry?" (The Christian Science Monitor)

More to the point, should we worry about current mercury emissions at all?

Today's meaching: "Public health warning: our leaders' seduction by science is dangerous" - "WE HAVE reached an extraordinarily odd situation in the saga of genetic modification. The public continues to reject it, the supermarkets will not stock it, the industry itself has pulled out of GM cultivation, but the Government is still keen to go ahead. Why? Tony Blair said recently: “It is important for the whole debate (on GM) to be conducted on the basis of scientific evidence, not on the basis of prejudice.” But being mesmerised by science is at best short-sighted and at worst disingenuous." (Michael Meacher, The Times)

"One shy moth, a flashy gene, and a crossroads" - "You might call Pectinophora gossypiella - pink bollworm moths - publicity shy. You're unlikely ever to meet one: They fly around at night and hide underground during the day. And they live only in commercial cotton

But someday they may be a lot better known. An arm of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has filed an application to release a batch of them carrying a fluorescent marker gene inserted by scientists, making it the first approval sought for releasing a genetically altered insect in the wild. If approved, it would pave the way for approval of other lab-produced insects - from super productive honeybees to drugmaking silkworms - that could benefit mankind.

But the program faces several hurdles - not to mention opposition from a swarm of environmentalists worried about the release of genetically altered traits into the environment. Releasing insects into the wild raises special concerns because unlike, say, a genetically modified (GM) cow, altered insects are extremely hard to track." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Green-tinged farm points the way" - "Pigs and chickens that glow in the dark may signal a new era for the farm yard. UK scientists at the Roslin Institute say they have dramatically improved the technique for introducing modifications to an animal's genetic make-up. So far, the researchers have used the new method to introduce a jellyfish gene that makes their pigs and chickens fluoresce - to prove changes will work." (BBC News Online)

"Vermont Requires Labels for Altered Seeds" - "Under the law, signed Monday by Gov. James Douglas, seed growers must label seeds that are genetically modified or engineered after Oct. 1. They also must report sales of such seeds in the state to the secretary of agriculture every Jan. 15.  The law is a result of years of lobbying by various advocacy and environmental organizations. Those groups helped spur a movement against genetically modified seeds and crops across the state." (AP)

"When functional foods collide with infamous GMOs" - "GENETICALLY modified organisms (GMOs) are not just frowned upon. They're not a little bit controversial. In many circles, they're denounced, considered unnatural, unknown and unwelcome.

But not everyone is opposed to the idea.

Inside the laboratories at University of California, Berkeley, and UC Davis, dozens of researchers are determined to learn how to make the world's food more nutritious, more digestible and easier to produce." (Alameda Times-Star)

April 28, 2004

"Bring back DDT: Eco-imperialism is killing African children" - "Who could possibly object to Earth Day, that benign occasion on which we are encouraged to throw away our pesticides, clean up our environment, and contemplate the damage we have done to Mother Earth?

Niger Innis, for one." (Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail)

"Uganda: Muhwezi Insists On DDT Amid Protests" - "The Minister of Health Brig. Jim Muhwezi yesterday said Uganda would go ahead to apply DDT to fight malaria despite opposition by some scientists.

"If the drugs are becoming resistant to people, we should go ahead and use vector control," Muhwezi told a two-day regional workshop on Persistent Organic Pollutants at Hotel Africana yesterday.

The workshop was discussing: "Is DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) The Only Solution To Malaria In Africa?." (The Monitor (Kampala))

"Uganda: DDT to Be Sprayed Indoors Soon" - "IT is a matter of time before an anti-mosquito squad begins walking from house to house, spraying the interior with dichlorodipheny trichloroethane (DDT), health minister Jim Muhwezi said yesterday." (New Vision (Kampala))

"Does USAID have something to hide?" (PDF) - “Africans and Americans have a right to know why the United States Agency for International Development won’t buy artemisinin combination therapy drugs (ACTs), even though USAID admits that ACTs work better than any other drugs at treating malaria, “ declares AFM’s Director, Dr. Roger Bate.

In August of 2003, Africa Fighting Malaria filed a Freedom of Information Act request to ascertain USAID's policy on ACTs. In January 2004, USAID finally responded. While it gave AFM some rhetorically positive information about its policy towards ACTs, it withheld fifteen key documents that might tell a different story. USAID justified the withholding by saying the release of the documents might create "public confusion." AFM has appealed, so far with no response from USAID, even though the appeal was received two months ago and according to statute USAID had 20 business days to reply. Litigation will soon be the only recourse." (Press Release)

John Vidal would prefer the truth be spoken more quietly: "Anger management" - "The neo-conservative extremists are out. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, last week accused the green movement of being "anti-science, anti-technology, and anti-human"; Paul Driessen, of the Centre for the Defence of Free Enterprise, accused Europe of causing millions of deaths in Africa through its bans on GM foods; and dear Roger Bate, of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, chipped in to accuse the UN of killing the poor. Steady on." (John Vidal, Eco sounding, The Guardian)

"Why the Sympathy for Mosquitoes? Pesticides Get an Undeserved Rap" - ”Save Our Mosquitoes" isn't a plea one expects to see these days with the mosquito-borne West Nile virus killing hundreds and making thousands of people sick. But someone posted that very appeal on a sign in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. These "poor bugs" were indeed at risk as the town was debating whether to spray pesticides that year. Residents decided to show their mercy; they gave the mosquitoes a stay of execution. No spraying in 2002. Discovered by an official from the local department of health, the sign shows how bizarre the debate about mosquito spraying has become. Radical environmental activists have been leading the pack, making a host of unsupported claims about the risks associated with pesticides. While some might sympathize with the plight of the mosquito, the anti-pesticide crowd has shown little concern for those humans suffering from the sometimes deadly, and often debilitating, virus transmitted by the bugs." (Angela Logomasini, The Chicago Tribune)

"MPs back 'traffic light' food label plan" - "Food products should be labelled using a "traffic light" system to provide consumers with easily understandable information on fat content, MPs are set to recommend.

In a hard-hitting report to be published in the next few weeks, the health select committee will say that the cost of obesity may have risen to £4.9bn a year. The committee will criticise the government for failing to make public health a priority issue across government.

They are expected to recommend that mandatory "traffic light" labelling should replace the nutritional labelling system, which has been described as "gobbledygook" by committee sources.

The committee consensus is also backing a ban on junk food advertising on children's TV if the industry fails to introduce an effective voluntary code shortly - a move that is being vociferously opposed by food manufacturers." (The Guardian)

"Movement off the Streets" - "Last year a cool young Parisienne called Sabine Herold led protests against the French culture of protest, and a long-haired Swedish anarchist called Johan Norberg wrote a bestseller defending capitalism. Since then, it's been tempting to trumpet the decline of the anti-globalization movement." (Sebastian Mallaby, The Washington Post)

"Extra spending on clean water promises eight-fold economic benefits: WHO" - "GENEVA - The economic benefits of better access to clean water outweigh the extra investment necessary eight-fold by creating a healthier workforce, the World Health Organisation said in a report.

An additional investment of around 11.3 billion dollars (9.5 billion euros) per year on top of the money already being spent on improving basic sanitation facilities could generate a total economic benefit of 84 billion dollars annually, the report said.

Such an investment would reduce the global occurrence of diarrhoea by an average of 10 percent, according to the study by the Swiss Tropical Institute, which was commissioned by the WHO." (AFP)

Enviros say: "Glaciers in Himalayas receding at alarming rate" - "New Delhi, April 27: With the glaciers in the Himalayas receding at an alarming rate due to global warming and increased human activity, environmentalists today stressed upon the need for international co-operation for their better management to conserve the precious water resource." (PTI)

Study actually shows : "Himalayan glacier to remain, not to cause water shortage" - "New Delhi, Apr 27 An international study today set at rest the speculation by some experts that the Himalaya glaciers would disappear within the next 40 years, as a result of global warming, and that flow of the Himalayan rivers would eventually diminish, resulting in widespread water shortage.

'The catastrophic water shortages forecast by some experts are unlikely to happen for many decades, if at all," says the summary report of the project "Snow and Glacier aspects of Water Resources Management in the Himalayas (SAGARMATHA), funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Natural Environment Research Council." (UNI)

"Jet condensation trails may cause climate change: NASA" - "WASHINGTON - Condensation trails from the engine exhausts of jet aircraft may have provoked the warming trend in the climate seen from 1975 to 1994, a NASA researcher said.

"This result shows the increased cirrus (cloud) coverage, attributable to air traffic, could account for nearly all of the warming observed over the United States for nearly 20 years starting in 1975," said Patrick Minnis, a senior research scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia." (AFP)

"Freaks of nature" - "The Earth's temperature is rising and, as a result, Britain should expect further wild weather. Tim Radford reports" (The Guardian)

"Drowning homes" - "Flood risk means we must rethink our grand housebuilding schemes, writes Paul Brown" (The Guardian)

Paul R. Epstein et al: "Global Warming & Polution = Asthma; Experts Warn of Inner-City Youth Epidemic" - "Poor and minority inner-city children will face a worsening "epidemic" of asthma linked to global warming and air pollution unless steps are taken to reduce fossil fuel burned by cars, trucks and buses, according to a warning from Harvard experts and the American Public Health Association." (The Baltimore Chronicle)

I see Paul's been in his time machine again - accessed 05:30GMT, April 28, this piece read: At a conference at 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 29 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Dr. Paul R. Epstein, ... presented the facts of their case. Nifty! Must get me one of those.

"Pumping Iron" - "If there are a lot of fish in the sea, it's because a plant-based food chain feeds them. One day there may be more -- brace yourself for the shock of good news about the environment. Fish stocks may rise and global CO2 levels fall in ways reflecting the capacity of sea water in mid-ocean to nourish plant and animal life." (Russell Seitz, TCS)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"On the Number of Deaths Attributed to the European Heat Wave of 2003" - "At the time of its occurrence, the spate of unusually high temperatures was said by many to have caused unprecedented mortality across the continent and to portend a far greater future loss of life if the air's CO 2 content continued its upward climb.  As more reasoned analyses begin to appear, however, these early hasty claims are beginning to rapidly unravel." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Precipitation (Variability)" - "Would further warming of the world lead to more extremes of precipitation, as climate alarmists routinely proclaim?  A look at the past gives us a glimpse of the future." (co2science.org)

"Nutrients x CO 2 Effects on Plants (Nitrogen - Agricultural Crops: Wheat)" - "How does the degree of soil nitrogen availability impact the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO 2 enrichment on wheat production?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Rice, Robusta Poplar, Saltmeadow Cordgrass and a Semi-Arid Shortgrass Steppe Ecosystem of Colorado, USA." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Seven Decades of Snow in the Swiss Alps" - "What do they tell us about climate change?  And what do they tell us about the IPCC?" (co2science.org)

"Four Centuries of Climate Change in Nepal" - "What does the new and "best yet" temperature record from the High Asia region indicate about the "unprecedented" warming of the 20th century?" (co2science.org)

"Cyclical Environmental Change Depicted in Lake Sediments of East Africa" - "How does this environmental oscillation compare with the climatic oscillation that is evident in northern marine and ice core records?" (co2science.org)

"Semi-Natural Grassland Responses to Elevated CO 2 " - "One can probably guess how the quantity of the ecosystem's forage is affected.  But what about its quality?" (co2science.org)

"CO 2 Effects on Acorn Production in Oak Trees" - "How similar are they to CO 2 effects on overall biomass production?" (co2science.org)

Some good responses to The Guardian's tedious George Monbiot (Beware the fossil fools):

"Do lie down in a darkened room, George" - "Gratifyingly daft attack on me and others by George Monbiot in the Guardian, for our view that global warming theory is just a load of hot air. Poor Monbiot, a green catastrophist and conspiracy theorist of the first order, has obviously been brooding over what I have written about the global warming scam. Judging from his reaction, my remarks obviously hit home. Those who don't know what all the excitement is about might like to read what I wrote in the Mail on an earlier occasion. It is always revealing when an attack merely comprises insults rather than a reply to the arguments, and Mobiot's eruption of spleen is a classic of that genre." (Melanie Phillips)

Meanwhile, our favourite "fossil," Professor Emeritus Philip Stott, took exception to the impudent young pup's snide reference to "retirees" - George was being: recklessly brave; somewhat naïve; extremely foolish even by his own standards (no prizes).

Laban Tall is another UK commentator giving a passing backhander to the Grumpy Guardian.

"New front opened in fight against climate change" - "Tony Blair launched a new worldwide organisation to fight climate change yesterday which many see as an alternative to the Kyoto protocol, the stalled international treaty on global warming.

Mr Blair said getting support for Kyoto remained "a tall order" but even if that succeeded it was only a first step to tackling the problem. He said global warming was "the most serious long term threat facing the planet."

Climate change was the issue that "would dominate the world agenda in the years to come." (The Guardian)

Nice try... "Climate issue 'critical' to Blair" - "There is "no bigger long-term question facing the global community" than the threat of climate change, Tony Blair has said. The UK prime minister was speaking at the launch of the Climate Group, an international campaign aiming to speed up greenhouse gas emission reductions." (BBC News Online)

but appeasement never works Tony: "Green groups dismiss climate change 'tokenism'" - "Environmentalists and green groups have poured scorn on the prime minister's commitment today to a new climate change group backed by big business. Mr Blair has given his backing to the Climate Group, which brings together financial institutions and business leaders and politicians to identify "best practice" on carbon emissions and climate change." (The Guardian)

"Ministers raise target for cuts in gas emissions by 20%" - "ANOTHER day, another energy efficiency target.

Ministers yesterday raised the target for reducing greenhouse gases for the second time in the 12 months since the Government’s landmark Energy White Paper was published. Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, and Stephen Timms, the Energy Minister, pledged to cut carbon emissions by an extra 12 million tonnes through energy efficiency within the next six years. This represents a 20 per cent increase on the target set last year and would put the country on track to surpass its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, if achieved." (The Times)

"Et Tu, Edison?" - "The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the association of shareholder-owned electric power companies, opposes the Kyoto Protocol, the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, and kindred proposals to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2), the inescapable byproduct of the carbon-based fuels -- coal, oil, and natural gas -- that supply 86 percent of all the energy Americans use. Why, then, is EEI pressing the Bush Administration to institute an "early credit" program -- the accounting framework and political setup for Kyoto-style energy rationing? Edison has a lot of explaining to do." (Marlo Lewis, Jr., TCS)

"Carbon Emissions Plan to Meet Kyoto Limits" - "April 27 -- Spain, Europe's fourth-biggest polluter, plans to limit emissions to meet targets set in the Kyoto Protocol, a government official said, a move that may boost costs for utilities such as Endesa SA and Union Fenosa SA.

Spain will release its plan on limiting carbon dioxide emissions to meet European Union rules at the end of June, Arturo Gonzalo, the new government's general secretary for climate change, said in an interview in Madrid. The government will allow an industrywide pooling of credits, as sought by Endesa and Union Fenosa to mitigate cost increases, Gonzalo said.

``The National Allocation plan has to put Spain in Kyoto's path,'' Gonzalo said in the first interview given since he took office last week. ``A plan that put Spain further from Kyoto wouldn't be in line with the government's commitment.'' (Bloomberg)

"Behind the UK warming waffle, the energy realities..." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"UK keeps nuclear option open, emissions goals slip" - "LONDON - Britain this week kept the door open to new nuclear power stations as government figures showed the country was in danger of missing its targets on cutting emissions of carbon dioxide.

The government said it would keep working on research, design and development of nuclear power, which emits hardly any CO2, although the current economics of new reactors were "unattractive." (Reuters)

"Nuclear operators seek US money for new reactor" - "NEW YORK - A consortium of nuclear power companies presented a proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy this week to share the estimated $800 million cost of developing a new reactor." (Reuters)

"Super Organics" - "Forget Frankenfruit - the new-and-improved flavor of gene science is Earth-friendly and all-natural. Welcome to the golden age of smart breeding." (Richard Manning, Wired)

Wow! "Labour MEP calls on Commission to approve GM corn" - "Too many anti-GM campaigners indulge in tactics which should have gone out of fashion at the end of 17th century witch hunts. They merge new age mysticism with anti-scientific mumbo jumbo and hope that if they scream loud enough and long enough it will drown out rational argument.

"The answer to them is to improve Britain's dismal record of scientific education, not to cave into their pseudo-logic. That way more people will be able to make their own well-informed judgements on the science without having the wits frightened out of them by a rag bag alliance of the reactionary and the science-phobic." (Parliamentary Group of the Party of European Socialists)

Just couldn't resist such a quote on anti-science phobias - well said that man (David Bowe MEP, Labour's environment spokesman in the European Parliament)!

April 27, 2004

"What an Unnecessary Disaster" - "We're Fighting Malaria With Outmoded Techniques -- For No Good Reason

Last month in Jonizi, South Africa, I watched my friend Jocky Gumede happily bounce his grandchild on his knee. The recent malaria epidemic had subsided, and Jocky was relieved that the child had escaped death -- for this year, anyway. Jocky can't erase the memory of the toll the disease has taken on his family. Still, he is relatively lucky. In South Africa, the malaria rate is falling.

In the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, the disease is on the rise. This development has more than one cause, including factors such as insufficient insecticide use, the malarial parasite's resistance to widely used drugs, and malnutrition. But the main cause is the failure of the very campaign organized to combat the disease." (Roger Bate, Washington Post)

"Managing Malaria" - "This past Sunday marked "Africa Malaria Day," a day to remember that malaria continues to rage on that continent, killing at least one million people each year. We should remember these deaths — after all, we helped cause them, even though not so long ago malaria killed us too." (Jennifer Zambone, National Review)

"Stopping Malaria Through Indoor Residual Spraying" - "LAST week, Zambia joined other African countries to commemorate Africa Malaria Day which fell on April 25, 2004. In Zambia, the official commemoration was in Kabwe on April 23, 2004. The message from Kabwe was that malaria was a big problem. But it can be beaten.

The latest Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) shows that malaria continues to be relentless in its assault on Zambia.

It is the leading cause of morbidity and second highest cause of mortality, especially among pregnant women and children under the age of five." (The Times of Zambia)

UPDATE -- Some recycling from the Tribune: "Altered corn ignites furor in Mexico" - "Olga Toro couldn't resist planting a few kernels of the corn she purchased at the government warehouse, even though it was intended only to help feed her family and her chickens...." (Chicago Tribune)

As Miceal O'Ronain points out, this is some heavy-duty recycling. The Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) cites Mexican newspaper Milenio: "An article in Milenio dated Oct. 1 [2001] quotes a peasant farmer who acknowledged planting corn grain received from Diconsa. “I wasn’t the only one who did it,” said Olga Toro Maldonado..." and indeed an English language Google search on "Olga Toro" returns hundreds of hits (about 40 unique) variously omitting or including "Maldonando" or "Maaldonado," as does Yahoo!'s.

Curiously, using the search term '"Olga Toro" milenio' returns just 4 hits (2 unique), all from CBI. What's going on here? Are journalists from around the world beating a path to this Mexican peasant farmer's door? Is everyone harassing poor Olga Toro (how does she find the time to plant her corn)? Or is it that journalism has decayed to such an appalling cut-and-paste state that only the CBI has retained the original Milenio attribution?

Whatever the case, it seems the Chicago Tribune is running a story that's coming up for its third birthday.

"Business calls for green groups to be reined in" - "Business wants environmental groups to be stripped of their right to block building projects in the courts, claiming it is costing them billions of francs.

The call comes as the Green Party seeks to prevent the construction of a football stadium in Zurich, at the risk of leaving the city on the sidelines of Euro 2008." (SwissInfo)

"NCAR aircraft, ground instruments to track carbon dioxide uptake" - "The National Center for Atmospheric Research will fly a C-130 research aircraft over Colorado's Front Range this May and July to measure how much carbon dioxide mountain forests remove from the air as spring turns into summer. Scientists are developing new methods for assessing carbon uptake over complex terrain." (NCAR/UCAR)

"Government set to miss greenhouse gas targets" - "The Government is in danger of missing its targets for combating climate change, according to an embarrassing report published yesterday by its own expert advisers.

UK emissions of greenhouse gases are rising while the proportion of the nation's electricity generated from renewable sources is falling, says the study by the Sustainable Energy Policy Network, a cross-Whitehall body made up of representatives from 16 government departments and organisations such as the Carbon Trust and the Environment Agency." (Independent)

"UK group to prod climate process" - "Environment campaigners have set up an organisation to work for faster progress on tackling global warming. The Climate Group, to be launched by Tony Blair, aims to build links between governments, business and industry. The goals of the group, a charity, include "to catalyse a new political momentum on climate change". The international climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, cannot come into force until Russia - one of the world's main polluters - agrees to ratify it." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"UK glaciologists warn of global warming threat to South American World Heritage Site" - "Leading UK scientists fear that one of South America’s leading natural tourist destinations, the San Rafael Glacier in Patagonian Chile, which is renowned for the spectacular way in which it releases icebergs into the San Rafael Laguna, may soon retreat to a point where it no longer reaches the sea. This, they warn, might remove one of the main reasons why thousands of tourists travel to this remote corner of Chile every year." (Innovations Report)

"A feverish fate for scientific truth?" - "Some things are sacred to scientists: Facts, data, quantitative analysis, and Nature magazine, long recognized as the world's most prestigious science periodical." (Patrick J. Michaels, The Washington Times)

Uh-huh... "Beware the fossil fools" - "The dismissal of climate change by journalistic nincompoops is a danger to us all" (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"A Matter of Trust" - "When I hear the enemies of biotechnology carry on about their obsession, sometimes I feel sorry for them. I really do.

Their hysterics remind me of the story of the Salem witches--and especially the intriguing possibility that if biotechnology had been available in 1692, there might not have been any Salem witches at all.

More on that in a minute. First, some good news: So far, the American public at large has not displayed any of the debilitating symptoms we see in the activists. A huge majority--84 percent--believes farmers are concerned about food safety, according to a new poll sponsored by the Animal Agriculture Alliance and the National Corn Growers Association. Another 84 percent think farmers do a good job of producing healthy food at reasonable prices. Apparently the people polled feel the farmer makes good choices in the public’s behalf." (Reg Clause, Truth About Trade and Technology)

"Fields of Choice" - "As I work in the field of Agriculture and see the tremendous benefits that science has created over the last 50 years in food production, I look to the future with wonder. I truly believe that the world is a better place today with less disease, better health, and greatly reduced malnutrition because of science. We need to continue to use the best science, including biotechnology to ensure the world is a safe place, a healthy place and a place with a future for all.

