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Archives - August 2002

August 30, 2002

"The Other Fake Meat" - "You might think the anti-meat food police at the Center for Science in the Public Interest would be cheering the new meat substitute Quorn. Instead, CSPI is scaring the public and bad-mouthing Quorn to the Food and Drug Administration." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Mobiles are safe, just ask 1600 mice - theage.com.au" - "Radiation from mobile phones does not increase the likelihood of cancer, according to the largest and most rigorous animal study undertaken into the controversial question. The study exposed 1600 genetically modified and "wild type" mice to differing levels of mobile phone radiation for an hour each day over two years. It found no increase in their rate of lymphoma even though the transgenic mice were bred with a "hair trigger" tendency to develop the tumour in response to cancer-promoting changes in their environment. The research, carried out in Adelaide with a $1.2 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council, is a centrepiece of Australia's $4.5 million contribution to international efforts to determine whether mobile phones could be harmful."

"Greenpeace, biz urge climate change action" - "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug. 29 -- The business community and the environmental action group Greenpeace, in a self-described unprecedented event, Thursday joined to urge action on climate change and to demand the United States ratify the Kyoto climate protocol." (UPI)

"The smokescreen hiding our greenhouse effort - theage.com.au" - "Despite what the government says, Australia is one of the worst polluters per capita in the world, and it is going to get worse. Claire Miller reports."

"Greenhouse-emission calculations quite wrong" - "IN JANUARY last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest projections of prospective global warming. The key finding was that "globally averaged mean surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8`C over the period 1990 to 2100".

The statement led to widespread alarm. Most commentators, including many scientists, interpreted the IPCC's new projected range as a forecast of massive rises in global temperatures, but the IPCC made projections, not predictions, by feeding hypothetical levels of future greenhouse emissions into climate models. The output of such models cannot be better than the input assumptions upon which they are based.

The simulated temperature increases in the IPCC's lowest emissions scenario ranged from 1.4 to 2.5`C. Some assumptions incorporated in this scenario were conservative, but it also assumed an extraordinarily high rate of economic growth in the developing world." (Ian Castles, The Canberra Times)

[Mr Castles, formerly head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, is a Visiting Fellow at the ANU's National Centre for Development Studies]

"'BULLSHIT AWARD FOR SUSTAINING POVERTY' AWARDED TODAY TO VANDANA SHIVA" - "28 August, Johannesburg - At a mass rally today in Johannesburg, the winner of the Bullshit Award for Sustaining Poverty was announced. In a closely run race, the winner was chosen for her important contribution to sustaining poverty around the world, in her role as a mouthpiece of western eco-imperialism.

In front of a rapt crowd of farmers from Africa and Asia, the award - a plaque mounted with a cow manure, representing the traditional agricultural technology that the winner favours - was bestowed on Ms. Vandana Shiva. Other award nominees included Greenpeace International, BioWatch, SAFeAGE, and the Third World Network." (Liberty Institute, India)

"National Geographic News: Viewpoint: End Global Poverty Before Global Warming" - "With the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development underway in Johannesburg this week, much is being said about sustainability and development. The phrase sustainable development is a curious mix of Western concern for environmental sustainability and the developing world's concern for substantial, economic development. At these big environmental gatherings it has historically been the First World's priorities that have won out. The challenge in Johannesburg is to finally get the courage to put development ahead of sustainability"

"Unsustainable economic tack -- The Washington Times" - "The World Summit on Sustainable Development doesn't have to end up the way it's likely to end up, with just one thing to be grateful for - the fact that most of its recommendations will never be implemented. If they were, the objectives of lessening poverty and protecting the environment would be kaput, finished, dead things that wacko ideologies had finished off by dint of their perverse refusal to see reality."

"Fund set up to safeguard future food supply" - "LONDON - Agricultural groups launched a drive yesterday to protect the seeds that will secure future food supplies even as world leaders sought ways to halve world hunger. The United Nations' food arm and a developing world agricultural research group told the Earth Summit in Johannesburg they aimed for an endowment of $260 million for the genebanks holding some 5.4 million crop plant samples globally. They hope the summit, held in the shadow of famine in southern Africa, will galvanise a drive to protect the seeds which ensure that world food staples can be revitalised in the face of changing climate, pests or disease." (Reuters)

"Greens accused of helping Africans starve" - "JOHANNESBURG — U.S. AID Administrator Andrew Natsios accused environmental groups yesterday of endangering the lives of millions of famine-threatened Africans by encouraging their governments to reject genetically modified U.S. food aid.

"They can play these games with Europeans, who have full stomachs, but it is revolting and despicable to see them do so when the lives of Africans are at stake," Mr. Natsios said in an interview.

Mr. Natsios did not name specific groups, but other officials indicated he was infuriated by the activities in Zambia — a country he had just visited — of groups including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

"They are using big-time, very well-organized propaganda the likes of which I have never seen before" in 12 years of American-led famine-relief efforts, said Mr. Natsios, who could not persuade the Zambians to accept U.S. food aid.

"The Bush administration is not going to sit there and let these groups kill millions of poor people in southern Africa through their ideological campaign," Mr. Natsios said on the sidelines of the World Summit on Sustainable Development." (The Washington Times)

"US presses Africa to take GM foods" - "The US was accused yesterday of putting intense pressure on United Nations organisations, the European Union and individual countries to support the export of GM food aid to six African countries facing severe hunger in the coming months. Three countries were insisting that the food be milled to prevent the seeds being planted by farmers who may unwittingly pre-empt national legislation." (The Guardian)

August 29, 2002

"On Long Island, Scientists Keep Studying Breast Cancer Rates That Are Not Unusual" - "When scientists announced this month that a widely anticipated federal study of breast cancer had failed to find links to pollution or other environmental factors, attention was again focused on the prevalence of the disease on Long Island, where the study was based.

For years, it has been widely thought that rates of breast cancer on Long Island are unusually high. But, contrary to popular belief, they are not. The rates on Long Island are not much different from those of the rest of the country — and a number of areas in the Northeast and elsewhere have higher rates." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"Forecast for Future: Deluge and Drought" - "It has been a summer of extremes. Rains have deluged Europe and Asia, swamping cities and villages and killing some 2,000 people, while drought and heat have seared the American West and Eastern cities. What is going on? The floods and droughts could simply be flickers in the inherently chaotic weather system, some experts say. But many warn that such extremes will be increasingly common as the world grows warmer." (New York Times)

"ATMOSPHERIC WAVE LINKED TO SEA ICE FLOW NEAR GREENLAND, STUDY FINDS" - "A NASA researcher finds that the amount of sea ice that moves between Greenland and Spitsbergen, a group of islands north of Norway, is dependent upon a "wave" of atmospheric pressure at sea level. By being able to estimate how much sea ice is exported through this region, called Fram Strait, scientists may develop further insights into how the ice impacts global climate." (NASA/GSFC)

"Frigid South Pole atmosphere reveals flaw in global circulation models" - "Atmospheric measurements made at Earth's geographic poles provide a convenient way of validating and calibrating global circulation models. Such measurements also might provide some of the first conclusive evidence of global change in the middle and upper atmospheres. But new data shows that the current models are wrong: Temperatures over the South Pole are much colder in winter than scientists had anticipated." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Chrétien could deliver Kyoto to world" - "OTTAWA and TORONTO -- Will he or won't he? A big political question hanging over Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's trip to Johannesburg next week is whether he will use the occasion to commit Canada to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

The temptation to announce Canada's ratification has to be huge. Mr. Chrétien can effectively deliver the protocol to the world community if he agrees in Johannesburg that Canada will ratify. For a Prime Minister at the end of his mandate who is casting about for a legacy, that would be a world-class coup." (Globe and Mail)

"U.S. Faces Legal Battles as Climate Bogeyman" - "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The United States faces new challenges in the courts over its climate policies despite denying that the world's biggest polluter is responsible for global warming. Wednesday the government of tiny Pacific island state Tuvalu said it planned to launch lawsuits within a year against the United States and Australia. Both have rejected the Kyoto climate pact. The country, which is only 13 feet above sea level at its highest point, faces oblivion if the scientists' gloomy scenarios prove right and global warming causes the sea to rise. Tuvalu is blaming the polluters." (Reuters)

"Those Imperfect Storms" - "In boxing, there is always a Fight of the Century. Hype is part of boxing's anticipatory and participatory excitement, and is entirely expected by its fans.

And then there are Storms of the Century.

Storms of the Century aren't jostled into being by mere inebriate or even sober subjectivity. A Storm of the Century must meet certain quantitative benchmarks. For example, it must be counted in inches of rain per hour, total inches of rainfall, or floodwater height or volume. But that modest factual basis doesn't keep subjective, unscientific judgment from cluttering the analysis of them." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS Europe)

"Australia still summit villain" - "AUSTRALIA'S climate change approach was mocked at home and abroad today, with the Government painted as a villain at the largest United Nations summit in history. Environmentalists in Johannesburg said members of the Australian delegation set up a stall at the summit only to be mocked by other delegates, angry at its climate stance." (AAP)

"INTERVIEW - Big business needs Kyoto, says industry chief" - "JOHANNESBURG - The world should stick with the Kyoto climate change pact despite misgivings from some major companies and rejection by the United States, according to the chief industry representative at the "Earth Summit II". "I believe that Kyoto should be ratified. It is not a perfect agreement, it has shortcomings but it's the only agreement we have got," Mark Moody-Stuart, former chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, told Reuters late on Monday." (Reuters)

"Bush Was Right" - "JOHANNESBURG—To the chagrin of tens of thousands of Green activists here in South Africa, the latest United Nations environmental conference is turning out not to be a typical environmental conference at all. Instead, it is focusing on the real-life concerns of the citizens of developing nations—especially, on economic growth.

As a veteran of similar meetings at the Hague in 2000 and Bonn last year, which concentrated on climate change and turned into bash-America festivals, I was pleasantly surprised, when I arrived today at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, to find the focus broader and more productive than at any similar conclave since Rio ten years ago. Yes, the fanatics are here, but the tone is more reasonable." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Fueling the Future; What energy sources will drive the 21st century?" - "Johannesburg, South Africa — "The priority has to be getting energy access to poor people no matter what the source," said Greenpeace spokesman Steve Sawyer at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). He was responding to my question about whether the 2 billion or so people without access to modern energy services should nonetheless be able to get access to energy from whatever source, renewable or not? It is indeed progress that radical groups like Greenpeace now recognize poor people can't be overly choosy about how they cook their food and light their homes." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Voters attack Labour's green record" - "Sixty per cent of British voters think that the Labour government is not doing enough to tackle world pollution or to give aid to the developing world, according to the results of this month's Guardian/ICM opinion poll. The survey shows that the nation appears to be split over whether the earth summit in Johannesburg will prove to be more than a global talking shop or is just a massive junket for the world's ministers. Fifty-six per cent of British voters think the 60,000 delegates will achieve "not much" (39%) or "nothing at all" (17%) during the conference at which they are debating the state of the environment and looking at development issues including health care, education and the relief of poverty." (The Guardian)

"In Johannesburg, activists sow false fears" - "Six thousand journalists are in Johannesburg to cover the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The BBC team alone is rumored to number at least 100. Never have so many traveled so far to report so little: The meeting will likely produce nothing except the same tiresome effusion of anti-Western rhetoric we heard from last year's "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban. Already, both South African President Thabo Mbeki and the summit's secretary-general have accused Western leaders of presiding over a system of "global apartheid." Not to be outdone, Friends of the Earth International declared Canada, the United States and Australia to be part of an "axis of environmental evil." (National Post)

"Poor Choices" - "JOHANNESBURG - The World Summit on Sustainable Development has focused on the issue of poverty. In his opening remarks South African president Thabo Mbeki, lamenting the current inequalities between the wealthy and poor, called for "wealth sharing" as a way out. How does he propose to go about this?" (James S. Shikwati, TCS Europe)

"A Summit Hard to Stomach" - "U.N. gathering spends millions on polish and paper, not for poor." (Ken Adelman, TCS)

"Unsustainable; It’s the third world, not the West" - "As the U.N.'s "World Summit for Sustainable Development" got under way this week in Johannesburg, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki welcomed the 12,600 attendees with the warning that "unsustainable patterns of production and consumption are creating an environmental disaster that threatens both life in general, and human life in particular." The root of the problem, according to Mbeki, is that the international economic order is "constructed on the basis of a savage principle of survival of the fittest." And thus, the U.N. conference got off on a predictably wrong foot." (Jerry Taylor, NRO)

"Real Aid; Save the planet with capitalism" - "Whenever delegates from countries around the world get together it is almost always bad news for freedom and capitalism. The earth summit on "sustainable development" that is currently being held in South Africa is no exception." (Stephen Moore, NRO)

"Agriculture and Biodiversity Can Survive and Thrive Together" - "Johannesburg, South Africa, (Future Harvest Foundation/IUCN) - Practical, real-world solutions to food production and biodiversity conservation can feed the world's poor today and satisfy the projected 40- to 60-percent increases in global food demand over the next few decades according to a study sponsored by the Future Harvest Foundation and IUCN - The World Conservation Union, and released today." (Future Harvest Foundation/IUCN)

"U.S. Offers Zambia Food Safety Help" - "LUSAKA, Zambia - The United States offered Wednesday to help Zambia assess the safety of genetically modified grain, after the Southern African nation rejected donations despite an impending food crisis. Almost 2.5 million Zambians are reportedly in danger of starvation if they don't get help quickly, but the government is worried the food may be a health risk. Washington has offered to help Zambia set up its own biotechnology plant so scientists can research genetically modified foods, said Andrew Natsios, the director of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The United States will also provide Zambia data collected by its own scientists, he said. Natsios made the offer at a meeting with Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa, during a two-day visit to Zambia." (AP)

"San Francisco Chronicle - Altered fish in a battle for survival Regulation measures face tough obstacles" - "A pair of bills that aim to make California the first state in the nation to regulate transgenic fish in food markets and the environment face deadly battles in the Legislature this week. On Monday, the Senate passed a consumers' right-to-know bill that would require the labeling of unpackaged bioengineered fish and seafood sold in California retail stores. The bill must clear the Assembly by Saturday, the session's end, to survive."

August 28, 2002

JunkScience.com is very widely read: "What's so scientific about junk science?" - "THERE was a time, not so long ago, when any proposition was accepted or rejected on the basis of its `scientific' validity. Thus, the characterisation of any proposition as `scientific' was thought to establish its truth beyond dispute while its description as `unscientific' implied that it did not merit any further consideration." (The Hindu Business Line)

"World's top judges pledge to punish polluters" - "More than 120 chief justices, supreme court justices and other top judges from 60 countries pledged yesterday to crack down on breaches of environmental laws that, until now, have been only patchily enforced across the world. The first worldwide meeting of top judges, which convened last week, concluded they had to be guardians of the global environment, and promised "to boldly and fearlessly implement and enforce" the laws. Some of them believe that the decision will be the first step towards the creation of an international court of environmental rights." (The Independent)

"U.S. Pays $3.3B for Salmon Recovery" - "Federal agencies have spent more than $3.3 billion in the past two decades to help Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead runs recover — with little conclusive success, the General Accounting Office says." (AP)

"U.S. Says No To WEO" - "A top U.S. State Department official has all but rejected a proposal to establish a World Environmental Organization, similar to the World Trade Organization. The official went further, stating, "Since the 1992 Rio Summit, experience shows that the international community does not need new treaties, new bureaucracies, or new government-to-government aid commitments." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"The Villainous Vandana Shiva; A false environmental prophet" - "Attila the Hun, though widely regarded as a barbaric tyrant, is revered in Hungary. The same is true of Vlad Dracula in a region of Eastern Europe. Knowing this makes it just a bit easier to understand how the current issue of Time magazine could profile Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva as "hero." (Michael Fumento, NRO)

"Stars Not Coming Out for Earth Summit" - "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The sun may have shone on the Earth Summit but the stars have definitely not come out in Johannesburg. "Where have all the big names gone?" is the protest lament in South Africa as not only President Bush but also the green stars of the entertainment world who graced the event in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago have been conspicuous by their absence.

"It's off the radar screen," was the dismissive verdict at the offices of big-selling British celebrity magazine Hello. "Not a word has been uttered about it."

That may be bad news not just for gossip columnists but for the U.N. summit organizers anxious for coverage around the globe to raise awareness of poverty and environmental dangers. Sting, John Denver and the Beach Boys serenaded delegates who flocked to Brazil and the delights of Copacabana beach for the first Earth Summit in 1992. It is hard to find one A-list music industry celeb in Johannesburg. Irish rock third world warriors Bono and Bob Geldof are not here, despite a long record of raising money and publicity for Africa's debt problem and famines." (Reuters)

"From Rio to Johannesburg" - "If you are in love with international treaties, if non-governmental organizations make your heart beat faster, then Johannesburg will be the place for you. If you care passionately about fighting poverty and improving the lives of children in the Third World, on the other hand, then there are probably better ways of spending your time and travel money." (Helle Dale, Washington Times)

"A sham summit in South Africa" - "JOHANNESBURG THE OCCASION is the United Nations' World Summit on Sustainable Development, a summit that is attempting to fix a world that we are told is on its last legs - gloomy stuff indeed." (Boston Globe)

"Sustaining the Sustainers" - "Global conferences aimed at changing the world have grown humbler over the decades. Initially full of hope, they have a legacy of broken promises. The current UN conference in South Africa on the loosely defined idea of "sustainable development" may be the most humbling.

Europe sees such conferences as a way to help the economies of former colonies, while the US seeks greater democracy through aid and trade. They've all come to realize that private aid and market solutions do far more to lift billions out of poverty and save the planet than can centralized bureaucracies and official aid.

This conference, a followup to the 1992 Earth Summit, reflects that humbling shift toward the private sector. It includes more business and technology groups, and NGOs. They speak less of the "environment" – a term suspect in some quarters – and more of "sustainable development." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Underclass is a myth, Left admits" - "The existence of an underclass of the permanently poor is a myth, a Left-wing think tank claimed yesterday in findings that present a direct challenge to assumptions at the heart of Labour policies on welfare reform. According to a pamphlet published by Catalyst, poverty is normally temporary and most people who are poor will not stay poor for life." (Telegraph)

"FEATURE-Brokers blaze trail for new greenhouse gas market" - "NEW YORK - Big business brokers in trading rooms at staid Wall Street addresses may be doing more to cut pollution than protesters at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Take Benedikt von Butler, a broker at Evolution Markets LLC in Manhattan, who is one of a new breed of environmental financiers at natural gas, bonds, and coal brokerage firms.

Brokers like von Butler create markets out of 30 types of air pollution -- from sulphur dioxide (SO2), a component of acid rain, to carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas scientists say warms the Earth by trapping solar heat in its atmosphere.

In emissions trading, companies who have cut pollution by more than agreed targets can sell "credits" to other companies that are still polluting more than they should." (Reuters)

"CLIMATE CHANGE: Effort To Encourage Bush Participation Cited" - "JOHANNESBURG -- The divisive topic of climate change was deliberately left off the agenda of the World Summit on Sustainable Development here in an unsuccessful effort to encourage U.S. President George W. Bush to attend, World Bank chief scientist Robert Watson said here today. Bush announced this month he is sending Secretary of State Colin Powell when high-level talks begin here next week.

In an interview with UN Wire, Watson placed most of the blame on the United States -- which is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and last year abandoned the Kyoto Protocol to limit those emissions -- for the international deadlock that prompted climate change being left out of 10 days of talks that began here yesterday. "There's no evidence that the U.S. in any way will narrow the differences" it has with the European Union and others in the near future, he said." (UN Wire)

"An American Abdication" - "FRANKFURT — At present there is much talk about the unparalleled strength of the United States on the world stage. Yet at this very moment the most powerful country in the world stands to forfeit much political capital, moral authority and international good will by dragging its feet on the next great global issue: the environment. Before long, the administration's apparent unwillingness to take a leadership role — or, at the very least, to stop acting as a brake — in fighting global environmental degradation will threaten the very basis of the American supremacy that many now seem to assume will last forever.

American authority is already in some danger as a result of the Bush administration's decision to send a low-level delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg — low-level, that is, relative to America's share of both the world economy and global pollution. The absence of President Bush from Johannesburg symbolizes this decline in authority." (Norbert Walter, New York Times)

"Australia given lead on climate statement" - "Australia is pushing to have any reference to the Kyoto protocol dropped from the statement on climate change produced by the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development. This came as Australia was accused of playing a spoiler role with the United States and Canada. Despite Australia's continued opposition to the international climate change treaty it has gained the responsibility for writing the draft statement that will go before the international meeting next week." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"European space watch on climate" - "European space scientists were preparing last night to launch the latest in flying thermometers - an instrument to take the temperature of the planet.

A two-ton Meteosat second generation satellite, known as MSG, was scheduled to have taken off just before midnight aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou in French Guiana. It will sit in geostationary orbit 22,000 miles above the Gulf of Guinea, the point where the Equator and the Greenwich meridian intersect.

And its most advanced instrument will be the first to measure the Earth's radiation budget - that is the sunlight absorbed by the planet, and the infrared warmth radiated away into space or absorbed by the atmosphere. With GERB, the geostationary Earth radiation budget experiment, climate scientists will have new insight into the processes by which the planet is heated or cooled." (The Guardian)

"Few listen as tiny island of Tuvalu fears destruction from global warming" - "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The tiny island nation of Tuvalu sees the issue of global warming as a matter of life and death. Few at the U.N. development summit seem to care.

The United States does not want the gathering to commit to specific pollution controls. The world's developing nations — many of them major oil producers — have little interest in helping a nation of 12,000 people that fears it will be crushed by storms, rising ocean levels and disruptions to marine life.

"If this issue of climate change is ignored, what will happen to Tuvalu?" said Paani Laupepa, Tuvalu's assistant secretary of the environment." (Associated Press)

Actually, there's good reason for everyone to ignore the rather, um... extravagant, claims emanating from Tuvalu.

"Global Warming Victims Sue U.S. for Fossil Fuel Projects" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 -- Friends of the Earth (FoE), Greenpeace and the City of Boulder, Colorado filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of their members and citizens who are victims of global warming. The suit has been filed against two U.S. government agencies -- the Export Import Bank (ExIm) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Ex-Im and OPIC are taxpayer funded agencies that provide financing and loans to U.S. corporations for overseas projects that commercial banks deem too risky." (U.S. Newswire)

"Optimism over cleaning up coal, diesel -- The Washington Times" - "LOS ANGELES, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Coal and diesel fuel currently don't enjoy a pristine reputation for being environmentally friendly, but technological advances could eliminate their sooty image and keep them in the energy mix within the United States."

"CO2 and Biodiversity: Does the Former Affect the Latter?" - "Summary: Extinction is a chilling word, for it denominates the utter annihilation of a unique plant or animal; and with the loss of but a single species, earth's biosphere is the less and the entire planet is impoverished. What is the relationship of this subject to the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content? Will it exacerbate the sorry situation that currently confronts us? Or will it ameliorate it?" (co2science.org)

"Subject Index Summary: Wind" - "Summary: In the virtual "model world" of climate alarmists, all sorts of weather extremes, including winds, get ever stronger as the air's CO2 content continues to climb. In the real world of nature, however, things behave a little differently." (co2science.org)

"Growing Season Trends in Northern Taiga Forests of Russia" - "Summary: Do they dance to the beat of the climate-alarmist drummers? Climatic Change 54: 387-398." (co2science.org)

"Testing The Current Generation of Climate Models" - "Summary: Do any of you really believe they pass muster? Physical Review Letters 8: 028501(4)." (co2science.org)

"Bush's Kyoto Secret" - "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The "World Summit on Sustainable Development" got underway today amid several key questions. How would anti-globalization - and, possibly, worse -- forces attempt to disrupt the world leaders' proceedings? What form would latent anti-Americanism take? And, of course, what of substance might emerge?" (Christopher Horner, TCS)

Science For Sale: The Global Warming Scam (Accuracy in Media)

"Industrialized nations, oil states scuttling clean energy timetable at summit" - "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - To the outrage of environmentalists, the United States, Saudi Arabia and other nations at a U.N. summit worked Tuesday to water down promises to rapidly expand the use of clean, renewable energy technologies around the globe." (AP)

"EU 'sell-out' is massive blow for renewable energy plans" - "Hopes that world leaders would agree to boost renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, were dealt a devastating blow yesterday when European Union negotiators abandoned attempts to press for it. Confidential conference documents seen by The Independent reveal that the EU – which has led attempts for an increase in renewable energy – is proposing that it rises by only a single percentage point worldwide over this entire decade. The development endangers any remaining prospect that the World Summit on Sustainable Development will make progress in protecting the environment and reducing poverty, just two days after it opened. It is also a humiliating personal rebuff for Tony Blair." (Independent)

"Windmills on Their Minds" - "Not everyone in Cherry Valley, N.Y., is embracing windmills as a pollution-free form of energy production." (New York Times)

"Generators passing on extra cost of 'green' obligations" - "Some electricity generators are charging business customers extra for "green" energy that they are required to supply anyway, according to research by Platts energy newsletters and Friends of the Earth.

Their report urges businesses that want to use renewable energy to choose carefully to ensure they do not simply subsidise power companies in order to meet their legal obligations.

Under the renewables obligation introduced last April, power companies must generate 3 per cent - rising to 10 per cent by 2010 - of their electricity from renewable sources. But the report claims that to meet the cost, several generators are not only increasing their conventional power prices, but are charging a premium to customers wanting 100 per cent "green" power." (Financial Times)

"Europe's Forgotten Promise" - "Delegates to this week's World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, will have to confront several stark ironies. Their lavish, $50 million soiree will be held in the shadow of 13 million hungry drought victims in the continent's southern cone -- a problem made all the more miserable by obstructionist policies in scores of countries around the globe. What's more, all of this may have been avoided if only these environmental activists and politicians had lived up to a promise they made 10 years ago." (Gregory Conko, TCS)

?!! "US farmers reap heavy penalty for sowing GM crops" - "Since the election, a number of scientists have claimed that methods of genetic testing are inaccurate, and that New Zealand will isolate itself from world trade unless it relaxes seed-testing requirements and embraces genetic modification technology. Many of the claims are inaccurate and misleading. GM crops have, in fact, had a disastrous impact on United States farm economies." (Guy Hatchard, New Zealand Herald)

[Dr Guy Hatchard was the director of economic, regulatory and market analysis at US company Genetic ID until June]

"Sowing doubt" - "Two farmers who recently experimented with planting GM crops have been visiting Britain. But Corky Jones from America and Nhlela Phinias Gumede from South Africa recount experiences that differ as widely as the continents from which they come" (The Guardian)

"Food fights on the global scale -- The Washington Times" - "When East meets West, food fights often ensue. Nowhere is that more notable than in the current debate over genetically modified foods. It's an important fight: During the next 50 years, the Earth's population is expected to rise to approximately 9 billion people, all of whom will actually have to eat."

August 27, 2002

"The world's energy-poor need hydrocarbon fuels" - "You are a tribal woman in the Jharkhand region of north-eastern India. Sustaining life has always been tough, but it has become harder of late. Environmentalists, obsessed by what they see as the deforestation of the subcontinent, have imposed a fuel-cutting ban in the protected forest near your village. It was bad enough for your mother, who had to spend hours bending down, hacking saplings with her small sickle-shaped daoli, but now you can only gather dry, fallen leaves or small twigs from the thorny bush you call putus. You must also go much farther afield to collect your daily fuel needs." (Philip Stott, Daily Telegraph)

"Sustaining Environmentalists" - "For the first Earth Day in 1970, overpopulation guru Paul Ehrlich wrote a fictitious report for the Progressive presenting an eco-gloomster's portrait of the U.S. in 2000. The population had fallen to 22.6 million, 8% of the current population, and the diet was less than the daily calorific intake of an African. By 1974, Mr. Ehrlich and his wife, Anne, worried that "global cooling" would diminish agricultural output -- that the world was becoming unsustainable.

As they say, the more things change: In America these days, we fret about "global warming," not "global cooling," and are more concerned about fat than about general starvation. Grain production has increased 53% since the 1970s when Mr. Ehrlich wrote his treatise. But no matter, in Johannesburg yesterday, some 40,000 arrived for the World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002. As Nitin Desai, the summit's Secretary-General declared last week: "Development is now as sexy as the environment, absolutely." (Philip Stott, Wall Street Journal)

"US and Australia branded by greens as 'axis of evil'" - "Campaign groups at the Johannesburg Earth Summit have branded the United States, Canada and Australia an "axis of evil" for their reluctance to co-operate with the rest of the world in tackling global poverty and environmental degradation. (UK Independent) [End seas of poverty, says Mbeki; Orphans of Aids appeal for more than mere words; World Bank and IMF hurt poor farmers, says Oxfam; Gulf between rich and poor is new apartheid, warns Mbeki; Summit diary: Highs and lows from Johannesburg]

"NGOs Don't Speak for the Hungry" - "In recent years we have witnessed the rapid rise of what is called "civil society" in the form of a multiplicity of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) who claim to be the voice of the poor and powerless who can not speak for themselves. From the demonstrations in Seattle to the streets of Genoa — where the cry was "you are the G-8, we are 6 billion" — organizations dominated by wealthy white male Northern Europeans and North Americans have carried the twin banners of the poor and the environment of planet Earth in battle against the evils of globalization, multi-national corporations, and modern technology and biotechnology. They even have a website, G6B for "global six billion." (Thomas R. DeGregori, ACSH)

"Consumer Alert - an NGO at the World Summit - Offers Its Proposals" - "Washington, D.C., August 23, 2002 -- Consumer Alert, accredited as a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, will have ten NGO representatives attending many of the meetings taking place August 24 - September 4, 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. About 60,000 delegates from around the world are expected to attend the Summit." (Consumer Alert)

"Give the poor a choice" - "The United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, which begins today in Johannesburg, may represent a turning point for the international aid bureaucracy. Thousands of people will be there and yet almost none of them expects any concrete outcomes. The summit will address many of the same issues that were left unresolved 10 years ago at a previous UN World Summit held in Rio de Janeiro.

The current summit is strong on laundry lists and short on focus. Exactly what "sustainable development" means seems to be a well-kept secret. The original idea was protecting the environment, but the official documents for the summit say that sustainable development also involves such concepts as poverty relief, dialogue among civilisations, democracy, corporate accountability, "equitable globalisation" and world peace.

The corporate executives at the summit could make a big contribution by explaining to the other delegates a principle of efficient management: in trying to solve everything you solve nothing. Is there a better way to meet the needs of the desperately poor billions?" (Financial Times)

"Treaties Don’t Save Species" - "International gabfests in exotic locales are no way to protect the environment." (Jonathan H. Adler, NRO)

"Earth protesters stranded on another planet" - "ACROSS the other side of town, and on another planet from the main Earth Summit of national delegations and corporate lobbyists, is a second, alternative summit. The Global Forum is where the United Nations has put all the charities, protest groups and campaigners who want to have their say. It is a jamboree of workshops, speeches, placards and dancing. It is also a festival of anger and caring, of outrage and good intentions, all mixed together with chaotic disorganisation." (The Times)

"Never mind the destitute, eat, drink and be merry - for this is a world summit" - "No one with a heart or mind can disagree with the aims of the largest, but rapidly shrinking, summit ever held. No one is heretical enough to say they don’t believe in sustainable development, and who can argue with helping to relieve world poverty while protecting the environment? But the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which started yesterday in Johannesburg, is rapidly generating far more cynicism than hot air. It is on course to achieve precisely the opposite of its aim of reinvigorating the political process needed to bridge the world’s divisions between the haves and the have-nots." (The Times)

"Study suggests cholera will worsen as globe warms" - "NEW YORK - A new study provides the first direct evidence that global warming may be worsening epidemics of infectious disease.

Researchers have found that the cyclic global weather phenomenon El Nino has begun to affect the course of cholera epidemics in Bangladesh, an effect that is likely driven by warming of the land and water in the area due to climate change.

El Nino is an unusual warming of the Pacific Ocean close to the equator. The phenomenon occurs every 2 to 7 years, and can cause weather changes, such as increased temperatures and decreases in rainfall and relative humidity. It has been linked to outbreaks of infectious diseases including dengue fever, malaria and cholera." (Reuters Health)

"Agonising fever extra reason to halt global warming - smh.com.au" - "Twice as many Australians and more than half the world would be at risk of contracting dengue fever by 2085 unless increases in climate change, population growth and social inequality are reversed, a study has forecast. The area of Australia at risk of a dengue outbreak would extend southwards along the east coast beyond Brisbane, said the study, which was published in the medical journal The Lancet online. Rates of the mosquito-borne dengue fever are increasing worldwide, with an estimated 50 million cases a year, according to the World Health Organisation. In Australia, outbreaks have been restricted to north Queensland, although it is endemic in more than 100 countries in South-East Asia, the western Pacific, Africa, the Americas and the eastern Mediterranean. The study's author, Simon Hales, of the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in New Zealand, said the findings provided further evidence of the effects of climate change on human health."

"Split on climate change becomes consensus" - "Scientists who a decade ago questioned the human role in global warming now say intensive research has shown the need for immediate action" (Dan Rowe, National Post)

"Law: Reports linking India’s haze to Indon hotspots false" - "PETALING JAYA: Recent reports in the Western media, which blamed the forest fires in Indonesia and Borneo for contributing to the Asian “brown haze” hovering over the Indian subcontinent are false, said Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding.

He said the reports, which appeared on the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, were a ploy by developed countries to avert attention from growing pressure on them to ratify the Kyoto Protocol." (The Star, MY)

"Now is the time for rich to match poor's generosity" - "Ten years ago the world saw the most generous gesture in the history of international relations. To support the lifestyle of millions, one group of countries relinquished their claim to the debts - worth trillions of dollars - of another. In 1992 most of the poorest countries in the world queued up to sign the UN framework convention on climate change. In a stroke they wrote off the historical ecological debts of rich countries, run up by their burning of finite fossil fuels and the resulting legacy of global warming." (Andrew Simms, The Guardian)

"What do we really want?" - "Economic growth is seen as good, yet it makes many in the rich world miserable" (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"Regulator rejects power price complaints" - "CALLUM McCARTHY, the Energy Regulator, yesterday vigorously defended the electricity trading market, which is being blamed within the Government for driving down the price of power to uneconomic levels and damaging the finances of British Energy, the nuclear power company.

The chief executive of Ofgem rejected the criticism and said the New Electricity Trading Arrangements (Neta), were operating as intended. “All that is happening is not illogical, or indeed, unexpected,’’ he said. “Neta does not artificially bring down prices. It produces the lower prices you would expect in a competitive market.” (The Times)

"Studies to look at chemicals, Parkinson's" - "WASHINGTON - The federal government said on Monday it was giving $20 million to three research centers to try to find out if chemicals or other environmental factors cause Parkinson's disease.

Farmers and other people exposed to pesticides seem to have a higher risk of developing the incurable brain disease, which slowly robs patients of their ability to move properly, but no one has been able to show a clear and irrefutable link." (Reuters)

"Good news, bad news on cancer for caffeine lovers" - "NEW YORK - Caffeine in the form of a lotion may help to prevent skin cancer, according to the results of a new study. But a separate study found that caffeine may actually promote cancer.

In the "good news" study, skin cancer was prevented in mice at risk of developing the disease if a lotion containing caffeine was applied to their skin. In the "bad news" study, when a dish of hamster cells was exposed to tumor-inducing radiation, adding caffeine appeared to inhibit the cells' ability to repair themselves, increasing their likelihood of becoming cancerous.

Both studies appear in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." (Reuters Health)

"Bush baits Brussels over GM crops" - "The US government is to launch a trade war over GM crops in an attempt to force the European Union to back down in its tough stance against GM.

The Independent on Sunday has learnt that the US trade representative, Robert Zoellick, is putting in a complaint to the World Trade Organisation claiming that the EU moratorium on GM imports and crop-testing is a restraint of trade. His action is being backed by Monsanto, the US biotechnology group that has been at the centre of the development of GM crops." (Independent on Sunday)

"Ragnar Lofstedt: Time to sow seeds of GM harmony" - "Why does there continue to be heated debate in Europe about genetically modified crops? When I travel to the States my American colleagues often ask me why Europeans are not prepared to accept GM crops, when the US sees them as safe and beneficial for both the environment and consumers. This transatlantic schism has several possible explanations." (Independent on Sunday)

"The race to boost organic farming is heading up a dead-end street" - "TO AN outsider our food policy, if we have one, must seem a mess of hilarious contradictions which have just scaled new heights of absurdity in the boost to organic cultivation arising from the Curry Report earlier this year.

Subsidising inefficiency, pandering to cranks and propping up privilege have contributed greatly to the mess we are now in and we should not compound it by subsidising the absurdity of organic production." (John Stewart, The Scotsman)

August 26, 2002

"Blood tests link MMR to autism" - "FRESH evidence has emerged to link the controversial MMR vaccine with autism. DNA blood tests carried out by Professor John O’Leary, a world authority on autism and possible links with MMR vaccines, suggest a Scots child may have become autistic months after receiving the vaccine. The tests confirmed that Angus Kyle, 10, was suffering from a ‘persistent measles virus’ although he had never had measles. O’Leary’s written report confirms the presence of the virus and is now with the Kyles’ lawyer who is considering action against the manufacturers of the vaccine, Germany-based MERCK Sharp Dohme." (The Scotsman)

"Is cleanliness next to sickliness?" - "Modern life could be to blame for the rise in childhood asthma, writes Julie Robotham, but the jury is out on whether the illness can be headed off.

Too much processed food, too little fish oil, too few siblings, insufficient sunlight, excessive synthetic bedding and artificial infant milk formulas, lack of contact with animals ... potential culprits for the rise in childhood asthma read like a litany of modern life." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"The Miami Herald | 08 25 2002 | Timber! Parks cut wood, switch to plastic lumber" - "Say goodbye to splinters. Parks throughout Broward County are replacing regular lumber with recycled plastic lumber for picnic tables, benches, fences, docks and boardwalks. The process has been accelerated by Broward's $400 million parks bond program -- which devotes nearly $135 million to upgrading bathrooms, picnic shelters and ball fields and adding new features to county parks. ''Every time that wood needs to be replaced, we're putting recycled plastic lumber in,'' said Bob Harbin, Broward County's parks and recreation director. ``We have pretty much eliminated wood.''

"Malaysia says it will oppose attempts to link trade to environmental issues at earth summit" - "KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysia will oppose any attempts to link trade with environmental issues at a U.N. summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, next week, a senior government official said Saturday. Primary Industries Minister Lim Keng Yak said Malaysia does not want the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be reduced to developed nations and rights bodies threatening developing countries over forest protection. "They can talk about climate changes or biodiversity," the national Bernama news agency quoted Lim as saying. "But if they talk about forestry, we'll fight," he added. "Developed countries are the biggest polluters but they want us to take care of biodiversity." Environmentalists have long urged developed countries to cut aid and trade with developing countries they accuse of depleting forest reserves to open up plantations, factories and residential areas." (AP)

The earth summit gets under way - with 400 issues still to be resolved - "UN officials were already warning yesterday of the dangers of the earth summit failing to reach its key goals, with 400 disputed issues still unresolved after two days of tough pre-summit negotiations." (The Guardian)

"Britain blames US for failing world's poor" - "Deep tensions between Britain and the US have emerged ahead of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, which remains shrouded in pessimism ahead of its official start today. The summit is aimed at reducing world poverty through promoting environmentally sustainable growth, and although it is seen as the most important world summit for years, there are growing concerns that virtually nothing significant will be achieved. As the gloom deepened in the corridors, it seems many delegates are staying away. Although 65,000 delegates had been predictected to turn up, the UN has downgraded its expectations to just 40,000, and by yesterday only 9,000 delegates and journalists had been accredited." (The Times)

Ecological decline 'far worse' than official estimates - "The real level of world inequality and environmental degradation may be far worse than official estimates, according to a leaked document prepared for the world's richest countries and seen by the Guardian.

"Linking Poverty Aid to the Environment" - "In the 1990's, Africa had the world's highest rate of deforestation as poor people cleared trees for farmland and firewood. Acute respiratory infections, which often afflict families that rely on coal or firewood, kill or disable about 30 percent of sub-Saharan Africa's children each year, the United Nations says. Meanwhile, pollution is worsening as millions of Africans abandon rural villages for urban shantytowns.

Poor countries say they cannot safeguard their natural resources unless they can strengthen their economies. They want wealthy nations to commit 0.7 percent of their gross national product to aid developing countries; to reduce or eliminate tariffs on agricultural goods from poor countries and to halve the number of people without access to sanitation by 2015.

Some wealthy nations, including the United States and some members of the European Union, are resisting. American officials say they have already agreed to increase foreign aid to the poor, and developing nations should eliminate corruption and strengthen democratic institutions before more aid is committed." (New York Times)

"Current 'disasters' show WSSD negotiators future to avoid" - "Johannesburg, South Africa - As southern Africa struggles with the human devastation wrought by drought, floods ravage Europe and Asia, and fires and drought impact the US, WWF, has called on negotiators starting two days of informal meetings prior to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to ensure that the Summit will take action to reverse the environmental degradation at the root of recent disasters." (WWF)

"The Environmentalists Are Wrong" - "With the opening today of the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, we will be hearing a great deal about both concepts: sustainability and development. Traditionally, the developed nations of the West have shown greater concern for environmental sustainability, while the third world countries have a stronger desire for economic development. At big environmental gatherings, it is usually the priorities of the first world that carry the day. The challenge in Johannesburg will be whether we are ready to put development ahead of sustainability. If the United States leads the way, the world may finally find the courage to do so." (Bjorn Lomborg, The New York Times)

"Antarctic Ozone Hole to Expand in Coming Weeks" - "GENEVA - The annual depletion of the earth's protective ozone layer has begun over Antarctica and the hole is set to expand in coming weeks, the World Meteorological Organization said on Friday. In its latest bulletin, the WMO said the size of the ozone hole over the Antarctic was "normal for this time of year." The depletion began as delegates prepared to discuss environmental issues in Johannesburg next week at the Earth Summit, officially the United Nations' World Summit on Sustainable Development. The ozone layer protects people from harmful radiation and many scientists blame its depletion on chemicals such as chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) and some crop fumigants." (Reuters)

"Johannesburg Earth Summit" - "Beginning Monday 26th August, the Johannesburg Earth Summit will provide a re-run of the Rio summit of 1992. That was a circus, and this event is on track to do the same, with an estimated 100,000 people expected to attend in one capacity or another - officials, politicians, NGOs, activists, demonstrators, and media. The wastage of public resources for such an extravagant event is quite staggering.

While listening to the usual hand-wringing and righteous indignation of `leaders' railing against Western democracies, the 100,000 people there could do well to note the climate record from the very airport most of them arrived in - Johannesburg International Airport (Jan Smuts), located 10 miles northeast of the city." (John Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Erratic weather from a brown cloud -- The Washington Times" - "What's causing all of the crazy weather around the globe? Drought in northwest India, where the annual monsoon rains failed to arrive, and in many other regions. Meanwhile, devastating floods in northeast India, in Central Europe, and elsewhere. And surprise - it cannot be blamed on Global Warming or on American consumption of energy."

"Aerosol could change global climate: Experts - The Times of India" - "GENEVA: The World Meterological Organisation (WMO) has warned that giant man-made aerosol clouds in the atmosphere could lead to significant global climate change. The recent discovery via satellite images of massive aerosol clouds stretching from southeast Asia to the Indian Ocean, also led WMO experts to suggest that potential health problems may be associated with air pollution. "These clouds, like the Asian Brown Cloud, can affect precipitations - which is not yet proven - and the human respiratory functions," said Leonard Barrie, head of the WMO environmental division."

"On Farms, a No-Till Tactic on Global Warming" - "For farmers struggling to make a living with corn and soybeans, a new cash crop may be on the horizon: carbon. Although it can't be used to feed animals or make vegetable oil, "farming" carbon could provide extra income for farmers and provide significant environmental benefits.