It amazes me that, even when the safety and the benefits have been so clearly demonstrated, some still hesitate to support biotechnology. Before they reach a farmer’s field or a family’s kitchen table, biotechnology-based crops, crop management products and livestock treatments and therapies undergo years of rigorous testing to ensure they are safe for people, animals and the environment." (Murray McLaughlin, BioScience News)

"US seeks £1bn from Europe over GM ban" - "The US has demanded that the EU abandon its ban on the growing of genetically modified crops and pay at least $1.8bn (£1bn) in compensation for loss of exports over the past six years.

The challenge is outlined in papers filed to the World Trade Organisation that have been seen by the Guardian.

The WTO is now facing the biggest case in its history, one that could spark a damaging trade war between the US and Europe and split the international community.

Although the US announced it intended launching the case last year, many believed it was bluffing and trying to bully the EU into giving way on the issue of unfettered trade in GM.

But the papers, which were sent to the WTO last week, accuse the EU of imposing a moratorium on GM products in 1998 without any scientific evidence and in defiance of WTO free trade rules. The EU has until the end of May to reply before a WTO panel meets in June to adjudicate." (The Guardian)

"EU farm ministers stall on genetically engineered corn" - "LUXEMBOURG - EU farm ministers failed to agree on approval for the sale of BT-11 bio-engineered corn, and turned the controversial question over to the European Commission. If approved, the measure would in effect lift a five-year European Union ban on genetically modified (GM) foods. "There was no significant change in the positions," Irish Minister Joe Walsh said to explain why no qualified majority had been reached." (AFP)

"EU clears last hurdle to ending GM food ban" - "LUXEMBOURG, April 26 - The European Union cleared the way on Monday to end more than five years of refusal to authorise new genetically modified food products, officials said.

The way is clear after the bloc's 15 farm ministers lost their last chance to break a longstanding deadlock on whether to approve a maize variety known as Bt-11, marketed by Swiss agrochemicals giant Syngenta.

The European Commission now has the legal power to rubberstamp a request for imports. The last approval for any GM product was in October 1998 for a type of carnation. The last food product, a type of maize, was backed in April that year." (Reuters)

"Farming ministers get caught in the maize" - "Europe may soon be stocking its first genetically modified food in six years, ending a moratorium that has kept new biotech crops and products out of the EU since 1998. Canned maize is likely to be approved for sale within weeks because of the failure yesterday of EU governments to resolve the controversial issue." (The Guardian)

April 26, 2004

"Where DDT Works" - "LUSAKA, Zambia - "Malaria Day" was on April 25 and, four years into the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Roll Back Malaria (RBM) programme, WHO has little to celebrate. A partnership between WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank and others, RBM aims to halve malaria deaths by 2010. Yet malaria cases and deaths have increased since the start of the RBM programme. If RBM continues with its malaria control strategy, it stands little chance of reducing malaria cases by 5% let alone 50% by 2010. Yet there is hope for malarial control and several success stories if only the bureaucrats in Geneva and Washington would sit up and pay attention." (Richard Tren, TCS)

"Campaign grows for Malaria drug" - "Campaigners in Africa say governments, donor agencies and pharmaceutical firms must take action now to prevent a shortfall in malaria treatments. They fear targets for eradicating the disease set by governments and health agencies at a summit in Nigeria four years ago may not be met." (BBC News Online)

"UN Uses Atomic Technology to Fight Malaria Mosquito" - "SEIBERSDORF, Austria - The United Nations is harnessing nuclear technology to try to eradicate the mosquitoes whose bite transmits malaria, a deadly disease devastating the African continent.

Sunday is Africa Malaria Day, when governments will focus attention on a disease which kills millions of Africans a year, most of them children, and costs the continent at least $12 billion in lost gross domestic product." (Reuters)

"Ignorance and Immunity Help Malaria to Keep Killing" - "OUROSSOGUI, Senegal - When a pregnant woman aged about 20 arrived last week at the hospital of this small northern Senegalese town, it was already too late.

Her malaria was so serious and so advanced that medical staff could not save her. The chief midwife, echoing a message from international organizations on Africa Malaria Day, said people still did not take the disease seriously enough." (Reuters)

"Fishy Advice -- Risk-Free at What Cost?" - "Remember when women were encouraged to simply enjoy 2 or 3 servings of a wide variety of fish each week to ensure a healthy baby? Our babies aren't in any more danger today, what's changed is our fear." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

[Editor's note: This is the second of a two part series on mercury. Read the first installment here.]

Sigh... "Pesticides too harmful to use in any form, doctors warn" - "The link between common household pesticides and fetal defects, neurological damage and the most deadly cancers is strong enough that family doctors in Ontario are urging citizens to avoid the chemicals in any form." (Alanna Mitchell, Globe and Mail)

Really? Ever considered the health impacts of having the pests rather than [trace residues of] the pesticides? In the same period as we have had significant usage of synthetic pesticides, human lifespans have increased by roughly 60% (~30 years) in the developed world. While such association says nothing about causation it surely rather undermines allegations of massive harm from trace exposure to pesticides.

The bottom line is, does Alanna Mitchell really believe that fleas, ticks, cockroaches, rats, mice and bedbugs are a "healthier" option than trace exposure to pesticides? If she's really that fond of pests then she's welcome to any that I find.

"Heart Disease Now Major Global Threat -Report" - "WASHINGTON - Cheap food, cigarettes and city life are causing millions of early deaths in the developing world, according to a report to be released on Monday. Heart disease, once an illness of the rich, is killing more and more people in poor countries, according to the report. "The risk of cardiovascular disease is growing as populations increase in cities," reads the report, issued by Columbia University's Earth Institute in New York." (Reuters)

"The big fat con story" - "Size really doesn't matter. You can be just as healthy if you're fat as you can if you're slender. And don't let the obesity 'experts' persuade you otherwise, argues Paul Campos" (The Guardian)

"N.C. spending millions to fight obesity _ but is it well spent?" - "RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina is spending more than $10 million to help overweight adults and children in an elusive battle of the bulge.

The trouble is, nobody knows if it will be money well spent. No one - including doctors, the N.C. Health & Wellness Trust Fund Commission and the CDC - has pinned down what convinces people to choose a fit lifestyle.

"If we knew that answer we wouldn't have a problem," says Dr. Robert P. Schwartz, professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest University medical school and a member of the commission, which is spearheading the state campaign.

"It's not information, it's motivation." (Associated Press)

"Downsizing the 'victim'" - "Call it the McDiet or Ronald McDonalds' Revenge, or Downsizing without the Supersizer, but you really can dine out under the Golden Arches, lose weight and not waste your time finding a lawyer to sue somebody else for the damages you inflict on yourself." (Suzanne Fields, Tribune Media Services)

"Another Flat Soda Study " - "We've told you before how the only scientific study that even purports to link soft drink consumption to childhood obesity (by fat-tax advocate David Ludwig) was dismissed by the Centers for Disease Control. Now British researchers say their program to reduce youngsters' soda drinking also resulted in some collective weight loss. More than 200 media outlets have already regurgitated the information contained in their press release. There's just one problem: the actual research doesn't back up all the lurid headlines.

Did a year of close contact with "soda is bad" propaganda actually reduce childhood obesity as reported? Among the indoctrinated kids, the number of obese dropped from 16 to 14. But obesity also declined (from 15 to 14) among kids who did not hear anti-soda lessons. That's not what one calls a meaningful result." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Earth Day's Disparate Impact" - "Does Earth Day need a disparate impact statement? The thought may make many political conservatives cringe, but an accounting given at a forum on April 22 called "Eco-Imperialism: Reflections on Earth Day" at the National Press Club ought to give liberals pause as well about what extremist environmental positions mean for the world's poor and minorities." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

"Mother Earth movement showing her age" - "It's not easy being green. Last Thursday was the 34th annual "Earth Day" observance, and, like other progeny of a decade characterized by Robert Ringer's best-selling "Looking Out for No. 1," it is beginning to show its age. Gallup's annual Earth Day Poll (was it printed on recycled paper?) found the environment, which once ranked high on the list of concerns for millions of Americans, now resembles a baseball team fallen on hard times." (Cal Thomas, The Washington Times)

"Fall of the sun king: professor is sacked for saying UV rays can be good for you" - "Sunshine is one of our most sought-after natural phenomena. People long for it to appear, strip off in its presence and spend large sums of money to pursue it around the world.

Now a leading professor has been sacked for daring to suggest that the sun has some benefits for health. In a challenge to the dermatologists who view sunshine as an enemy, Michael Holick, a professor of medicine, dermatology and physiology at Boston University Medical Centre, has written a book arguing that sunlight can help prevent cancer and heart disease, strengthen the bones and alleviate depression." (Independent)

"Impacts of Global Warming: Why the Alarmist View is Wrong" - "The Cooler Heads Coalition invites you to a Congressional and Media Briefing on The Impacts of Global Warming: Why the Alarmist View is Wrong - A Scientific Appraisal of Tropical Diseases, Sea Level Rise, Storms and Severe Weather Events, and Species Extinction with Dr. Paul Reiter, Pasteur Institut, Paris; Prof. Nils-Axel Morner, Stockholm University; Dr. Madhav L. Khandekar, Environment Canada (ret.); Prof. Patrick Michaels, U. Va. & Cato Institute. Monday, May 3rd, 10 AM-1:30 PM" (Cooler Heads Coalition)

Today's meaching: "Apocalypse soon" - "Michael Meacher appreciates Mark Lynas' timely warning against ignoring the consequences of climate change, High Tide" (The Guardian)

"Russian scientists concerned by World Ocean level rise" - "MOSCOW, April 25 - A specialist from the Russian Institute of Atmospheric Physics has expressed concern over a rising level of the World Ocean as a result of global warming. Igor Mokhov, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Tass “As computer modelling has shown, water level rises three millimetres a year.” (Itar-Tass)

"The `fatal conceit' of Kyoto" - "A suppressed report by the federal government evaluating the effectiveness of spending $500 million since the year 2000 to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases has shown — surprise! — that the spending was largely wasted, producing neither a reduction in gas emissions, nor the development of new "cleaner" technologies.

An anonymous source that participated in the mid-term review is quoted in the Star, saying, "We seriously underestimated the difficulty of getting reductions and overestimated the payoff from new technologies."

How did the government manage to blow $500 million of taxpayer money?" (Ken Green, Toronto Star)

"Buoys to measure ocean-absorbed CO2" - "Japanese officials announced plans Sunday to measure the volume of carbon dioxide absorbed by oceans. The program was announced at the one-day Earth Observation Summit meeting held in Tokyo. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi also spoke to delegates from 44 countries and regions as well as 26 worldwide organizations at the second Earth Observation Summit. ``Through the power of science and technology, we will be able to achieve both environmental protection and economic development,'' Koizumi said. The project to measure carbon dioxide (CO2) was announced by officials of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Next fiscal year, the ministry will begin developing a system to measure the volume of CO2 absorbed by plant plankton through the use of buoys." (The Asahi Shimbun)

"Calls to control low-cost flights" - "Cheap flights on no frills airlines may not be a burden on our wallets but they will dearly cost the UK's environment, campaigners believe." (BBC News Online)

"Arctic Ozone Loss More Sensitive to Climate Change Than Thought" - "PASADENA, Calif., April 23 -- A cooperative study involving NASA scientists quantifies, for the first time, the relationship between Arctic ozone loss and changes in the temperature of Earth's stratosphere.

The results indicate the loss of Arctic ozone due to the presence of industrial chlorine and bromine in Earth's atmosphere may well be sensitive to subtle changes in stratospheric climate. Such ozone depletion leads to increased exposure to harmful, ultraviolet solar radiation at Earth's surface.

According to the study, the sensitivity of Arctic ozone to temperature is three times greater than predicted by atmospheric chemistry models. This leads to the possibility that decreases in stratospheric temperatures may have significantly larger impacts on future Arctic ozone concentrations than have been expected in the past. Dr. Markus Rex of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany, led the study. It also included scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif." (AScribe Newswire)

"NASA Curbs Comments on Ice Age Disaster Movie" - "Urgent: HQ Direction," began a message e-mailed on April 1 to dozens of scientists and officials at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

It was not an alert about an incoming asteroid, a problem with the space station or a solar storm. It was a warning about a movie.

In "The Day After Tomorrow," a $125 million disaster film set to open on May 28, global warming from accumulating smokestack and tailpipe gases disrupts warm ocean currents and sets off an instant ice age.

Few climate experts think such a prospect is likely, especially in the near future. But the prospect that moviegoers will be alarmed enough to blame the Bush administration for inattention to climate change has stirred alarm at the space agency, scientists there say." (New York Times)

"New York Times Fans Global Warming Film Controversy with NASA Memos" - "What is missing from all of this is the context within which these memos were written and the relationship between the space agency and the film's producers.

According to NASA sources the New York Times article wasn't quite accurate. Indeed they got the polarity of the email's intent reversed. There was indeed an email and it was quoted correctly.

However, that email message had to do with NASA employees who had worked on the film (as individuals) proactively seeking interviews by the media in conjunction with the movie. The email had nothing to do with concerns over the editorial content or any attempt to limit response by NASA employees if asked." (Keith Cowing, SpaceRef.com)

The Herald went with NYT's version: "Meltdown in Washington over global warming epic" - "WORKERS at US government agencies, including Nasa, have been banned from speaking publicly about a controversial Hollywood film depicting mayhem caused by global warming.

Although the multi-million pound movie – The Day After Tomorrow – is not based on scientific fact, the government has demanded silence over the film amid fears it will ignite anger at the Bush administration’s inattention to climate change.

A month before the release of the movie, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal, space agency employees were given a message that “no-one from Nasa is to do interviews or comment on anything to do with” the film.

President George Bush has faced international condemnation over his decision to reject the Kyoto agreement, which sought to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to help combat rapid climate change.

The agreement – signed by Bill Clinton’s administration in 1997 – was dismissed by Bush in 2001, despite the country producing 25% of the gases some scientists say are producing global warming.

However, there is mounting concern that the lack of action over the issue will come back to haunt Bush when the film is launched by 20th Century Fox on May 28." (Sunday Herald)

"Cool reception for ice-age movie" - "A new blockbuster claims the world is going to freeze, not boil. That's nonsense, say experts." (The Observer)

Wonder if The Observer noticed this also exposes their ridiculous "Secret Pentagon Report" bleating of a few weeks ago?

"Oil giants join climate group" - "Tony Blair will challenge George Bush's refusal to confront global warming by announcing this week the creation of a powerful coalition of big businesses, including oil giants, to tackle climate change." (The Observer)

"BP, Shell: Are they green or greedy?" - "The scandals surrounding Shell, Martha Stewart, Tyco and Adelphia are bad enough, but at least the damage done in those instances was confined to corporate stakeholders. A far greater crime occurs when companies seek to mislead the entire country by camouflaging their private profits as proper public policy -- by putting on the mantle of "Green," for instance, when they are really being greedy.

Some of the world's biggest energy companies -- BP and Shell, as well as the late, unlamented Enron -- have been pushing an environmental agenda that could cost the United States economy tens of billions of dollars over the coming decades. The centerpiece of that agenda is the Kyoto "global warming" Treaty, signed by then-Vice President Al Gore in 1997. That treaty, if enacted, might or might not help ameliorate "climate change," but it would surely cripple American industry." (James Pinkerton, Houston Chronicle)

"FEATURE-UN wants to end confusion about Chernobyl" - "VIENNA, April 25 - Although the world may never know the full impact of the world's worst nuclear disaster, the United Nations nuclear agency wants to put an end to the confusion for millions of victims of the Chernobyl accident." (Reuters)

You might want to start here: The Truth About Chernobyl Is Told (Zbigniew Jaworowski, 21st Century)

"Ingham puts the boot into wind farms" - "Sir Bernard Ingham, Margaret Thatcher's pugnacious press secretary, was dubbed the 'Rottweiler' for his notorious ferocity towards off-message journalists. Now his temper is directed at one of Labour's flagship policies: wind energy." (The Observer)

"Sensible policy lost in smog" - "The Environmental Protection Agency recently launched its massive new plan to fight smog. Get ready for another Washington mandate that will do more economic harm than environmental good." (Ben Lieberman, The Washington Times)

"School bus becomes new filthy air target" - "By the time kids burst out of Roosevelt Junior High in Bellwood every weekday afternoon, the air outside reeks of noxious diesel exhaust from the fleet of school buses waiting to take them home.

The fumes are more than an oily nuisance that can leave students feeling light-headed. Diesel exhaust is full of tiny soot particles that can cause cancer, damage the lungs and aggravate maladies such as asthma and bronchitis. It also is a major source of pollution responsible for smog, acid rain and global warming." (Chicago Tribune)

"Feeding world's hungry more about politics than food" - "Kansas wheat farmers might think proudly of how their fields can satisfy so many starving Africans, of how much hunger each pass of the combine wipes away.

After all, over the past half century 750 million people worldwide have warded off starvation with American food aid.

But anyone attending the Export Food Conference — sponsored in Kansas City this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Agency for International Development — heard that solving world hunger takes much more than just pointing grain barges toward the horn of Africa.

“After decades of progress, we are actually losing ground in the battle against hunger,” said James Morris, the executive director of the U.N. World Food Program. He's involved in a campaign prodding governments from the developed world to increase spending on food aid — hoping to move beyond crises management to long-term development." (The Kansas City Star)

"EU poised to allow sale of GM maize" - "The European Union is close to ending its six-year moratorium on genetically modified food, with the expected approval for the sale of a type of maize produced by Syngenta, the Swiss company.

EU agriculture ministers will decide today whether the maize, called BT-11, should be the first of about 30 GM products waiting for regulatory clearance to reach European supermarket shelves. Although the meeting is expected to result in deadlock, failure to make a decision would automatically give the European Commission the right to approve BT-11.

David Byrne, the commissioner in charge of consumer protection, told the Financial Times that whatever the outcome of today's vote, "I am determined to put an end to this [debate] without further delay". He added: "Legislation should be about providing the maximum information and then letting consumers choose. The public in the EU must be confronted with the reality of the situation, which is that all the scientific evidence shows GM food is as safe as conventional food." (Fianancial Times)

"Europe's moves to allow GM corn may open floodgates" - "Supermarkets are to get the go-ahead to stock genetically modified sweetcorn from the United States and Canada next week, ending Europe's five-year moratorium on new licences for GM food.

Britain is backing the move to bring in the new corn, but critics say that such a decision could open the floodgates with at least 30 more GM applications in the pipeline.

With European Union ministers deadlocked over the application, a meeting on Monday in Luxembourg is almost certain to hand the decision back to the European Commission, which is committed to approving it. That means that shops in Europe will be able to stock the imported sweet corn - codenamed Bt-11 - providing it is labelled as GM produce.

Environmental groups yesterday appealed for the decision to be blocked on health and safety grounds." (Independent)

Some recycling from the Tribune: "Altered corn ignites furor in Mexico" - "Olga Toro couldn't resist planting a few kernels of the corn she purchased at the government warehouse, even though it was intended only to help feed her family and her chickens.

She was doing what Mexican farmers have done religiously for 6,000 years. She was experimenting with seeds in a tradition that helped create corn from a weed called teosinte and ultimately produced dozens of yellow, white, red, blue and black species that make Mexico the world's most important repository of corn genes.

What Toro didn't know was that her kernels may have been the product of far more powerful experiments to improve corn. And what sprouted in her yard was not only an oddly robust plant but an international controversy that could help decide how the world deals with genetically altered food.

"We were curious to see what the seeds would give, and they gave a lot--double what our own corn seed produces," Toro said." (Chicago Tribune)

"Effects of StarLink still cropping up" - "AMES, Iowa -- The fallout from StarLink corn four years ago continues to hurt the industry and hinder development of so-called pharma crops in Iowa, officials said.

StarLink, which was not intended for human consumption, was genetically designed to resist certain pests. It was approved for use in livestock feed, but not food because it might cause allergic reactions. Its discovery in food products in 2000 triggered massive recalls and export losses.

Grain processors continue to test for StarLink in corn they use in food, said Jim Bair of the North American Millers Association.

Bair, who spoke at a day-long symposium Thursday on issues facing the pharma corn industry, said the added cost of testing is eating away at already tight profits.

"That is something that's been foisted upon us," Bair said." (AP)

April 23, 2004

"This Earth Day, Progress Worth Celebrating" - "Since the first Earth Day was established in 1970, the United States has made tremendous progress in protecting the environment." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Eco-Imperialism: Reflections on Earth Day" - "WASHINGTON, April 22 -- "Safeguarding environmental values is essential," Niger Innis, national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, told journalists and others attending an Earth Day discussion today at the National Press Club. "But we must stop trying to protect our planet from every imaginable, exaggerated or imaginary risk. And we must stop trying to protect it on the backs, and the graves, of the nation's and world's most powerless and impoverished people." (PRNewswire)

"Earth Day: Has the environmental movement left the world behind?" - "Thirty-four years ago, the first Earth Day heralded a new era of ecological awareness -- when, as Earth Day founder Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D- Wis., put it, "the environmental issue came of age in American political life" by showing "the political leadership of the nation that there was broad and deep support for the environmental movement." Enough time has passed to take stock of the impact that the movement has had on nature and mankind. The record is decidedly mixed." (Patrick Moore and Nick Schulz, San Francisco Chronicle)

"Editorial: Nostalgia for environment of the past is a lot of horse" - "On this Earth Day, celebrants should rejoice that one of the most drastically polluting modes of transportation ever known has all but vanished from rural roads and urban streets: the horse.

There's no joke intended here, just the point that the unpolluted past was not so unpolluted, after all, and that progress has been made in a host of environmental areas. That's true even if some concerned citizens might lead you to think that this precious planet is worse off than ever." (East Valley Tribune)

Blast from the (recent) past: "Earth Day, Then and Now" - "The planet's future has never looked better. Here's why." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"New Hope to Beat Killer Disease" - "ZAMBIANS roll their eyes and shrug when asked if they have had malaria. "Everybody gets it", 26-year-old Ernest Kanegamukazi says with a wry smile. His wife, his brother, his parents and even his two-year-old daughter have recently had malaria, which Zambian authorities estimate is responsible for two-fifths of all infant deaths and gives rise to one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

"This is what we mean when we say the disease is endemic," says Dr Naawa Spilanyambe, acting co-ordinator of Zambia's Malaria Control Centre. "There is nowhere in Zambia where you don't have malaria." (Business Day (Johannesburg))

"Talking While Africa's Children Die" - "IT IS depressing to hear well-paid multilateral agency employees and consultants pontificate on their latest studies about how to spend money on aid programmes while untreated babies die of malaria. This month parties to the World Health Organisation's Roll Back Malaria initiative met at the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund's (Unicef's) offices in New York, and did just that." (Roger Bate and Richard Tren, Business Day (Johannesburg))

"Secondhand Smoke Poses Heart Attack Risk, CDC Warns" - "For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning people at risk of heart disease to avoid all buildings and gathering places that allow indoor smoking.