A $15 million project being carried out by 10 universities in the Midwest has the goal of encouraging farmers to use methods, including "no-till" farming, that keep carbon in the soil rather than releasing it to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases considered a culprit in global warming." (Washington Post)

"smh.com.au - World politics generates hot air on greenhouse" - "Professor Warwick McKibbin, one of Australia's internationally recognised experts on global warming, is not one of the 272 economists petitioning the Federal Government "to ratify the Kyoto Protocol without delay". "It is a pretty sad indictment of the profession when people sign these things en masse without expertise," he says. Clive Hamilton, whose Australia Institute pushed the petition, says he "wouldn't waste the postage stamp" inviting McKibbin to enlist because he "serves the Government's interests".

The world may be moving towards a consensus that greenhouse emissions are causing global warming but has never been more polarised on what to do about it. Today, the key players line up in Johannesburg for Earth Summit 2002 - and some say the future of the Kyoto Protocol is on the line. "The fundamental problem with the Kyoto Protocol is it assumes that nature is priceless and therefore the costs of taking action should be unbounded. Extreme environmentalists don't believe in trade-offs but incorporating trade-offs are inevitable for sustainable policy," McKibbin says.

"Government facing €1.3bn bill for rise in gas emissions" - "THE government will face a whopping €1.3bn bill for its soaring climate-[c]hanging greenhouse gas emissions, environmental groups warned yesterday. The Earth Summit Ireland coalition of all the country's environmentalists warned Ireland will be severely penalised under the binding Kyoto international agreement. Although Ireland was allowed to increase its emissions by 13pc, it is predicted this will rise to over 36 pc. It is currently estimated at 26pc.

Under the Kyoto protocol, countries in excess of their greenhouse gas emissions will be required to buy "emission credits" at €25 a tonne from other countries. Ireland could have to pay for 106m tonnes at €25 which works out at a staggering €265m each year. Over five years between 2008 when the penalties come in and 2012, environmental groups estimated this could amount to €1.325m." (Irish Independent)

"Carbon tax to transform energy market" - "Measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions--a major culprit in global warming--will have a great impact on the consumption of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil. In particular, the imposition of an environment tax and trading of CO2 emissions rights will either directly or indirectly lead to reduced energy consumption. Inevitably, the coal, electricity, gas and oil markets will be significantly influenced by new measures against greenhouse gases.

A carbon tax--under consideration for introduction as an environment levy--would be paid by consumers of carbon-containing fuels such as coal, gas and oil. In the energy market, either companies in the upstream--producers, importers and distributors of fossil fuels--or consumers in the downstream may be subject to the tax." (The Daily Yomiuri)

"Japan to seek Asian CO2 credits" - "The government will begin a joint study with seven developing Asian nations with the aim of helping the countries reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases in exchange for CO2 emissions "credits" to help Japan meet its emissions target under the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, officials said Sunday. The study, which is planned with participation from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, will involve Japanese officials traveling to the developing nations to discuss possible concerted CO2 reduction projects." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"African Famine, Made in Europe" - "Southern Africa is suffering its worst drought in a decade. The U.N. World Food Program estimates some 13 million people in six countries will need 1.2 million tons of food aid till March 2003 to avoid famine. Yet two countries, Zimbabwe and Zambia, have spent most of the summer rejecting food aid shipments of corn from the U.S. because some varieties of U.S. corn are ''genetically modified'' (GM). Incredibly, African leaders facing famine are rejecting perfectly safe food. What is going on here?" (Dow Jones Newswires)

"Zambia cites health risk in rejecting genetically modified food" - "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Zambia has rejected a U.N. appeal to distribute genetically modified food, saying it would procure enough other grain to feed its starving people." (Associated Press)

August 23, 2002

"Stop Scaring the Mentally Ill" - "Schizophrenics may be the latest victims of the junk science mob. There seems to be a move afoot to link the leading medication for treating schizophrenia with diabetes." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Gastrointestinal symptoms not linked to later autism" - "Children with autism are no more likely than children without autism to have had gastrointestinal disorders, finds a study in this week's BMJ." (British Medical Journal)

"Ear thermometers 'may miss fever in young'" - "Taking the temperature of infants and young children with ear thermometers may be unreliable and lead doctors and parents to miss signs of fever, researchers say today. The inconsistency of readings obtained from the increasingly popular devices in which the tips are gently inserted into patients' ears could lead to doctors making mistaken judgments on whether their patients need further investigations, antibiotics or even admission to hospital, according to a team from Liverpool University." (The Guardian)

"Moulds increase severity of asthma" - "Severe asthma in adults may be associated with sensitivity to airborne moulds rather than pollens, finds a study in this week's BMJ." (British Medical Journal)

"Winnipeg considering lawn chemical ban" - "WINNIPEG - The City of Winnipeg is considering a ban on certain types of lawn chemicals and some lawn care companies are crying foul. The city's environmental committee is reviewing the use of herbicides and pesticides on residential lawns. An interim report suggests phasing out chemical weed- and pest-control products the committee deems harmful." (CBC News)

"New brain tumour alert on mobiles" - "Long-term users of some first generation mobile phones are almost twice as likely to develop brain tumours, according to the most damaging study yet to suggest a link between cellphones and cancer.

The study of 1,617 Swedish patients diagnosed with brain tumours between 1997 and 2000 found that those who used analogue mobile phones had a third higher risk of developing brain tumours than those who had not used cellphones.

The risk of a tumour was particularly high on the side of the brain close to where the phone was usually held, the authors of the study said." (The Telegraph)

"The Globalization of Human Well-Being" - "Executive Summary: Controversy over globalization has focused mainly on whether it exacerbates income inequality between the rich and the poor. But, as opponents of globalization frequently note, human well-being is not synonymous with wealth. The central issue, therefore, is not whether income gaps are growing but whether globalization advances well-being and, if inequalities in well-being have expanded, whether that is because the rich have advanced at the expense of the poor. ..." (Indur M. Goklany, Cato Institute) [Full Text of Policy Analysis No. 447 (PDF, 20 pgs, 112 Kb)]

"WTO Agreements and Public Health — A joint study by WHO and the WTO Secretariat" - "The World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization Secretariat published today a joint study of the relationship between trade rules and public health.

The 171-page study WTO Agreements and Public Health explains how WTO Agreements relate to different aspects of health policies. It is meant to give a better insight into key issues for those who develop, communicate or debate policy issues related to trade and health. The study covers areas such as drugs and intellectual property rights, food safety, tobacco and many other issues which have been subject to passionate debate. In this joint effort, the first of its kind, WHO and the WTO Secretariat endeavour to set out the facts." (Press Release) [Download “WTO Agreements and Public Health” in pdf format (175 pages, 788 KB)]

"Financial Times Criticizes Latest World Bank Report" - "The Financial Times criticizes the World Bank's latest World Development Report in an editorial today for being too vague, calling on the bank to take a clearer position on the advantages and trade-offs of important policy choices.

"If its aim was to offend as few people as possible," the Financial Times writes, the bank "succeeded" yesterday when it released its latest report on development.  "The annual document, which traditionally took a firm, and sometimes wrong-headed, stance on development issues, offers something for everyone this year," appeasing "economic liberals," "critics of rapid growth" and "campaigners for controls against unfettered capitalism" alike, the newspaper says." (UN Wire)

"SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: Analysts Criticize Draft Conference Document" - "The language in the 77-page draft text for next week's World Summit on Sustainable Development, being billed as the largest international conference in history, is "impenetrable and nebulous," making it nearly "unintelligible" and exposing the rifts between developed and developing countries, Reuters reports analysts as saying." (UN Wire)

"Top judges talk environment" - "Top judges from countries as diverse as Costa Rica and Tanzania swapped ideas on Tuesday on how best to enforce environmental laws at a meeting ahead of the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development. The conference brought together some of the world's most powerful judges to discuss, for the first time, ideas ranging from establishing an international environmental court to training judges in environmental science and policy. "The fragile state of the global environment requires the judiciary, as the primary guardian of the rule of law, to boldly and fearlessly implement and enforce international and national laws," a resolution adopted by the group read." (Sapa-AP)

"Green shoppers are growing in number" - "When Philips produced its first eco-friendly light bulb it had high hopes for the product, whose technology meant it used 75 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Sales failed to take off, however, until the Californian energy crisis hit. The company redesigned the product - with a standard screw base and a traditional glass bulb shape instead of unorthodox looking tubes. It changed the name from Earthlight to Marathon, and played down the environmentally friendly aspects of the bulb, stressing its longer life. Sales took off immediately. The story sheds light on consumer attitudes to environmentally friendly products. While green shoppers are growing in number, they remain a niche of younger, affluent buyers. Most are not prepared to buy green products unless they are superior or cheaper." (Financial Times)

"Combining to harness the power of private enterprise" - "The role of business in tackling development challenges will be a key theme at Johannesburg. This reflects an important shift in thinking over the past decade, says Peter Woicke, head of the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank's private sector lending arm.

"Ten years ago, the Earth Summit in Rio was primarily about the role of governments, about treaties and about restrictions. All of that is important and necessary," he told a joint FT and IFC conference in London in June. "But I think Johannesburg should be about the role of the private sector, about implementation, incentives and opportunities. Private enterprise, more often than not, can create public goods beyond tax revenue." (Financial Times)

"Business role is greeted with some suspicion" - "Battle lines are being drawn up as delegates gather for the summit. For some governments, it is an opportunity to promote the role of business in sustainable development. But many campaigners have the opposite goal: to stem the tide of corporate influence over social and environmental policy." (Financial Times)

"CHALLENGES OF DEVELOPMENT Global talks taking up threats to earth riches" - "PARIS Since the Earth summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago, more than 180 countries have signed a convention to protect one of the planet's most valuable natural resources: the tremendous variety and diversity of plant and animal species. But as the world prepares to address the issue again at the Johannesburg conference starting Monday, the record shows that humanity is squandering this biological bounty at such a high rate that scientists describe the current era as the greatest period of mass extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. More than 800 species already have disappeared, usually because of the degradation of their environments, and 11,000 more are threatened by extinction, according to the World Conservation Union. Moreover, in a related threat that has become greater in the decade since Rio, nature is being changed through the irreversible genetic modification of plants and challenged by the engineering of human and animal genes." (Barry James, International Herald Tribune)

"A habitat for half-truths" - "Sustainable development" sounds like a good thing - one of those noncontroversial ideas over which we need not squabble. Few of us are for things that can't be sustained. So what is there to argue about? Quite a bit, actually, as representatives from around the world gather in Johannesburg to address poverty, environmental concerns and economic growth at the United Nations-sponsored World Summit on Sustainable Development. In perusing the fine print published by the organizers of the conference, economists and concerned people from across the globe are alarmed by what is concealed behind a seemingly harmless bit of jargon." (J.D. Tuccille, The Washington Times)

"Anti-globalisation protesters aim to 'shut down' summit" - "Anti-globalisation protesters, united under the banner 'Our world is not for sale', aim to "shut down" the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development next week, their leaders said in Johannesburg today. "It is our aspiration to shut them down. If we can get the numbers, that is what we will do," said Trevor Ngwane, leader of the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF), which claims to have about 20,000 members." (AFP)

Vandana Shiva ... "Summit's failure will be our success" - "Global activists lobbied yesterday to end biopiracy, but pinned little hope on the upcoming UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, saying it is aimed at further institutionalising the theft of biological resources by rich nations and corporations. Vandana Shiva, India's foremost anti-biopiracy campaigner, said: "The summit is a piracy conference by rich and powerful countries, agrobusinesses and water companies to create even more wealth for themselves." (AFP)

"Heavy environmental polluters 'should pay less'" - "Loggers, poachers and emission junkies are met with stiff taxes, fines and ultimately, the threat of prison. The logic is simple - the more you pollute, the more you have to pay. But this approach does not seem to be working.

Harsher penalties seem only to encourage corruption and bribery, and ultimately more environmental damage, argues Richard Damania at the University of Adelaide. In Thailand, for example, the government has bumped up fines for illicit behaviour. But because the chance of someone actually being caught offering a bribe or taking one is so low, all the draconian policy has done is drive up the asking-price for bribes.

To afford them, companies simply pollute more by stepping up production to keep profits up. Likewise, raising the tax against pollution simply drives up the incentive to give out bribes and under-report emissions." (New Scientist)

We could wish... "Next ice age on ice? Another big freeze might never happen." - "Mankind could lock the world into an irreversible greenhouse effect, banishing future ice ages, warn two Belgian scientists. Global warming caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases could tip the Earth into a completely new climate state in which cycles of freezing and thawing are switched off, they suggest." (NSU)

"SATELLITES SHOW OVERALL INCREASES IN ANTARCTIC SEA ICE COVER" - "While recent studies have shown that on the whole Arctic sea ice has decreased since the late 1970s, satellite records of sea ice around Antarctica reveal an overall increase in the southern hemisphere ice over the same period. Continued decreases or increases could have substantial impacts on polar climates, because sea ice spreads over a vast area, reflects solar radiation away from the Earth’s surface, and insulates the oceans from the atmosphere." (NASA/GSFC)

"Home Office defies Prescott ozone directive" - "Leaked documents reveal that the Home Office is insisting its new Whitehall headquarters is fitted with an air conditioning system which has been officially criticised because of its damage to the environment. Confidential tendering documents for the building in Marsham Street, London, show the government will only consider bids to supply air conditioning that uses hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. John Prescott's UK climate change programme says that the use of HFCs is unsustainable, and advises businesses and government contract managers that "action be taken to limit" their use." (The Guardian)

Probably just a little confusion. After all, UK's environment minister, Michael Meacher, doesn't know a hurricane from an El Niño event [See Transcript of interview given by the Minister of State for the Environment, Mr Michael Meacher in Friday, 9 August 2002- Interview with The Sunday Times (PDF 48kb)] and sustainability is a really tricky topic. While The Guardian is worried about ozone, Government offices to use 'global warming' chemical cries The Independent.

"European Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accelerating" - "BERLIN, Germany, August 22, 2002 - Carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union rose in 2001 by three-quarters of one percent, according to new data from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). Emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming as it forms a blanket trapping the Sun's heat close to Earth. Last year's rise is greater than between the years 1999 and 2000, when CO2 levels increased by just 0.5 percent across the 15 EU member countries." (ENS)

"Kyoto policy shift stuns oilpatch; Ottawa may sign soon: Sector fears conditions sought will fall by wayside" - "CALGARY - Canada's oilpatch reacted with anger yesterday at news that Ottawa appears ready to sign the Kyoto accord on reducing greenhouse gas emissions without any of the conditions sought by industry.

"We are extremely surprised and disappointed," said Pierre Alvarez, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which represents the country's major oil and gas companies.

"It appears ... that the decision to ratify has been made at a time when we have no idea what [the] implications might be, what the costs might be, and how those costs are going to be shared across the country." (Financial Post)

"Fast-Tracking Adherence to the Kyoto Protocol" - "IN 30 years Durban could find itself a high-risk malaria zone all year round, and SA will be facing massive food shortages due to a dramatic reduction in rainfall. That is just part of the alarming picture painted by the Africa Environmental Outlook, a recent United Nations (UN) Environment Programme report. The cause of the predicted problems is climate change caused by global warming. With the World Summit on Sustainable Development looming large, Paul Norrish is making a concerted effort to disseminate the message that climate change is everyone's problem, and not just a mess that the world's richest nations should be cleaning up." (Business Day (Johannesburg))

"Newsday.com - Dean pledges reductions in state's release of greenhouse gases" - "MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Greenhouse gas emissions in the state would be reduced by more than 25 percent in the next decade if a directive signed Thursday by Gov. Howard Dean is followed. The emissions would continue to be reduced through the middle of the century until they are 75 percent lower than they were in 1990, Dean said. "The overwhelming majority of the world's climate scientists have said that the threat of global warming is real," Dean said. "Many Vermonters will tell you they have sensed subtle changes in our weather already. We must be proactive and cannot close our eyes to these issues."

"Norway scraps experiment to dump CO2 at sea" - "OSLO - Norway bowed to protests by environmentalists yesterday and denied permission for a controversial experiment to dump tonnes of liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) into the ocean off its shores." (Reuters)

"S.U.V. Haters Pitch a Curbside Battle" - "Vigilantes are growing in numbers and intensity, challenging the owners of S.U.V.'s with crude fliers "informing" owners about air pollution and global warming." (New York Times)

"Long Island utility considers wind farms in ocean - 8 22 2002 - ENN.com" - "NEW YORK — Taking another step forward in its effort to harness the wind to generate electricity, New York's Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) issued a request Wednesday for information from potential developers of wind farms in the ocean off Long Island's south shore. "By harnessing the wind to generate electricity, Long Island will be taking a giant step forward in reducing its dependence on fossil-fuel-generated electricity, which in turn will help reduce power plant emissions on Long Island,'' said LIPA Chairman Richard Kessel in a statement."

"Cloned pigs bring new hope for transplants" - "The prospect of pig organs being transplanted into humans moved one step closer yesterday after the creation of cloned pigs which lack a particular gene linked with tissue rejection.

However, patients may have to wait "a number of years" before GM cloned pigs under development by PPL Therapeutics near Edinburgh and other companies can help overcome the desperate worldwide shortage of transplant organs, said Chris Rudge, the medical director for UK Transplant." (The Telegraph)

"Science Group Touts Biotech For Sustainable Development; World Summit Negotiators Urged to Make Good on Promises" - "AUBURN, Ala., Aug. 22 -- The AgBioWorld Foundation today urged representatives to next week's World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa to live up to a ten-year-old commitment to facilitate the introduction of advanced biotechnologies into less developed nations. "At the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, negotiators committed to using biotechnology to advance sustainable development goals," said AgBioWorld president C.S. Prakash, a professor of plant genetics at Tuskegee University. "But for the past ten years, most industrialized nations have been actively preventing this from becoming a reality." (U.S. Newswire)

"US asks EU to assure Africans on biotech food" - "WASHINGTON - The United States has asked the European Union to reassure governments in southern Africa that EU trade ties with the region will not be disrupted if the African states accept donations of U.S. genetically modified grain, U.S. officials said. The United States, which has offered to meet almost 50 percent of the emergency food needs of southern Africa this year, has also asked the Europeans to offer more food aid of their own, the officials said." (Reuters)

"WHO sees risk unlikely from gene-altered foods" - "GENEVA - The World Health Organisation restated yesterday it was "unlikely" genetically-modified foods posed a hazard to humans, but denied it had called crisis talks in Africa to allay fears about food aid containing GM. The Financial Times reported that the U.N. health agency had set up talks in Harare, Zimbabwe on Monday to overcome the refusal of several famine-hit countries to accept GM food. It said that WHO was "stockpiling rejected grain" for distribution. Dr. Andrew Cassels, a senior adviser to WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland, denied the FT story at a news briefing called to launch a report "WTO Agreements and Public Health", the first joint study by WHO and World Trade Organisation (WTO)." (Reuters)

August 22, 2002

"Judge dismisses asbestos claims against Montana" - "HELENA, Mont. (August 21, 2002 3:36 p.m. EDT) - State health officials had no legal obligation to warn residents of the northwestern Montana town of Libby that asbestos from a vermiculite mine and mill was dangerous, a state judge ruled. District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock dismissed those claims from 23 lawsuits involving people exposed to asbestos at the W.R. Grace & Co. mine, which has been blamed for some 200 deaths and hundreds of illnesses." (Associated Press)

"Animal extremism" - "WRAPPED UP in their own obsession, some animal rights activists have descended into lawlessness. Intimidation, assault, and destruction of property are all too common in England. Now US firms may be in for similar treatment.

This week two animal rights activists from an England-based group, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), were arraigned in Boston on charges of stalking, criminal harassment, and extortion. The duo, Lisa Lotts and Ryan Kleinert, are accused of targeting a Back Bay insurance executive whose firm does business with Huntingdon Life Sciences, a contract research laboratory based in England and New Jersey that uses animals to test medicine, chemicals, food products, and pesticides. The pair has been ordered to stay clear of the executive.

According to prosecutors, the pair conducted bullhorn demonstrations at 3 a.m. at his home, threatened to burn down his residence, and sought to intimidate him by making references, by name, to his 2-year-old son." (The Boston Globe)

"EARTH: A Global Health Check" - "As the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development prepares to kick off in Johannesburg, The Guardian publishes a 52-page supplement which surveys the state of the planet, covering the issues of water, poverty, health, climate change, inequality, food & trade, biodiversity, education, population control and natural disasters (items also available as PDF files):
For better: look at the progress already made; For worse: world is suffering from broken promises; Blue gold: Earth's liquid asset; Cows are better off than half the world; The killer diseases that target the poor; Living with malaria; Only the well fed worry about tomorrow; The quest to grow without grime; Do we really care enough to save ourselves?; Worlds apart; International trade has winners and losers. But the odds are stacked against the poor; Hunger in a world of plenty; Anti-GM: It has all the ingredients to add to global hunger; Pro-GM: It is not a panacea, just an everyday essential; And then there were none..." (The Guardian)

"COMMENT & ANALYSIS: America in the dock" - "As heads of state from around the world prepare to gather in Johannesburg for the expected disappointment of the 10th anniversary of the Earth Summit, there may be a shock waiting. In the exhausted world of making global deals on the environment, poor countries are preparing to abandon the negotiating table for the courtroom.

The prime minister of the small South Pacific island of Tuvalu recently surprised the international community by announcing that his country is considering a lawsuit against the US for its emissions of greenhouse gases. Rising sea levels, coupled with extreme and unpredictable weather resulting from global warming, will be devastating to his low-lying nation.

The decision to contemplate such action is almost inevitable after the increasing role of law in international relations to meet perhaps the greatest environmental threat of our times. War crimes tribunals, Nazi Holocaust reparations, and now suits for slavery as a crime against humanity are all evidence that what was either ignored, or the subject of diplomatic deal-making, is now open to international legal redress." (Financial Times)

"The Nando Times: Jumbo squids could signify return of El Nino" - "VENTURA, Calif. (August 21, 2002 7:49 p.m. EDT) - Jumbo squids, which marine experts believe have ridden the warm waters from Baja to Northern California, are being caught by fishermen off the coast of Ventura County. Experts say the jumbo squids' presence is further proof that another El Nino is brewing, which could have a big impact on California's commercial fisheries. Annette Henry, marine biologist with the California Fish and Game Department in La Jolla, said El Nino's warmer waters are bringing the jumbo squids from Baja. The animals propel themselves by funneling seawater through their bodies. Channel Islands commercial fisherman Scott Jarvis said he has been fishing off the Ventura Coast for decades, and he hasn't seen jumbo squids this far north since 1978, when he was 16 years old. Henry said the last California sightings of the jumbo squids were in 1998. They are 2 to 3 feet long. By comparison, the California market squid, which spawns in state waters, is about 12 inches long."

"A More Orderly Process" - "Editor's note: The following is an interview with Dr. Harlan Watson, the U. S. State Department's Senior Climate Change Negotiator and Special Representative. TCS Host James K. Glassman conducted the interview. Watson is leaving today for Johannesburg, South Africa as part of the U.S. government's delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Global Warming, Global Scepticism" - "In the 1970s and 1980s climate experts started to worry about the measured increase in the carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the atmosphere. On the basis of the known principle of the greenhouse effect, it could be expected that the temperature on the earth would rise. It seemed likely that the change was the result of the sharp increase in the use of fossil fuels (coal, mineral oil and natural gas). In 1988, under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up with the object of interpreting and reporting on developments in climate research around the world. These reports were intended to serve as advice for the participating governments. The main task was to examine whether there was indeed any question of climate change and in particular of global warming. If that were to be the case, international agreements might be needed to limit the use of fossil fuels." (Hans H.J. Labohm and Dick Thoenes, TCS Europe)

World Climate Report Volume 7, Number 24, August 19, 2002 (GES)

"Power Hungry, Power Mad" - "After last summer's energy crisis in California, residents are understandably more at ease this summer. But while some people are concerned about a lack of power, demanding more generators and power lines, others are worried about the consequences of too much power. They claim that the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by high-voltage power lines are detrimental to our health." (Howard Fienberg, TCS)

"Earth facing electricity crisis" - "Paris - Some 1.6 billion people or more than a quarter of the earth's population have no access to electrical power, and 1.4 billion will still be without it in 30 years unless something radical is done, the International Energy Agency warned Wednesday. "1.6 billion people today have no access to electricity," said IEA Director Robert Priddle: "2.4 billion rely on primitive biomass for cooking and heating. "What is more shocking, in the absence of radical new policies, 1.4 billion will still have no electricity in 30 years time. This is not a sustainable future," he told a press conference." (Sapa-AFP)

"Organic farming caused Dust Bowl" - "WASHINGTON -- American farmers are destroying the topsoil and can no longer produce healthy food, claims George Pyle, writing for the Kansas Land Institute recently. Pyle warns that we must go back to traditional farming before we create another Dust Bowl. But if traditional farming was so wonderful, how come we had the Dust Bowl in the first place?

In the 1930s, when the original Dust Bowl crisis hit America, all farming was organic and low-intensity. That's what Pyle recommends for our future. But the dust clouds roiled, literally, from the prairies all the way to the U.S. Capitol in Washington where gritty-eyed senators hurriedly created the U.S. Soil Conservation Service." (Dennis T. Avery and Alex R. Avery, Knight Ridder)

"Strategy to boost biotechnology's market share" - "A major strategy statement designed to ensure Australia becomes a stronger global competitor in the field of biotechnological research and development was launched by the CSIRO today at the AusBiotech2002 Conference in Melbourne. CSIRO's mission centres on achieving growth in the area by facilitating large-scale collaborative ventures in partnership with industry and other research agencies. Launching the document, the Deputy Chair of CSIRO's Biotechnology Strategy Team, Professor Richard Head, said Australia's biotechnology R & D sector was in a prime position to take advantage of its already high international standing." | CSIRO brings biotech to Australia's farmers (CSIRO)

"WHO seeks to allay African GM food fears" - "The World Health Organisation has summoned African governments to a crisis meeting in Zimbabwe to try to allay fears over genetically modified food as emergency relief. The meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, is an attempt by the international agency to overcome the refusal of several famine-hit countries to accept GM food as humanitarian aid. The WHO, which is stockpiling rejected grain and wants to distribute it as soon as possible, warned that 300,000 people could die of hunger and disease in the next six months. WHO officials said they would meet 10 southern African health ministers in Harare on Monday to consider a response to the "acute and large-scale crisis facing the region". Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO director-general, will attend. The US has supplied GM maize as part of an international effort to relieve the 14m people facing starvation in the region. While Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland have accepted the GM aid, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique have rejected it." (Financial Times)

August 21, 2002

"In a World of Hazards, Worries Are Often Misplaced" - "Spared from worry about whether they will have enough to eat today or a roof over their heads tomorrow, most Americans have the luxury of worrying about the hazards that may be lurking in their air, water and food as a result of all this progress and affluence.

We are healthier, live longer, have more sources of pleasure and convenience and more regulations of industrial and agricultural production than ever, but we are also more worried about the costs to our health of environmental contaminants." (Jane E. Brody, New York Times)

2 for 1 offer, Spitzer and Landrigan: "Toxic Pesticide Risk Is Seen for Public School Children" - "Children who live in public housing, go to public schools and play in parks in cities across the state are being exposed to high levels of toxic pesticides, according to a report released yesterday by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer." (New York Times)

"Side effects of the war on pesticides -- The Washington Times" - "The growing death toll associated with the mosquito-transmitted West Nile virus has captured the nation's attention. Yet environmental activists maintain that public health officials are engaged in a massive overreaction to a small risk, leading localities to use highly dangerous pesticides. In reality, it's the environmentalists' attack on pesticides that poses the greatest risk. Environmentalists have gone as far as to depict West Nile fatalities as unimportant."

"Adoring Nature, Till It Bites Us in the Back" - "Biophilia, humanity's tendency to be drawn toward nature, enfolds biophobia, a fear of being sucked down and overwhelmed by too much nature." (New York Times)

"Learning to Live With Logging and (Gasp!) Even Liking It" - "BOKOLA, Congo Republic — "Bongo!" Paul Elkan exclaimed as he cruised down a logging road in this dense central African forest, keeping one eye out for animal tracks and the other on oncoming traffic.

A researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Mr. Elkan can spot the tracks of the bongo, or striped antelope, while driving at top speed in his Land Cruiser. He knows many other soil signatures as well: the giant pads of the forest elephant, the cleft hooves of the duiker, the handprints of the chimpanzee, not to mention the tread marks left by logging trucks loaded down with hardwood rushing to the sawmill.

Irresponsible logging replaces rich ecosystems with barren fields. But scientists acknowledge that selective logging can actually help a forest grow and provide room for some animal species, like elephants and bongo, to forage, socialize and reproduce.

This new view that resources can often be managed both for economic and environmental value is uncomfortable for some conservationists. But it is spreading. In fact, some environmentalists say it is the best and perhaps the only approach to conserving nature in rapidly developing countries." (New York Times)

"As Alien Invaders Proliferate, Conservationists Change Their Focus" - "In a human-dominated planet, it is only natural that wilderness and wildlife will be increasingly disrupted, hemmed in or exterminated. That has been happening steadily through the era of industrialization, which created today's wealthy minority, and will happen far more, biologists say, as the developing world strives to become developed." (New York Times)

"Harvest the Whales" - "It makes sense to save the whales that are endangered, but it's also time to allow some species to be harvested again." (New York Times)

"Experts Scale Back Estimates of World Population Growth" - "Demography has never been an exact science. Ever since social thinkers began trying to predict the pace of population growth a century or two ago, the people being counted have been surprising the experts and confounding projections. Today, it is happening again as stunned demographers watch birthrates plunge in ways they never expected." (New York Times)

"Bracing for Economic Changes, When the Population Grows No More" - "For decades, economic advisers from rich countries have preached the virtues of slower population growth to poor countries striving to improve their standards of living. Intentionally or otherwise, the advisers' own countries may have followed that recommendation too closely. Where a stabilizing population can offer economic succor to one country, it may wreak fiscal turmoil in the next." (New York Times)

"Changing Everything" - "More than 100 presidents, prime ministers, and other potentates will convene over the next couple of weeks (August 26-September 4) in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a desperate attempt to save the earth. The occasion is the United Nations' World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which is aimed at revolutionizing how the world's economy operates. This economic, social and environmental revolution must occur because, it is claimed, humanity is on an unsustainable path that is leading toward global catastrophe. Indeed, all summer, as the WSSD approached, we have been treated to a series of reports and media events concocted to persuade us that the world is about to fall apart. " (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

TechCentralStation has launched www.Joburg.TechCentralStation.com, a special section of TCS devoted to daily coverage of the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) with an optimistic, pro-development, high tech agenda for humanity. The online portal will feature news and commentary from a team of experts, on-site at the Summit, led by TCS Host Jim Glassman. The site will offer up to the minute coverage and interviews on issues ranging from climate change, water rights, AID vs. trade, biotechnology, and corporate responsibility. (TCS)

?!! "A World Without Water" - "In 1995 World Bank vice president Ismail Serageldin made a much quoted prediction for the new millennium: "If the wars of this century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water." Serageldin has been proven correct much faster than he or anyone else thought. Two years into the 21st century, the global water wars are upon us." (Ginger Adams Otis, The Village Voice) | As the world grows thirsty, a vital question: Who owns water? (Associated Press) | Children are victims of privatisation, warns charity (Independent)

"US Government, Charities Launch New Safe Water Program for West Africa" - "A $41 million initiative to provide safe drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people in West Africa is being launched by a group of private U.S. charitable organizations and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The new multi-million dollar effort will accelerate current efforts to bring safe water to people in West Africa." (VOA News)

"Why Earth Summit must fail to succeed" - "The issues are not right, there is no political will, and the world is not ready for yet another summit on sustainable development right now. So let it fail, and let it fail miserably." (W. Bradnee Chambers, The Daily Yomiuri)

[Chambers is head of Multilateralism and Sustainable Development and senior program coordinator at the U.N. University Institute of Advanced Studies.]

"Lobbying galore" - "The world's biggest conference will cost £35m and bring some 65,000 delegates from 185 countries to Johannesburg. An expensive jamboree for heads of state and unwieldy delegations? In fact, most of those attending what has been dubbed the earth summit, but has the proper name of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), will not be from official delegations. Apart from the 12,000 journalists, there is a massive turnout from environmental and development lobby groups and big business. These will all have parallel conferences and be lobbying politicians. Unlike at Rio de Janeiro 10 years ago, when the multinationals watched from the sidelines, businessmen will be central to this summit." (The Guardian)

"Malaysia Tigers Risk Bullet as Global Summit Nears" - "KUALA LUMPUR - By the time global talks to tackle human poverty and save rare species and habitats start in South Africa Monday, several Malaysian tigers may have been shot dead or shut behind bars.

Three Malaysian rubber tappers have been mauled to death since April, and a fourth is missing following a series of attacks which led to the chief minister of the northern state of Kelantan to ask the army to shoot all tigers in the area.

The clash between poor people and endangered tigers is an indication of the complexity of issues facing delegates at Johannesburg's World Summit on Sustainable Development. "I am all for the shooting of the animals rather than using tranquilizers or traps, as these methods will not solve the problem," local newspapers reported chief minister Nik Aziz as saying." (Reuters)

"South Africa readies for Earth Summit" - "As Johannesburg gears up for the world summit on sustainable development, not all of its citizens are looking forward to the estimated influx of 40 000 visitors ranging from anti-globalisation protestors to heads of state. For months now the roads in and out of the summit's epicentre at Sandton City have been in traffic gridlock. "A sign of things to come," sighed a friend of mine wearily. It used to take her five minutes to get to work. These days it takes her at least an hour. It is because all of the roads are being widened and upgraded to cater for the cavalcades of cars carrying dignatories, delegates, popstars and heads of state to and from the summit. Water and sewerage systems have also had to be upgraded to cope with the extra volume." (BBC News Online)

"How your quiet night at home is destroying the planet" - "It is evening. The curtains are drawn, the halogen lights have been turned down low. A compact disc is playing on the stereo. Later, there's the prospect of watching that new Tom Cruise movie on the DVD player. The microwave has just pinged to announce that the chicken tikka is ready to serve. Maybe there'll be time to sneak in a few rounds of Premiership Manager on the PlayStation before bed.

While this is the sort of evening many Britons may look forward to as they struggle through their working day, such domestic indulgence comes at an increasingly heavy cost for the environment.

A new report from the Government reveals how the increasingly luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by many Britons, and their reliance on ever-greater numbers of electrical appliances, have led to a spiralling rise in household energy consumption since 1970. Indeed, as we confront the reality of global warming at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg next week, we need look no further than our own living rooms for the cause." (Independent)

"Meacher joins call for 'green taxes'" - "Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, has called for the introduction of "green taxes" as part of a drive to combat threats to the environment. Mr Meacher has co-written a blueprint to save the planet drawn up by Europe's 41 left-of-centre political parties, before next week's United Nations summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg." (Independent)

"Global warming threatens Africa" - "A new report by a conservation group warns that food and water supplies in Africa could be put at risk if global warming continues at the current rate." (BBC News Online)

"Death of ocean organisms may be hitting fish stocks" - "GLOBAL warming is being accelerated by a huge decline of tiny organisms in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that are dying because of global warming." (The Times)

"The Proclaimed Demise of Ecosystem Carbon Sequestration When Woody Plants Encroach Upon Grasslands in High-Precipitation Regions Has Little Solid Data to Support It" - "Summary: In a recent paper in Nature, Jackson et al. (2002) suggest that "current land-based assessments may overestimate carbon sinks," especially in regions of high mean annual precipitation, concluding that earlier studies that indicated the U.S. carbon budget is approximately balanced "may be premature." After carefully analyzing their data, however, we conclude it is Jackson et al. who are premature in their pronouncements." (co2science.org)

"Health Effects of CO2" - "Summary: As atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise, we know that plants are directly benefited. But what about animals? Are they helped or harmed? And what about us? Is the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content good for our health? Or is it bad? In this Summary we review much of what is known about these intriguing subjects." (co2science.org)

"Carbon Sequestration in Soils: Where Measurements Lead, Theory Is Sure to Follow" - "Summary: Theory has often anticipated great discoveries; but real-world data reign supreme, as recent developments in the field of soil science clearly demonstrate." (co2science.org)

"Observational History of an Outlet Glacier in Southern Iceland" - "Summary: Just how fast is it wasting away during this period of "unprecedented" global warming? Quaternary International 91: 39-52." (co2science.org)

"United States Moisture Conditions Over the Past Century" - "Summary: As the 20th-century world experienced what climate alarmists want us to believe was the most dramatic warming of the past millennium, what happened with respect to moisture availability in the conterminous United States? Climate Research 20: 19-29." (co2science.org)

"Tuscany Rainfall: Is It Getting More Extreme As the Globe Warms?" - "Summary: Although truncated data sets give a faint hint of increasing rainfall extremes in a small percentage of the stations analyzed, when all available data are included in the analysis, this tendency disappears. Hydrological Processes 16: 1261-1274." (co2science.org)

"Chrétien optimistic on Kyoto" - "SAGUENAY, QUE. and OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has delivered his strongest signal yet that the government intends to ratify the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse-gas emissions.

"On behalf of all Canadians, we will announce an effective approach to achieve the objectives of the Kyoto accord and probably to ratify it," he told a meeting of Liberal MPs and senators in a speech outlining his government's fall agenda and defending his own leadership." (Globe and Mail)

"ABC News - China set to ratify Kyoto climate treaty: official" - "China is close to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and an announcement will be made around the time of the upcoming UN Earth Summit, a senior foreign ministry official said."

"ABC News - Industry groups request more time for greenhouse solution" -"Australia's biggest polluters have called for a longer-term response to reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions."

"Quebec studies 'punishing' tax on gas guzzlers" - "The Quebec government is studying a "gas guzzling" tax that could cost buyers of SUVs and other big-engine automobiles thousands of dollars." (National Post)

"Ford’s ‘green’ initiatives stall" - "Aug. 20 — Ford Motor Co., struggling to balance Chairman William Clay Ford Jr.’s progressive ideals with the company’s stark business problems, says it probably won’t launch many major new programs in the next few years to clean up its cars and trucks, and warned that delivering on the green promises it already has made will be “harder” than it thought." (The Wall Street Journal)

"The Daily Camera: Boulder backs global warming suit " - "Boulder is willing to join a lawsuit to force American-financed energy projects in other countries to detail their impact on global warming. A Vermont-based environmental law firm asked the city government to join the lawsuit if it is filed. Joining the lawsuit is projected to cost Boulder $7,000. On Tuesday, the City Council approved backing the legal action. The lawsuit is expected to be filed on behalf of Greenpeace U.S.A. and Friends of the Earth against the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of the United States."

"Environmental groups target pollution laws" - "Canada's failure to enact and enforce stringent air-quality rules violates basic human rights, environmental groups say in a petition to the federal Auditor-General. In a submission filed with Sheila Fraser today on behalf of Greenpeace and the Toronto Environmental Alliance, the groups argue the lax rules allow pollution that makes people ill, and in many cases kills." (Globe and Mail)

"FAO Sees Enough Food, Widespread Hunger Through 2030" - "Global food production will continue to exceed population growth through 2030, but hundreds of millions of people in developing countries will remain hungry, and many environmental problems associated with agriculture will remain serious, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization's World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030, released today. Although growth in demand for food will be lower and population growth will slow, agricultural pressure on natural resources will continue to increase, albeit at a slower pace, and agricultural trade deficits in developing countries will increase drastically, the FAO says." (UN Wire)

"Factory farming 'spreading disease around the world'" - "The worldwide spread of factory farming is increasing poverty and threatening health, according to a report yesterday by Compassion in World Farming. The report collated for the first time data on livestock production in developing countries and economic analysis from World Bank and UN reports. The animal welfare organisation also examined figures on disease transmitted through food production around the world. It concluded that the "live stock revolution" was putting small farmers out of business, thereby compromising developing countries' ability to feed themselves, and leading to a global increase in antibiotic-resistant infections." (The Guardian)

"Telling science fact from fiction" - "AS the debate rages on about so-called "Frankenstein science", the director of the Edinburgh-based BioIndustry Association (Scotland) is heralding the positive impact it has had on millions of lives. In the opposing camp, scholar and author Francis Fukuyama this year wrote The Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution to emphasise the threat it poses to human nature, and argue for the necessity of regulating biotechnology on a global basis. But while the "Frankenstein science" - such as genetic modification and designer babies - associated with the industry grabs the headlines, Dr Barbara Blaney, of BioIndustry Association (Scotland), prefers to focus on the fact that the science has helped treat conditions in more than 250 million people worldwide in the last 20 years. She says: "Most people see only the controversial areas of biotechnology, but there’s so much more to it than that. People need to focus on the good that it can do and see it as new opportunity." (The Scotsman)

Hmm... The Post reads: "Panel Identifies Gene-Altered Animals' Risk; Report Notes Benefits, Oversight Needs" - "Genetic manipulation of animals poses serious risks to the environment and potentially to human health, and federal efforts to manage those risks are disorganized and probably inadequate, a panel of the National Academy of Sciences said yesterday.

In a long-awaited report, the nation's premier scientific body identified a slew of concerns relating to the biotechnology industry's efforts to clone animals and to manipulate their genes. The escape of such animals into the wild could alter species or even wipe them out, the report said, adding that the introduction of gene-altered meat, milk or eggs into the food supply could harm people unless managed carefully." (Washington Post)

while: "Study: Food from Cloned Animals Safe for Consumers" - "WASHINGTON - Food and biomedical products from cloned and genetically engineered animals pose no significant health risks, but stronger U.S. government oversight must be implemented to ensure its safety, a National Academy of Sciences panel said on Tuesday. In a broad one-year study of animal biotechnology, researchers said there was a "low probability" consuming food from cloned livestock would trigger allergic reactions." (Reuters)

and: "Panel: Food From Clones Seems Safe" - "WASHINGTON - There's no evidence to show that food products from cloned farm animals can harm people, but more regulation of animal biotechnology is needed, a panel of scientists said Tuesday. The National Research Council released a report to identify any risks of genetically modifying animals. The Food and Drug Administration had commissioned the report in response to misgivings that dairy and other food products from cloned animals might be unsafe for eating and drinking." (Associated Press)

"Let them eat dust -- The Washington Times" - "Are European officials and prestigious science journals truly applauding one of the world's bloodiest dictators for rejecting food aid for his starving people just because some of the corn may be genetically modified? We're talking about Robert Mugabe, the so-called president of Zimbabwe, who used mobs to strong-arm his way to recent re-election and who has virtually destroyed his nation's economy with graft and violence. Mr. Mugabe was recently invited to bask in anti-biotech virtue, as though he were protecting his people from real danger, by refusing donated U.S. corn in the middle of a desperate southern African drought."