The CDC disclosed its new advisory in a commentary to a study published in the British Medical Journal yesterday, saying doctors need to warn people with heart problems that secondhand smoke can significantly increase their risk of a heart attack. The agency said that as little as 30 minutes' exposure can have a serious and even lethal effect.

The commentary accompanied a study showing that the number of heart attacks in Helena, Mont., decreased substantially after the city banned indoor smoking, then rose quickly to its former level after the law was struck down in court." (Washington Post)

Really? See: Secondhand Smoke Scam

"Brockovich's Beverly Hills Blues" - "Hard to believe it's been four years since I first exposed Erin Brockovich as something other than the American sweetheart depicted by Hollywood. Since then I've continued to document the only green this "environmental crusader" cares about is cash even as I've continued to marvel at her ability to defy Lincoln's alleged dictum about fooling all of the people all of the time. But she may finally have gone too far, in a town with that famous zip code of 90210." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Scientists demand law against animal rights extremism" - "People linked to animal experimentation who have suffered attacks and intimidation from animal rights extremists have banded together to lobby the UK government for changes in the law.

The Victims of Animal Rights Extremism (VARE) group was launched at the British Parliament on Thursday. The 100-strong body of people who have suffered violence and harassment wants the government to crack down on the problem of extremism." (NewScientist.com news service)

"Study Blames Corn Syrup for Rise of Diabetes in US" - "WASHINGTON - Corn syrup and other refined foods may be much to blame for the huge increase in type-2 diabetes in the United States over the past few decades, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

A study of nearly 100 years of data on what Americans eat show a huge increase in processed carbohydrates, especially corn syrup, and a large drop in the amount of fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

It parallels a spike in the number of cases of type-2 diabetes, caused by the body's increasing inability to properly metabolize sugars." (Reuters)

Right... "Fewer fizzy drinks can prevent childhood obesity" - "Discouraging children from drinking fizzy drinks can prevent excessive weight gain, according to new research available on bmj.com." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

As reported by The Guardian

The children involved in the programme cut their daily fizzy drink intake from an average of 1.9 glasses to 1.3 glasses; those not involved increased their intake from about 1.6 glasses to 1.8 glasses daily. Overall, the proportion of obese pupils in the classes not included in the project rose by 7.5% and fell by 0.2% in the target classes.

0.2%? And (self reported?) consumption of soft drinks was the only variable? Right... again.

"WHO resists food industry pressure on its diet plan" - "The final draft of a global plan on how governments can help millions of people avoid chronic disease through diet and exercise has not been watered down under industry pressure, the World Health Organization said.

In 2002, WHO member states asked the organisation to come up with a plan to help them combat the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancers, and obesity related conditions. These diseases together account for about 60% of deaths globally—most of them in the developing world." (BMJ)

Oh dear... "Food warning labels on FDA's plate - US anti-obesity strategy debated" - "ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Federal health officials are considering placing warning labels on packages of foods deemed unhealthy by government scientists, perhaps the most far-reaching proposal in the unfolding government campaign to shrink the American waistline.

In an interview with the Globe, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Lester M. Crawford, said that food labels -- the boxes listing calories, fat, and other dietary information on every commercial food package -- could be transformed ''from providing information into providing warnings." (Boston Globe)

Just see 'em can't ya? "[Insert skull & crossbones symbol here] Warning! Government scientists advise that this food contains food! Over-consumption of this food-containing food may lead to over-consumption of food with attendant risk of weight gain - a known cause of obesity." Probably play well in Seattle anyway.

"Satisfying your hunger cuts cravings for sweets" - "NEW YORK - If you find yourself constantly craving sweets in the afternoon, don't blame it on a sugar addiction. Hunger is most likely behind those cravings for cookies and other sweets, according to a nutrition expert.

"When people get too hungry, they tend to crave sweets," according to Nancy Clark, a sports nutritionist at Healthworks, a fitness center in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

People often blame their cravings for sweets on an addiction to sugar, claiming that they are answering the call of "the cookie monster" in the middle of the afternoon, Clark said in an interview with Reuters Health." (Reuters Health)

"Satellites Act As Thermometers In Space, Show Earth Has A Fever" - "Like thermometers in space, satellites are taking the temperature of the Earth's surface or skin. According to scientists, the satellite data confirm the Earth has had an increasing "fever" for decades.

For the first time, satellites have been used to develop an 18- year record (1981-1998) of global land surface temperatures. The record provides additional proof that Earth's snow-free land surfaces have, on average, warmed during this time period, according to a NASA study appearing in the March issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The satellite record is more detailed and comprehensive than previously available ground measurements. The satellite data will be necessary to improve climate analyses and computer modeling." (NASA/GSFC)

Supporting evidence that, following the cooling of the 1950s through 1970s, temperatures have been recovering? Good work! Whether the planet "has a fever" or simply no longer "has a chill" is somewhat subjective.

"Welcome to the Ordovician" - "An ice age strode the world 440 million years ago, when the globally-averaged surface temperature was approximately 25 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than today. Welcome to the late Ordovician ice age, the first of four ice ages during the last 500 million years.

The three more recent ice ages -- the lengthy Permian ice age of approximately 300 million years ago, the Jurassic ice age of approximately 170 million years ago and the present icehouse called the Pleistocene that set in 2 to 3 million years ago -- all were accompanied by very low concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Yet estimates from rock chemistry, models and fossil leaf structures indicate that the carbon dioxide content of the air during the Ordovician ice age was 2,000 parts per million by volume or higher, roughly five to ten times larger than the air's pre-industrial content." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"Americans worrying less about global warming" - "A national poll conducted to coincide with Earth Day shows that Americans are well aware of global warming. They just aren't very concerned about it." (Scott Condon, Vail Daily News)

"Rate of ocean circulation directly linked to abrupt climate change" - "A new study strengthens evidence that the oceans and climate are linked in an intricate dance, and that rapid climate change may be related to how vigorously ocean currents transport heat from low to high latitudes." (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

"ORNL researchers focus on the CO2 big picture" - "Spring's lush green lawns and hot pink shoes contribute at least in a small way to the world's total carbon picture, say researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory." (DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

"'Sobering' conclusions from flood report" - "The government has been warned in no uncertain terms that Britain faces huge extra costs from flood damage and coastal erosion unless policies to protect vulnerable communities are stepped up in coming years.

Its conclusions are sobering. Under the most extreme scenario for global warming, it suggests that the total damage from coastal erosion and river flooding could leap from £1bn now to around £20bn by 2080." (Tim Hirsch, BBC environment)

One must wonder if they were, in fact, sober when reading this report. It's based on a virtual-world fantasy with zero probability of occurring in the real world. People playing Sim-City get to wallop their creations with disasters too but that doesn't (shouldn't) affect your real-world insurance premiums.

"Organic: Is it the future of farming?" - "In its pure form, maybe not. But elements of the organic philosophy are starting to be deployed in mainstream agriculture. Nature's reporters analyse this trend, assess the extent of organic farming worldwide, and frame the questions on which its wider adoption will depend." (Nature) | Organic FAQs (Nature)

"Butte group bids for genetic engineering ban" - "In March Mendocino County voters decided to make their county the first in the nation to outlaw the growing of genetically modified crops. Some Chico residents want to do the same thing in Butte County and have started a signature campaign." (Chico Enterprise-Record)

"GM bug activates cancer drug" - "Genetically engineered bacteria could help fight cancer. In mice at least, modified bugs have been used to prime tumour cells to respond to anti-cancer drugs, killing the cells and shrinking tumours." (NSU)

"Farmers try to get Saskatoon berry accepted in U.K. without EU's 'novel' label" - "LONDON - The saskatoon holds a place of pride in Western Canada, but farmers are discovering that the berry's unblemished reputation on the Prairies isn't a great help in gaining its acceptance in Britain.

Canadian saskatoon producers began a process Thursday aimed at persuading British authorities that their berries should be allowed to enter the country without any kind of special designation after the European Union recently labelled them a novel food." (CP)

"New rules mandate labels for gene food" - "Producers react to the rule by shunning modified products." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

"Anti-GM Movement Spreads Across Europe" - "BRUSSELS, Apr 22 - Europe's largest grassroots environmental network is stepping up its campaign against the European Union over genetically modified organisms." (IPS)

April 22, 2004

"Revising Rachel" - "Looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day? Rehabilitate DDT." (The Free Lance-Star)

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" - "Scientists tell us the Earth is 4-and-a-half billion years old, give or take a few hours. Earth Day, on the other hand, is 34 years old -- a newcomer in the cosmic scale of things. Yet every April 22, for the past 33 years, impassioned environmentalists come together to warn that our springtime days of spinning blithely through the galaxy are about to end.

Between hacky-sack games, enviro-moralists kick around the imminent apocalypse of global warming, brought on -- they're sure -- by the pollution of human industry and the mindless plunder of our shared heritage. This 34th Earth Day is likely to be no different.

But it ought to be." (Steven Hayward, TCS)

"Doom and Gloom Helps Environmentalists Sell Their Agenda, Group Says" - "In the 34 years since environmentalists created Earth Day, there have been amazing strides in combating pollution, but don't expect to hear that from environmental activists, says a public policy group." (CNSNews.com)

"Prosperity's Nitpickers" - "When the critics of capitalism are reduced to mining the suburbs for languor and tedium, when consumers in market economies gripe not about scarcity or pollution, but about too many ketchups and self-check grocery aisles, perhaps it's safe to say that free-marketeers may finally have the central planners on the ropes." (Radley Balko, TCS)

"Bright Spots in the Rain Forest" - "The rallying cry, "Save the Amazon!" rang out again this month when the Brazilian government reported that clearing of the rain forest had reached near-record levels — with an area bigger than the state of New Jersey disappearing last year. This Earth Day, global environmental groups are covering their Web sites with the usual predictions of how long it will take for all the trees there to vanish (20 to 50 years). Recently, the Brazilian government announced yet another initiative to get serious about the problem.

But the news was welcomed by others who also care deeply about the environment. Most of them actually live in the Amazon.

The reasons for the surge in deforestation are a lot more complicated than they used to be, and the solution for saving the rain forest may be more development, not less." (New York Times)

"There's no reason to be gloomy this Earth Day" - "EPA's dour ozone report belies reality: Air and water quality are better than ever." (Steven F. Hayward, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Earth Day's Anti-Human Agenda" - "Earth Day dawns on us today, and with it a grave danger faces mankind. The danger is not from acid rain, global warming, smog, or the logging of rain forests, as environmentalists would have us believe. The danger to mankind is from environmentalism.

The fundamental goal of environmentalism is not clean air and clean water; rather, it is the demolition of technological/industrial civilization. Environmentalism's goal is not the advancement of human health, human happiness, and human life; rather, it is a subhuman world where "nature" is worshipped like the totem of some primitive religion." (Michael Berliner, FrontPageMagazine.com)

"A brighter Earth Day" - "The first Earth Day celebration was conceived by then U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson and held in 1970 as a "symbol of environmental responsibility and stewardship." In the spirit of the time, it was a touchy-feely, consciousness-raising experience. Most activities were organized at the grass roots.

Earth Day is now more about dire prediction than sober reflection and provides an opportunity for environmental extremists to hog the spotlight, dish anti-technology dirt and proselytize. A favorite target this year is biotechnology, which one activist has characterized as threatening "a form of annihilation every bit as deadly as nuclear holocaust." (Henry I. Miller, The Washington Times)

[Gasp!] "European parliamentarians contaminated by 76 chemicals" - "Brussels, Belgium – Results from the widest ranging European survey of human toxic contamination show that 76 persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic industrial chemicals were present in the blood of those tested." (Press Release)

Well blimey! We can test for traces of chemicals... ain't it a wonderment?

"Elitist 'Environmental Justice' Bad News for Minorities" - "Environmentalists like playing the race card, but they make a dreadful mistake.

They don't play with a full deck.

"Environmental justice" is a term green activists use to demonize businesses and complain that the government isn't doing enough to help minorities. Their premise is simple: They believe businesses are using political power to unfairly put polluting factories predominately in minority neighborhoods.

The problem: These green groups aren't helping minorities. In fact, the regulations that come as a result of their agenda cause harm." (David Almasi, National Center for Public Policy Research)

"Vaccine link to Aids 'dismissed'" - "Scientists have rejected claims that a contaminated vaccine triggered the HIV pandemic in humans." (BBC News Online) | Researchers report definitive evidence that HIV-AIDS is not from oral polio vaccine (University of Arizona)

"'No risk' to babies from chlorine" - "The government says there is no evidence of a risk to unborn babies from their mothers drinking tap water. Renewed consideration of research into possible pregnancy problems from the use of chlorine in water concluded there was no danger. The Department of Health said further studies would be carried out." (BBC News Online)

"Food Police: Milk Is Unhealthy for Kids" - "WASHINGTON, April 21 -- Attention parents and teachers! The food police have added whole and two-percent milk to the list of "poor nutritional quality" beverages in their crosshairs, recommending that they be removed from American's schools. This and other ridiculous assertions are contained in a report being circulated by the self-described "food police" at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The draft report, rumored to be released this month, bears the name of CSPI's activist coalition, the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA). NANA is part of an anti-soda crusade which advocates taxing sodas and restricting their availability in order to eliminate fizzy drinks from the diets of both children and adults.

"Anyone who would suggest that milk is unhealthy for kids is out to lunch," said Richard Berman, executive director of the Center for Consumer Freedom. "CSPI once boasted that it was 'proud about finding something wrong with practically everything.' Now it's proven it." (PRNewswire)

"UN chief compares Lomborg to Hitler" - "Earlier this week, he was named by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, and now the controversial Director of the Environmental Assessment Institute in Denmark, Bjoern Lomborg, is being compared to Hitler.

The offensive comparison was made by the leader of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri." (DRN-I News)

Reaction from the blogosphere.

"Picture Profile: Singer Cool on Global Warming" - "Fred Singer established the Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) in 1990 after becoming fed up with what he calls "the distorted science" surrounding the question of atmospheric ozone depletion. Singer is a scientist. His undergraduate degree is in electrical engineering and he has a doctorate in physics from Princeton University. He has spent a lifetime in scientific research and development. So it is not surprising that bad science gets Singer excited and arouses his concern.

The ozone debate has receded and no longer is in the headlines. "It may come back, who knows?" Singer tells Insight. His chief interest now, when it comes to distorted science, is global warming." (Stephen Goode, Insight Magazine)

"Climate Change" - "As Americans mark another Earth Day, the NewsHour's Science Unit examines how relatively small climate changes due to global warming can affect small animals and plants in rainforests." (PBS)

"Climate Change: A Longer View" - "Over the last two years, the scientific framework within which an assessment of climate change is made has undergone dramatic revision. Not all at once, but inch by inch, in increments of understanding." (Bob Carter, TCS)

"The Day After The Day After Tomorrow" - "What makes a horror movie so terrifying? It's not just the plotline, script and score. It's being in a dark theater, where everyone is just waiting to be scared half to death. It's the audience's willingness to suspend logic, and enter the director's make-believe world. Maybe most of all, it's the special effects monsters, destruction and mayhem that practically convince us it's all real." (Paul K. Driessen, TCS)

Seeking credibility? "Climate change movie not exactly rocket science" - "Next month, a nifty little movie called The Day After Tomorrow will arrive in theatres. It looks like your standard Hollywood action-adventure fare, but at least the premise is interesting. It follows what could happen if the Earth's climate abruptly shifted, causing chaos worldwide.

While the movie is based on a real phenomenon - abrupt climate change - it is very much a work of fiction. It's a disaster film, and has no more grounding in reality than the director's last big movie, Independence Day, in which aliens invaded the earth." (David Suzuki, CNEWS)

"Fertilising the sea could combat global warming" - "Dumping iron sulphate in the ocean to cause plankton blooms might not seem an eco-friendly way to tackle global warming. But, according to the most extended trial of the technique so far, it could prove an effective one.

The outcome of the trial in the Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, was published in last week's Science. It suggests that each atom of iron added to the sea could pull between 10,000 and 100,000 atoms of carbon out of the atmosphere by encouraging plankton growth, which captures carbon and sinks it deep towards the ocean floor." (NSU)

Oh dear... "Warming to Cause Catastrophic Rise in Sea Level?" - "As the world celebrates Earth Day [today], most scientists agree that global warming presents the greatest threat to the environment.

There is little doubt that the Earth is heating up. In the last century the average temperature has climbed about 0.6 degrees Celsius (about 1 degree Fahrenheit) around the world.

From the melting of the ice cap on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak, to the loss of coral reefs as oceans become warmer, the effects of global warming are often clear.

However, the biggest danger, many experts warn, is that global warming will cause sea levels to rise dramatically. Thermal expansion has already raised the oceans 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters). But that's nothing compared to what would happen if, for example, Greenland's massive ice sheet were to melt." (National Geographic News)

II: "Global warming floods threaten 4m Britons" - "Risks of flooding are growing to "unacceptable levels" because of climate change with up to 4 million Britons facing the prospect of their homes being inundated, according to a report to be published today by the government. The report by the Office of Science and Technology gives the most chilling picture yet of how global warming will affect the lives of millions of Britons over the next half century." (The Guardian) | It's too late. Climate change floods are inevitable - no matter what we do (The Guardian) | Flooding cost 'may rise 20-fold' (BBC News Online)

"Global warming property threat" - "SEA levels in Sydney are rising by more than 1.2mm a year and have been doing so for the past 80 years, the CSIRO has confirmed. As a result, a "considerable risk" to properties and infrastucture would develop over the coming decades, in particular along the east coast, it said." (The Daily Telegraph)

An increase in mean sea level of +120mm (~5")/century appears about right since the end of the last ice age although the Australian Mean Sea Level Survey found only one-fourth that amount.

"The politics of power" - "Nearly 50 years ago, the world's first commercial nuclear reactor, at Calder Hall, in West Cumbria, was plugged into the national grid for the first time.

At that time, nuclear power was seen as the fuel of the future: clean, cheap and potentially unlimited.

In her dedication speech, the Queen said mankind was on "the threshold of a new age", thanks to Britain's "atomic scientists".

It would have seemed incredible to the dignitaries present that day, that in the first decades of the 21st Century Britain would be looking increasingly to wind power and natural gas, imported from Russia, to provide its energy needs." (BBC News Online)

"Head-to-head: Oil concerns" - "There is little question that oil will one day run out - the issue is more when the reservoirs will run dry. But even if there is enough to see us through the foreseeable future, does the spectre of global warming mean we should in any case rein in our consumption?

As these questions continue to loom large, BBC News Online asked two energy experts with contrasting views to consider the future of energy.

How worried should we be?" (BBC Online)

"Concerns raised over viability of organic sector" - "ORGANIC farmers and growers still have some way to go to win the hearts, minds and, in particular, the cash of consumers, say industry observers.

They fear this sector is in danger of developing a stop-go economy, leading to a producer exodus. David Younie, of SAC Aberdeen, said: "We are concerned that we are not in a stable situation as regards supply and demand.

"There was an explosion in supply between 2000 and 2002 and while demand has increased, it is slowing down. I am concerned that some producers will become disillusioned and decide to quit at the end of the five-year conversion period and return to conventional production." (The Scotsman)

"GM bacteria used to fight cancer" - "A genetically altered version of the food poisoning bug E.coli could be used to destroy cancer cells, say scientists. Cancer Research UK experts used a neutralised version of the bacteria to deliver a cancer-killing enzyme directly into the cells. It provides scientists with a method of breaking through the previously impenetrable barriers around the cells." (BBC News Online)

"Cows bred to produce potential anti-tumor protein" - "NEW YORK - Scientists in Europe have created genetically engineered cows that produce a protein in their blood that might be used to treat human cases of melanoma.

The protein is itself a lab creation called r28M, a two-way antibody designed to lock on to both melanoma cells and a type of tumor-killing immune cell.

Such complex proteins are difficult to generate from bacterial cell systems, Dr. Gottfried Brem, at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, and colleagues note. Even though they can be produced in mammalian cell culture, this approach is costly, laborious, and produces only small yields." (Reuters Health)

"New Study Pushes GM Crops to Conserve Water" - "A new report released at a UN development summit in New York Tuesday warns that food production and agriculture are causing the rapid depletion of water resources across the world, advocating the cultivation of drought resistant and genetically modified crops to combat the crisis." (USAgNet)

"Science is seeking a better-bred bread" - "The eastern shore of San Francisco Bay hardly inspires images of amber waves of grain. But it's right here in Albany, eight traffic-choked freeway lanes away from a horse-racing track on the water's edge, where a U.S. government plant geneticist may change the nature of wheat plants and commercial bread production.

Ann Blechl works for the Agricultural Research Service, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture, whose tax-payer funded mission is to find solutions to agriculture problems that affect Americans from the field to the table.

A team led by Blechl is trying to solve a problem that affects large-scale commercial bakeries: how to control the stickiness of bread dough made from certain wheat flour." (Contra Costa Times)

"Angolan government criticised for rejecting GM food" - "The Angolan government has been criticised for rejecting refugee food donations of American maize seed containing genetically modified (GM) material, according to the Science and Development Network.

However, a high-ranking civil servant in Luanda has hit back, noting that it is not an outright ban but a request for the seed to be milled so it cannot accidentally cross-contaminate their own crops, which might result in struggling peasant farmers being sued by a giant agro-business such as Monsanto. In addition, it accuses charities of secretly smuggling in GM seeds without informing the government." (SABC News)

"Biotechnology expert focuses on the risks of not adopting GM in the EU" - "Dr Clive James, chair of the international service for the acquisition of agri-biotech applications (ISAAA) and a leading proponent of agricultural biotechnology for the developing world, was in Brussels on 20 April to present his views on the current global status and future prospects of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Speaking to journalists, he began by outlining the challenge facing the agriculture sector. According to Dr James, estimates show that global food production will need to be doubled by 2050 to meet the needs of a predicted world population of nine billion people. What's more, he added, this doubling of production will have to be achieved using the same amount of land as is currently available, as the area of cultivatable land per capita in 2050 will have fallen to 0.15 hectares, from today's figure of 0.25 hectares." (Cordis)

April 21, 2004

CSPI Alert! -- Upcoming ‘Food Police’ report rumored to attack school vending machines amid child nutrition legislation I’ve learned through the junk science grapevine that the food police at the Center for Science in the Public Interest are about to issue a report titled “Dispensing Junk: How School Vending Undermines Efforts to Feed Children Well” – just in time to try influence the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill that’s moving through Congress.