"Demon seed or saviour?" - "The news that seeds with 'rogue genes' have escaped into crop sites across Britain has only deepened the public's hostility towards GM foods. So are we right not to trust the scientists?" (The Times)

"Syngenta seeks approval for GM rice to help kidney patients" - "US agrochemicals company Syngenta is seeking regulatory approval for a genetically modified rice strain it says will improve the diet of patients undergoing kidney dialysis. The rice strain has been engineered to remove a protein which triggers allergic reactions. It has been designed for the Asian market, where dialysis patients cannot eat the local staple of rice because they suffer intolerance to its high protein content. Syngenta said it is concentrating on genetically engineered products that have a very clear benefit to consumers." (just-food.com)

"Report focuses on the science and safety of genetically modified crops" - "A new report from the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) looks at the case of a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and its use in agriculture in a careful examination of what we know--and what we need to know--about transgenic plants." (American Society for Microbiology)

August 20, 2002

"British History Lessons" - "The trouble with lessons from history is that they often involve little actual history. Sometimes, as with discredited Emory University historian Michael Bellesiles, whose book Arming America turns out to rest in no small part on documents that don't exist, that's because the history was never there to begin with. Other times, lessons from history are wrong because nobody has bothered to look at the facts." (Glenn Harlan Reynolds, TCS Europe)

Today's 'down-under' hand-wringer: "A pandemic waiting to strike" - "Mad cow disease in humans is no longer just a European problem. The US and Canada have announced cases and it is just a matter of time before the disease reaches Australia. Jennifer Cooke reports." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Slaughtering the Fatted Calf" - "The current obsession in the public health arena is obesity. Ever since Surgeon-General David Hatcher announced in December last year that obesity was a major public health hazard, killing 300,000 people every year, the fat has been sizzling in the fire. The 61 percent of Americans who are classified as overweight or obese have been subject to more and more claims that their lifestyle is putting them at severe risk, while the food and drink industries braced themselves for the inevitable onslaught of litigation." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"Moving On From 'Sustainablity'" - "The aims of the World Summit on Sustainable Development are laudable. Cleaner air and water, better stewardship of global resources, the eradication of poverty and disease no one can argue with such objectives. The question is how to get there from here.

Let me offer a prescription for sustainable development that begins with a simple and powerful idea - an idea which, unfortunately, will often be at odds with what delegates, journalists and other observers hear in Johannesburg. The idea is that economic growth leads to levels of wealth and income that, in turn, inevitably produce societies that are cleaner, healthier and more stable and that use global resources more efficiently." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"The Challenges We Face" - "In Johannesburg, leaders will debate what to do about threats to our health, food, water, climate and biodiversity" (Green Century, Time)

"Beyond The Horizon" - "Will the future be barren or bountiful? The U.N. Secretary-General offers two visions of where humanity is headed" (Green Century, Time)

"Too Green For Their Own Good" - "Environmental groups are bigger than ever but seem to be fighting a losing battle. That raises questions about some of their tactics" (Green Century, Time)

"Managing Planet Earth: Forget Nature. Even Eden Is Engineered." - "Nearly 70 years ago, a Soviet geochemist, reflecting on his world, made a startling observation: through technology and sheer numbers, he wrote, people were becoming a geological force, shaping the planet's future just as rivers and earthquakes had shaped its past.

Eventually, wrote the scientist, Vladimir I. Vernadsky, global society, guided by science, would soften the human environmental impact, and earth would become a "noosphere," a planet of the mind, "life's domain ruled by reason."

Today, a broad range of scientists say, part of Vernadsky's thinking has already been proved right: people have significantly altered the atmosphere and are the dominant influence on ecosystems and natural selection. The question now, scientists say, is whether the rest of his vision will come to pass. Choices made in the next few years will determine the answer." (New York Times)

"Ford Stresses Business, but Disappoints Environmentalists" - "After a delay of almost four months, Ford Motor will release its third annual corporate citizenship report today. The previous reports have earned the praise of environmental groups and the disapproval of some competitors because of Ford's frank discussion of subjects like the impact of sport utility vehicles on global warming and smog-forming pollutants. But the latest report comes at a time of financial distress for Ford, the second-largest automaker. Environmental groups who have seen the report said the company had moved from candor to caution and had offered scant goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or improving gas mileage. William C. Ford Jr., the chairman and chief executive, said "difficult business conditions make it harder to achieve the goals we set for ourselves in many areas, including corporate citizenship." (New York Times)

"Environmental Report Backfires on Ford" - "DETROIT - An effort by Ford Motor Co. to burnish its environmental image has backfired because it acknowledged making little recent progress toward improving the gas mileage of its vehicles. In an annual report released on Tuesday, the world's No. 2 automaker highlights various initiatives it has undertaken to fight global warming, which it calls "the most pressing environmental issue facing our industry and our company." (Reuters)

"A world court on the environment? Multinationals object" - "PARIS Many large international corporations are gearing up for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg this month with an outpouring of promotional advertising to highlight their environmental credentials. The ads feature positive images like crystal streams, soaring eagles, leaping whales, bounding tigers and happy humans.

Environmental organizations dismiss the effort as "greenwash," or, as a spokesman for Christian Aid in London put it, "hogwash." Behind the glowing portrait in the public relations campaign, critics say, is another world of contaminated earth, strip mines, sweatshops, ravaged forests and depleted oceans.

The tension between these opposing visions is shaping up as one of the major issues at the Johannesburg conference, the biggest United Nations meeting in ten years on economic development and the environment. Nongovernmental organizations are demanding an agreement at the summit meeting that big private corporations be monitored and regulated on an international level. Business groups are pressing instead to ensure that the UN endorses industry plans for voluntary self-regulation." (Barry James, International Herald Tribune)

"Corporate capture" - "Next week's earth summit will not only fail to tackle the ecological crisis. It will make it worse" (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"Better rice, less global warming" - "Rice plants which produce higher yields make less of the potent greenhouse gas methane, researchers have discovered. Plants which use the carbon they absorb from the atmosphere efficiently put less carbon into the soil, where it can be converted into methane. Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas, responsible for about 20% of global warming. The scientists say their findings could lead to new ways of growing rice which will curb global warming as well as producing higher yields." (BBC News Online)

"smh.com.au - Kyoto is more than warming" - "The Prime Minister, John Howard, faced Pacific island leaders and their fears over global warming and rising sea levels at the South Pacific Forum in Fiji at the weekend. After last year's absence, Mr Howard's presence at the forum, was, in itself, diplomatically important. The message he delivered, however, did little to reassure Australia's struggling Pacific neighbours that Canberra is ready to pay close attention to their myriad concerns, especially over climate change. Pointedly, the forum noted that of the 16 nations attending, only Australia had failed to sign the Kyoto protocol, which sets limits on carbon emissions for industrialised nations." | South Pacific Forum (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"How Now, Brown Cloud?" - "The United Nations will throw its biggest environmental party in 10 years later this month in Johannesburg. In preparation, the U.N. has rushed to publication a preliminary report about a new environmental pestilence, the so-called Asian Brown Cloud (ABC). The U.N. says the Brown Cloud will kill millions and wreck the Asian Monsoon, which is responsible for feeding about 2 billion people in one way or another. But like many U.N. environmental reports this one fails to mention some crucial points." (Patrick J. Michaels, TCS)

"Economic Interests Keep Drive for Renewable Energy Stuck in Neutral" - "When it comes to world energy consumption, it is as if time has stood still for the last decade.

People still rely mostly on fossil fuels to light their homes and run their cars, despite the environmental problems that flow from burning coal, oil and natural gas. At the same time, renewable energy sources, like the sun and the wind, still glimmer as the great alternatives — clean, abundant and on the brink of mass production in a future that always seems around the corner yet perpetually out of reach.

Renewable energy sources, not including hydroelectric power, account for just 1 percent of the world's supply; fossil fuels provide about 85 percent, energy experts say. "The energy `system' shows a substantial degree of inertia," said Joel Darmstadter, a senior fellow with Resources for the Future, a Washington environmental and economics research group." (New York Times)

"KRT Wire | 08 16 2002 | Mosquitoes are most deadly animal known to man" - " - Jonathan Day suspends a live chicken below a tree as bait to try to catch the creature that has killed more humans than any other animal. He gloats: "They don't stand a chance." They are mosquitoes. Despite his bravado, Day, a top mosquito scientist, knows that in man's long war against them, the little bloodsuckers usually prevail. Mosquitoes kill more humans worldwide in five minutes than sharks do in a year. Insect-borne diseases have ravaged America and the world time and again for centuries. In decades past, America all but vanquished mosquito-borne malaria, dengue and yellow fever from its territory - but mosquitoes always come back with another disease. Four different encephalitis viruses have struck thousands of Americans in the past 20 years. Now comes a deadly U.S. epidemic of West Nile virus."

"Biotech Bullets" - "West Nile Virus has now spread to at least 36 states and is about to officially qualify as an epidemic. It actually kills very few of its victims, but it's scary because Americans have for decades now seen mosquitoes as only pests, not killers.

Yet our outbreak is a mere prick of the proboscis compared to the havoc the insidious insects wreak world-wide. Malaria alone afflicts people in some 90 nations, according to the World Health Organization, causing between 700,000 and 2.7 million deaths annually. Low-tech containment efforts such as insecticide spraying obviously work, but just as obviously they don't work well enough. Biotechnology, however, will soon be taking a swat at the blood-suckers." (Michael Fumento, TCS)

"Harvesting a bounty in biotech" - "Leading scientists now believe that plant biotechnology can reduce pesticide use.

"The new tools of biotechnology will permit us to speed the development of improved cultivators [plants] with higher genetic-yield potential, increase resistance to diseases and insects, and greater tolerance to drought, heat, cold, and soil toxicities," said Norman Borlaug, 1970 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and consultant to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico.

"By incorporating genes for crop protection into the seed, production costs can be reduced, as well as the need to use pesticides. This is good for farmers, the environment, and consumers," said Mr. Borlaug in a recent report by Monsanto, a U.S. firm that develops and sells agricultural products, including seeds for genetically modified crops — mainly soybeans, maize, wheat and cotton." (Winter Casey, The Washington Times)

"S. Africa harvests first GM maize for humans in run-up to Earth Summit" - "CAPE TOWN, Aug 19 - South African farmers this winter harvested the country's first crop of genetically modified (GM) maize aimed at human consumption, but grain growers say it has been slipping into the food chain for a while and fear the public will resist it if green consciousness grows." (AFP)

"Troubled Monsanto scales down GM hopes in Europe" - "Monsanto, the US corporation faced with widespread opposition to its genetically modified products, has conceded that it will take at least another three years before winning approval for their sale in Europe. The company, which has become the bête noire of campaigners against GM crops, said it was working on the assumption that it will make no progress in Europe until 2005." (The Guardian)

"Meacher's scepticism on GM crops reflects shift in opinion, say greens" - "Green groups called on the Government to abandon farm-scale trials of genetically modified crops yesterday after the Environment minister Michael Meacher admitted he was sceptical about their usefulness. The Soil Association said Mr Meacher's comments in yesterday's Independent reflected a shift in wider opinion away from GM crops and their alleged benefits." (Independent)

August 19, 2002

"Virus deaths spur mosquito-control efforts; Relatively few mosquitos pose threat, but 11 recent fatalities stir action by states" - "ST. LOUIS – America's latest health threat is not carried by a bioterrorist but a mosquito. So far this year, the so-called West Nile virus has spread farther and caused more fatalities than anthrax. It's an example, experts say, of how diseases have become globalized. Thanks to increasing travel and trade, diseases as new as AIDS and as old as malaria are jumping continents and oceans faster than ever before." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"An Indefensible Epidemic" - "The acceleration of a three-year-old outbreak of an exotic, mosquito-borne infection is worrying public health experts across the country. Louisiana has been hardest-hit this year by the West Nile virus, with at least 85 cases and eight deaths, but since infections were first found in the U.S. three years ago, cases have been discovered in 35 states and the District of Columbia. By next year, the virus is expected to cross the Rockies and spread to the Western states.

There are two ways to combat such an outbreak definitively. In the short run, eliminate the vector, which in this case is the mosquito. Longer term, develop a vaccine to prevent infection even if a mosquito does inject the virus. The technology is available to accomplish both objectives, but fundamental, long-standing mistakes in public policy have put them out of reach." (Henry I Miller, Wall Street Journal)

"AP Wire | 08 18 2002 | State bluebird population recovering" - "PITTSBURGH - After being forced out of the state by pesticides, other birds and suburban development, bluebirds are starting to thrive again in Pennsylvania with the help of new homes and watchful neighbors.

"No doubt about it. From a conservation standpoint, they were in trouble. But we have seen a dramatic turnaround," said Dan Brauning, an ornithologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Eastern Bluebirds, which prefer open areas, were numerous in the early 1900s when farmland covered two-thirds of the state, but their numbers quickly dwindled as farms were abandoned and returned to wild woods or were developed."

"Lester Brown: We're losing eco-war" - "With the world conference on sustainable development starting next week in Johannesburg, The Yomiuri Shimbun interviewed Lester Brown, director of Earth Policy Institute, regarding ideas about solutions to the increasingly complicated problems enveloping the Earth's environment." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Australia earns 'renegade' status - theage.com.au" - "In 10 years since the Rio Earth Summit, Australia had become a "renegade state" with some of the world's worst environmental problems because of poor policy and under-funding, a report says. Peter Christoff of the University of Melbourne's School of Anthropology, Geography and Environmental Studies used official data to assess Australia's environmental performance on the eve of this week's United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa (also known as Rio +10)."

"Blair's Earth Summit plea to Bush" - "President George Bush has snubbed repeated efforts by Tony Blair to get him to attend the crucial Earth Summit in South Africa. The Prime Minister believes it is vital that the US President makes an appearance in Johannesburg to avoid derailing the most important environmental talks for a decade. Blair raised the issue with Bush at the Group of Eight Summit two months ago, and has repeated his plea several times. Indications suggest that Bush is almost certain to shun the event." (The Observer)

"Bush absence dashes greens' hopes" - "President George W. Bush's decision not to join more than 100 heads of state at next week's Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development dashed the hopes of some environmentalists who hoped that he would follow in his father's footsteps.

Although green groups are publicly optimistic about the summit, behind the scenes there are low expectations. A recent poll by Boston University found only 13 per cent of policy experts believe the summit would produce "very significant" achievements.

Bruce Rich of Environmental Defense said the other heads of state attending the summit must be relieved by Mr Bush's absence. "If Bush had gone, there would have been a slight risk that they would have to agree on something rather than spout empty rhetoric about sustainable development," he said." (Financial Times)

"Blair is the enemy of the greens" - "Online extra: Zac Goldsmith of The Ecologist spoke to Mark Townsend about how green activists feel on the eve of the Earth Summit. In these extensive quotes from the interview, he explains why the summit is likely to fail, why the evidence shows that time is running out and why he now believes that the Labour government is the least green government ever in Britain." (The Observer)

"Turning off the tap for poor" - "Lush green lawns and shimmering swimming pools will greet the 60,000 delegates when they start arriving in Johannesburg for the crucial Earth Summit this week. But the illusion of abundance shouldn't fool anyone. Not far from the conference circus there is serious concern at how privatisation of South Africa's utilities is seriously failing its population. In the country that has just overtaken Brazil in having the most polarised income levels on earth, the scale of the problems is awesome. University of Witwatersrand academics say 22,000 people in Johannesburg are disconnected from water supplies each month because they can't afford to pay steeply rising water bills. The problem affects the whole country. In a population of 42 million, 10 million South Africans have had their supplies cut. The result is 43,000 deaths from diarrhoea last year, and a vicious outbreak of cholera affecting 135,000 that has claimed hundreds of lives." (The Observer)

"Who will save the world?" - "Many of the 60,000 delegates in Johannesburg want big business to mend its ways. But thousands of lobbyists have other ideas." (The Observer)

"Follow the money" - "Are eager US citizens determined to keep the world warming and the oil companies happy? Or, with many expecting the Earth Summit to achieve little, is it more that Exxon has got a very good deal, asks Ian Willmore of Friends of the Earth?" (The Observer)

"Deadly Floods Part of Weather Cycle" - "WASHINGTON - Deadly floods in Europe and Asia. Drought in America. The daily drumbeat of severe weather has millions wondering if something strange is happening.

The European floods are "definitely unusual in the sense that you're seeing once in 100-year type flooding. But it's not unusual in the sense that, of course, this has happened in the past," said James Hurrell, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

Added Jay Lawrimore, chief of climate monitoring at the government's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.: "We've had these type of events in the past. We're going to have them in the future." (Associated Press)

"As the Earth Warms, Will Companies Pay?" - "GLOBAL warming has been on the agenda of environmental activists for years. But it is also becoming a green issue of another kind — discussed not only in terms of melting ice caps and endangered species, but as a problem that can cost corporations and their investors billions of dollars. With their confidence shaken in corporate bookkeeping and the market's omniscience, investors are starting to look for other possible "off balance sheet" land mines, including the hidden risks that could be associated with global climate change." (New York Times)

"Mike Hulme: Climate change is a great mobiliser, not a disaster" - "From a talk to the Edinburgh Book Festival by the director of the University of East Anglia's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research" (Independent)

"Put your money where your Kyoto mouth is"  - "Time is running out: Canada still doesn't have its act together on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. We've already lost five years in lots of talk but little action. We now have eight years to reduce our emission levels by 30 per cent if we intend to meet our target under the Kyoto Protocol. If we don't meet this target, we pay a massive bill in penalties 10 years from now." says Jayson Myers in the Globe and Mail.

"Global warming not a hot topic, polls show" - "As Ottawa pushes to ratify Kyoto accord, most Canadians appear to be unconcerned. OTTAWA -- Despite Ottawa's drive to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, most Canadians are not very concerned about global warming and many lack a solid grasp of the problem, polling conducted for the federal government suggests." (Globe and Mail)

"ctnow.com: The Sound Of Power Politics" - "As the cost of developing wind power has dropped over 30 years to the point where it can begin to compete with fossil-fuel generation, wind farm proposals are proliferating in New England; there are 11 at the moment. But even as they are hailed as a way to help stave off global warming, they are bashed as aesthetic abominations. Environmentalists are divided on the issue; hikers are arguing among themselves. One project proposed for Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod calls for 170 turbines rising from the sea. The project and a more recent competing proposal have touched off an uproar over what they would do to the seascape."

"Incentives on Govt agenda" - "FEDERAL Cabinet is tomorrow expected to consider incentives for the proposed $US7 billion ($12.9 billion) SasolChevron gas-to-liquids project as part of a package of measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A submission on the gas-to-liquids (GTL) concept has gone to Cabinet amid expectations that incentives may be required to develop gas infrastructure as well as Australia's plan to develop strategies to achieve emission standards by encouraging technologies that use coal and gas reserves to create new industries.

At the same time, Cabinet has been told the security of energy supplies could be improved by encouraging petrol companies to use ethanol produced from grains and sugar as a petrol extender.

The oil companies are prepared to use 10 per cent ethanol in a petrol mix, but strongly oppose a government-mandated ethanol level." (AAP)

"Green revolution gives eight crops in a year" - "Sealed growing tunnels which produce up to eight crops a year of spinach or rocket, or more exotic and trendy stir fry ingredients like pak-choi and chillies, are being built in Britain to supply supermarkets. The revolutionary growing method involves a computer controlled atmosphere with enhanced carbon dioxide to promote maximum growth 365 days a year. A single crop can be produced to order in 40 days. The British invention, which has been patented, has great potential for export to countries without enough land or water." (The Guardian)

Elevated CO2 enhances crop production? Imagine that...

"Support local farmers" - "GRAYS RIVER, WASH. – Organic food has gone large scale, global, and corporate. Yet the growing popularity of organic food with consumers is cold comfort to many small farmers who saw the organic label as their niche – their way to survive in an increasingly corporate and globalized marketplace." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Monsanto scales down hopes on GM foods" - "Monsanto has dealt a blow to the biotech industry by accepting that it could take at least until 2005 to gain regulatory approval in either Europe or Brazil for its genetically modified products In an interview with the Financial Times, Hendrik Verfaillie, chief executive, said Monsanto needed to be more transparent about its growth assumptions." (Financial Times)

"Genetically modified company; Has Monsanto learned its lesson since causing a stir in the late 1990s?" - “AS A man sows, so shall he reap,” is a biblical lesson that really means something in the agricultural chemical and seed business, where profits critically depend on timely plantings and rich harvests. One firm, however, knows far better than most what it is to reap the whirlwind: Monsanto, a leading purveyor of genetically modified (GM) crops." (The Economist)

"Meacher attacks US 'pressure' over GM" - "Michael Meacher reignited the row over genetically modified crops yesterday, admitting that Britain was being pressed by the US to allow commercial planting. However, the Environment minister insisted he was "sceptical" of the benefits of GM and insisted: "We are not going to be bounced into this by the Americans." Any decision to open up commercial planting of GM crops would be based on hard evidence, he said in an interview with The Independent. Mr Meacher acknowledged that opponents of GM technology believed the changes were being "steamrollered through", but insisted that the public would be able to see all evidence on the impact of GM crops before widespread planting went ahead." (Independent)

"Seeds of doubt; The real danger is not GM foods, but ignorance and fear" - "It matters little that just 2.6 per cent of genes in the genetically modified crop trials in England and Scotland were rogue. It matters even less that the added chance of passing the gene, neomycin phospho transferase (ptIII), to human beings through GM foods is negligible; it is already naturally present in a wide variety of bacteria. And it matters not at all that the antibiotics to which the gene is resistant, neomycin and kanamycin, are rarely used in human medicine. But the error by the biotechnology company Aventis has played into people’s worst fears, however ill-founded, about GM foods." (The Times)

"More GM crop trials break test guidelines" - "Four more of the Government's troubled GM trials have gone alarmingly wrong, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. In a bizarre development, the stubble of harvested GM oilseed rape resprouted late last autumn, putting out new flowers in November – according to an as yet unpublished official investigation. Neither the Government's regulators nor Aventis, the GM company conducting the trials, spotted the reflowering of the rape, which spread modified pollen in four separate counties. It only came to light when a farmer near one of the sites notified Friends of the Earth." (Independent)

"GM crop trials spread pollen" - "Environmental campaigners have hit out after it was revealed four government GM crop trials had gone wrong, spreading modified pollen across the countryside. An official report into the tests revealed stubble of harvested oilseed rape resprouted late last autumn before flowering again in November. The problem was missed by both government inspectors and Aventis, the company conducting the trials." (The Guardian)

"This business of Labour's commitment to GM crops" - "What is it with Labour and genetically modified crops? So doggedly does the Government stick to its line that all is for the best in this best of all possible trials that reason seems to have disappeared from view. Labour has, it appears, been bought – politically, at the very least – by the GM companies. For most of the 20th century Labour was, at best, ambivalent about business. So desperate is it now to prove that it has become business-friendly that it has lost any sense of proportion; the fact that the GM food industry wants trials is treated as reason enough for them to go ahead, however compelling the opposing arguments." (Independent)

"GE farming is a disaster for environment: Greenpeace" - "KARACHI: As the Board of Investment (BoI) has planned to bring corporate farming in Pakistan by promoting the companies selling hybrid farming technology and genetically produced seeds for major crops, the Greenpeace - a worldwide NGO for global environment - has declared the hybrid farming a disaster for the environment." (The News)

"Zambia Bars Altered Corn From U.S." - "The Zambian government has rejected donations of genetically modified corn from the United States, despite severe food shortages in this southern African country." (AP)

August 18, 2002

"Bush snubs earth summit" - "George Bush will not attend this month's Johannesburg earth summit, the White House confirmed yesterday: a decision environmentalists said illustrated the administration's contempt for green issues. It did not come as a surprise. Mr Bush abandoned the Kyoto protocol on global warming last year, and later proposed an alternative with far less ambitious goals. The secretary of state, Colin Powell, will represent the US at the summit on sustainable development, which begins on August 26." (The Guardian)

"Top Judges to Fortify Environmental Law Enforcement" - "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, August 16, 2002 - Criminals in many parts of the world are getting away with trade in illegal timber, endangered species and hazardous wastes mainly as a result of the lax way in which national and international laws covering these and other environmental crimes are implemented and enforced.

To address this problem, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has invited high level judges from around the world to a three day symposium in Johannesburg in advance of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The Global Judges Symposium, will be attended by some 90 justices. UNEP says it will be the largest gathering of senior judges ever to discuss environmental and development issues. Co-hosted by Chief Justice of South Africa Arthur Chaskalson, the gathering is scheduled to begin Sunday at the Kopanong Hotel and Conference Center." (ENS)

"Scientists act over Quorn health effects; US group wants brand removed until after checks" - "Complaints about the health effects of the Quorn brand of meat substitutes are to be studied by the government's food standards agency after consumers are said to have complained of vomiting and diarrhoea from eating the products. The alleged reactions were reported by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, a US not-for-profit organisation that is seeking to get the brand removed from its new US market and Britain, until further checks were made. It called for safety investigations from regulatory bodies in the US, Britain and Europe, and said "the very least" that should be required of the manufacturers was labels warning that its key protein ingredient had the potential to cause illness." (The Guardian)

"Desperate roos and emus the sign of a serious drought - smh.com.au" - "Without rain, an emu and kangaroo apocalypse is about to unfold across the continent. Huge gatherings of emus and roos on the fringes of towns are a sign that two of Australia's toughest and most famous animals have been forced to flee their normal home ranges. Anywhere with water and feed is becoming a focus for native and feral animals. But because of the ability of emus and kangaroos to move they have become one of the most visible signs that the drought is tightening its grip. The birds are notorious for their ability to destroy fences in their determination to migrate, while kangaroos in dry times begin to eat the same last-resort fodder that cattle and sheep are also trying to survive on. Competition for scarce resources has hugely increased the demand to cull kangaroos and made roo shooters one of the most valued commodities west of the great divide."

Nurture figure "Mother Nature" is, at best, an indifferent old cow and, inevitably, 30 million or so (about half) of Australia's currently massive kangaroo population will die of thirst or starvation as we follow the inexorable ENSO-driven boom/bust cycle under which these animals evolved. Neither unusual nor particularly noteworthy (having an event frequency of roughly 5 years and every few decades the population crashes to about 5 million under particularly severe drought conditions) it will doubtless excite various animal clubs and disaster prognosticators while upsetting a fresh crop of under-informed news viewers until the rains return and the down-under macropod population again explodes to exploit the new fodder resource. Greatly expanding the kangaroo harvest industry in an attempt to limit the population would save some of them from the pitiful, lingering death that appears the preferred option of animal liberation/vegetarian organizations but appears unlikely given the donation-garnering propaganda drive against it. "Nature" ain't "nice" but by comparison these so-called conservation groups seem really sadistic. Want to be kind to "Skippy"? Fine, buy 'roo hide leather products and feed yourselves and your pets low-cholesterol kangaroo meat. By increasing the commercial value of kangaroos you'll be helping the species and the environment too. Think about it.

"Melting glacier 'false alarm'" - "Pictures released by Greenpeace claiming to show how man-made global warming has caused Arctic glaciers to retreat are at best misleading and only illustrate a natural phenomenon, says a leading glaciologist.

The picture series, which compared the size of a glacier on Svalbard in 1918 with its size in 2002, was published across the world alongside a Greenpeace warning that global warming caused by man-made greenhouse gases was causing Arctic glaciers to melt.

But Prof Ole Humlum, a leading glaciologist in Svalbard, 500 miles north of Norway, said yesterday: "That glacier had already disappeared in the early 1920s as a result of a perfectly natural rise in temperature that had nothing to do with man-made global warming." (The Daily Telegraph)

"Sowing distrust; Europe goes against the grain on GM" - "The minister could not have been blunter. "There is enormous international pressure to allow GM crops and seeds in this country... from the biotech companies. They are going through national governments and the world trade organisation and pressurising the EU." Thank you Elliot Morley, from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for your honesty on the Today programme over genetically modified crops. The British government has to decide between American corporations, which want access to European markets, and its own citizens, who fear a new technology which appears untested and threatening. As Mr Morley makes clear, it is big business which is making its presence felt in Whitehall. Its message of more food produced with less pesticide was enthusiastically endorsed by the first Blair administration which only retreated in the face of public hostility." (The Guardian)

"GM storm looms as consumers fight shy" - "Blair walks through biotech minefield heading for clash with consumers and environment lobby over GM food" (The Guardian)

"Genetically Altered Sunflowers May Pose Environmental Risk" - "WASHINGTON -- A new study of genetically modified sunflowers may add to controversies in the biotechnology industry, suggesting the plants could pose an environmental threat when they cross breed with their wild cousins. The industry-funded research found that when the sunflower varieties mixed, the resulting plant produced more seeds and was more insect-resistant than the one found in nature. That raises the concern that such a hearty flower could start crowding out other plants in the wild. It also could eliminate a food source for insects that are a necessary part of the ecosystem, even if they are a pest to crops." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Law to control labelling of genetically modified food in force soon" - "CAPE TOWN Legislation to control the labelling of genetically modified food could be passed by the end of the year, once the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) finalises its system to segregate genetically modified from nonmodified foods. The health department says the new legislation will be signed by the minister once the SABS had completed its identity preservation system, which would make it possible to trace whether a product contains genetically modified organisms. Wilna Jansen van Rijssen, deputy director of food control in the department, said the traceability system would require farmers to keep information for up to two years on whether they had used genetically modified organisms in production." (Business Day)

"Modified maize row is dangerous, says UN" - "CAPE TOWN Half the countries facing famine in southern Africa are stalling food aid from the US fearing that genetically modified maize may cause health problems and harm their exports, but the United Nations is warning they are putting the hungry at greater risk." (Business Day)

"Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Editorial: Label it timely Oregon voters will tackle issue of genetic engineering" - "Oregon has a question on the November ballot that has food producers banging spoons against plates in their agitation. If the measure passes, the state would become the first to require labels on genetically engineered foods. While the issue has prompted related bills in Congress and in state capitals, including Harrisburg, Oregon's Measure 27 seems to have the best chance of becoming law. And what would be wrong with that? For one thing, it is argued that labeling would be more expensive for consumers. Food producers and retailers (which together with biotech companies are united in opposition to the ballot initiative) say they don't always know whether their ingredients are genetically engineered or not, because the practice is so pervasive."

August 16, 2002

"DDT Could Thwart West Nile Virus" - "West Nile virus has killed seven people in Louisiana this year, two in Mississippi and at least 145 people in six states have been infected. A 12-year-old Wisconsin boy died last week of mosquito-borne encephalitis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says West Nile virus is in the U.S. to stay. The virus may now be found in 37 states, including every state from Texas to the Atlantic.

CDC Director Julie Gerberding called West Nile virus an "emerging, infectious disease epidemic" that could be spread all the way to the Pacific Coast by birds and mosquitoes.

Louisiana has been monitoring the virus since 2000 and has one of the most active mosquito-control programs in the country -- and yet it is the state with the highest death toll.

It's time to bring back the insecticide DDT." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"West Nile Virus Claims More Lives" - "WASHINGTON, DC, August 15, 2002 - The number of U.S. human cases of West Nile Virus is rising, with new cases now reported in Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington DC. While most states are combating the virus with low impact tactics such as larvicides, and advising residents to take steps to avoid mosquito bites, some states are taking the controversial step of spraying pesticides." (ENS)

"Experts Expect Rapid Rise in West Nile Virus Cases" - "The number of cases of West Nile fever is expected to rise sharply in the next week and could eventually reach 1,000, federal health officials said yesterday. If the current epidemic reflects experience, about 10 percent of the cases will be fatal." (New York Times)

"Flawed sampling, not just pollution, may be responsible for beach closings" - "A study of California's Huntington Beach shows that flawed sampling techniques could be responsible for recent beach closures in California and across the country. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, studied a 43-year series of data to find that pollution levels at the beach are actually going down, despite the recent rash of closures and advisories there." (American Chemical Society)

Playing it again, Sam? "Labeling Cosmetics May Help Prevent Cancers" - "CHICAGO, Illinois, August 15, 2002 - It's a right to know issue. Women who are sensitive to chemicals should have the benefit of warning labels on their cosmetics identifying those chemicals, say six environmental groups and Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition." (ENS)

"Smoking, coffee may up risk of rare type of stroke" - "NEW YORK - Results of a new study suggest that smoking, coffee drinking and high blood pressure increase the risk of having a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain. Although giving up cigarettes or getting your blood pressure under control is never a bad idea when it comes to improving health, it would be premature to say that cutting back on coffee will reduce the risk of stroke, according to Dr. W. T. Longstreth, Jr., of the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not involved in the study. "No recommendations are warranted based on this single study," Longstreth told Reuters Health." (Reuters Health)

"'Sustainable development' is just dangerous nonsense" - "Where conferences on "sustainable development" are concerned, Schumacher's precept, "small is beautiful", has been long abandoned. Later this month, 65,000 delegates will descend on Johannesburg for "Earth Summit 2002" - the World Summit on Environment and Development.

These will include 106 government heads, 10,000 officials from 174 countries, and 6,000 journalists. The BBC team alone could top 100. Twenty UN bodies will be represented. A second parallel conference, comprising a kaleidoscope of lobbyists from ornithologists to oil magnates, has already received 15,000 registrations. Sustaining the whole caboodle will be 27,000 police, who may well be relieved that George W Bush is unlikely to attend. (Philip Stott, The Daily Telegraph)

"UN agency pledges to reduce environmental impact of sustainable development forum" - " 15 August – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other agencies have become the first intergovernmental organizations to sign up to ensure that the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) later this month does not contribute to harming the global environment.

In addition to UNDP, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the World Bank have signed up for the Johannesburg Climate Legacy, an initiative committing those who travel to the Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, to offset the environmental costs created by their travel.

The organizations will pay to "neutralize" the amount of carbon dioxide from emissions released by their commutes, paying the money to a trust fund that is part of the wider "Greening of the WSSD" programme set up by the Development Bank of South Africa." (UN News)

"They vie for attention and money; but ne'er do the twain meet" - "The World Wildlife Fund and the Environmental Justice Networking Forum highlight age-old tensions between conservationists and environmentalists. THE World Wildlife Fund SA (WWF) and Environmental Justice Networking Forum, are not enemies. But they are not friends, either. The two organisations, which are among SA's most high-profile groups, both promote ecofriendly initiatives.

The WWF's focus is, however, conservation, which covers the preservation of endangered species and systems, while the forum is concerned about the environment issues, such as waste management. At the upcoming summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg this month, both groups will be vying for attention and money, bringing to the fore the age-old tensions between environmentalists and conservationists that inform their differing agendas." (Business Day)

"Only big business can save the planet" - "ON PRESENT trends, the United Nations claims, half the world’s poor will suffer from water shortages in the next 25 years. Today, one billion people are estimated to lack access to clean water and two billion have no proper sanitation facilities. According to the UN, these are central issues for its ten-yearly Earth Summit, which is due to start next week in Johannesburg.

Clearly, however, multinationals are crucial to economic development. Leaving them out of the process or treating them as the enemy of nature is bound to lead to failure. Only if multinationals can grow faster and earn more from environmentally friendly development is the world likely to achieve it." (The Times)

"Oil lobby dismisses Earth summit" - "CONSERVATIVE lobbyists in the US funded by Esso have urged President Bush to derail the Earth summit in Johannesburg because it is “anti-freedom, anti-people, anti-globalisation and anti-Western”. The lobbyists, funded by the oil company that was also a big donor to the President’s election campaign, urged Mr Bush to make sure that global warming was kept off the agenda at the summit, which starts later this month." (The Times)

"Greens don't need the US" - "There is no pleasing some people. The organisers of the Johannesburg summit on the environment bent over backwards to persuade George Bush to accept their invitation. As the most accommodating hosts, they even changed the date to suit him, bringing it forward to avoid a clash with the anniversary of September 11. But still it was not enough. Yesterday came the clearest signal yet that the US president, leader of the world's sole superpower and the planet's greatest single polluter, will snub the UN and the 65,000 delegates to this month's world summit on sustainable development by failing to show up." (Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT August 13 , 2002 Vol. 3, No. 23" - "It’s summer, it’s hot, and a tropical disease works its way across the United States and into ongoing media coverage. Is it legitimate to connect-the-dots between the spread of West Nile virus and global warming? Let’s review the facts." (GES)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT August 14, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 24" - "We’ve long discerned a pattern that emerges in proximity to international environmental conferences. That pattern was our motivation for converting the quarterly World Climate Review into the more frequent World Climate Report seven years ago, this summer. The pattern is this: United Nations-sponsored environmental conference nears (like this summer’s in Johannesburg, South Africa) and newspapers begin to fill space with global warming horror stories. You’d think the people who grind this stuff out would understand it is perceived as overkill. MSNBC’s substitute host for Hardball, Mike Barnicle, said as much when he questioned how many times environmentalists can pronounce The End Of The World As We Know It before people finally catch on." (GES)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT August 15, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 25" - "Usually it’s some time close to the end of a year – say, October or November – before anyone ranks a year in relation to the warmest on record. The British Meteorological Office simply couldn’t wait and on July 31, 2002, rolled the dice that the global temperature during the next five months won’t prove them wrong. Although all they had to go on in releasing their statement was the fact that the first six months of 2002 appear to be the second-warmest on record, without further justification they asserted 2002 "may even break the record [for warmest year] set in 1998." With the following background information, you calculate the odds and decide where to throw your money down." (GES)

"Aust stance on Kyoto slammed" - "LOW-lying Pacific Island nations today condemned Australia and the US for refusing to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change. The attack came as Australia released figures suggesting it would go close to meeting targets to cut greenhouse gases over the next decade." (AAP)

"Kemp calls for emissions summit" - "ENVIRONMENT minister David Kemp will next week join business and environment groups to develop a framework to slash Australia's greenhouse gas emissions." (The Australian)

"Australia close to greenhouse gas targets" - "Australia was within striking distance of meeting its Kyoto greenhouse gas target by the end of the decade, but emission forecasts would still be 3 per cent over the limit, Environment Minister Dr David Kemp said yesterday. The greenhouse gas emission figures for 2000, issued yesterday, show that Australia emitted the carbon dioxide equivalent of 535 million tonnes, a 6.3 per cent increase over 1990 levels and a 2.1 per cent rise over 1999 levels." (Canberra Times)

People won't buy 'em, so... "GM to give away thousands of electric vehicles" - "SANTA BARBARA - General Motors Corp. will give away thousands of golf cart-like electric vehicles to comply with California regulations forcing automakers to sell pollution-free vehicles, GM officials said this week. Over the next three years, GM will give the vehicles to California businesses and charitable organizations so the automaker can earn zero-emission vehicle credits, which are counted toward the state's goal of getting more environmentally friendly vehicles on the road." (Reuters)

"China's Biotech Is Starting To Bloom; Made-in-China clones, plants, and drugs? The People's Republic has made big steps on the long road to global power in commercial life sciences" - "Call it a great leapfrog forward: Chinese medicine is jumping into the genomics era while still at one with remedies like bear bile and dried sea horse. Barely three years old, the Beijing Genomics Institute has already emerged as a world leader--it recently stunned Western scientists by decoding the rice genome in a matter of months. Last year a Beijing team grew dog-bladder tissue on a mouse's back, a prelude to generating human tissue. In Changsha, a city in central China, researchers claim to have cloned dozens of human embryos as sources of stem cells, which promise to rejuvenate failing organs--an apparent world first, the Wall Street Journal reported in March." (Fortune Magazine)

"NZ To Destroy Maize Seed On Fear Of Genetic Contamination" - "WELLINGTON--Agriculture officials said Thursday they will destroy 30 metric tons of maize seed after tests indicated it was probably contaminated with genetically engineered material banned in New Zealand. The seed was harvested from crops grown in New Zealand last summer using parent seed imported from the U.S. It will be destroyed Friday after tests revealed the presence of genes that appeared to have been genetically engineered for insect resistance, said Richard Ivess, biosecurity director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Genetically modified crops are banned in New Zealand." (AP)

"Ministers suspend GM crop-testing" - "The Government's controversial GM crop-testing programme was thrown into disarray yesterday after it emerged that a number of fields had been contaminated with unauthorised seeds since the trials began three years ago. Ministers ordered the suspension of the final phase of the farm-scale trials, which had been scheduled to begin next week, after a variety of unauthorised genetically modified oilseed rape was grown in 14 fields in England and Scotland. It had been mixed illegally with other GM seeds which were being sown to test their effects on the environment." | Analysis: Single gene at the heart of the scandal was an antibiotic-resistant relic of early research (Independent)

"Analysis: Human biotechnology – dream or nightmare?" - "According to new research by management consultancy First & 42nd, the UK public is open to the idea of using genetic advances for medical purposes, writes Sophie Hooper" (EthicalCorp.com)

"Japan could lift ban on beef and milk from cloned cows" - "The Japanese farm ministry is considering lifting the ban on the sale of beef and milk from cows that have been cloned. A recent study has shown them to be safe for human consumption, and nearly identical to the meat, milk and blood of naturally conceived cows. Kyodo News also reported that the study found that rats fed products from cloned cows developed no irregularities. The cloned cows were produced by scientists transferring the nuclei of cells from adult cows into cow eggs from which the nuclei were removed. This is the technique by which Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996." (just-food.com) [Complete]

August 15, 2002

"Cluster Bomb; The facts won’t stop people from blaming cancer on synthetic chemicals" - "After an $8 million study, we now know who and what to blame for high rates of breast cancer on Long Island: nobody and nothing. Or, at least, not the usual suspects, chemical companies and their products." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Sellafield exonerated by child cancer studies" - "The cancer cluster in children at Seascale in Cumbria is not related to their fathers' exposure to radiation while working in the nearby Sellafield nuclear plant, the government's committee on the medical aspects of radiation, Comare, concluded yesterday. Comare's finding came 12 years after a department of health report caused a sensation by saying there was a link. The finding is a relief to the nuclear industry - but does not answer the question of why there is a cluster." (The Guardian)

"Could these foods be giving us cancer?" - "Acrylamide is a chemical used in the manufacture of plastics and the treatment of water. It is also carcinogenic. But what nobody knew until recently was that it occurs at dangerously high levels in baked and fried foods such as chips, crisps and breakfast cereals. So should we worry? Jenni Russell investigates a food scare that could revolutionise the way we eat" (The Guardian)

"North America protecting environment, but unsustainable consumption persists - UNEP" - "14 August – North America's gains in arresting environmental pollution and degradation have recently been eroded by choices related to consumption patterns, according to a report released today by the United Nations which calls on the region to accept more responsibility for protecting the natural world.

North America's Environment: A Thirty-Year State of the Environment and Policy Retrospective documents the region's success in protecting the ozone layer by reducing the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), and in controlling acid-rain causing emissions, which declined in the United States by 31 per cent between 1981 and 2000. North America has also succeeded in protecting between 11 and 13 per cent of its land area while slowing wetland losses considerably.

At the same time, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which produced the report, warns that North America has more work to do to protect its resources. "While Canada and the United States have had notable success in resolving a lot of environmental problems, progress has slowed largely due to increasing consumption by its growing population," said Brennan Van Dyke, Regional Director of UNEP's Regional Office for North America." (UN News)

"The Rich Get Rich and Poor Get Poorer. Or Do They?" - "To critics of economic liberalization and international trade, it is an article of faith that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. "Inequality is soaring through the globalization period — within countries and across countries," Noam Chomsky told a conference last fall, summarizing this common view. Antiglobalization activists are not just making up this idea. They have taken it from seemingly authoritative sources, notably the 1999 United Nations Human Development Report. That widely cited report stated: "Gaps in income between the poorest and richest countries have continued to widen. In 1960 the 20 percent of the world's people in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20 percent — in 1997, 74 times as much." It added that "gaps are widening both between and within countries." Fortunately, this scary portrait is highly misleading." (Virginia Postrel, New York Times)

"Asia's Water Biggest Killer of Children" - "UN's Asia and Pacific Commission Calls On Governments at Johannesburg Summit to Approve Urgent Action

Bangkok (United Nations Information Services) -- Polluted water and poor sanitation kill two children each minute, according to environmental experts at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific - UN ESCAP.

Most of the victims live in Asia and contaminated water is the single biggest killer of children in Asia, says a senior environmental official at UN ESCAP.