CSPI's "report" is rumored a survey of vending machine options at middle schools and high schools in 24 states. The report supposedly will claim that 75 percent of the beverage options were of "poor nutritional quality”; 70 percent were "sugary drinks such as soda pop, juice drinks, iced tea and sports drinks"; and that 86 percent of the soft drink choices available were regular, not diet.

However, the latest research from NFO SIP Canada (a social research firm) indicates that:

  • Only 20 percent of students consume beverages from secondary school vending machines;
  • Only 9 percent of students consume regular (non-diet) soft drinks from secondary school vending machines;
  • Among the 20 percent of students who consumed soft drinks from school vending machines, the average intake of regular carbonated soft drinks was about a 12-ounce can per week.

I doubt any health problems are caused by a small percentage of students consuming a can of soda per week at school.

Then there’s CSPI's definition of "unhealthy" beverages, which includes many drinks with fruit juice, whole and 2 percent milk, and sports drinks.

Please also note that research also shows that soft drinks are not replacing milk in the diets of young people.

Beverage providers offer a wide range of beverages to schools, including juices and juice drinks, milk-based drinks, water, diet and regular soft drinks, and sports drinks. Schools should have the right to decide which beverages are right for their students.

The bottom line? Don’t be fooled by CSPI -- it's got nothing to do with science and it’s not in the public interest.

"Chicago Public Schools to ban soda, candy" - "CHICAGO, April 20 - The Chicago Public Schools will ban soft drinks, candy and fat-laden snacks from school vending machines, replacing them with healthier offerings, district officials said on Tuesday.

Chicago, the nation's third-largest public school district, joins other major school systems that have already expelled food or drinks seen contributing to a childhood obesity epidemic from their facilities." (Reuters)

"Activists Say WHO Caved in on Anti-Obesity Plan" - "GENEVA - Consumer activists on Tuesday accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of "caving in" to the United States and the junk food industry after the U.N. agency revised its blueprint for tackling obesity worldwide.

They said a draft of WHO's Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity was weakened by changes including deletion of a passage urging states to offer incentives for producing, marketing and transporting fruit, vegetables and other healthy produce.

The plan aims to promote healthy foods and lifestyles amid soaring death rates from cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The draft, revised since a debate by WHO's executive board in January, was issued on Monday after officials studied suggestions and objections from member states and food industry lobbyists." (Reuters)

"Poor Quality Means Poor Access" - "According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), there are approximately 41 million people around the world infected with HIV, of which some 6 million are in need of immediate treatment through antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). However, only 400,000 are currently receiving them. To understand some of the obstacles to effective treatment - and how activists are threatening to make the current unfortunate situation could considerably worse - we need to understand some basics of HIV/AIDS treatment." (Jeremiah Norris, TCS)

"Bypassing - or Becoming - the Media?" - "The NRA isn't happy. Most Big Media outfits are strongly anti-gun, and they tend to exaggerate bad news relating to guns (like their use by criminals) and to ignore the good news about honest people using guns to defend themselves, or for sports and recreation. Sure, there are blogs that track things like that, but they don't have full-time staff, budgets, or the power of TV.

But now the NRA is getting even. It's setting up its own Web TV channel called NRA News that will provide several hours a day of programming from a pro-gun perspective." (Glenn Harlan Reynolds, TCS)

"Maine's Man" - "President Bush is coming to Maine to give an Earth day address on the environment. It's an important issue in this battleground state. The President has been heavily and sometimes hysterically criticized by environmentalists for seemingly everything he does or doesn't do, from new mercury reduction rules and judicial nominations to not playing proper obeisance to the United Nations and international global warming treaties." (Jon Reisman, TCS)

"Lawn Chemicals Linked to Dog Cancer - U.S. Study" - "WASHINGTON - A study that links lawn chemicals to bladder cancer in Scottish terriers could help shed light on whether they cause cancer in some people, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Purdue University researchers surveyed 83 owners of Scottish terriers whose pets had recently been diagnosed with bladder cancer for their report, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association." (Reuters)

Dogs with a predisposition to bladder cancer develop bladder cancer? Wow! And they know this is due to herbicide exposure because:

Procedure—Owners of study dogs completed a written questionnaire pertaining to exposure to lawn or garden chemicals during the year prior to diagnosis of TCC for case dogs and during a comparable period for control dogs.

So we conclude... inbred Scotties that live in apartment blocks are less inclined to exhibit predisposed cancers than their bungalow-dwelling suburban cousins?

"Attorneys general criticize military environmental exemptions" - "The attorneys general of 39 states urged Congress this week to reject a U.S. military request for exemptions from environmental laws." (Associated Press)

"NCPA Earth Day Briefing on Global Warming: 'What Do We Really Know vs. What We Are Told'" - "Few issues generate more debate or emotion from activists than global warming. This Earth Day, the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) will host a Capitol Hill briefing to examine whether fear of human-induced climate change is based on sound science and what impact proposed solutions will have on the climate and the economy. The briefing, will be held at 10 a.m. in SD-406 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building." (U.S. Newswire)

Uh-huh... "Coalition Joins Environmental Defense To Undo Global Warming" - "(20 April, 2004 - - New York) Environmental Defense today announced six consumer product brands are joining the organization's undo global warming campaign, www.undoit.org. The companies will help build public support for national legislation to cap U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. They will, through advertising on products and elsewhere, direct individuals to www.undoit.org, where they can sign on as citizen co-sponsors of the Climate Stewardship Act, due for a U.S. Senate vote in May, and can contribute to the Undoit! Campaign.

The six new allies are Clif Bar, Stonyfield Farm, Organic Valley, Odwalla, White Wave/Silk and Trinity Springs. Clif Bar will distribute information about global warming on their package, at sporting events, green festivals and on its web site. All companies will help drive individuals to www.undoit.org through consumer packaging, field marketing events and web site links." (Press Release)

"Apocalypse Not" - "Disaster movies have long been a staple of American popular culture. Now we have disaster art, too. And it's an irony that the spiffiest museums seek to showcase such destruction -- even their own destruction. What is it with the culture, both pop and high? Do the machers and mavens of Hollywood and New York want the world to end? Or do they simply think that it's fun and profitable to speculate about eschaton? Meanwhile, the Greens' cause, the alarmist warning of a new Ice Age caused by -- what else? -- global warming, will soon be in a theater near you." (James Pinkerton, TCS)

"Deadly sheep disease bound for Britain" - "British farmers should brace themselves for the arrival of a devastating disease which has killed more than a million sheep in Europe, experts said yesterday.

Bluetongue, a disease that affects cattle, sheep and other ruminants, has so far been confined to southern Europe, because the midges which spread the virus survive only in warmer climates

But global warming has made northerly regions more hospitable for the insects, which have spread into countries where they have never before been seen." (The Guardian)

Hmm... "Putin to announce signing of Kyoto Protocol" - "MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin will announce this week that Russia is prepared to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the Kommersant business daily reported on Tuesday, citing a source close to the Kremlin. The announcement would signal a significant breakthrough for supporters of the 1997 agreement on combating global warming, which needs Russia’s approval in order to come into force. Kommersant quoted a document prepared by Russia’s Economic Development and Energy Ministries as saying the protocol presented no threat to the nation’s economic development. “Moreover, the realization of its investment mechanisms could attract additional resources that could be directed toward a further increase in the energy efficiency of the Russian economy,” the ministries said, according to Kommersant." (AP) [Complete] | Putin prepared to embrace Kyoto: claim (UPI)

Alas poor Europe... "Parliament gets serious about climate change" - "Europe’s member states will soon be able to buy and sell carbon dioxide quotas from the world’s poorest nations, under new laws voted through by the European Parliament today.

A full sitting of MEPs has backed a report on emissions trading which would mean heavily industrialised EU countries could pay the developing world to pass on its CO2 quotas, dictated by the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

And according to amendments made by parliament, the scheme would be compulsory even if the international Kyoto agreement never enters into force." (EUpolitix) | Climate change: EP vote paves the way for global fight against climate change (Europa)

"EU Hopes Newcomers Will Meet Deadline for CO2 Plans" - "BRUSSELS - Europe's environment chief fought shy yesterday of acting against laggard EU states that failed to submit plans to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution on time, saying she hoped the bloc's newcomers would fare better." (Reuters)

"Socialists welcome agreement on greenhouse gas emissions" - "The PES Group in the European Parliament has welcomed agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions which encourages the transfer of advanced, clean technologies to help achieve the targets set out in the Kyoto protocol.

The directive will now take effect in January 2005 rather than 2008 which is the target for the protocol.

PES Group shadow rapporteur David Bowe said: “This sends a clear signal to countries around the world that the Kyoto Protocol is not dead and the European Parliament demands practical action to make it a concrete reality.” (Malta Independent)

"German court upholds ecology tax" - "Germany's highest court has rejected a challenge against the government's tax on fossil fuels and electricity. The challenge had been brought by a group of transport firms who argued that extra taxes imposed in 1999 threatened jobs in their industry. In its ruling, the Constitutional Court said the "ecology tax" had helped protect jobs, with proceeds used to give pension breaks to companies." (BBC News Online)

"Industry goals needed to fight global warming" - "The government's review of guidelines for measures to counter global warming focuses on what numerical goals should be set for emissions reductions by industry and how to set clear standards for their assessment.

According to government statistics released in summer, Japan's global warming emissions for fiscal 2001 were 1.3 billion tons, up 5.2 percent from 1990.

The Kyoto Protocol has mandated that Japan reduce gas emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels. The increase means that the nation must now aim for an 11 percent-plus reduction to reach the international target.

As the host country for the Kyoto Conference on global climate change, Japan will be pressured to achieve the goal, lest it lose face in the eyes of the international community." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"U.S. Keen to Rejoin Global Warming Debate" - "PARIS - The United States wants to rejoin the global warming debate after rejecting the Kyoto protocol but the world's largest polluter is adamant that its lone approach to environmental issues is a success.

Mike Leavitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the Bush administration, is meeting this week with environment ministers at an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forum in Paris.

"(I will) make clear that the United States continues to have an interest in success of the OECD and that we want to be full participants in matters relating to the environment," Leavitt told Reuters on Monday ahead of the OECD meeting." (Reuters)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"CO 2 -Induced Soil Microfauna Changes in a New Zealand Pasture" - "The changes are many and varied, but they all appear to bode well for the biosphere." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Hail" - "How has the frequency of hailstorm occurrence varied over the past century or so?  Has it increased with the progression of 20th century global warming, as climate alarmists would have us believe?" (co2science.org)

"Nutrients x CO 2 Effects on Plants (Nitrogen - Agricultural Crops: Rice)" - "How does the degree of soil nitrogen availability impact the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO 2 enrichment on rice production?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Chaffy Sedge, Corn, Rice and Smooth Cordgrass." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"A Century of Change in Arctic Sea Ice" - "What do the data tell us about the qualitative and quantitative aspects of climate model predictions of CO 2 -induced global warming?" (co2science.org)

"Cyclical Environmental Change Depicted in Lake Sediments of Northern Russia" - "Does the millennial-scale oscillation bear evidence of the Modern Warm Period, Little Ice Age, Medieval Warm Period, Dark Ages Cold Period and Roman Warm Period?  Of course it does." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated Air Temperature and CO 2 Concentration on Nordic Trees" - "Based on everything we know about tree responses to elevated CO 2 and temperature, the trees of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden are going to love the Modern Warm Period." (co2science.org)

"Does Elevated Atmospheric CO 2 Protect Soybeans Against Ozone Damage?" - "This question is asked and answered by three scientists from the Departments of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois, USA." (co2science.org)

"Did a Pacific Ocean Regime Shift Occur at the Turn of the Last Century?" - "Do aquatic conditions along the western coast of North America gradually change over time, or do they periodically "shift gears" and jump to a new state of quasi-equilibrium in as short a time span as a year?" (co2science.org)

"Arctic carbon a potential wild card in climate change scenarios" - "The Arctic Ocean receives about 10 percent of Earth's river water and with it some 25 teragrams [28 million tons] per year of dissolved organic carbon that had been held in far northern bogs and other soils.

Now an international team of U.S. and German scientists, including some funded by the National Science Foundation, have used carbon-14 dating techniques to determine that most of that carbon is fairly young and not likely to affect the balance of global climate." (National Science Foundation)

"The world's overflowing oil reserves?" - "Oil is making headlines again. Never far from newsworthy, such is its over-riding economic and political importance, the spotlight has returned as harsh as ever. The price of benchmark US light sweet crude recently reached its highest level for 13 years, and the cartel of petroleum exporting nations, Opec, maintained its decision to cut production - potentially fuelling yet more rises.

But looking behind the politics and other reasons for the upward pressure on prices (such as historically low oil and petrol stockpiles in the US), just how much oil is left under the surface of Planet Earth?" (BBC Online)

"Schwarzenegger Seeks to Boost Hydrogen-Fueled Cars" - "DAVIS, Calif. - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order yesterday aimed at making California the leader in introducing environmentally friendly hydrogen-fueled cars in the years to come." (Reuters)

"Institute warns of water shortage if food production practices are not changed" - "STOCKHOLM, Sweden — A report released Tuesday warned that if more is not done to reduce the amount of water used to produce food, the effort to reduce the number of the world's malnourished people would be jeopardized.

In the report, released by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) at the 12th meeting of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development in New York, the scarcity of water was found to have a direct relation on the proper feeding of the world's people." (Associated Press)

"Making a friendlier mosquito" - "Genetically modified mosquitoes that cannot transmit malaria are one hope for battling the disease that still kills over one million people a year. But that plan faces some serious snags, according to UC Davis researchers who are suggesting an alternative strategy." (University of California - Davis)

"Saving the Seed or Saving Romantic Assumptions" - "Modern agriculture is increasingly being used as an all encompassing category of evil by critics of globalization and transgenic (genetically modified) food crops, and by street protestors and their mentors and organizers. Implicit in the protest rhetoric is a dichotomy between modern agronomy (assumed to be large corporate enterprises either farming or selling to farmers) and small self-sufficient farmers, who replant their own seeds from year-to-year and have little or no reliance on the market for inputs." (Thomas R. DeGregori, butterfliesandwheels.com)

"Altered rice still headed to market - Rebuff may shift planting out of state" - "Ventria Bioscience of Sacramento, turned down by regulators in its recent bid to start commercially producing its genetically altered rice in California, still plans to put its first product on the market in about two years.

Even if that means moving operations to another state or country.

"The time frame is such that we can step back and say, 'OK, let's look at what works for us,' " said Ventria president and chief executive officer Scott Deeter. "California's regulatory process is one of the challenges this state faces for biotechnology products." (Sacramento Business Journal)

"Science fact: I am a biotech advocate" - "Having visited over 70 countries and New Zealand five times, I am a “New Zealand advocate”! A terrific country, filled with hard-working people and farmers that are proud of their clean, green image--as I am of my farm and my home state. And, I’m a believer in biotechnology.

The enemies of biotechnology want you to think that they’re fighting a heroic struggle against Frankenstein’s monster--something so horrible and unnatural that it shouldn’t be allowed to exist.

But they’re really living in some kind of Hollywood fantasyland. They understand almost nothing about agriculture, science, or common sense.

Farmers have been growing genetically modified crops for thousands of years. We’re the world’s first genetic engineers. Long before the folks in white lab jackets discovered DNA, our forefathers were breeding all kinds of plants to grow more, better and healthier food. To them, this was simple necessity. Today, however, we recognize that they were actually combining genes." (Dean Kleckner, BioScience News)

"EU to grow new GMO crops in five years-industry" - "BRUSSELS, April 20 - The head of an industry lobby group on Tuesday expressed confidence that new genetically modified crops could be growing in Europe within five years, despite widespread consumer fears of the new foods.

"Within a five year period, new GM crops will be grown in Europe," said Clive James, the head of ISAAA, an industry-backed group promoting biotech as a way to halt hunger, in a news release." (Reuters)

"French maize group says GMO separation possible" - "PARIS, April 20 - Tests by France's maize growers association AGPM have shown genetically-modified (GMO) grain can be cultivated beside conventional strains with almost no cross contamination, the group said on Tuesday.

Presenting the results of a two-year study into the possibility of segregating GMO and non-GMO maize varieties, AGPM also said it had developed a system to keep the two grain types apart through the production chain from field to customer.

"The results obtained show that it is possible to manage the co-existence of growing GMO maize and conventional maize and that it is compatible with European labelling rules," it said." (Reuters)

"Brazil labels GM food" - "All human and animal food sold in Brazil that contains more than one percent genetically modified (GM) ingredients must now be labelled under a law that came into force this month.

The law imposes fines of between US$65 and US$1 million on producers that flout the new regulations. It states that the packaging should be labelled with a T — for transgenic — no smaller than about 1 square centimetre.

At present, it is illegal to grow GM crops for commercial purposes in Brazil. The only exception is GM soya illegally grown last year, which was granted special permission to be sold for both animal and human consumption. Paradoxically, however, the new law does not require products containing the 2003 GM soya be labelled. Rather, the law states that the labels of such products should include the information: "this may contain GM soya"." (Luisa Massarani, SciDev.net)

"Needless Tragedy In Angola: 'Refusal of Genetically Modified Food for A Starving Populace Lacks Humanity'" - "There ought to be a reasonably fast connection between 2 million starving Africans and a ship laden with 19,000 tons of American corn, but the government of Angola has instead imposed a barricade. The corn, it fears, isn't safe.

Neither is malnutrition or starvation, but that has not cracked the resolve of Angola and other member nations of the Southern Africa Development Community. Angola is just the latest of those nations to ban genetically modified foods." (Buffalo News)

April 20, 2004

"Roll back malaria, indeed: experts say international agencies far from achieving a 'malaria-free' future" - "Leading malaria and mosquito researchers believe that the Roll Back Malaria initiative is very far from achieving "a malaria free future" -- the theme for this year's Africa Malaria Day (25 April).

In 1998, the Roll Back Malaria programme was founded by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF, and the World Bank. The programme's stated objective is to reduce malaria deaths by half by 2010.

According to Amir Attaran, Research Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, these agencies have accomplished nothing since 1998:

"When the World Health Organisation launched the Roll Back Malaria campaign in 1998, it promised to cut deaths from malaria in half by 2010. At the halfway point in 2004, the WHO's own figures show malaria deaths haven't declined in the least: they have increased 10 percent." (International Policy Network)

"Eco-Imperialism: Reflections on Earth Day" - "Panel discussion of experts to meet on Earth Day to discuss the needs of the Earth's poorest people" (Media Release)

"Free 'Earth Day Interview Locator Service' and Earth Day Fact Kit Available to Journalists; Experts Available for Earth Day 2004" - "The Earth Day Information Center is offering an Earth Day Interview Locator Service for journalists and broadcasters to provide environmental experts who are able to discuss Earth Day- related issues. Earth Day is April 22.

The interview locator service offers access to scientists and public policy experts specializing in a wide range of environmental fields. Experts are available on such issues as global warming, energy, urban sprawl, biotechnology, air and water quality issues, regulatory policy, the Endangered Species Act and environmental justice." (U.S. Newswire)

"Environment lags in poll of concerns" - "Green seems to be fading: Gallup's annual Earth Day poll has found that the environment is near the bottom of the nation's concerns, outranking only worries about race relations." (Jennifer Harper, The Washington Times)

"Black Activists Condemn Elitist Earth Day" - "WASHINGTON, April 20 -- Elitist environmental activists observing "Earth Day" on April 22 are promoting a regulatory agenda hostile to minority ambitions for economic and social advancement. Members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 alternatively promote an environmental justice agenda that ensures human welfare is not sacrificed to meet regulatory goals." (U.S. Newswire)

"Death by Environmentalism" - "Starting, as they do, from the premise of nature's intrinsic value -- a value independent of any valuer or purpose -- environmentalists are driven by that premise's inescapable logic to consistently oppose every human effort to use the planet." (Robert James Bidinotto, IntellectualConservative.com)

Speaking of antis, here's a bill to ban everything: "Bill could introduce precaution into technology-based law" - "Following the maxim “better safe than sorry,” a New York assemblyman has sponsored legislation that would radically change the way the state addresses technology-related risk management. The legislation, proposed by Assemblyman Alexander B. “Pete” Grannis, D-Manhattan, draws influence from European policy and calls for a precautionary approach in assessing risks associated with New York State funded research and development." (The Legislative Gazette)

"Clearing the Air" - "The journalist has the ultimate power, a cynic once said, the power to choose whom to be co-opted by.

That temptation is never greater than when you are writing about environmental policy. You can go to the environmental groups and get one set of facts. Or you can go to the industry groups and get an entirely different set of facts. Both sides have long histories of exaggeration and distortion, and there's no other realm of public policy in which it is so hard to find honest brokers, capable of offering a balanced perspective.

Nonetheless, over the past couple of decades, I've stumbled across a few, and I've been consulting them in the hope of getting a grip on the Bush clean-air record." (David Brooks, New York Times)

"This Should Go over Like a Lead Balloon" - "Brewing in Washington D.C. is a new public health scare that may soon reach beyond the beltway and into consumer and taxpayer pockets. At issue is the discovery of elevated levels of lead found in the district's drinking water, which has regulators poised to hike national drinking water regulations. While more stringent regulations won't improve public health much, they will cost some communities dearly." (Angela Logomasini, Scripps Howard News Service)

Chlorine Crackdown Causes Lead Leaks

"Exposure to food increases brain metabolism" - "Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have produced new evidence that brain circuits involved in drug addiction are also activated by the desire for food." (DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory)

"Contested data stoke the debate over gun ban" - "Washington -- The two sides in the Senate debate over extending the decade-old ban on assault weapons are convinced of the bill's value -- and both think they have the numbers to prove it." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"What Is Happening to Science?" - "Some things are sacred to scientists: Facts, data, quantitative analysis, and Nature magazine, long recognized as the world's most prestigious science periodical.

Lately, many have begun to wonder if Jayson Blair has a new job as their science editor. On page 616 of the April 8 issue, Nature published an article using a technique that they said, on page 593 of the same issue, was "oversold", was inappropriately influencing policymakers, and was "misunderstood by those in search of immediate results." (Patrick J. Michaels, Cato)

"Marine researchers fertilize southern ocean to study climate changes" - "Scientists are learning about the history and possibly the future of climate change by fertilizing the ocean with iron to create blooms of microscopic plants.

These microscopic marine plants in the Southern Ocean may have played a pivotal role in the Earth's climate during past ice ages, explained Mark Brzezinski, professor of biology and deputy director of the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

He took part in a major ocean fertilization study involving many institutions that began 12 years ago. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. The results of the research project are described in the April 16 cover story of the journal Science, in a three-part description of the findings." (UC Newswire)

"EU Hopes Newcomers Will Meet Deadline for CO2 Plans" - "BRUSSELS - Europe's environment chief fought shy yesterday of acting against laggard EU states that failed to submit plans to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution on time, saying she hoped the bloc's newcomers would fare better." (Reuters)

"What Commissioner Wallstrom Doesn’t Want You to Hear" (PDF) - "Faced with a crumbling façade of unity in the EU over the Kyoto protocol, Margot Wallstrom, EU Commissioner responsible for the environment, spoke to the European Business Summit on 11 March, underlining the reasons why she still supports the Kyoto Protocol. The speech has made little difference. Since her intervention, even German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has voiced doubts about whether the EU should stick to its Kyoto targets. Nevertheless, it is important to see just how fragile Commissioner Wallstrom’s arguments are. This commentary examines her particular assertions that we know enough to know that we must do something about climate change now. Comments are interspersed between the Commissioner’s statements." (Iain Murray, EU Reporter)

Flight of fantasy du jour: "Report Shows Greenhouse Gas Controls Help Russian Economic Growth" - "(19 April, 2004 - - Washington) On the eve of crucial April 22 climate treaty talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Union President Romano Prodi, Environmental Defense today released a new report effectively dismissing the claims of climate change skeptics in Russia and the United States. The Environmental Defense report demonstrates that reducing greenhouse gas pollution in Russia supports President Putin's goal of improving the efficiency of Russia's economy, while protecting the health of Russia's economy, its people and ecosystems.

"The climate change skeptics are sounding more out of touch every day," said Environmental Defense international counsel Annie Petsonk. "It's clear that participation in the Kyoto Protocol will bring strong environmental and economic benefits to Russia, while the costs of inaction are continually growing higher." (Media Release)

"Russian Opposition to Kyoto Growing" - "Moscow - Russia's political establishment appears divided over whether to support the Kyoto Protocol, just weeks ahead of a government decision that could decide the treaty's overall fate.

The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, rejects the protocol, which aims to reduce emissions of gases blamed by some scientists for climate change, while some government ministries back it.

The Duma's ecology, economy and international affairs committees said in a joint statement that ratifying Kyoto was pointless in the light of the U.S. decision to abandon the treaty." (CNSNews.com)

"Environmental NGOs Seek to End World Bank Climate Fund" - "WASHINGTON, DC, April 19, 2004 - Eighty environmental and social justice organizations today delivered a letter of protest to the World Bank, calling for the closure of its four year old greenhouse gas reduction mechanism, the Prototype Carbon Fund. The groups are sure to raise the issue at protests ahead of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund 60th anniversary spring meeting April 24 - 25 in Washington, DC.

The groups, who identify themselves as "teachers, scholars, activists, scientists, students, Indigenous peoples, landless people, peasants, NGOs, and others from the North and South," say they "do not recognize the legitimacy of the World Bank’s Prototype Carbon Fund." (Environment News Service)

"Climate: Maybe several days after tomorrow" - "Late next month, the entertainment pages of the newspapers, the celebrities populating the E! cable channel, and maybe even a few scientists, will be heard babbling on about the specter of mountainous glaciers assaulting Manhattan, the result of a rapid climate change brought on by humanity's foolish indifference to the environment." (Dan Whipple, UPI)

"Technology exists now to cut greenhouse gases, report says" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The technology already exists to cut vehicles' greenhouse gases sharply as required by a precedent-setting California law, the Union of Concerned Scientists said Monday." (Associated Press)

"When the last oil well runs dry" - "Just as certain as death and taxes is the knowledge that we shall one day be forced to learn to live without oil. Exactly when that day will dawn nobody knows, but people in middle age today can probably expect to be here for it." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"More useful plants may sprout from gene role discovery" - "It may be possible to alter plants so they are more nutritious and easier to process without weakening them so much they fall over, according to Purdue University researchers who found a new twist in a plant formation biochemical pathway." (Purdue University)

"UC Riverside researchers improve drought tolerance in plants" - "University of California, Riverside researchers reported the development of technology that increases crop drought tolerance by decreasing the amount of an enzyme that is responsible for recycling vitamin C." (University of California - Riverside)

"Canadian GMO standards" - "The Standards Council of Canada has adopted new rules for genetically modified foods as part of the National Standard of Canada. The Canadian government said that this means consumers could start to see more labels on some food ingredients and food items indicating whether or not they are a product of genetic engineering." (Reuters)

"EU food agency says Monsanto GM maize type is safe" - "BRUSSELS, April 19 - The EU's food safety agency gave a clean bill of health on Monday to a type of genetically modified maize made by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto, considering it safe to be eaten by both humans and animals.

The positive assessment of the maize, known as MON 863, is the third to be issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) -- but it is still only a small step down a long road towards lifting the EU's six-year ban on new biotech foods." (Reuters)

"GM maize splits EU food advisers" - "Europe’s food agency has declared one Monsanto marketed biotech corn safe for humans, animals and the environment – but failed to reach a decision on a second. In a statement on Monday the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said it had decided a genetically modified maize known as MON 863 “is as safe as conventional maize.” “Consequently, its placing on the market …is unlikely to have an adverse effect on human or animal health, or on the environment in the context of its intended use.” But when it came to a second maize, MON 863xMON 810, the advisory panel was “divided”. It is consequently asking for further studies to be carried out before it pronounces a final judgment." (EUpolitix)

April 19, 2004

"The costs of malaria" - "In a remarkable article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, titled "What the World Needs Now is DDT," Tina Rosenberg argues that Westerners' irrational fears of DDT are allowing malaria to take a devastating toll on Africans." (The Washington Times editorial)

"It's time to rethink ban on DDT" - "Last Sunday, the New York Times, keeper of the liberal flame, raised environmental eyebrows with a weekend magazine article titled “What the World Needs Now Is DDT.” (Thomas Bray, The Detroit News)

"Why the sci-mag barons are right" - "In March The Observer's Simon Caulkin argued that scientific publishers had long used their stranglehold on the market to push up prices at the expense of underfunded academics. This, he suggested, was about to be changed by the welcome arrival of 'open access' publishing. Here, Crispin Davis, chief executive of leading publisher Reed Elsevier defends the industry" (The Observer)

"New York Loses a Top Legal Ally in Suit Over Guns" - "New York City is preparing for the first trial of a civil suit by an American city claiming that the gun industry fosters an illegal market in the firearms criminals use to deliver death to the city's doorsteps.

Gun industry representatives say the case is crucial, and the companies have some of the country's top law firms defending them. Until a few weeks ago, the city had a powerful legal weapon, too: another of the country's top law firms, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, had agreed more than two years ago to work on the case for free.

But now the law firm is withdrawing from the case, acknowledging that at least one of its corporate clients had complained about its role. In a statement, the firm said that "certain potential `positional conflicts' " had been "brought to our attention." Some industry critics say the disruption in the city's legal team may have been intended to weaken the city's chances in what is certain to be a bitterly fought trial." (New York Times)

"Scientists discover autism link to male brain" - "Scientists claim that dramatic new evidence shows that autism may be just an extreme version of the male brain - suggesting the condition may be entirely genetic rather than environmental." (Independent on Sunday)

That's amazing: "Studies Confirm Benefits of Varied, Wholesome Diet" - "WASHINGTON - Two studies presented on Sunday confirm the benefits of a varied, wholesome diet and call into question the wisdom of low-carb and other fad diets that limit what kinds of foods people can eat.

In one, a team at cereal-maker General Mills found men and women who ate three or more daily servings of whole grain foods were the least likely to be overweight or obese.

In a second, university-based researchers found people who ate a variety of foods were more likely to get the recommended levels of vitamins and other nutrients than people who stuck to a few favorite foods." (Reuters)

Omnivores fare well on varied diets... imagine that!

"'Fake sugar' blamed for obesity rise" - "A huge rise in the use of fructose - a cheap alternative to glucose and cane sugar - is being blamed for the obesity epidemic by leading scientists." (Independent on Sunday)

"Filmmaker Debunks “Super Size Me” Claim" - "Washington, D.C., April 15, 2004—Filmmaker Soso Whaley’s 30-day diet of McDonald’s meals has neared its halfway point, and not only is she feeling good, she’s lost five pounds. Whaley’s documentary project, focusing on personal responsibility, obesity, and public health, is taking on the increasing victim mentality being fostered by public health activists and the dishonest bashing of the fast food industry." (CEI)

"Trans fat linked to increase in cholesterol" - "The government's direct assault on obesity and cardiovascular disease has at least one target in its sights: "trans fat," better known as the by-products hydrogenated oils, hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine, and vegetable shortening. An animal study bolsters the government's concern about foods with hydrogenated oils, as the deadline for food labeling nears." (American Physiological Society)

"Government cuts funding for environmental issues" - "Ministers have slashed funding for campaigns to improve the environment and have quietly scrapped an initiative designed to combat global warming and increase recycling in Britain.

In a decision that will cast fresh doubt on the Government's commitment to green issues, funding for environmental campaigns has dramatically decreased in the past year, and now sits at its lowest level since Labour came to power." (Independent)

"Effects of ocean fertilization with iron to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere reported" - "Dumping iron in the ocean is known to spur the growth of plankton that remove carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere, but a new study indicates iron fertilization may not be the quick fix to climate problems that some had hoped." (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

"Down on the farm (with Laura Cantrell)..." (EnviroSpin)

"Farmers could profit from carbon" - "Montana farmers and ranchers will soon be able to benefit financially from the amount of carbon their crops or land sequesters from the air through the National Carbon Offset Coalition. Carbon sequestration, the removal of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, is considered a valuable resource in the effort to reverse climate change." (Sidney Herald)

"Some like it hot -- but a robin in the Arctic?" - "The glaciers are melting. The growing season is getting longer. Creatures are turning up in places where they really don't belong. It's time to stop doubting that global warming is the culprit, MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT reports." (Globe and Mail)

Why not robins in the Arctic? Robins Reach North Pole! (Alaska - just south of Arctic Circle); according to this WMAC species status report, American Robins are seen migrating north in May and south in the fall in Aklavik (Yukon North Slope, north of Artic Circle) and; aboutbirds.org note that American Robins breed from near the southern border of the United States northward to the arctic coast. So, why not robins in the Arctic since this is apparently part of their listed summer range?

Regarding the wayward salmon, sockeye, according to Alaska's Department of Fish and Game: "ranges south as far as the Klamath River in California and northern Hokkaido in Japan, to as far north as far as Bathurst Inlet in the Canadian Arctic and the Anadyr River in Siberia," so their range includes the Amundsen Gulf, upon which we find the cited Sachs Harbour. Presumably federal fisheries scientist John Babaluk correctly identified these fish back in the summer of 1993, well within their 'normal' range and certainly not "1,500 kilometres (~900 miles) away from home." And the problem with this would be...?

Fairly typical "proof" of "global warming" really, and Martin Mittelstaedt report for that matter.

"Warming Climate Disrupts Alaska Natives' Lives" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Anyone who doubts the gravity of global warming should ask Alaska's Eskimo, Indian and Aleut elders about the dramatic changes to their land and the animals on which they depend.

Native leaders say that salmon are increasingly susceptible to warm-water parasites and suffer from lesions and strange behavior. Salmon and moose meat have developed odd tastes and the marrow in moose bones is weirdly runny, they say." (Reuters)

"Alaska is Melting. Can Kyoto Save It?" - "Treaties that mandate emissions reductions aren’t the ultimate solution. R&D on efficiency technologies is." (TechReview.com)

"Tuna 'more common than cod in North Sea'" - "TUNA could end-up being more common in Scottish waters than cod because of rising sea temperatures, one of the world’s leading marine scientists has warned.

Seahorses will also live around the Scottish coast within a decade, and several species of sharks and John Dory - normally found off the coast of Spain - will also be swimming happily in the North Atlantic and North Sea.

Dr Martin Angel, a govenment adviser, says the slightest change in sea temperature is having a huge effect on Scotland’s marine life." (The Scotsman)

"Russian ministry backs Kyoto as Duma says no" - "MOSCOW, April 15 - Russia's government and parliament looked to be headed for a collision on Thursday, with key Duma committees rejecting the Kyoto Protocol while a major ministry spoke out in favour of the environmental treaty." (Reuters)

"Fury as Porrit says that turbines are beautiful" - "Sir Jonathon Porritt, the environmentalist and adviser to the Prime Minister, was criticised yesterday for saying that wind farm turbines were "objects of compelling beauty". His comments, in an article for Country Life magazine, were condemned by opponents of wind farms as "wishful thinking".

Sir Jonathon, the former director of Friends of the Earth, was chosen by Tony Blair four years ago to be the chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, an independent environmental advisory body.

Country Life is organising a petition against land-based wind farms, but in his article Sir Jonathon wrote: "I find wind turbines objects of compelling beauty, and have made myself unpopular by suggesting that there are substantial tracts of the UK countryside that are enhanced rather than impaired by ... turbines." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Think tank dismisses wind farms as ‘expensive, unreliable polluters’" - "Nothing could be more guaranteed to reawaken old hostilities. Forget wind power, the government is to be told, go for nuclear power instead.

When an influential Scottish think tank unveils its proposals this week to replace the renewable turning of turbines with the radioactive decay of chain reactions, it will reopen a bitter argument that many thought was resolved.

For the David Hume Institute, an Edinburgh-based fan of the free market, there is no real choice. Wind farms are expensive, unreliable and will wreck the countryside, it says, and nuclear reactors are a better way of reducing the pollution causing climate change." (Sunday Herald) | Wind power 'will cost taxpayer millions' (The Scotsman)

"Ireland: Electricity prices may rise 6% due to rules on emissions" - "The ESB has warned of significant rises in electricity prices because of new requirements on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The company has claimed that its quota allocation under the proposed CO2 emissions trading system for Ireland will cause its power generation costs to rise by up to 40 per cent.

This would in turn result in domestic prices rising by up to 20 per cent if the increased costs of production are passed on in full." (ireland.com)

"Green energy's potential is slowly being realized" - "ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — No one has announced it, but the energy profile of North America is changing, with the environment one of the key drivers for a shift to clean energy. One reason the change is not noticeable yet is that much of it is being carried out at the regional level, by provincial and state governments rather than headline-grabbing national governments." (Toronto Star)

Sadly for advocates, the dawning realisation is that non-hydro 'renewables' are not up to much and will not be for decades, if ever.

"Capitalism: the cure for poverty" - "THE New Testament says: "The poor are always with you". It is too resigned. The Bible seems to limit its poverty policies to the duty of alms-giving. I was encouraged to learn then that "the poor" really only means the Gentiles, as they are impoverished in not being a party to the Lord’s Covenant.

I usually find it prudent to avoid religious quotations. They invite correction and friction. Yet poverty, its causes and consequences, remains central to both politics and economics.

It seems to me those of the Left have co-opted it as "their" topic. The representatives of capitalism - the CBI or the Chambers of Commerce or even the Institute of Directors - avoid the theme, beyond suggesting that companies exist to be creamed for taxes so the state can help the poor.

I argue it is bold, liberalising projects that will invest those on the most modest incomes with dignity. Poverty, at its core, is about more than relative income streams. It is about extending choices that make life better and probably longer.

It is markets and capitalism that will lift everyone out of poverty - if it is opened up in ways that we seem too timid to touch." (John Blundell, The Scotsman)

Argentina apparently disagrees with New Sensationalist: "GM soya saved us, says angry Argentina after 'superweed' claim" - "Headlines in Britain last week claimed that genetically modified crops were proving disastrous in South America - but local farmers say they have transformed their lives." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Food industry dreads European labeling rules" - "WASHINGTON - The food industry is bracing for new European labeling and tracking rules that could knock down export barriers to genetically modified food but at the cost of changes in food-production and farming.

Fear of the new rules - which take effect Sunday - is so widespread that leading American farm and food groups are pressing the government to challenge their validity in the World Trade Organization.

The stakes are especially high in St. Louis, headquarters of the American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association and Monsanto Co., the world leader in plant biotechnology." (Post-Dispatch)

"EU Biotech Labeling and Traceability Requirements `Will Be a Serious Barrier to International Trade,' Says NFPA" - "WASHINGTON, April 16 -- Commenting on the European Union's new requirements for labeling and traceability of foods and feeds that contain genetically modified ingredients, which become effective on April 18, John R. Cady, President and CEO of the National Food Processors Association (NFPA), made the following statement:" (PRNewswire)

"Little impact expected as Europe's labeling rules for genetically modified food come into force" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium -- European countries start enforcing the world’s strictest rules on labeling genetically modified foods Sunday, but few such products are expected to come to market as consumers continue to shun what’s often derided around the continent as “Frankenfood.” (AP)

April 16, 2004

"Renewable Energy, Enviros and New Job Creation" - "The global warming controversy took a new twist this week. Global warming handwringers are now trying to make it a "jobs" issue." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"The Worst Thing Nixon Ever Did" - "Most people would consider the June 1972 ban of DDT by the Environmental Protection Agency the beginning of the end for widespread use of the insecticide, the most effective anti-malaria pesticide still in existence. For his role in promulgating the ban in the face of a contrary finding by the EPA hearing, then Administrator William Ruckelshaus has become almost a hate figure amongst the anti-malaria community. Now it appears though that the hate figure should actually be then President Richard Nixon." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"Mothers, Babies and Mercury" - "Whether they come from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or special interest groups, warnings about methylmercury-contaminated fish endangering the health of our babies and children are alarming. Although advisories have become more frequent and exigent over recent years, the evidence contrasts greatly from the fearmongering -- regardless of the source." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

"Book Review: A Poverty of Reason; Sustainable Development and Economic Growth" - "Will economic growth deplete the natural resources on which it depends? Are we in danger of running out of energy sources? Will global warming bring widespread devastation on the planet? Does unbridled economic growth threaten the balance of nature?

Looking at the evidence on these questions, Oxford University economist Wildred Beckerman finds that many of these fears are unfounded. While billions of people around the world suffer under appalling environmental conditions, such as a lack of clean water and sanitation, these problems are primarily caused by poverty, not unsustainable development.

Despite the fact that so many are touting the wisdom of "sustainable development" as though its meaning and desirability were an established fact, there is no widespread agreement over its meaning, and its desirability is too often not subjected to scientific, economic, and philosophical scrutiny." (Ken Anderson, Magic City Morning Star)

"On Earth Day Remember: If Environmentalism Succeeds, It Will Make Human Life Impossible" - "Earth Day approaches, and with it a grave danger faces mankind. The danger is not from acid rain, global warming, smog, or the logging of rain forests, as environmentalists would have us believe. The danger to mankind is from environmentalism.

The fundamental goal of environmentalism is not clean air and clean water; rather, it is the demolition of technological/industrial civilization. Environmentalism's goal is not the advancement of human health, human happiness, and human life; rather, it is a subhuman world where "nature" is worshipped like the totem of some primitive religion." (Michael S. Berliner, CNSNews.com)

"OMB Modifies Peer-Review Proposal" - "Responding to a chorus of criticism from science advocacy and citizen groups, the White House Office of Management and Budget yesterday released a revised version of proposed guidelines aimed at standardizing the way federal agencies release and use scientific information.

The revisions mark a partial retreat in what proponents -- led by OMB chief of regulatory affairs John Graham -- have said was a central strategy in the war against "junk science." The "peer review" guidelines set strict criteria that must be met before scientific information may be released through agency Web sites or other channels, especially if that information is to be used in the crafting of significant regulations." (Washington Post)

"Scare Tactics" - "Have you ever noticed that most discussions about our desire for health actually have more to do with our fear of disease?" (Jon Robison, TCS)

"Daily News's Depleted (Uranium) Integrity" - "Like the "Whack-a-Mole" carnival game, alleged causes of Gulf War Syndrome keep popping up in the media, are knocked down by scientific studies, then pop right back up. Never mind telling our veterans the truth; what counts is selling papers and raising ratings. Consider a recent series in the New York Daily News, which is still among the nation's highest-circulation newspapers but has been losing the readership war to the rival New York Post." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"California Urged to Ease Environmental Rules" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California must ease its environmental standards to prevent wildfires like those that killed dozens of people last fall, a panel said Wednesday in its final report on the devastating blazes.

The panel said environmental concerns had hampered efforts to clear brush and trees surrounding housing developments in wildland areas, where fire is part of the natural cycle. That extra growth allowed the wildfires to spread, the commission said." (Associated Press)

"Jackie Ashley, please note - 'global warming' isn't 'climate change'..." - "There is only one thing to be said about climate change. If we crushed every car and plane, closed every factory, shut down every power station, and put 4 billion people worldwide out of work, climate would still change, and often dramatically. Unfortunately, we would then be all too poor to adapt." (Philip Stott, EnviroSpin Watch)

"Russian Greens demand approval of Kyoto climate accord" - "MOSCOW - A group of Russian environmental activists protested near the parliament building to demand that their country ratify the Kyoto climate change agreement.

Anatoly Panfilov, the leader of the Green Party, headed a protest by several dozen militants held to mark the opening of a debate on the issue in the Duma, or lower house of parliament on Thursday." (AFP)

"Martin: Kyoto still priority" - "The Kyoto accord on global warming isn't dead, and Canada remains firmly committed to it, Prime Minister Paul Martin said Thursday in Halifax. He acknowledged many countries are all but ignoring the international plan to combat climate change but said his government wants to move forward on the issue." (The Halifax Herald)

"Antarctic fish set to survive warmer seas" - "A former optometrist has shattered a long-held belief that Antarctic fish will not be able to adapt to global warming. Cara Lowe, who switched to studying Antarctic fish because optometry "really wasn't challenging enough", found that the cold-adapted Pagothenia borchgrevinki could keep swimming long distances in water up to 9C warmer than their current conditions. Her findings mean that this fish could survive even if global warming completely melts the Antarctic icecap." (New Zealand Herald)

"Satellites record weakening North Atlantic current" - "A North Atlantic Ocean circulation system weakened considerably in the late 1990s, compared to the 1970s and 1980s, according to a NASA study. Sirpa Hakkinen, lead author and researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. and co-author Peter Rhines, an oceanographer at the University of Washington, Seattle, believe slowing of this ocean current is an indication of dramatic changes in the North Atlantic Ocean climate." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Slowdown in ocean currents may bring ice age to Britain" - "A crucial "cog" in the circulation of the North Atlantic is slowing down, which could signal a major upheaval in the climate of Britain, according to a study published today." (Daily Telegraph)

"Climate theories run hot and cold" - "Using satellites and an innovative robotic underwater probe designed at the University of Washington, Peter Rhines and his UW colleagues have found changes in the subpolar North Atlantic Ocean that some say could trigger a new ice age.