Worldwide, more children have died from the effects of severe diarrhoea, a product of polluted water and poor sanitation, than all the people killed through armed conflicts since World War II." (UN ESCAP)

"FEATURE - Man's environmental mistakes may fuel squid boom" - "SYDNEY - Overfishing and global warming could prove a boon to one still largely mysterious creature that may already outnumber man - the squid. Some squid experts believe the speedy cephalopods are swiftly filling the gaps left by overfishing of their predators and competitors such as tuna and cod, changing the ecosystem of the earth's oceans in ways not yet fully understood. Evidence also suggests that warmer sea temperatures caused by climate change could speed the squid's conquest of the waters, boosting its reproductivity, growth and numbers." (Reuters)

"Russia Done with Ozone Depleting Substances" - "MOSCOW, Russia, August 14, 2002 - Seven Russian enterprises have ceased production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons, the most potent ozone depleting substances known. In compensation, the seven former producers will receive payment of US$17.3 million from a group of donors organized by the World Bank." (ENS)

"Trees that bite the dust" - "Reforestation can sometimes aggravate global warming, writes Kate Ravilious What could be wrong with planting trees? The benefits are obvious; they stabilise soils, soak up excess water, take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and provide a home for many plants and animals. Trees have never been more popular. The UK Forestry Commission provides grants to encourage landowners to plant trees, while giving trees has become a fashionable wedding present for the ecologically minded couple. Well, ironically, it turns out that planting trees could add to global warming." (The Guardian)

"Tarzan's vines overgrow; Glut of strangling creepers could fell trees" - "It's good news for Tarzan, but bad news for our forests. Lianas - tree-climbing jungle weeds and favoured transportation for the lord of the apes - are on the rise, say researchers, and could be stifling forests' ability to cool the climate. In the Western Amazon jungle of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, the number of drainpipe-thick lianas has nearly doubled in the past 20 years." (NSU)

"Greens pounce on timely campaign issue" - "FLOODS across large swathes of Germany spilled into the election campaign yesterday, with the Left saying that their environmental policies could better prevent such problems in future.

Gerhard Schröder, the chancellor, whose Social Democrats (SPD) lag conservatives in polls ahead of the 22 September election, announced a programme of "fast, unbureaucratic measures" to help victims.

Mr Schröder toured flood areas in the east, where voters are seen as less party loyal than in the west and more likely to change their alliances at the last minute. A poll this week showed the SPD gaining ground there. "I have never experienced such flooding," Mr Schröder said. "It is a catastrophe."

Members of the Greens party, Mr Schröder’s junior partner in the Social Democrat-led coalition, said the floods highlighted the importance of environmental protection as a campaign issue and reinforced the case for energy taxes." (The Scotsman)

"Flooding Disasters in Europe" - "As flood waters continue to rise in Europe and other parts of the world, WWF has named climate change as one of the leading causes of the extreme weather events we are currently seeing around the globe. Freshwater issues are also a big factor for consideration." Download press release | backgrounder (both pdf )

"CLIMATE CHANGE: Rich Nations Must Take Responsibility, Says Toepfer" - "U.N. Environment Program Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said yesterday that the human role in climate change could no longer be doubted and that industrialized nations bear most of the blame.

"We have to do all we can to fight" global warming, the former German environment minister said, "and that is, above all, the duty of industrialized countries." He urged cuts in energy consumption and development of renewable power sources as the most important steps to be taken.

Scientists were more cautious, saying there is no evidence linking recent disasters to global warming. They noted that extreme weather events occurred in the pre-industrial era, before the impact of fossil fuels on the environment." (UN Wire)

"Reuters Wire | 08 15 2002 | Sinking Pacific States Slam U.S. over Sea Levels" - "SUVA - Pacific island nations, most at risk of sinking beneath rising sea levels, chided the United States on Thursday for not signing the Kyoto Protocol and urged big aid donor Australia to do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Six island states met at the start of the annual Pacific Islands Forum and expressed their grave concern about climate change. The former leader of one of the islands, Tuvalu, predicted the Pacific would submerge his country in 50 years.

The leaders of the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu released a statement saying they "expressed profound disappointment at the decision of the U.S. to reject the Kyoto Protocol."

"Global Warming Threatens Ocean Ecosystems" - "WASHINGTON, DC, August 14, 2002 - Climate change will create increasing challenges to U.S. coastal and marine ecosystems over the next century, warns a new report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Temperature changes, altered patterns of rain and snowfall, and rising sea level are expected to upset the delicate balance of fragile coastal ecosystems.

The Earth's climate is expected to change must faster than normal over the coming decades due to the warming influence of human caused increases in greenhouse gas emissions. The world's oceans, which cover almost 70 percent of the planet's surface, are likely to show the effects of climate change in dramatic and devastating ways, the Pew Center warns." (ENS)

"Climate change may not be cause: expert" - "The floods now washing over the historic streets of many European cities, causing millions of dollars of damage and forcing thousands of people to flee their homes, are just another in what seems like a never-ending series of extreme weather events." (National Post)

"The Australian: Economists split over Kyoto [August 15, 2002]" - "A PETITION of 254 academic economists and the federal Opposition yesterday called on Australia to urgently sign the Kyoto protocol. The petition has sparked a bitter row among economists about the expertise of those signing the document on the eve of the release today of official figures detailing Australia's greenhouse emissions."

"Promising vaccine may provide long-lasting protection against malaria" - "Researchers have developed a unique vaccine that destroys a deadly toxin produced by the parasite that causes malaria, which kills more than two million people each year. The vaccine appears extremely promising in animal studies and may provide long-lasting protection against malaria in humans, they say. The research will be described at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in Boston in August." (American Chemical Society)

"New approach to malaria vaccine effective in mice" - "A new vaccine against the main toxin produced by malaria parasites can alleviate some of the most dangerous effects of the disease in mice. If such a vaccine can be fashioned for use in humans, it may provide much needed protection against a disease that kills two million people worldwide each year." (Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

"Of mice and men" - "Mice are the most commonly used experimental system to model human genetics and disease. Although mice and humans share a strikingly similar genetic makeup, as a new paper in the August 15th issue of Genes & Development demonstrates, important caveats exist when applying what has been learned about gene function in mice to humans." (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)

"Protein transforms sedentary muscles into exercised muscles, researchers report" - "Researchers have discovered a second protein found in skeletal muscle that can transform sedentary muscles into energy-producing, exercised muscles." (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas)

"Scientists discover chemical switch that determines muscle fiber type" - "A multi-institutional team of scientists led by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have found a molecular switch in mice that can convert easily-fatigued "fast-twitch" muscle fibers into the lean, oxygen-fueled "slow-twitch" fibers that enable marathoners to run for hours. The discovery of the long-sought switch, a molecule called PGC-1, might some day enable physicians to give weakened patients a drug to build up muscular endurance without exercise, say the researchers." (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)

"Scientists develop cheap and easy cloning method" - "LONDON - Scientists have developed a cheap and easy cloning method to let technicians create cloned embryos with gear that could fit in a trailer and costs only a few thousand dollars, New Scientist magazine reported on Wednesday.

"It's so much simpler than anything we are doing today, it's dramatic," the British science magazine quoted Michael Bishop, ex-president of US cattle-cloning company Infigen as saying. "It's a huge step toward roboticizing the whole process."

Cloning advocates say it can be used by farmers to preserve the lines of prized livestock, and by protection groups to save endangered species. But opponents worry that cheaper and easier cloning could hasten the day when humans try to clone themselves." (Reuters)

"FEATURE - In a world of plenty, how do we fight hunger?" - "LONDON - As world leaders gather this month to grapple with the goal of halving world hunger by 2015 the spectre of famine is again stalking sub Saharan Africa. At least 13 million people in southern Africa risk starvation, with millions more hungry in Afghanistan, North Korea, the West Bank and Gaza Strip even as subsidised farmers in the northern hemisphere produce mountains of surplus food." (Reuters)

"Scientists shocked at GM gene transfer" - "Weeds have become stronger and fitter by cross-breeding with genetically modified crops, leading to fears that superweeds which are difficult or impossible to control may invade farms growing standard crops. Two separate teams, one working on sunflowers in the US and the other on sugar beet in France, have shown weeds and GM food crops readily swapping genes." (The Guardian)

"Australia cotton seen fully GM soon - scientists" - "BRISBANE - Genetically modified (GM) cotton, now successfully established in Australia, was headed toward taking over the entire crop in the near future, a leading scientist told the Australian Cotton Conference yesterday.

"It is likely that over half of the area planted will be GM in 2002 and move rapidly towards full adoption in a short number of years thereafter," Higgins said in a paper co-authored with Danny Llewellyn, also of the CSIRO.

This was because of the cost effectiveness of producing GM crops and the proven success of the technology since its introduction in Australia in 1996.

Higgins and Llewellyn said biotechnology was reshaping global agriculture, with over 16 million hectares planted annually to GM soybeans, corn and cotton, mainly in the United States but increasingly in Australia, Asia and South America." (Reuters)

August 14, 2002

"statesman.com | Opinion | The fiction surrounding `toxic' mold is costing us all" - "What do wine, penicillin, cheese, beer and mushrooms have in common? Here's a hint: It's also the latest dubious health scare, costing Texas consumers millions of dollars in higher insurance premiums and needless home "health" testing, and it's being used as a get-rich-quick scheme for some personal injury lawyers. Ah, now you know -- it's mold. So how did this common fungus, present in all sorts of good things we use daily and ever-present in our environment, grow into a major consumer crisis?"

"Development patterns compromise the Earth" - "UNITED NATIONS (August 13, 2002 7:24 p.m. EDT) - A top U.N. official warned Tuesday that the long-term security of Earth and its people will be compromised if the world doesn't change its "indiscriminate patterns of development."

Undersecretary-General Nitin Desai, in a report preceding the World Summit on Sustainable Development that is to begin in Johannesburg on Aug. 26, said a pre-summit forum is set to finalize a new global implementation plan to accelerate sustainable development, and to launch a series of innovative partnerships to promote sustainability." (United Press International)

"New Report Warns U.S., Canada Face Tough Environmental Choices" - "WASHINGTON, DC — A new report released today indicates that the United States’ and Canada’s success in improving local environments where its people can live with clean water and air and enjoy green spaces has come at the expense of global natural resources and climate.

For example, each Canadian and American consumes nine times more gasoline than any other person in the world. With only about 5 percent of the world’s population, both countries accounted for 25.8 percent of global emissions of heat-causing carbon dioxide.

The report, "North America’s Environment: A Thirty-Year State of the Environment and Policy Retrospective," is published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the World Resources Institute (WRI), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation." (World Resources Institute)

"Growing Population Will Stress Environment, Warns UN" - "A United Nations report is sounding an alarm on the state of the earth's natural resources, in advance of this month's U.N.-sponsored sustainable development summit in Johannesburg. The report says sea levels rose and forests were destroyed at unprecedented rates during the last decade. It notes that more than 40 percent of the world's population - two billion people - now face water shortages. And it predicts that with the global population expected to increase from six billion to eight billion people over the next 25 years, further environmental stress is expected." (VOA News)

"Biology Rules: On Land and at Sea" - "Summary: In a prior editorial we described a study that indicates how terrestrial vegetation acts to counter the greenhouse effect of increases in the air's CO2 content. We here describe a study that indicates how marine phytoplankton may accomplish the same feat." (co2science.org)

"Rich 'will help the poor' - UN" - "The world is now in earnest about working to end poverty, according to the United Nations official running the Earth Summit, Nitin Desai. He believes the meeting will succeed, despite criticism of its huge and unwieldy agenda. A decision by President Bush to attend would be "a very important indication of support". Mr Desai said the way the world was developing lent the summit an unmistakeable urgency." (BBC News Online)

"Prescott defends green record" - "John Prescott today makes a defiant defence of the government's environmental record ahead of this month's earth summit in Johannesburg and insists that he and Michael Meacher are both proud of what Labour has achieved. Labour has been in the forefront of promoting environmental issues around the world and has "shrugged off the title of the dirty man of Europe", the deputy prime minister insists in terms that will infuriate critics of government "complacency." (The Guardian)

"UN Summit Head Eager to Lure Bush to Johannesburg" - "UNITED NATIONS - More than 100 world leaders plan to attend this month's Earth Summit in Johannesburg, but President Bush has not said whether he will come, a top U.N. official said on Tuesday. "The official reply I get in Washington is, 'No decision has been taken on this matter,"' said U.N. Undersecretary-General Nitin Desai, who is organizing the World Summit on Sustainable Development opening in South Africa in 13 days. "I would certainly look forward to the presence of President Bush there. But I would stress that the United States is very thoroughly and effectively engaged in this process. They are not standing on the sidelines," Desai told reporters." (Reuters)

So, still driving that SUV Leo? It's a star-studded plea to save mother Earth from Leonardo DiCaprio, Esi Morales, Cameron Diaz, and Tobey Maguire. DiCaprio says, “We’re being extremely destructive in our planet and were not giving it the respect it deserves.”

Monday in Los Angeles, the stars gathered for the Global Green Rock The Earth Summit, using those coveted autographs to petition President Bush to attend the upcoming environmental summit in Johannesburg. DiCaprio says, “It's the most important one of our time and I just want our president to be there and support us.”

Leo admits the president’s rival inspired his crusade. He says, “I actually got an opportunity to sit down with Al Gore and he explained to me firsthand what global warming actually was.” (ExtraTV) | DiCaprio Rallies for Environment (AP)

"Flights of fancy" - "The 65,000 delegates flying to Johannesburg for the talks on sustainable development can now pay a voluntary eco-tax to offset the pollution their journeys will create" (The Guardian)

"Extreme Weather Boosts Calls for Action on Climate" - "BERLIN - The storm clouds massed over Europe that are causing some of the worst floods for decades may have a silver lining for the continent's environmentalists as the battle lines are drawn for the Johannesburg Earth Summit.

While floods threatened historic buildings and crops across Europe and hundreds drowned after torrential rain in Nepal, Iran and the Philippines this week, drought has shriveled harvests in southern Africa, Vietnam, Australia and the United States.

Ahead of the summit on the environment and development that starts in Johannesburg in two weeks, Europeans have used the extreme weather as ammunition for criticism of President Bush's rejection of moves to fight global warming." (Reuters)

"Clouded vision; Blaming the rich for bad weather is futile" - "Some societies have no choice in their environment: the mudflats of Bangladesh or the islands of the Caribbean are always at the mercy of monsoons or hurricanes. Responsible communities do what they can to protect themselves, and the richer ones have contingency plans. Prague has shown how these can be deployed to save lives. But risk can never be eliminated. Freak conditions are aggravated by pollution, tree-felling, abuse of the land and environmental destruction. But the weather itself is not man-made. We can open our hearts and our wallets to the Black Sea victims or the homeless in Austria. But it is not our fault." (The Times)

"'Heat Island' Tokyo Is in Global Warming's Vanguard" - "TOKYO, Aug. 12 — With the temperature 96 degrees in the shade, veterans of this concrete jungle braced themselves recently as they opened a door to an apartment building roof. But instead of confronting a wall of dry heat, they felt their faces cooled by moist air, carrying a light scent of soil and fresh grass.

Tile by tile, workers were laying a new form of ultralight and ultracheap roof garden. With a low-maintenance variety of grass growing in four inches of vermiculite, a mineral substance often used in gardening, this carpet of cooling green weighed only 16 pounds per square foot.

"If a roof is rated to take people, which most are, it can easily take a roof garden," Takaharu Yoshioka, environmental director of Greenich Garden, a landscape design company, said stepping onto the emerald lawn. "Last year we did only 50 roof gardens. So far this year we have already had 200 orders."

The realization that Tokyo is becoming a vast "heat island" is behind the boom in roof gardens. Here, centuries of gradual climate change are telescoping into decades." (New York Times)

"Most Deadly of the Natural Disasters: The Heat Wave" - "Natural disasters usually come rife with drama. Hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, earthquakes — all make for good headlines and even better visuals. But it would be hard to make a blockbuster movie about a heat wave. Heat waves come on subtly, raising summer temperatures just a little higher than normal and then receding. But they kill more people in the United States than all other natural disasters combined." (New York Times)

Really? How do cold snaps compare?

"Mild winters, dust, and floods in new places: China's extreme weather linked to global warming" - "BEIJING - The rains came to China this year as they do most every summer, starting their destruction in the south and spreading northward as the season heated up. Lakes swelled. Deadly torrents were unleashed. Hundreds died. But something different was happening: The places being flooded were part of China's arid belt — regions unaccustomed to dealing with so much water at once. Residents, many of them deeply poor, were blindsided." (Associated Press)

"Subject Index Summary: Feedback Factors (Thermohaline Circulation)" - "Summary: The thermohaline circulation of the world's oceans may be organized in such a way that it acts as a moderator of earth's climate, allowing it to oscillate between warm and cold nodes but constraining it to remain within certain bounds conducive to the continued existence of life, especially on the high-temperature end of the scale." (co2science.org)

"Tropical Cyclones of the Central North Pacific" - "Summary: Their numbers are on the rise and they're getting stronger. Better batten down the hatches and prepare for the global warming-induced worst ... or at least hold out until the next step-change in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation returns the climate of the region back to that of the "good old days" of 1966-81. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 80: 1875-1881." (co2science.org)

"Climate Chaos in the Rocky Mountains" - "Summary: Over the last half-century, radiosonde-derived free-air temperatures, such as those predicted by climate models, indicate warming at high elevations in Colorado. Surface air temperatures measured in standard weather shelters, however, indicate cooling. International Journal of Climatology 22: 311-329." (co2science.org)

"Our water is at risk, climate study finds" - "Ottawa — Global warming could wreak havoc with Canada's prized freshwater supply over the next 100 years, sapping some of the country's hydroelectric power potential, lowering lake levels and paving the way for more severe drought, a new report says. The paper from Natural Resources Canada details a horror show of potential problems that could result if global surface-air temperatures increase between 1.4 to 5.8 degrees C by 2100 as climate-change researchers predict." (Globe and Mail)

"Pacific island summit to focus on climate, economy" - "SYDNEY - Pacific island nations gather for an annual summit tomorrow to discuss the global economy and rising sea levels with growing resentment against Australia perhaps their only unifying theme." (Reuters)

"Green Market" - "The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's price cap for the wholesale electricity market in the western U.S. has been renewed (it had been due to expire September 30). FERC is pursuing this strategy even though we have decades of experience in electricity and other energy markets showing that price caps don't work. Instead of creating a safe, affordable power supply, price caps create shortages and deter investment." (Lynne Kiesling, TCS)

"Fossil fuel without the fossils; Petroleum: animal, vegetable or mineral?" - "Petroleum - the archetypal fossil fuel - couldn't have formed from the remains of dead animals and plants, claim US and Russian researchers1. They argue that petroleum originated from minerals at extreme temperatures and pressures. Other geochemists say that the work resurrects a scientific debate that is almost a fossil itself, and criticize the team's conclusions." (NSU)

"Thumbs up for eggs" - "Eggs play a valuable role in helping consumers achieve a balanced, varied, and nutritious diet, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) concluded in a report released today." (FoodNavigator)

"AUSTRALIA: Bread preservative linked to behavioural problems in children" - "A preservative found in bread could be to blame for behavioural problems in children, according to a new study published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. Co-author Sue Dengate explained that she started studying the mould inhibitor calcium propionate (preservative 282) 12 years ago when she noticed her daughter’s behaviour grow worse after she ate preserved bread." (just-food.com)

"EPA threatens action against biotech crops" - "The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to issue complaints against subsidiaries of Dow Chemical and DuPont for not complying with strict rules governing experimental plots of genetically engineered corn being grown in Hawaii. This is the first time the EPA has threatened enforcement action against an experimental biotech crop during field testing, says EPA spokesman David Deegan. "These letters illustrate that we take very seriously insuring that companies are compliant." (USA TODAY)

[Nigeria] "National Assembly to Upgrade Bio-Safety Guidelines" - "To ensure that Nigerians have access to safe and profitable uses of biotech-based products and services, the National Assembly would soon upgrade the bio-safety guidelines into law. The Chief Executive Officer of the National Bio-technology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Emeka Omaliko, at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday said bio-safety guidelines would be upgraded by the National Assembly into law to exercise cautionary steps involved in the potential dangers associated with genetic products." (This Day (Lagos))

"South African scientist urges Zambian scientist to test bio-engineered food" - "LUSAKA, Zambia - A South African food expert urged Zambia Tuesday to allay its concerns over genetically modified food by testing the safety of U.S. corn donated to ease the country's hunger crisis. Although a food shortage threatens more than 2.3 million of its people with starvation, Zambia has considered rejecting tens of thousands of tons of U.S. food aid because it's potentially bioengineered. The government and local scientist have expressed fears the food could be toxic and contaminate local agriculture, spoiling Zambia's exports to countries that ban genetically modified foods." (AP)

August 13, 2002

"Scientists weigh up risks and benefits of eating fish" - "Britons do not get enough of the oily fish that staves off heart disease, but consuming more means ingesting dangerous contaminants" (The Guardian)

"Bangladeshis take British scientists to court over arsenic in drinking water" - "A group of Bangladeshis has begun legal proceedings at the High Court in London against British scientists over allegations that they failed to prevent arsenic poisoning of thousands of people. In a writ lodged this week, the Bangladeshi villagers claim that the British Geological Survey (BGS) was negligent in work it did in central and eastern Bangladesh in 1992 to assess toxicity after aid programmes paid for sinking new wells." (Independent)

"Fears over 'gender-bending' chemicals" - "A global report has failed to rule out risks to humans and wildlife from "endocrine disrupting" chemicals in the environment. Experts at the World Health Organisation's International Programme on Chemical Safety say that research linking this type of pollution to health problems is patchy." (BBC News Online)

"U.N. Urges Research On Endocrine Disrupters" - "Concerted international research is needed to determine whether endocrine-disrupting chemicals threaten human health, the United Nations said today in a new report.  The chemicals have been linked to "gender-bending" in wildlife, notably physical and behavioral gender changes in fish downstream from pulp and paper mills. According to the International Program on Chemical Safety, which is sponsored by the World Health Organization, the U.N. Environment Program and the International Labor Organization, "The evidence that human health has been adversely affected by exposure to EDCs is generally weak, but ... further research and information is needed." (UN Wire)

"Newsday.com - New Approaches in Cluster Hunting" - "New computer-aided methods may help researchers identify the hidden causes of cancer clusters"

"Inuit meeting told of global pollution's harmful effects on northern life" - "KUUJJUAQ, Que. -- Toxic pesticides that drift as far north as the Arctic have affected Inuit food but a native leader from Greenland said Monday they should not abandon their traditional diet. "I think we should continue to eat seal, muktuk (whale skin and blubber), caribou and fish," Aqqaluk Lynge, president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, told about 700 delegates to the meeting. Inuit's reliance on fish and game have made them vulnerable to contamination from persistent organic pollutants -- chemicals concentrated in the fat of animals that are relatively high in the food chain. But Lynge, a writer and ex-social worker, urged Inuit to stick to their customs. "Our food is still much much healthier than store-bought foods from the south," he said." (CP)

"The Nando Times: GORDON S. JONES: Carson springs up again" - "DRAPER, Utah (August 12, 2002 6:29 a.m. EDT) - The week I went to work at the Environmental Protection Agency in June of 1972, Administrator William Ruckelshaus issued an order banning the domestic production of DDT. My job, for 2 1/2 years, was to administer that ban.