At the same time, UW oceanographer James Morison and his team are headed back up to the North Pole next week to continue their arctic research, which many believe provides solid evidence of what would appear to be an opposite conclusion -- global warming. Morison's team has found evidence of a thinning polar ice sheet.

What the heck's going on here?" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Scientists stirred to ridicule ice age claims" - "Climate scientists have been stirred to ridicule claims in an upcoming Hollywood blockbuster that global warming could trigger a new ice age, a scenario also put forward in a controversial report to the US military.

The $125-million epic, The Day After Tomorrow, opens worldwide in May. It will show Manhattan frozen solid after the warm ocean current known as the Gulf Stream shuts down.

The movie's release will come soon after a report to the US Department of Defense (DoD) in February predicting that such a shutdown could put the northern hemisphere into a deep freeze and trigger global famine within 15 years.

But in the journal Science on Thursday, Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, surveys the current research and concludes "it is safe to say that global warming will not lead to the onset of a new ice age." (NewScientist.com news service)

"Hollywood loves it, but scientists give new ice age theory poor review" - "OTTAWA - Hollywood has discovered a new recipe for apocalypse: an ice age triggered by global warming.

The Day After Tomorrow, to be released next month, depicts a world of weather gone wild, in which New York City is half-buried in snow and the human race seems doomed to freeze. But the story is getting dismal reviews from the scientific community, notably in the current issue of Science, the prestigious U.S. journal.

"We can unequivocally prove that global warming will not cause an ice age," says Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, and author of the study." (CP)

"Like ozone hole, polar clouds take bite out of meteoric iron" - "Polar clouds are known to play a major role in the destruction of Earth's protective ozone layer, creating the springtime "ozone hole" above Antarctica. Now, scientists have found that polar clouds also play a significant role in removing meteoric iron from Earth's mesosphere. The discovery could help researchers refine their models of atmospheric chemistry and global warming." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Phytoplankton may stimulate uptake of CO2" - "New research has revealed that phytoplankton may be one of the main historic controls on global warming, and that fertilizing the oceans with iron results in increased phytoplankton productivity - a hypothetical way to offset the effects of global warming." (Oregon State University)

"Moss Landing researchers reveal iron as key to climate change" - "A major oceanographic expedition to Antarctica's Southern Ocean suggests that iron supply to this area influenced Earth's climate during ice ages. As reported in the April 16, 2004 issue of Science, a multi-institutional group of scientists fertilized two key areas of the Southern Ocean with trace amounts of iron. Their observation of large phytoplankton blooms in both areas has doubled the area of the Southern Ocean that scientists believe could be important for carbon cycling." (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

"Robotic floats shed new light on the iron hypothesis" - "Robotic Carbon Explorer floats launched by scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory during the Southern Ocean Iron Experiment (SOFeX) tracked a patch of iron-fertilized plankton for weeks through storm-tossed waters, gathering new evidence for the "iron hypothesis." By comparing iron-amended waters with control observations on the hourly-to-daily time scales of marine biological processes, the Carbon Explorers provided the first evidence that atmospheric carbon absorbed by fertilized plankton is fixed through export below 100 meters." (DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

"Ontario says coal plans won't jeopardize consumers" - "TORONTO — Ontario said Thursday it would press ahead with plans to shut down its coal-fired power plants, which produce about one-quarter of the province's electricity, but not before viable alternatives are in place.

The move appeared to be a withdrawal from the Liberal government's adamant stand on decommissioning coal-fired plants by 2007. But Energy Minister Dwight Duncan stressed that plans had not changed.

"We are moving toward 2007," Duncan told reporters after a lunch speech that outlined sweeping changes to Ontario's power sector.

During the speech he said, "We will never put Ontario consumers in jeopardy," adding that adequate alternatives will be in place before coal is replaced." (Reuters)

"The Rocky Road to Biotech's Success" (PDF) - "The first Earth Day celebration, conceived by then-US Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), was held in 1970 as a “symbol of environmental responsibility and stewardship.” In the spirit of the time, it was a consciousness-raising experience organized, appropriately, at the grassroots level. Now, however, Earth Day offers little more than an opportunity for environmental alarmists to gain media attention, dispense anti-technology tirades, and pressure government regulators for more stringent regulation." (Gregory Conko and Henry I. Miller, Frasier Institute)

"GM soya 'miracle' turns sour in Argentina" - "Seven years after GM soya was introduced to Argentina as an economic miracle for poor farmers, researchers claim it is causing an environmental crisis, damaging soil bacteria and allowing herbicide-resistant weeds to grow out of control." (The Guardian)

"No-till farming offers a quick fix to help ward off host of global problems" - "Increase no-till farming practices across the planet or face serious climate, soil quality and food production problems in the next 20 to 50 years. That warning from scientists appeared in Science this week. No-till farming helps soil retain carbon. Healthy topsoil contains carbon-enriched humus - decaying organic matter that provides nutrients to plants. Soils low in humus can't maintain the carbon-dependent nutrients essential to healthy crop production, resulting in the need to use more fertilizers." (Ohio State University)

"Labelling rules for GM food seen as flawed" - "OTTAWA — Foods containing up to five per cent genetically engineered (GE) ingredients can be labelled as not genetically engineered, under new rules set out by the Canadian General Standards Board.

The voluntary labelling rules, which have been under discussion by a committee of industry and consumer representatives for some four years, are being denounced by critics of GE food." (Canadian Press)

"Grain trader says countries must trust one another" - "World grain trade could become a disaster if Europe and not the Americas sets the standards, a U.S. expert told the annual meeting of the Canada Grains Council.

"We think it necessary that this be done yesterday," said Paul Green, chair of the North American Export Grain Association, about efforts to harmonize North, South and Central American approvals for accidental levels of genetically modified material in non-GM grain shipments." (The Western Producer)

'peas lament: "EU's New Rules Will Shake Up Market for Bioengineered Food" - "BRUSSELS -- The European Union, one of the major holdouts against genetically modified foods, will start opening the door wider next week, with huge implications for farmers and agricultural companies around the globe as well as European consumers.

New rules will present an opportunity for producers of bioengineered food to battle for consumers in one of the world's biggest, albeit toughest, markets. And those millions of shoppers, who have largely shunned genetically modified foods, may be forced to swallow the notion that unmodified foods are becoming increasingly rare.

The new rules won't bring many immediate changes in European supermarkets; crops grown starting next week have to make their way into packaged foods. But the battle in the supermarket aisles already has raised the stakes for the most active supporters and opponents of genetically modified foods: Monsanto Co., of St. Louis, Mo., the world's largest producer of bioengineered products, and the environmental group Greenpeace, which sees those products as a threat to the world's biodiversity.

Greenpeace has promised to marshal thousands of volunteers throughout Europe to police grocery stores in the weeks that follow the launch of labeling. "If consumers start buying it and get used to it, we will lose," says Dan Hindsgaul, the head of Greenpeace's effort. The leader of the opposing effort, Monsanto's Daniel Rahier, agrees. "If Greenpeace doesn't succeed now, they will be in a very difficult position."

The two sides staged a preview of the coming conflicts in January. A new Swedish beer called Kenth became the first European food labeled with a "genetically modified" warning to hit store shelves, months before the new rules were to take effect. That was no accident: Mr. Rahier's team conceived the idea and Monsanto helped fund it to start preparing consumers for genetically modified foods.

Greenpeace responded by shadowing the beer's first delivery trucks through the streets of Copenhagen and pressuring store owners into barring the beer from their shelves. "We stayed up all night printing materials to hand out at the stores and arranging chase cars, but it was worth it," said Mr. Hindsgaul." (Scott Miller, The Wall Street Journal) [Subscription required] (em added)

"EU biotech label laws to come into force" - "BRUSSELS, April 16 - A wide range of food with small traces of genetically modified ingredients will need to be specially labelled under new European Union rules from this weekend as the bloc struggles to accept biotech goods." (Reuters)

"Research focuses on drought-tolerant GM wheat" - "An internationally funded research agency based in Mexico is working to develop a drought tolerant genetically modified wheat.

The GM wheat has shown "very encouraging results" in greenhouse testing and has now been planted in the ground in screened-in outdoor testing areas.

"We're pretty excited about it," said David Poland, a spokesperson for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, known by its Spanish-language acronym CIMMYT." (The Western Producer)

"Scotland: Council backs blanket ban on GM produce" - "HIGHLAND councillors yesterday backed a move to make the region a GM-free zone, although a ban is not legally enforceable.

The council agreed to join a European network of regions free from genetically-modified produce - the first area in Scotland and England to do so - to protect the Highlands’ reputation for producing pure and healthy food.

Highland has been invited, with regions in Spain, Greece and Romania, to send a representative to meet the ten members which founded the network, at a conference in Austria on 28 April. The network was set up last November and includes Wales, the only UK region to join so far." (The Scotsman)

April 15, 2004

"The AIDS Lie" - "Few actions by President Bush have infuriated opponents more than his initiative to help Africans and other poor people dying of AIDS. How dare this "compassionate conservative" usurp an issue that's rightfully theirs!" (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"My year of eating dangerously" - "Are you beginning to get the feeling that every time you pick up the newspaper, turn on the radio or television or click on an e-mail, you'll learn about a new food scare?

In recent weeks alone, we've heard there's too much mercury in canned albacore tuna, too many PCBs in farm-raised salmon and too much acrylamide in French fries.

Cancer, cancer everywhere and not a bite to eat. In fact, I half-expect to see bumper stickers any day now with the message "Eating Anything Could Be Hazardous to Your Health." Or, more simply, "Food Kills." (David Shaw, Los Angeles Times)

"What's wrong with the placebo effect?" - "For some strange reason I've never understood, pseudoscientists tend to get huffy when you suggest that their cash cow only works through the placebo effect; perhaps they were so distracted by their sea of flawed research into alternative therapies that they missed the excellent crop of good scientific studies on the placebo." (Ben Goldacre, The Guardian)

A superb specimen (Number Watch)

"Report pegs cost of species protection in billions" - "The yearly cost of enforcing the Endangered Species Act runs into the billions of dollars, not millions as reported to Congress by government agencies, says an audit released yesterday by property rights groups. Despite the estimated $3 billion per year spent, the government has little to show for its recovery efforts, says the Property and Environment Research Center, which conducted the study for the Pacific Legal Foundation." (The Washington Times)

"El Nino More Predictable Than Thought" - "El Nino, the periodic warming in the equatorial Pacific that can change weather worldwide, is more predictable than previously thought, researchers report.

While some forecasting methods had limited success predicting the 1997 El Nino a few months in advance, the Columbia University researchers say their method can predict large El Nino events up to two years in advance." (Associated Press) | By looking back, scientists see a bright future for climate change (The Earth Institute at Columbia University)

"Climate gurus" - "Don't know much about Alanis Morissette, but enough to know that you wouldn't call on her as an authority on global issues. The pop-rock star once played God in a movie called Dogma, but dog was the operative syllable in the title and the best word to describe her performance. Still, some people seem to think Ms. Morissette has the moral gravitas to carry a big issue, namely global warming, on her shoulders.

Those people are the producers of a new government-funded propaganda television series called The Great Warming. The three-part series, narrated by Ms. Morissette and Keanu Reeves, the Winnipeg-born star of the Matrix blockbusters and a famous runaway bus film called Speed, will be previewed tonight at a private screening in Ottawa and will air beginning next Thursday on the Discovery Channel." (Terence Corcoran, Financial Post)

"It's time to call time on our cheap flight hypocrisy" - "The environment will be seen as the great failure of this generation." (Jackie Ashley, The Guardian)

"Kyoto treaty is an Auschwitz for Russia, says Putin's adviser" - "An adviser to Vladimir Putin has provoked outrage among Jewish groups by likening the apparently "deadly" economic consequences of the Kyoto climate change pact to what went on at the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War.

Andrei Illarionov, an influential economics adviser to the Kremlin, said that the pact was "an interstate Auschwitz" that Russia should reject out of hand if it is to maintain its impressive economic growth. The 1997 United Nations pact is viewed by many as the world's only chance to reduce global warming in a meaningful way and requires major industrialised countries to slash their greenhouse gas emissions." (Independent) | Putin adviser calls Kyoto protocol a 'death treaty' (The Guardian)

"US sees huge growth in world energy demand" - "WASHINGTON, April 14 -- A forecast released Wednesday predicts world energy demand will grow more than 50 percent by 2025 with increased use of nearly every type of fuel.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said robust economic growth worldwide, and particularly in China, India and Eastern Europe, will result in a 54-percent overall increase in demand with growth rates of 33 percent in the industrialized world and a whopping 91 percent in the developing world." (UPI)

"Green MEPs to tackle the causes of food scares" - "The 'Join the Food Revolution 'campaign was launched in Dublin on 13 April. The initiative aims to tackle the causes of food scares such as BSE, salmonella and toxic residues in farmed salmon, and to look at ways to reduce obesity levels.

The Greens' ten point plan for food quality aims to promote healthy food production and healthy eating habits in Europe. The goal of the plan is to restore consumer confidence in the way food is produced." (Cordis News)

"Scale Neutrality….Another Biotech Attribute" - "It sounded like a sick April Fool's joke when I first heard the news. A few weeks ago, the government of Angola refused to accept humanitarian assistance in the form of biotech food. A shipment of 19,000 tons of corn from the United States was cancelled, even though their people are starting to go hungry. The reason----some of it might have been genetically enhanced.

When a country finds itself caught in a food-shortage crisis, it seems to me they don't always have the luxury of picking what's on the menu.

But in truth, I was more disappointed than surprised. Two years ago, as millions of people in southern Africa faced a terrible drought, political leaders in several of the most affected nations announced that they would have nothing to do with donations of biotech food. Zambia president Levy Mwanawasa infamously declared, "We'd rather starve than get something toxic."

This was sheer nonsense: Biotech crops are perfectly safe, and as healthy as any other food. If they weren't, we wouldn't eat them here in the United States every day - as we have for many years." (Dean Kleckner, AgWeb)

"Greens claim GM food ban will be lifted" - "The Irish Government and its EU Commissioner, Mr David Byrne, have been accused by the European Green Party leader, Mr Danny Cohn-Bendit, of being anti-consumer and pro-industry. The accusations were made by Mr Cohn-Bendit at a conference on food organised by the party in Dublin Castle yesterday. Mr Cohn-Bendit, said Ireland was giving in to international pressure and looked as if it would preside over the introduction of GM food in Europe." (ireland.com)

"Despairing GM firms halt crop trials" - "All the major biotechnology companies have abandoned GM trials in the UK this year and only one crop - a GM pea - has been granted a licence to be planted this summer.

The lack of applications, which peaked at 159 in 2000-2001, shows a dramatic change in the fortunes of a technology which had the backing of the government but remains unpopular with the public.

Although the figures of field trials were inflated by the bio-tech companies' three-year trials of oilseed rape, sugar beet and maize, the slump to 140 in 2001-2002, 42 last year and only one trial this year is a remarkable decline for what the government claims is a sunrise industry." (The Guardian

"GM laws on supermarket shelf" - "European shoppers will have to get used to new labels this Sunday, when new laws on genetically modified organisms come into force.

The change means that, starting this weekend, all food containing more than 0.9 per cent approved biotech plant products will have to be labelled as containing or made from GMOs.

Europe’s biotechnology sector welcomed the move as a breakthrough for consumers, with Simon Barber of Europabio saying it would “build on the most extensive system of consumer choice in the world”.

“Seven million farmers around the world are now growing GM crops because they offer new solutions to common agricultural problems: they can boost yields and rural incomes, increase product variety and quality and are friendly on the environment.” (EUpolitix)

April 14, 2004

High accolade: "World set back 10 years by Bush's new world order, says Blair aide" - "George Bush has had a "devastating impact" on global sustainable development and set the world back more than ten years, says Jonathon Porritt, the prime minister's senior adviser on the subject, today.

Writing in Guardian Society Mr Porritt, who is the chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, says it is hard to exaggerate the damage done to the planet by Mr Bush's drive for a "new world order." (The Guardian)

Anyone annoying a misanthropist like Porritt to this extent just has to be doing wonders for all people on the planet.

"Bush a piker at manipulating science, compared to Clinton, Gore" - "THE POLITICAL silly season has spawned a flurry of attacks on the Bush administration for “politicizing science.” To be sure, some of the criticism is justified. It appears political for the Food and Drug Administration to prohibit over-the-counter sales of the morning-after contraceptive, for example.

But the critics seem to have become overnight converts in wanting public policy to be science-based. Not one of them was publicly censorious of the Clinton administration’s blatant and heavy-handed abuse of science. Moreover, the primary force behind the condemnation of the Bush administration, the Union of Concerned Scientists, is notorious for its anti-technology zealotry." (Henry I. Miller, The Union Leader)

"Seven-year itch proves bed bugs are biting back" - "Bed bugs, for years linked to insanitary households, poverty and the darker side of Dickens, are making a comeback.

Infestations of the bugs, which feast on human blood and leave itchy weals on the skin, had been virtually eliminated in prosperous countries but have had a resurgence in the last seven years.

Experts are unable to explain why the human bed bug, Cimex lectularis, has returned, but speculate that it may have become resistant to pesticides. Another theory is that pesticides used on other household pests, such as ants or cockroaches, are now species specific and are missing the bed bugs, allowing them to breed and multiply." (Daily Telegraph)

"Danger warning after increase in drug residues found in eggs" - "The safety of chicken eggs is being called into question by opponents of intensive farming, who say as many as one in eight may contain residues of a veterinary drug that are potentially harmful to humans.

People on diets involving high egg consumption, including the Atkins diet, those with heart conditions and babies might be at particular risk, according to a report from the Soil Association, the organic food and farming charity. It says government agencies should advise such "vulnerable" consumers how they could limit the amounts they eat pending research into the issue." (The Guardian)

"NGO, Reform Thyself" - "These days, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) face increasing criticism. This is something new for the global NGO movement, whose actions, campaigns, and goals have, until recently, faced little scrutiny. How might we interpret this development? One possible explanation is a growing unease with a double standard: NGOs demand accountability from corporations and governments, yet exempt themselves from similar standards of accountability. Observers who have overlooked this double standard in the past are beginning to question it." (Neil Hrab, American Enterprise)

"Zoo protester's loudhailer 'caused sea lion cruelty'" - "An animal rights protest at a zoo created such a disturbance that one of the demonstrators is being investigated for causing cruelty to animals." (Daily Telegraph)

"Otters feast on frogs' legs" - "When more than 100 frogs and toads were discovered with their hind legs ripped off on a Scottish estate it seemed a clear case of animal cruelty, prompting fears of a black market in the French delicacy.

A police investigation was launched and the public warned that eating the legs could make them sick after the discovery of the mass mutilation at a pond on the Monymusk estate in Aberdeenshire.

But detective work by the local wildlife crime officer has found that the likely culprit does have a taste for frogs' legs but cannot be prosecuted because it is an otter. "Initially we were looking at a potential act of cruelty," said PC David MacKinnon of Grampian police." (The Guardian)

"Radical environmentalist sentenced to prison for damaging SUVs, vandalism" - "RICHMOND, Va. -- A former Boy Scout with ties to a radical environmentalist group was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for vandalizing sport utility vehicles and trying to blow up construction equipment.

Aaron L. Linas, who was 17 at the time of the vandalism spree, pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy charges, and was sentenced Monday.

Prosecutors said Linas was a member of the Earth Liberation Front, an international underground organization that the FBI says has caused more than $100 million in damage since 1996. The group has claimed responsibility for dozens of crimes, including setting logging trucks on fire and spray-painting SUVs.

Linas, now 19, and co-defendants John B. Wade and Adam V. Blackwell unsuccessfully tried to blow up construction vehicles at a shopping center in suburban Richmond, prosecutors said. They also used glass-etching cream to deface restaurants and 25 SUVs at a car dealership." (The Associated Press)

"Running wild" - "Global warming and population growth, coupled with changes in human behaviour, mean we can expect to see more pathogens make the species jump." (The Medical Post)

"Gore tackles threats due to climate" - "Former Vice President Al Gore spoke to a full audience at Battell Chapel on Tuesday afternoon, warning of the dangers of global warming. The lecture, titled "The Climate Emergency," was supplemented by photographs of the earth, its environment, as well as graphs documenting climate change and its impacts. "When I use the phrase 'climate emergency,' I have partly in mind the fact that this is happening right now," Gore said. "Unless we do something, there will be catastrophic consequences for all of civilization." (Yale Daily News)

"Kremlin aide officially advises Putin to kill Kyoto" - "MOSCOW, April 13 - Global outrage over Russia killing off the Kyoto Protocol would be better than harming the economy by limiting gas emissions, according to a Kremlin adviser's recommendation to President Vladimir Putin. Andrei Illarionov, Putin's economic adviser and an opponent of the landmark environmental pact, advised him to reject it in a summing-up document, obtained by Reuters on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Scientists Investigate Algae's Link To Climate" - "A team of 23 scientists departs for the North East Atlantic later this month, Environment Correspondent Andy Greenwood, reports

Westcountry scientists are to embark on pioneering oceanographic experiments to assess the delicate relationship between microscopic organisms and the effects of climate change.

Experts from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) will set sail later this month for five weeks of field work in the North East Atlantic. They hope to establish the specific relationship between algae and the nutrients - such as iron and phosphorous - that they need to grow.

The scientific work is crucial to understanding the mitigating effect that algae may have on climate change, as - through photosynthesis - it absorbs carbon dioxide and exudes oxygen." (Western Morning News)

"Plan to build emissions scrubber" - "Engineers are trying to build a system to remove the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in an effort to reduce climate warming. Two companies based in Tucson, Arizona, in the US are involved in the project, which aims to complete the first phase of a working unit by early 2005. Scientists have discussed so-called "wind-scrubbers" in principle but this is the first attempt to build one." (BBC News Online)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:
"Anthropogenic Aerosol Uncertainties"
- "Summary: What do they imply about our current understanding of human-induced climate change?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Little Ice Age (Global)" - "Summary: Was the Little Ice Age really a global phenomenon, as opposed to the climate-alarmist contention that it only held sway in regions surrounding the North Atlantic Ocean? Of course it was." (co2science.org)

"Moss" - "Summary: How is its carbon sequestering ability affected by elevated levels of atmospheric CO2?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Garden Bean, Japanese Honeysuckle, Myrtle Spurge and Rice." (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"South China Sea Surface Temperatures Since 1943" - "Summary: How have they changed over the years? Science in China Series B 45: 130-136." (co2science.org)

"The Sand Dunes of Saskatchewan" - "Summary: As the planet continues to fry, are their sand grains starting to fly? Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 38: 105-117." (co2science.org)

"Fire and Climate Change: Are They Related?" - "Summary: We heard a lot about fires last summer, with many people blaming them on global warming. But what do historical data suggest about the subject? Journal of Ecology 89: 930-946." (co2science.org)

"Atmospheric CO2 and Allergies: Are They Related?" - "Summary: Some say they are; but maybe they aren't. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 88: 251-252." (co2science.org)

"Nitrate vs. Ammonium: Which is the Best Source of Nitrogen for Plants in a CO2-Enriched World?" - "Summary: For some plants it's one, for some it's the other. And for some it doesn't make a bit of difference. Journal of Plant Physiology 160: 1421-1428." (co2science.org)

"Pollution Study Favors Regulation" - "Regulation is more effective than relying on voluntary programs to reduce air pollution, according to the authors of a new review of the environmental record of the nation's 100 largest electric power companies.

The report, to be released today, was sponsored by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies, which includes environmental, investor and business groups; the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group; and the Public Service Enterprise Group, the parent of New Jersey's largest utility. It focuses on data collected by the federal government from the utility industry covering 1991 to 2002." (New York Times)

"Shoot it at the sun. Send it to Earth's core. What to do with nuclear waste?" - "Government advisers consider 14 ways of getting rid of the troublesome legacy." (The Guardian)

Must be that vast rightwing conspiracy: "Corporations Waging War on Biotech Critics, Independent Science" - "Four biologists from Europe and North America met face to face for the first time on the University of California's Berkeley campus last month.

Although none of them is particularly famous as a scientist -- not one Nobel among them -- they know each other's names and work as well as if they had been working together for 10 years in the same laboratory. They share a painful experience.

Between 1999 and 2001, unbeknownst to the others, each made a simple but dramatic discovery that challenged the catechism of the same powerful industry - biotechnology -- that by then had become the handmaiden of industrial agriculture and the darling of venture capitalists, who are still hoping they have invested their most recent billions in "the next big thing."

If any one of the experiments of these four scientists is proved through replication to be valid, the already troubled agricultural arm of biotech will be in truly dire straits. No one knows that better than Monsanto, Sygenta and other biotech firms that have so aggressively attacked the four discoveries in question." | The Sad Saga of Ignacio Chapela (Bellaciao)

"SCRI chief says it is wrong to write off benefits of GM" - "PROFESSOR John Hillman, the director of the Scottish Crop Research Institute, believes that conventional agriculture has done a good job of feeding most of the world’s population.

Given the chance, he says, it will continue to do so, a contribution that cannot be replaced by organic farming, while rejecting the potential benefits of genetically modified crops is a mistake. He warned: "[Conventional] agriculture is relatively important and becoming more so. Underestimate it at your peril."

He has made these points enthusiastically several times in recent months in conference presentations and makes them again in his annual, wide- ranging survey of world science and its implications in the SCRI’s annual report.

Of organic farming, he says that its claims for health-enhancing qualities cannot be validated, it is low productivity compared with conventional and biotech agriculture, and has a high dependence on poisonous copper salts (to control pests).

Organic production also means: blemished crops, the risk of mycotoxins and reduced vitamin C levels, reliance on faecal fertilisers, raising concerns about food-poisoning micro-organisms, eggs of parasitic nematodes and pollution of water-courses; with reliance on tilling leading to soil structure damage and release of greenhouse gases." (The Scotsman)

"Salt-tolerant rice requires careful selection" - "Research in the Netherlands has revealed that under sub-otpimal conditions, the best way for rice breeders to improve the rice harvest is to produce varieties whose performance is not fertiliser dependent. However, specifically modified varieties need to be developed for rice growing under saline conditions." (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research)

"China accepts GM canola" - "Saskatchewan canola producers --who have half the seeded acres of canola in Canada -- won't have to worry about the threatened loss of roughly one-third of its export market.

China set an April 20 deadline for makers of genetically modified crops to submit safety certificates required under new regulations. The safety certificates would prove the products are safe for people, animals and the environment.

As of last week, it looked like Canadian canola producers would be locked out of China since developers of genetically modified canola, Bayer and Monsanto, had not yet received approvals from China.

But Barbara Isman, president of the Canola Council of Canada, said the organization has learned that the Chinese vice-minister of agriculture has signed off on the safety certificates for those companies.

"Essentially, they're giving GM crops the all-clear,'' Isman said in an interview Monday. "Apparently, the certificates are to be picked up Tuesday.'' (The StarPhoenix)

April 13, 2004

"Desalting Plants Worry Environmentalists" - "BOSTON -- More towns in Massachusetts are considering plans to build facilities that purify salt water from the Atlantic Ocean as a way to address chronic water shortages, but environmentalists are worried that delicate aquatic ecosystems may be damaged." (Associated Press)

"Honest debate' needed on global warming" - "Debate over the potential impact of global warming is muddied by scientists at both ends of the probability spectrum, according to one of the nation's leading experts on the atmosphere.

Stephen H. Schneider, a professor of biological sciences at Stanford University, a world-recognized researcher in atmospheric science and a presidential adviser on climate questions going back to the Nixon Administration, last week told a Chico State University audience he would love to see a year of honest debate on the whole topic of global warming." (Chico Enterprise-Record)

"Australia on track despite greenhouse gas rise" - "The Federal Government has released figures showing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to grow. The figures show Australia's greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.3 per cent between 1990 and 2002. The rise came mainly from the energy sector where emissions increased by almost 4 per cent, while emissions rose by more than 2 per cent in the industrial sector. Despite the rise, the report also shows emissions fell by 12.5 per cent per head of population. The Australian Greenhouse Office says it means Australia is on target to meet its agreed emission levels of 108 per cent of 1990 levels, by 2008 to 2012." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"Planes and cars boom can't go on, says Blair's green team" - "American-style patterns of growth in aviation, road transport and fuel use are "wholly unsustainable" and will damage the quality of life of present and future generations, according to a damning report by the Government's own advisers.

The panel, set up by Tony Blair five years ago to preside over a strategy of "greening" policy across Whitehall, says today that Britain is "far adrift" from meeting its national and global responsibilities towards the environment. The Government has failed to get a grip on fossil fuel emissions responsible for climate change, aviation and road transport are growing out of control and Britain is languishing near the bottom of the European league table on recycling waste, according to a progress report from the Sustainable Development Commission." (Daily Telegraph)

"Using CO2 to prolong UK North Sea oil too costly" - "LONDON - A UK proposal to inject carbon dioxide into ageing North Sea oil and gas fields, extending their life while reducing greenhouse gas levels, is too expensive for energy companies, a government study found last week.

The UK hopes to combine the two goals by using carbon dioxide (CO2) to pump extra oil and then keeping the gas underground in depleted reservoirs. The increased oil recovery could partially offset the cost of storing the carbon dioxide.

"This study has confirmed that CO2-based enhanced oil recovery is not currently an attractive investment to North Sea oil producers," the UK's Department of Trade and Industry said in a statement." (Reuters)

"US nuclear industry powers back into life" - "25 years after the Three Mile Island accident, reactor builders are active again" (The Guardian)

"Farming is Biggest Global Environmental Threat, Says New Book" - "WASHINGTON, April 9, 2004 - Inefficient farming practices are helping to drive deforestation, pollution, ocean degradation and species loss, and constitute the most serious environmental threat in the world today, according to a new book." (GreenBiz.com)

"Vatican Jumps Into Biotech Fray" - "The Vatican stepped into the charged debate over genetically modified organisms Monday, convening a scientific conference to help it make a pronouncement on the moral issues involved and whether biotech foods can really alleviate world hunger." (AP)

"Success Of Genetically Modified Crops Depends On Consumers" - "LINCOLN - Farmers may embrace it. Companies can invest billions. But the ultimate fate of agricultural biotechnology hinges on consumers." (Nebraska StatePaper.com)

April 12, 2004

"What the World Needs Now Is DDT" - "The year 2000 was a time of plague for the South African town of Ndumo, on the border of Mozambique. That March, while the world was focused on AIDS, more than 7,000 people came to the local health clinic with malaria. The South African Defense Force was called in, and soldiers set up tents outside the clinic to treat the sick. At the district hospital 30 miles away in Mosvold, the wards filled with patients suffering with the headache, weakness and fever of malaria -- 2,303 patients that month. ''I thought we were going to get buried in malaria,'' said Hervey Vaughan Williams, the hospital's medical manager.

Today, malaria has all but vanished in Ndumo. In March 2003, the clinic treated nine malaria cases; Mosvold Hospital, only three.

As malaria surges once again in Africa, victories are few. But South Africa is beating the disease with a simple remedy: spraying the inside walls of houses in affected regions once a year. Several insecticides can be used, but South Africa has chosen the most effective one. It lasts twice as long as the alternatives. It repels mosquitoes in addition to killing them, which delays the onset of pesticide-resistance. It costs a quarter as much as the next cheapest insecticide. It is DDT.

KwaZulu-Natal, the province of South Africa where Ndumo and Mosvold are located, sprayed with DDT until 1996, then stopped, in part under pressure from other nations, and switched to another insecticide. But mosquitoes proved to be resistant to the new insecticide, and malaria cases soared. Since DDT was brought back in 2000, malaria is once again under control. To South Africans, DDT is their best defense against a killer disease." (New York Times Magazine) | Associated Poll | View Results

"What's USAID Hiding?" - "It's depressing to hear well-paid multilateral agency employees and consultants pontificating on their latest studies -- about how to spend money on aid programs -- while untreated babies are dying of malaria. And last week, the various parties to the World Health Organisation's Roll Back Malaria initiative met at UNICEF's offices in New York, and did just that." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"What's in a Number?" - "In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare asked the question: "What's in a name?" Today the whole world of AIDS policy is asking: "What's in a number?"

The number in question is 140. According to hundreds of media reports, Indian generics companies are prepared to supply anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) for $140 per person per year.

For the drug activists who have been promoting generic drugs, this number is sweet music to their ears. Right now, the research-based pharmaceutical companies that developed the antiretroviral drugs sell original versions in poor countries at "no profit" or steeply discounted prices that are combined in therapies that cost about $2-3 dollars per day. Even at these prices, the activists said that the research-based industry was dealing in death and "profiteering" from the lives of wretched Africans. And with the new price, negotiated by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the activists have been proved correct, right? Well, no. Not only have no drugs been supplied for $140, none are likely to be any time soon." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"EPA Promotes 'Toxic Towels'" - "EPA regulations are like a ratchet wrench. The agency will tighten them with the least excuse, but no amount of new information will ever convince it to loosen them. Thus it's utterly bizarre that the EPA is now indeed proposing relaxing rules on something that's truly an environmental hazard." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Fears (Real and Excessive) From Warning on Tuna" - "When Joseph Ugalde, 38, a San Francisco marketing executive, goes out for lunch, he orders the Chinese chicken salad, the turkey avocado sandwich or sometimes the chicken pesto melt.

But as of last month, one thing he will not order is tuna fish. No tuna salads. No tuna sandwiches. No tuna melts. "I loved tuna melts," Mr. Ugalde said somewhat wistfully. "Or I did."

Now, however, Mr. Ugalde is boycotting tuna, which he used to eat once or twice a week, because of federal advisories about mercury in it.

"When you are seeing headlines about mercury splashed across newspapers, it puts up a little warning sign across your head," said Mr. Ugalde, who recently warned a co-worker who was on the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet about the tuna she was eating every day." (New York Times)

Acrylamide, fruits and nuts: "Hold the French fries" - "Most of us might think acrylamide was the shiny stuff you cover cheap sofas with. Nor do most people (even in California, where it originated) know exactly what Prop 65 is. The collision of the two, however, will make headlines over the next couple of months. It may even change our eating habits." (John Sutherland, The Guardian)

"He's not being naughty he's an ODD child" - "Scientists in America have devised a new syndrome that 'explains' bad behaviour in under-10s - Oppositional Defiant Disorder, write Julie Henry and Michael Day" (Telegraph)

Rebranded LODS (Lack Of Discipline Syndrome)?

Way off base? "Greenpeace won't participate in anti seal-hunt campaign, says spokesman" - "MONTREAL - The environmental group Greenpeace won't participate in the latest campaign against the Canadian seal hunt because it's focusing on more pressing concerns, says a spokesman. Greenpeace's name was notably absent from paid advertisements against the seal hunt that appeared last week in major newspapers including the New York Times. Steven Guilbault, Greenpeace's Quebec spokesman, said the environmental group will focus instead on issues such as genetically-modified foods and climate change." (Canadian Press)

Just when you thought you'd seen it all: "Wrong kind of rain blamed for increasing number of car crashes" - "CLIMATE change may be to blame for a huge increase in car crashes caused by sudden downpours, a survey has found." (The Times)

"Defra to retreat on carbon reduction" - "Britain is to make a retreat on its climate-change policy by relaxing the ambitious carbon-reduction targets that will be imposed on UK industry under the European Union's emissions-trading scheme.

Defra, the agriculture ministry, has insisted that its decision does not undermine its commitment to its overall climate-change targets. But the move is likely to be seen as a setback for a government that has prided itself on tackling global warming." (Financial Times)

They don't say? "Putin adviser wants Russia to bury Kyoto, WWF says" - "OSLO, April 12 - A key adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin wants Moscow to bury a U.N. plan to limit emissions of gases blamed for global warming, the WWF environmental group said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Carbon tax 'will put jobs at risk'" - "GOVERNMENT plans to bring in a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gases will cost information and communications technology (ICT) businesses over €30 million each year, according to ICT Ireland, which is part of employers' group IBEC.

ICT Ireland director Brendan Butler said the industry was "fundamentally opposed" to a carbon tax, which he said would damage competitiveness, contribute to higher inflation and eventually result in job losses.

The group said it recognised that Ireland needed to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the Kyoto Treaty, the international agreement that aims to force countries to improve their policies on the environment.

But Mr Butler said a carbon tax would not cause Irish businesses to change their behaviour and would instead add costs without delivering environmental benefits." (Irish Examiner)

"Out of sight, out of mind?" - "The world needs to reduce greenhouse emissions, but is burying them underground the answer? Melissa Fyfe reports." (The Age)

Here we go again: "Study to measure cows' impact on gas emissions" - "WINNIPEG — The federal government wants to get a better handle on whether cattle burps are having an impact on climate change. Environment Canada is launching new efforts to measure the amount of methane gas produced by cattle as they digest their food." (Canadian Press)

"Focus: New link between asthma and diesel fumes shows the campaign must go on" - "For two years this newspaper has helped raise awareness of a disease that affects 5.2 million people in Britain. Policies and lives have changed, but there is still much to do. Severin Carrell and Geoffrey Lean report on a crisis in research funding and dramatic new science that shows pollution from exhaust fumes can cause asthma." (Independent on Sunday)

Really? The new research suggests that traffic reduction may offer more relief from nasal and eye symptoms than from the chest symptoms that mark asthma, according to Burr. "It suggests that nasal and eye symptoms are more sensitive responses to these pollutants than are lower respiratory symptoms," he told Reuters Health.

That's because although residents of the high-traffic area did report less wheezing and coughing a year after the bypass opened, so did a comparison group of people from nearby low-traffic streets. In fact, the improvement was greater in the latter group.

This suggests the bypass and the subsequent drop in traffic fumes are "unlikely" to be the reason for the fall in chest symptoms, according to Burr and his colleagues. They speculate that other factors, such as a change in weather patterns or rates of respiratory infections, were at work.

"Big Mac invasion forces France to weigh culture" - "MILLAU, France — Back in 1999, a sheep farmer in an Asterix mustache led a small band of Gauls on a Big Mac attack heard 'round the world. A proud, feisty France, he exulted, humbled Imperial McDonald's.

The symbols seemed perfect. Asterix, a French comic-book hero who drew super-strength from a magic potion, saved his corner of Gaul from Rome. But, this time, the Empire struck back.

Today Jose Bove, the Farmers' Confederation firebrand, risks slipping away into history. "McDo" cash registers at 1,030 locations, meanwhile, ring up a million sales a day to French customers." (AP)

"Do you believe in miracles? Yes. Then you must be a worshipper of organic food" - "CONSUMER choice, like motherhood and Horatio Nelson, is a good thing. Which is why I am happy that organic food sales have grown so fast in recent years. My problem is that the organic movement, which claims to espouse a loose-knit and tolerant philosophy, actually practises a fierce and fundamentalist religion...

The organic movement is also full of strange rules. It announces that it is in possession of the Revealed Truth. And what is worse, if you don’t accept its teachings you are not just a sinner — you are endangering the entire planet.

But if you examine organic farming closely you may be surprised by what you find. Clearly the Organic Taleban (aka the Soil Association) preaches against the use of chemicals in agriculture. That, after all, is what differentiates organic farming from the poison-drenching techniques which sinners like me use. Or does it?" (Oliver Walston, The Times)

?!! "Seminar examines biotech concerns" - "Percy Schmeiser ran afoul of agrochemical giant Monsanto Co. nearly six years ago over genetically modified canola plants found growing in a ditch on his Saskatchewan farm." (The Register-Guard)

900 acres of 95-98 percent pure Roundup Ready canola must be some ditch eh? Joe Harwood needs to try checking a few facts rather than perpetuating such drivel.

"Scientists 'beef up' plant-dwelling bacteria to boost phytoremediation" - "Scientists transfer genes from pollutant-degrading bacteria into bacteria residing in plants to improve the plants' use in phytoremediation. They describe their proof-of-principle experiment, in which test plants inoculated with the "beefed-up" bacteria increased the degradation of toluene, in the May 2004 issue of Nature Biotechnology." (DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory)

"Scotts Testing Genetically Modified Grass" - "GERVAIS, Ore. - In an unmarked site on the edges of this community of berry farmers, Bob Harriman puts one foot on the world's most controversial grass. It's a blanket of brilliant green — as thin as a piece of paper and as uniform as cellophane. If it sounds unnatural, that's because it is." (Associated Press)

"California's rice farmers fear biotech incursion" - "Proposal for genetically engineered crop could threaten lucrative foreign markets." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Genetically modified rice crop blocked" - "The state's top agriculture official Friday blocked a proposal to plant the nation's first commercial crop of a grain genetically modified to produce a medicine.

The decision leaves open the possibility the proposal could return, however, for next year's growing season in California.

Ventria Bioscience, a Sacramento biotechnology company, was hoping to plant up to 120 acres of rice, engineered to produce two proteins found in human breast milk, tears and saliva. The proteins are natural antibiotics that help fight off certain infections." (Mercury News)

"Death By Regulation" - “I started out with nothing,” a wag once said, “and I’ve still got most of it left.” That grim joke crossed my mind last week when I read the news that biotech crops won’t be taking root in Britain after all.

You may recall that just three weeks ago I was celebrating the British government’s long overdue decision to let farmers in the United Kingdom grow a particular kind of biotech enhanced corn. The move suggested that Britain was ready to abandon the politics of fear and follow Spain in becoming the second European country to permit the large-scale growth of genetically enhanced crops.

But now everybody’s had a chance to read the fine print--and it turns out the British are imposing so many onerous regulations on the newly approved corn that its maker, Bayer CropScience, has decided not to release it at all. What initially looked like a victory for individual farmers and sound science has been turned into a Kafka-like defeat." (Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade and Technology)

"Food Phobias: Behind the Fuss Over GM Crops" - "The biggest problem consumers have with agricultural biotechnology is not genetic modification, but misinformation argues Phillip Killicoat" (Centre for Independent Studies)

"Russia Adopts Stricter GM Food Rules" - "According to the new regulation issued by Russia’s Chief Sanitary Inspector Gennady Onischenko, all foods containing 0.9% or more genetically modified material must be clearly marked as such. Foods made of GM products that do not contain protein or DNA must be marked as well. The old regulation permitted foods with GM content below 5% to go unmarked. Onischenko also released a new list of allowed GM products, RIA Novosti reported." (MosNews.com)

"Sweden approves GM potato crops" - "Sweden has approved the growing of the first genetically modified potato - not for human consumption but for production of starch for paper. The move is likely to prove controversial in the EU, which has still to ratify the Swedish decision, because waste products from the process will be used as animal fodder and may enter the human food chain." (The Guardian)

"European Food Safety Authority: consultation on a draft guidance document for the risk assessment of GM plants and derived food and feed" - "The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and its Scientific Panel on genetically modified organisms (GMO) invites comments from interested parties on the draft guidance document prepared by the Scientific Panel." (SeedQuest)

"Crops: The crushing cost of regulation" - "The recent BioVision meeting in Alexandria (http://www.bibalex.org) once again showcase the astonishing range of GM crops in the pipeline. Much emphasis was put on work done by public goods research institutions on crops and traits of interest to resource poor farmers and countries. A fascinating glimpse of the potential future was on offer, with proof of concept demonstrated for a range of disease resistant crops and, even more importantly, for improved abiotic stress tolerance." (Dr. Willy De Greef, SeedQuest)

April 9, 2004

"No Mad Cow at New Jersey Racetrack" - Just when I thought we had successfully navigated past last winter's mad cow maelstrom, a New Jersey woman and the state's two U.S. senators have set a course for a new misadventure. (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

April 8, 2004

"WHO failures led to hundreds of thousands dying from malaria, say medical experts" - "Two of the world's most powerful medical organisations have been accused of medical malpractice for knowingly promoting useless drugs that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children." (Independent)

LNT? "Glowing praise for radioactive units" - "Radiation: it may be good for us.

That is the conclusion of Taiwanese scientists who surveyed thousands of people exposed for years to radiation after recycled steel, contaminated with cobalt-60, was used to build hundreds of apartment blocks in the country.

The scientists say their findings suggest radiation could be used to prevent illness and help elderly people build their natural defences against cancer." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"The Emperor's New Crisis" - "On Sept 12, 2002, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson released the health statistics report from the Centers for Disease Control which revealed the average American's health "has changed dramatically for the better over the past 50 years." He announced: "In 2000, Americans enjoyed the longest life expectancy in U.S. history -- almost 77 years." (Sandy Szwarc, TCS)

"Science, Scaremongers, and Lawsuits: The Acrylamide Story " - "Ever since researchers in Sweden discovered it two years ago in fried and baked foods like french fries, potato chips, and bread, acrylamide has been exploited by nutrition zealots who enjoy scaring us away from the foods they hate. On the heels of the initial discovery, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) jumped without looking (as usual) and petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to force food companies to continually lower the acrylamide content in their products. Using willful manipulations and junk science calculations, CSPI made the false claim that acrylamide was responsible for "8,900 cancers per year." Yet study after study shows that it's much ado about nothing. Sadly, facts rarely get in the way of a good scare campaign -- or a good lawsuit." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

Overstatement du jour: "Experts discover first signs of BSE in sheep" - "Scientists have detected the first signs that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) may have crossed into sheep in a study that is likely to rekindle anxieties over the safety of lamb and mutton." (Independent)

Remarkably more reserved: "Sheep found with BSE-like disease" - "Scientists responsible for monitoring whether BSE has spread from cattle to sheep on farms are investigating an unusual form of brain disease found in a four-year-old ewe.

Tests on brain tissue at laboratories in Britain and Europe have not confirmed the condition as BSE. But results do not resemble known types of scrapie, a similar disease to BSE in cattle but not thought lethal to humans." (The Guardian)

"Protected Areas Don't Protect Many Endangered Species, Study Finds" - "The good news is that more than a tenth of the Earth's land surface is now a designated safe haven for wildlife, exceeding international targets. But the bad news, according to a new study, is that many of the world's most threatened species don't actually live in those areas. Now scientists behind the study are calling for an urgent review of global conservation strategies. They say national parks and wildlife reserves, no matter how large, won't prevent wide-scale extinctions in coming decades if they aren't created in the right places." (National Geographic News)

"The final countdown" - "All Earthly species will eventually die out, we're being told. Kate Ravilious asks if humans can possibly endure" (The Guardian)

"The Climate 'Consensus'" - "Consensus is the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead." -- Margaret Thatcher "The Downing Street Years", page 167

The Summary for Policymakers that appears at the beginning of all Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is agreed line-by-line by Government Representatives and senior scientists. It therefore represents a true consensus.

But, although it undoubtedly is a unanimous agreement, it also represents a compromise between opposing views, and it suffers from the drawbacks so clearly stated by Maggie." (Vincent Gray, TCS)

Sigh... "Greenland's ice cap under threat" - "Greenland's ice sheet could disappear within the next 1,000 years if global warming continues at its present rate, a report in Nature suggests. Jonathan Gregory and colleagues from the University of Reading say their studies forecast an 8C increase in Greenland's temperature by 2350." (BBC News Online) | Pretty good coverage: A global warming what-if (Bryn Nelson, Newsday) | Study: Greenland Icesheet Faces Meltdown (AFP) | Oh dear, major error included: Greenland ice cap 'doomed to meltdown' (NewScientist.com news service) | Looking promising for a moment: Global warming may melt Greenland's ice, scientists warn (The Guardian) Sadly, "Tim Radford, science editor" made a serious mess of it - see commentary below | ?!! Ice melt in Greenland 'could put London under water in 50 years' (Independent)

So, how does their forecast compare with history? Here's John Daly's station temperature graphs for the appropriate region:

Greenland having been through a cooling cycle during the post-WWII period of significant fossil fuel use doesn't really provide much support for "forecast" enhanced-greenhouse forced massive warming does it? Oh well...

Most "science editors" should know better than to make a significant deal out of virtual world "storylines" like this but a special mention for incompetence must go to Tim Radford, science editor for The Guardian. Radford writes: "... report in the journal Nature that an average annual warming in the region of 2.7C..." - annual warming Tim? +270°C/century sounds plausible to you Tim? Better read the study a little more thoroughly, no?

In fairness, Fred Pearce (New Scientist) also reported 3°C/year. Gregory et al's model runs to 2350AD largely predicted between +2.7°C and +8°C in toto.

By the way Tim, this is about temperature increment, making 2.7°C = ~4.9°F, not 37°F - the same mistake you made with 8°C (14.4°F, not 46°F).

At least David Whitehouse (BBC News Online science editor) managed to report "...say their studies forecast an 8C increase in Greenland's temperature by 2350." and, despite the ridiculous banner, even The Indy's Steve Connor managed to get 8C and a thousand year timeframe more or less "right." As for The Guardian and the New Sensationalist... Sheesh!

"Ice melt may dry out US west coast" - "As Arctic sea ice melts over the next 50 years due to global warming, towns and cities along the west coast of the US could suffer a serious water shortage. Researchers from the University of California modelled the impact of sea ice changes on the world's climate. While Europe got off lightly, shrinking sea ice was likely to mean a drop in annual rainfall by as much as 30 per cent from Seattle to Los Angeles." (New Scientist)

"Rising to power" - "Ian Sample meets Jim Skea, who is charged with solving Britain's looming energy crisis" (The Guardian)

"Green theology leads to an Alice-in-Winderland energy policy..." (EnviroSpin Watch

"Greenpeace founder wins cotton producer converts" - "VISALIA, Calif. - Patrick Moore’s hair has noticeable thinned in the 26 years since he was photographed straddling a baby seal to prevent it from being clubbed to death.

However, his passion for environmental issues has not disappeared since that photograph appeared in 3,000 newspapers worldwide in 1978.

Moore, who holds a doctorate in ecology from the University of British Columbia, is one of the founders of Greenpeace. Greenpeace introduced the world to environmental activism by protecting baby seals, protesting atmospheric nuclear testing and challenging huge Russian whaling trawlers in rubber boats in the stormy North Pacific.

Moore is no longer associated with Greenpeace or any of the other so-called mainstream environmental groups like the Sierra Club. When what he called the anti-civilization, anti-human, anti-globalization, anti-trade ultra-left extremists took over those groups, he turned his back on them. Not only that, he challenges their so-called science at every turn." (TruthAboutTrade.org)

"Canada eyes risks of GMO crops disrupting exports" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 7 - The Canadian government is looking at how to prevent an export fiasco if a few kernels of genetically modified grain showed up in a shipment to a country that hasn't approved the material, an official said on Wednesday.

Canada plans to discuss the issues involved with inadvertent shipments of GMO seeds -- called adventitious presence -- with industry this spring, said Blair Coomber, director general of international trade policy for the federal agriculture department.

"It's technically unavoidable to get every last seed or grain out of a ship or truck," Coomber told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a grain industry meeting.

"What we want to do is look at this issue so that if the shipment of grain shows up in a country with some grains of (non-approved GMOs) detected, that shipment of grain isn't stopped," he explained." (Reuters)

"GM risk assessment in EU under the spotlight" - "08/04/2004 - Biotech firms, consumer groups and environmental campaigners have the opportunity to voice their concerns about the framework for the risk assessment of GM food in the EU with the European food watchdog inviting comments on a new draft guidance.

At the request of the European Commission, the GMO panel at the Brussels-based European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) put together a detailed document to assist applicants in the preparation and presentation of applications for GM plants and derived food and feed." (FoodNavigator.com)

April 7, 2004

"The Senate's Stockholm Syndrome" - "The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs treaty) will soon become binding international law. The stage is now set for potential U.S. Senate ratification of a document that will allow U.N. and other international bureaucrats to implement future global bans on various chemicals and give the Environmental Protection Agency sole authority to accept those bans for the United States.

This alone should generate rancorous debate over sovereignty and constitutional law issues. However, other elements will raise the stakes even higher." (Paul Driessen, TCS)

"Chlorination May Increase Stillbirth Risk" - "NEW YORK - Exposure to tap water containing high levels of chlorination byproducts, particularly compounds called trihalomethanes (THMs), is associated with an increased risk of stillbirth, Canadian researchers report. Still, whether THMs cause stillbirth is unclear, because the risk did not increase in step with increasing levels of the chemicals." (Reuters)

Wow! Who introduced concepts like dose-response? Perhaps there's hope after all...

Should read: '...virtual blood cells...' "Mobile phones 'harm blood cells'" - "Mobile phone radiation may damage cells by increasing the forces they exert on each other, scientists have said. The finding could be the key to claims that mobile phones cause cancer and other health problems. Swedish physicists looked at the effect of electromagnetic radiation on red blood cells using a mathematical theory, New Scientist reported. Experts cautioned that the finding was theoretical and said there was no evidence of a danger to health." (BBC News Online)

So, if you have a red-blooded computer, it might be wise to limit its cell phone use.

"Let them eat cake, butter, cream ..." - "There is almost no connection between the amount of cholesterol in your blood and your risk of a heart attack. Not only that, if you don't already have heart disease, you probably won't live any longer if you bring your cholesterol level down. Finally, statins, the cholesterol-reducing drugs we are all being urged to take, are of little use to women.

These are just a few of the highly controversial claims being made by a loose network of researchers, known collectively as the Cholesterol Skeptics, who are mounting a direct challenge to one of the cornerstones of public health policy - the notion that reducing cholesterol saves lives at risk from heart disease." (The Guardian)

"Military Wants Environmental Laws Eased" - "WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department wants the government to ease environmental laws to avoid costly cleanups of military ranges and give states more time to handle air pollution from training exercises.

The proposed changes were submitted to Congress on Tuesday, part of the Pentagon's renewed drive to ease several environmental laws in the name of military readiness. Since 2002, the Bush administration has sought more flexibility in complying with the laws, claiming that environmental restrictions are compromising training and readiness.

Congress has approved five of the eight changes sought by the Pentagon so far." (Associated Press)

"White House Minimized the Risks of Mercury in Proposed Rules, Scientists Say" - "WASHINGTON, April 5 — While working with Environmental Protection Agency officials to write regulations for coal-fired power plants over several recent months, White House staff members played down the toxic effects of mercury, hundreds of pages of documents and e-mail messages show.

"What they are saying is not scientifically invalid on its face," said Alan Stern, a New Jersey toxicologist who served on the panel. "Partially they edited for clarity and relevance from a scientific standpoint. But there appears to be an emphasis on wordsmithing that is not necessarily dictated by the science." (New York Times)

Well, there's a charge for you: "...not scientifically invalid... edited for clarity... wordsmithing that is not necessarily dictated by the science." If only we could elevate IPCC Assessment Report Summaries For Policymakers to a standard they would bear such a charge. Sadly, those little gems make statements and yield impressions alarmingly contrary to the underlying science and demonstrate scant resemblance to the reports they supposedly summarise. Perhaps we should have these White House staffers summarise the IPCC's pending Fourth Assessment Report.

"Loggerhead sea turtles nesting earlier due to warmer ocean temperatures" - "Loggerhead sea turtles along Florida's Atlantic coast are laying their eggs about 10 days earlier than they did 15 years ago, a change that a University of Central Florida researcher believes was caused by global warming." (University of Central Florida)

"Global warming has many degrees of danger" - "Public health professionals know that prevention is always easier than the cure. From tobacco-free households to contaminant-free drinking water, a healthy environment is essential to protecting human health. We now know that a stable climate is also essential." (Dr. Jonathan Patz And Christine Hagerbaumer, The Portland Tribune)

[Dr. Jonathan Patz is the director of the Program on Health Effects of Global Climate Change at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland; Christine Hagerbaumer is a program director with the Oregon Environmental Council.]

Isn't it odd, we get much wringing of hands over hypothetical and usually implausible "dangers" of global warming but rarely a mention of the certain health benefits of global less-colding. No one disputes that mortalities spike in response to cold spells and no one disputes the data showing "excess" deaths are greater in response to cold events than warm events and yet, no one seems to mention that a less-cold world would provide net health benefit. Most odd.

From the virtual world: "Greenland ice faces meltdown" - "PARIS: Greenhouse gas pollution is so bad that on current trends, Greenland's icesheet may start to melt by the end of this century, a scenario that eventually will drown coastlines around the world, a study warns.

Destruction of the icesheet -- second in size to Antarctica's -- would drive up sea levels by seven metres (22.75 feet) over a thousand years or more, and the process may well be irreversible, it says.

Published on Thursday in the British weekly science journal Nature, the research uses a sophisticated computer model to forecast what happens to the icesheet at different levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions -- the gas spewed out by the burning of fossil fuels that drives global warming." (AFP)

"CIA switches from covert ops to kids' stuff" - "Spy agency's website puts on a cheerful face for youngsters, but contradicts the official White House line on global warming" (The Guardian)

Well, yes, the CIA "Say No to Drugs" pages include: "The increase in greenhouse gases may contribute to the rise in average temperatures around the world which some scientists believe is harmful to all living things." GHGs may do so, and some scientists do so believe - what's The Guardian's point? That this somehow contradicts the Bush Administration? Hardly. What a silly teaser.

"The German Crack in Kyoto's Wall" - "A new crack has appeared in Kyoto's wall.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Europe should not rush into enforcing targets to curb greenhouse emissions if Russia fails to sign the Kyoto protocol. "We hope that Kyoto will be ratified, for example by Russia," told Schroeder. "But if that doesn't happen, it will distort competition at the expense of European and especially German economy."

In fact, according to DRI/WEFA estimates, under the Kyoto protocol the price of home heating could rise by 28 percent in Germany by 2010; gasoline and diesel prices would rise by 9 percent and 14 percent. GDP would shrink by 2.9 percent below the baseline forecasts, and employment would fall by 1.0 million jobs annually during the 2008-2012 budget period.

Clearly, the poorest segments of the German society would be more strongly impacted by emission reduction. While rich people may afford an increase in the price of energy (thus in the cost of living in general), the poor might find it hard to face higher prices. Mr. Schroeder comes from the left; therefore he is supposed to take into account the effect his policies would have on the poor." (Carlo Stagnaro, TCS)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"African Droughts and Dust in the Americas" - "New findings repudiate prior scientific hypotheses and assumptions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, while suggesting yet another beneficial consequence of the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Vines" - "How do vines respond to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment?  And what are the ramifications of the answer to this question?" (co2science.org)

"Nitrogen Fixation (Woody Plants)" - "As the air's CO 2 content climbs ever higher, will it stimulate the growth of leguminous trees and enhance their fixation of nitrogen?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Eastern Cottonwood, Nepalese Browntop, Rice and Wheat." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"The Snow-Cover Season of Southern Poland" - "In light of what climate alarmists call the unprecedented warming of the 20th century, by how many days would you expect the snow-cover season in southern Poland to have decreased over the past hundred years?  Five days?  Fifteen days?  A whole month?  And what about maximum snow depth?" (co2science.org)

"The Medieval Warm Period in Fennoscandia" - "How did its summer temperature compare with that of the present?" (co2science.org)

"Heat-Related Mortality: Economics vs. Climate Change" - "Economic developments over the past few decades in the United States have more than compensated for increasing heat stress in the realm of temperature-related mortality." (co2science.org)

"Carbon Sequestration in European Peat Bogs" - "How does it vary with climate?" (co2science.org)

"UV Radiation: Can It Prevent Coral Bleaching?" - "Not only can it prevent coral bleaching, it does!" (co2science.org)

"Researchers probe link between nanotechnology and health" - "Nanotechnology, a science devoted to engineering things that are unimaginably small, may pose a health hazard and should be investigated further, warns a University of Rochester scientist and worldwide expert in the field, who received a $5.5 million grant to conduct such research." (University of Rochester Medical Center)

"Plants may have future in industrial cleanups" - "ST. LOUIS -- In a Creve Coeur, Mo., laboratory, biochemists Joe Jez and Tom Smith are working toward a day when plants and trees will replace earthmovers and landfills in cleaning contaminated industrial sites.

The duo, who work at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, are advancing a method of phytoremediation, a broad term that refers to using green plants to absorb or break down contaminants in soil, sludge, sediment and groundwater." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Farmers Should Be Wary of GM Wheat-Andreas" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Farmers need to tread gingerly when considering how to approve and handle genetically modified wheat, the chief executive of Archer Daniels Midland Co., one of the world's largest food processors, said on Tuesday.

ADM does not advocate for or against genetically modified crops, but rather focuses on giving customers what they want, G. Allen Andreas told Reuters on the sidelines of the Canada Grains Council conference.

"So if you get a lot of backlash across the world of people who are not interested in consuming bread that is made with genetically enhanced wheat, then farmers clearly have to take a very serious look at this, and so does the country of Canada," Andreas said." (Reuters)

Meaching: "You reap what you sow" - "Biotech giant Bayer has halted GM cultivation in Britain because of flawed trials and financial risk. If only the government was so wise, says Michael Meacher" (The Guardian)

Oh dear... this is what I said about the Indy on Sunday claims a few days ago:

Can The Indy really be so naïve? New maize varieties only have a commercial life of about 5 years before being replaced by something better (yes, crop development is that good) and Chardon LL, the variety in question, has been so delayed now that it would be superseded prior to possible commercial distribution. Consequently, Bayer CropScience has made a commercial decision not to deploy that particular variety in the UK. This does not mean that newer, potentially profitable varieties will not be offered.

Apparently Mike didn't see it.

"Let them eat cake" - "For residents of developed countries, the campaign to demonize genetically modified food simply means higher prices at the supermarket, a Wall Street Journal Editorial says.

In the Third World, however, the scaremongering has a much more dire effect. Nothing demonstrates that more graphically than Angola's decision this week to ban GM grain, even though this will disrupt the food aid that keeps 1.9 million Angolans alive.

The country is just getting on its feet after 27 years of civil war, with tens of thousands of refugees returning to their homes with no means to feed themselves. The World Food Program sustains about one-fifth of the population, but it is having a hard time raising the money for its budget.

The U.S. has been a major provider of in-kind donations, giving 77% of the grain distributed in Angola. But because GM crops are prevalent in the U.S., this life-saving aid will now grind to a halt." (BioScience News)

April 6, 2004

On scaremongers: "Human cost of MMR scare" - "TWO boys have been left permanently disabled as a result of the MMR vaccine scare. Doctors have revealed that the boys, who have been left mentally and physically impaired after contracting measles, are the first known victims of the MMR scare in Britain. The boys’ doctors blame the now discredited research of Dr Andrew Wakefield for the boys’ condition. They say his claim that MMR could cause autism led to the outbreak because fewer children are being vaccinated." (Nina Goswami and Jon Ungoed-Thomas, Sunday Times)

"Where some see villain, others see bad fiction" - "Some say a villain lurks along the Tittabawassee River, masked in the gardens, flower beds and shrubbery of riverside residents.

It's a thief, they cry. But instead of taking their silver, this miscreant has stolen their property values and health, they say.

Nonsense, others reply. This "thief" is fiction. The real villains are the fear-mongers who have cast a shadow of suspicion over their riverside neighborhoods, stealing property values through perception rather than reality." | Dioxin discrepancies (The Saginaw News)

"Science Fiction" - "Science policy-watchers now have the President's Council on Bioethics in their crosshairs. As the council has Bush's ear on issues such as stem-cell research, many scientists complain that the council's membership, revised at the end of February, tilts too far to the pro-life, anti-therapeutic cloning right.

But questions of the Bush administration's scientific integrity have been in the air for several months. In mid-February the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report titled Scientific Integrity in Policymaking: An Investigation into the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science. Last August Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Government Reform, weighed in with his own report, Politics and Science in the Bush Administration.

Both documents charge that the Bush administration had "manipulated the scientific process . . . generating unprecedented criticism from the scientific community" (as the Waxman report put it). What are we to make of this allegation?
" (Sally Satel, The Weekly Standard)

"Politics and Science Do Mix" - "In recent years, science policy has received about as much national attention as bridge-abutment engineering, but suddenly science policy is on the talk shows and in the news. The Union of Concerned Scientists just accused the George W. Bush administration of deliberate "misuse" of science; pundits and some Democrats are citing the report as proof of presidential malfeasance. A few days ago, Bush's science advisor, John H. Marburger III, issued a point-by-point rejoinder. People with degrees in bridge-abutment engineering must be wondering what they could do to get such attention." (Gregg Easterbrook, Los Angeles Times)

"Obesity 'will top smoking as main cause of cancer'" - "Obesity could overtake smoking as the most common preventable cause of cancer in Britain within 10 years, scientists said yesterday. A third of all cancers will be linked to excess fat by the middle of the next decade unless the obesity epidemic can be halted, they predicted. ..." (Daily Telegraph)

... but if the so-called epidemic is averted, we'll just have to link the cancers to something else.

"Children under two 'should not watch any TV'" - "Children under two should not be allowed to watch any television because it increases their chances of suffering attention problems later in life, a study has shown. Television can "reprogramme" the brain, said scientists behind the project, who also urged parents not to allow older children to watch for more than two hours a day." (Daily Telegraph)

Number of the Month: April is now online (Number Watch)

"Jump on our bandwagon" - "The left must see that only environmentalism has the power to restrain global corporations" (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Still can't fathom George's reasoning for the need to curtail human endeavour (or "restrain global corporations" as he terms it here).

To some extent George is right in that environmentalism and ecology have traditionally been conservative positions but apparently he does not recognise the difference between resource husbanding (variously known as environmentalism, conservation...) and "museumising nature" to human detriment. Earth and its biosphere have always been different on the day from what was the day/year/millennium before. Change is its natural state and no one can point to a day and say: "That is how the Earth must be! That is how we must preserve it!" Some changes happen more rapidly and some are more desirable than others but none are "right" or "wrong."

Restraining "global corporations" is hardly a desirable change, at least from the perspective of retirees dependent on returns from funds whose profits are generated by said corporations, nor from that of mom & pop investors, the employees of said companies, the communities garnering taxes from both the corporations and their employees... Much of our research and development is also performed or financed by "global corporations," albeit with the expectation of profiting from their efforts eventually (but then, they are legally obliged to make profits for shareholders, no?).

Here's another point to ponder George, "global corporations," also generate the societal wealth, the surplus beyond simple survival that underwrites protection of big-eyed fur-bearing critters, their habitat and the huggable trees that many of us find desirable ornaments in our environment.

"Global corporations" are part of our environment too, George, neither "good" nor "bad," they're really just another resource to be nurtured and cared for. That's environmentalism George.

Figures... "Hungary blocks Nato radar project" - "Hungary's defence ministry has ordered a halt to the construction of a Nato radar station on a nature reserve after protests by environmentalists." (BBC News Online)

"Keep Kyoto pledge" - "Despite all the federal government's tub-thumping about its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, preliminary figures indicate Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in 2002 were higher than ever. As well, an internal audit portrays Ottawa's $500 million, five-year Action Plan 2000, an emissions-reduction program, as a considerable dud. Time is running out and so is the patience of those who welcomed Canada's ratification of the Kyoto accord, a hard-won treaty hammered together in 1997. It calls on major industrialized countries to cut emissions before 2012 by 5.2 per cent from 1990 levels." (Toronto Star)

"Kyoto could be Russia's ticket to Europe" - "WASHINGTON Eleven years after Russia applied for membership in the World Trade Organization, the major outstanding issue is with the European Union, and involves Russian natural gas. The key to concluding could be Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocols." (Anders Aslund, IHT)

[Anders Aslund is director of the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace]

Umm... Anders? Here's a a little bit of trivia for you, something you might have overlooked:

Andrei Illarionov, economic advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters in Calgary Feb. 25 that ratification [of the Kyoto Protocol] could consign the Russian economy to a “death camp (of) poverty, weakness, backwardness.”

He said the protocol is “incompatible” with Russia’s goal of doubling its gross domestic product by 2010.

Illarionov, relying on 4,500 years of climatological data, said the science behind Kyoto is fl