It made no sense to me then and it makes no sense to me now.

I have occasion to recall this because of an invitation I received to an Interior Department briefing to be held in the Rachel Carson Room. I had not known that there was a Rachel Carson Room in the departmental headquarters and, while I'm not overly surprised, I do think it inappropriate to name a room for a woman responsible for more than 60 million deaths.

While that may seem to be an extreme statement, consider the facts."

"Fatal fever that lurks in the swamps" - "Americans have suddenly turned their attention away from their government's enemies and are facing up to the threat of an adversary far more numerous, insidious and better-established than any terrorist cell, and arguably more determined, too: the mosquito." (The Guardian)

"3 million die a year from mosquito-borne disease" - "West Nile virus, first discovered in the blood of a feverish woman in Uganda's West Nile district in 1937, is an arbovirus - one of a family of more than 500 known viruses which are transmitted by arthopods, a set of creatures including mosquitoes, ticks and fleas." (The Guardian)

"Oh, for DDT when this swarm of Meacher parasites descends on Joburg" - "Stop global warming? We could start by reducing the record levels of hot air that will soon be produced by 65,000 delegates at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. The row over who should make up the UK delegation could easily be resolved by sending nobody at all. We would thus set an example to others in countering the unsustainable increase in doom-mongering summits, which threaten to leave much of our planet living in terminal depression." (The Times)

Flashback: "Earth summit chief says $625bn would save world" - "February 14 1992: The price of correcting the world's environmental problems is about $625bn (£350bn) a year, Maurice Strong, secretary of the Earth summit, said yesterday." (The Guardian)

And why did Strong wish to tax the developed world an amount roughly equivalent to one-third of the US budget? Perhaps another Maurice Strong quote offers a clue: "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?"

"Bush Set to Skip Earth Summit" - "WASHINGTON - When the United States' delegation heads to the Johannesburg Earth Summit this month President Bushwill probably still be on holiday at his Texas ranch. The U.S. delegation faces international anger over Bush's rejection of the Kyoto treaty to combat global warming and other moves seen as isolationist and out of step with world concerns. Delegates to the August 26- September 4 meeting will debate ways to raise living standards in the developing world without destroying what is left of the planet's resources. But the United States will emphasize deals with the private sector and stress the importance of economic growth over binding global treaties to fight environmental problems and poverty." (Reuters)

"Your Presence Is Requested" - "Given the total, absolute, and final disappearance of Homo sapiens, then not only would the Earth's community of Life continue to exist, but in all probability, its well-being would be enhanced. Our presence, in short, is not needed. --Paul Taylor, Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics, 1986, Princeton University Press, p. 115.

What a silly sentiment - that without Homo sapiens, the biosphere would flourish. It contradicts the scientific facts of biology. It suggests that the existence of Homo sapiens is a fluke, separate from nature. But Homo sapiens is as much a part of nature as amoebae or trees. To deny that fact is to deny biology." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"Birds flocking to affluent habitats" - "Birds, like real estate agents, seem to be following the mantra "location, location, location" when it comes to finding a place to live. Researchers found that public parks in wealthy neighborhoods of Phoenix, Arizona, had greater numbers of wild birds and more diverse species of birds than parks in poor neighborhoods. And they're not sure why." (CNN)

"Forests fall silent with acid rain" - "Birds could disappear from North American forests because of acid rain. Scientists have found that the pollutant is leading to a decline of one species at least. It seems to affect the breeding habits of the wood thrush." (BBC News Online)

"Study finds rainforest loss slower than thought" - "BRUSSELS - A European study has found that the world's tropical rainforests are disappearing more slowly than previously thought, though the rate of destruction is still alarming, a magazine reported. The study by a team at the European Union's Joint Research Centre found the area of rainforest destroyed between 1990 and 1997 to be 23 percent smaller than the generally accepted figure." (Reuters)

"NGOs Kyoto-wary" - "A non-governmental organisation yesterday called on the government to delay ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, which it views as a tool used by developed countries to pass the burden of reducing greenhouse levels to developing nations. The Alternative Energy Group said the government should provide the public with more information about the international agreement before ratifying it." (The Nation, Thailand)

Cooler Heads Project Vol. VI, No. 16 (CEI)

"RWE threat over emissions" - "The head of one of Europe's biggest utility groups issued a warning yesterday that his company would cancel a new power plant, which would create 4,000 new jobs, unless the European commission made significant changes to its planned environmental regime.

Dietmar Kuhnt, chairman of RWE, which owns Thames Water and energy company Innogy in the UK, is angry about the way the commission rules that would govern carbon dioxide certificates trading would be introduced.

He claimed that the regime placed a one-sided burden on parts of the energy industry and did not take enough account of cuts in carbon dioxide that had already been achieved." (The Guardian)

"You thought it was wet? Wait until the Asian brown cloud hits town; Extreme weather set to worsen through pollution and El Nino" - "The first six months of 2002 have been the northern hemisphere's warmest in recorded history, Britain has had one of the wettest summers ever, and the Pacific ocean is yet again building up to another season of climatic trouble making - the dreaded El Nino.

But if anyone thought that the weather was increasingly unpredictable and extreme, they may have seen nothing yet.

Yesterday a team of international climatologists led by Professor Paul Grutzen, whose work on the ozone hole won him the 1995 Nobel science prize, said that they had identified the "Asian brown cloud". This 10 million square mile, three kilometre thick, fluctuating haze of man-made pollutants is now spreading across the whole Asian continent and blocking out up to 15% of the sunlight.

Worryingly for other continents, it can also be carried in the upper atmosphere halfway round the world in less than a week, possibly making the weather in Britain even more unpredictable and severe." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

"Asian smog impact needs 5 years to study, U.N. body says" - "NEW DELHI - The chief of a U.N. panel on climate change said on Monday a thick cloud of pollution over South Asia was a matter of concern but it would take up to five years to know if its impact would be serious or negligible." (Rueters)

"New UN study details regional, global impacts of vast pollution cloud in South Asia" - "A new study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) suggests that a vast blanket of pollution stretching across South Asia is damaging agriculture, modifying rainfall patterns and putting hundreds of thousands of people at risk. This "Asian Brown Haze" is threatening the spectacular economic growth seen in this part of the world in the past decade, the UN agency said, urging vital follow-up studies to unravel the precise role this three kilometre-deep pollution blanket may be having on the region's climate as well as the world's environment." (UN News)

"Libs promise to phase out petrol-powered cars" - "Petrol-powered cars will reportedly be phased out in Victoria by 2020 under a opposition Liberal Party plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Age newspaper reports a Liberal state government would encourage Victoria's three major car manufacturers to start production of hydrogen-powered cars within a decade to reduce reliance on petrol by 2020.

Opposition environment and technology spokesman Victor Perton told the paper a large budgetary commitment would be made to help low-income Victorians convert their petrol-powered cars to hydrogen if they were unable to afford the new technology." (AAP)

"Cows born with human DNA" - "Cloned calves that produce human antibodies in their blood have been born in the United States. The four cows have extra DNA which contains the genes for the part of the human immune system that makes disease-fighting antibodies. Scientists believe cows could eventually be used to produce medicines to treat multiple sclerosis, infections and even cancer." (BBC News Online)

"San Francisco Chronicle - Future pharmers Biotech firms using plants in attempt to produce proteins faster, cheaper" - "At a greenhouse in Vacaville, scientists are betting on an unlikely plant in their effort to treat a certain type of cancer: tobacco. Scientists at Large Scale Biology Corp. are using genetic engineering techniques to turn rows of tobacco seedlings into organic factories, producing a medicinal protein that may treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The experiments going on here are just one example of a new field called biopharming -- the attempt to produce biotech medicines in plants. For the last two decades, biotech proteins have been made by splicing human genes into bacteria, mammalian cells or fungi. Large quantities of these fast- growing cells are brewed in fermentation vats. Biopharming advocates think living plants -- corn, soybeans and tobacco are the current favorites -- can produce protein medicines faster and cheaper than the stainless steel fermentation factories that can cost tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars to build."

"Food and the Future" - "From BSE to GM, food is news. One strand unites these issues, and it can be summarized in one word: 'sustainability'. The world's population continues to grow, yet resources are finite. Our mission is to squeeze more crops from the same patch of ground, while preserving that patch in a state fit to pass on to further hungry generations. The quest for sustainability is the theme of this Insight.

After World War II, the 'Green Revolution' averted worldwide famine. Half a century on, the world needs yet greater ingenuity to feed itself. Science is again at the sharp end. The public wants it to deliver food to satisfy an increasing population without compromising the integrity of the landscape we live in. Agriculture in the future must be environmentally sensitive and above all, sustainable.

Much current debate on these issues concerns genetically modified crops, but this is only part of the story. Sustainability has lessons for the whole agricultural enterprise, from high-tech viticulture to the depths of the ocean.

This web focus brings together what seems to be a disparate selection of material recently published in Nature. The wide range illustrates, as well as anything can, how issues relating to food touch every sphere of human life." (Nature)

"Comment: War on the peasantry" - "Mugabe's crimes pale next to what black small farmers endure in the name of development (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"Consumer Group Slams Imitation Meat Product" - "WASHINGTON - A consumer group is calling on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have the makers of Quorn, an imitation chicken- and meat-substitute, recall the product because some people may get sick from eating it." (Reuters Health)

"FDA takes close look at bioengineered food -- The Washington Times" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Concerns about the potential for future genetically engineered foods to cause allergic reactions has spurred the Food and Drug Administration to hold a meeting to look into the best methods for determining whether these foods pose an allergic risk. The meeting, to be held Tuesday and Wednesday, is the first of the newly developed food biotechnology subcommittee, an FDA spokeswoman who requested anonymity told United Press International. The subcommittee, which includes representatives from industry and a consumer interest group, will "discuss different approaches to assess whether proteins in bioengineered foods would be likely to cause allergic reactions or not," the spokeswoman said."

"Vitamins add value to rice" - "Scientists at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) are working to develop a vitamin-rich variety of rice that would improve the nation's nutritional levels, reports Bangladeshi news agency BSS. "The transgenic beta-carotene-rich golden rice is likely to be developed within the next three years," Dr S B Siddique, Director General of BRRI, said last week. The rice will contain a gene from vitamin-rich yellow daffodil flowers transferred to a variety of rice already developed by the institute in 1994, he added." (NutraIngredients)

"Developers of genetically modified crops forge on" - "ISTANBUL - Researchers and seed companies are hard at work developing new genetically modified (GM) crops despite the storm of opposition they face from consumers, especially in Europe, scientists told a conference yesterday. The new varieties range from a new soybean that yields healthier vegetable oil to a strain of coffee bean that grows without caffeine. "The next generation will improve the nutritional quality of the foods," Richard Wilson, a researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) told an edible oils conference in Istanbul." (Reuters)

August 12, 2002

"Dunblane handgun ban under review"  - "THE handgun ban imposed in the wake of the Dunblane massacre is being reviewed by the government to improve Britain’s medal prospects at international pistol-shooting competitions." (Scotland on Sunday)

"A Predictable And Preventable Killer" - "Fifty-year-old Nelly Kwamboka wailed, cursed and collapsed in anguish at the foot of the bed where her young son had just died. Next to her, three other children sharing a bed convulsed as nurses battled to save their lives. That was over a fortnight ago.

In another ward at the Kisii District Hospital, more patients lay on beds and on the floor as horrified medical workers wheeled out the bodies of the latest malaria victims. At the tiny pharmacy, patients supported by their relatives queued for drugs. Several hospitals have been under siege from the deadly highland malaria, whose death toll has been rising." (The Nation (Nairobi))

"What's Bugging Environmentalists?" - "It's time to tell the environmentalists to lock themselves indoors with their worthless citronella candles and peppermint oil perfume, and let the rest of us battle the bugs with 21st-century tools." (Michelle Malkin, The Hartford Courant)

"San Francisco Chronicle - Presidio cleared in EPA dig for toxic waste Search ends 2-week federal probe of charges by former park employees" - "San Francisco -- After digging a trench and surveying the ground with a metal detector, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded Thursday that no barrels containing toxic waste had been buried in Presidio National Park. The announcement ends an investigation that began two weeks ago, after a group of former park employees alleged that a dozen barrels of waste "so dangerous it could burn off your flesh" had been buried about two years ago in an area in the southwest section of the park."

"Newsday.com - Prescription For Failure" - "Poorly designed, superficial studies means the state can't answer key questions about cancer clusters on Long Island" says Dan Fagin.

"Looking for the Link" - "Dr. Winn, like many other scientists, said that the quest for environmental causes of cancer — from chemicals in the water to electromagnetic fields near power lines to radiation from a cellphone — may be more daunting than the public realizes. Conclusive evidence that any of these things increase one's risk of cancer has never been found, despite repeated studies. And even if there is a link, several experts said, it may be beyond the capacity of science to find it." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"British women join legal fight on HRT drugs" - "Hundreds of British women have joined an international legal battle for compensation over illnesses such as strokes and cancer which they claim were caused by hormone replacement therapy. Lawyers in America who have launched the first worldwide class action over HRT said yesterday that they had been inundated with calls from women in Britain asking to be included in the litigation." (Daily Telegraph)

"The killer toxins in our water" - "SCOTTISH drinking water is contaminated with high levels of a chemical linked to cancer and birth defects, an investigation by Scotland on Sunday has revealed. The potentially deadly chemical is breaching water quality regulations in Scotland at a rate 15 times higher than in England and Wales. One in six Scottish samples contained unacceptably high levels. Several international studies have already established links between the presence of trihalomethanes (THMs) and cancer of the bowel, bladder and kidney, as well as spina bifida and infant heart problems." (Scotland on Sunday) | Killer toxins on tap as danger in water supply is exposed (Scotland on Sunday)

"Gulf veteran babies 'risk deformities'" - "Children of British soldiers who fought in wars in which depleted uranium ammunition was used are at greater risk of suffering genetic diseases passed on by their fathers, new research reveals. Veterans of the conflicts in the Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo have been found to have up to 14 times the usual level of chromosome abnormalities in their genes. That has raised fears they will pass cancers and genetic illnesses to their offspring. The study is the first to analyse chromosome deformation in soldiers." (The Observer)

"Cereal offenders who won't go away" - "WASHINGTON – Hollywood's latest cash crop, the Mel Gibson thriller "Signs," took in more than $60 million in its opening weekend, a record for Gibson and for writer-director M. Night Shyalaman. The movie's premise – that aliens are responsible for the sudden appearance of elaborate "crop circles" all over the world – has resurrected a mystery that was actually solved a decade ago." (Iain Murray, The Christian Science Monitor)

"Now golf gets a health warning" - "Teeing off will never be the same again. Golfers who believe the sport offers relaxation, fresh air and a nice afternoon stroll are in for a shock: a new study has blamed the game for turning players into physical wrecks. Golf's healthy image has been shattered by research showing that hitting the ball regularly gives players bad backs, wobbly ankles, saggy bellies, sore shoulders, great stiffness and an inability to balance on one foot." (The Observer)

"Meacher hits at Labour's eco-failures" - "THE environment minister Michael Meacher, who was snubbed by Downing Street over the Earth Summit last week, has attacked the government's green credentials, hitting out at its policy over house building, cars and airports. Still flush from victory over a failed attempt by No 10 to block him from attending the summit, which takes place in Johannesburg at the end of the month, Meacher criticised what he sees as the failure of fellow ministers to recognise that the world is heading towards environmental catastrophe." (The Sunday Times) | Interview: Jasper Gerard meets Michael Meacher, environment minister (The Sunday Times)

"Meacher 'Slapped Down' in Row over Labour's Green Record" - "Environment Secretary Michael Meacher was today slapped down by International Development Secretary Clare Short after he criticised the Government’s poor record on “green” issues. Mr Meacher last week scored a rare victory over No 10 when he won back his place on the Government delegation for the Earth Summit in Johannesburg after reports he had been dropped provoked an outcry from environmental groups. He marked his triumph by giving an interview to the Sunday Times claiming the Government was unwilling to face up to the difficult decisions needed to tackle the threat to the environment. He said ministers “haven’t tried hard enough” to reduce car usage and that he was like a “lone voice in the wilderness” when it came to pushing environmental policies in Whitehall. His comments drew a withering response from Ms Short who bluntly pointed out that the Johannesburg summit was primarily about Third World development issues, not the environment. “This isn’t an environmental summit. It’s a summit about sustainable development,” she told BBC Radio 4’s the World This Weekend." (PA News)

"Focus: The global ego trip" - "The bulldozers rolled into the streets of Sandton, Johannesburg, six months ago. They crushed trees, flattened grass verges and carved a network of new roads. Following them came hundreds of workmen who transformed the characterless suburb into a gleaming imitation of a western city.

In the last few weeks the builders have been followed by police — preparing a ring of steel to prevent beggars and other poverty-stricken street people intruding on these elegant new surroundings.

The aim of all this hard labour? To impress the thousands of politicians, civil servants and environmentalists who will soon gather in the city to set about saving the world. With an estimated 65,000 people expected to attend, Earth Summit 2002 will be the biggest conference the world has ever seen.

As a collection of the world’s biggest egos it is also unsurpassed: more than 120 world leaders will address the televised meeting, each eager to soothe their consciences and parade their green credentials on the platform of well-meaning debate." (The Sunday Times)

"John Humphrys: The Earth Summit is just news from another planet" - "So that’s all right then. Michael Meacher is going to Johannesburg to the Earth Summit in a fortnight and the world will be saved after all. I was getting worried for a minute. Everyone was saying he’d been made to hand back his plane ticket because Alastair Campbell was afraid that the newspapers might think the government was sending too many ministers. That was a big mistake since Mr Meacher knows more about saving the world than all the other delegates put together.

Did you ever hear such a load of rubbish? I’m not being unkind about Mr Meacher. I have had many dealings with him over the years and he is everything they have been saying he is: hard-working, well informed on the big environmental issues and deeply committed to making the world a better place. But he is one among 65,000. Can you begin to imagine that? Sixty-five thousand men and women from 174 countries, each with their own agendas. The Tower of Babel will sound like a Trappist monastery. If each one of them speaks for five minutes and they meet for 12 hours a day including weekends, they will still be rabbiting away by the middle of October. That’s October next year." (The Sunday Times)

"He promised leadership. Now Blair snubs the Earth Summit" - "Tony Blair is planning to snub the vital Earth Summit in Johannesburg by paying it only a fleeting visit in three weeks' time. The Prime Minister will stay at the conference barely long enough to make his own speech, despite having repeatedly promised to "provide leadership'' at it." (Independent on Sunday)

"Top bosses 'hijacking' eco-summit" - "Tony Blair's delegation to this month's Earth Summit in Johannesburg includes senior company bosses whose firms have repeatedly been accused of polluting the environment. The news triggered uproar from green groups last night amid renewed concern that the summit was being hijacked by big business. Included in the Prime Minister's official delegation to Johannesburg are UK multinationals that have been involved in rows over important wildlife habitats globally and even allegations they ignored human rights abuses." (The Observer)

"Analysis: Low profiling Kyoto protocol" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 -- On the eve of another big, environmentally-related world summit -- with heads of state from around the globe scheduled to attend -- the agreement that has been the subject of the most intense world-wide debate is, at best, a side issue on the agenda.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held August 26 to September 4 in Johannesburg, South Africa will focus on five key areas: water and sanitation, energy, health, agricultural productivity and biodiversity/ecosystem management. Not on the list, but a necessary aspect of topics like sustainable energy, is global warming -- the subject of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol which sets targets for reducing greenhouse gases." (UPI)

"Duluth News Tribune | 08 11 2002 | Global warming appears real as more glaciers melt away" - "WASHINGTON - New surveys from satellites and aircraft document an alarming speed-up in the melting of glaciers around the world.

The swift retreat of these great ice streams is helping to raise ocean levels and is threatening significant changes in human, animal and plant life -- some good, but mostly bad.

Scientists say the dwindling of the glaciers is visible evidence that the Earth really is getting hotter.

"Receding and wasting glaciers are a chief telltale sign that global climate change is real and accelerating," said Jeffrey Kargel, a glacier expert with the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Most of Earth's 160,000 glaciers have been slowly shrinking and thinning for more than a century as the climate warms up from both natural causes and human activity. But scientists say the melt rate has accelerated dramatically since the mid-1990s, which was the hottest decade in a thousand years, according to data from ancient ice cores and tree rings."

"Louisiana's Coastal Wetlands Sinking" - "Up to 35 square miles of Louisiana's wetlands sink into the Gulf of Mexico each year. To date, an area the size of Rhode Island has been lost. In some places, the coastline has retreated 30 miles.

If scientists' global warming projections prove correct, virtually every state along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts will have problems similar to Louisiana's by the middle of the century. In a worst-case scenario, sea level would be 44 inches higher 50 years from now. If it is, 23,000 square miles of land along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts will disappear." (Los Angeles Times)

So, global warming-induced sea level rise is flooding Louisiana? Not exactly, even the LA Times' own article continues:

"South Louisiana requires a constant supply of mud and freshwater to keep itself above sea level, and channelizing the Mississippi River has deprived the landscape of that vital resource.

The Mississippi River literally built southern Louisiana, dropping countless tons of mud at the edge of the continent to form a delta. Over millenniums, the mud washed across the landscape during spring floods, settling in swamps and marshes to nourish plant growth. Every thousand years or so, the river changed course to fill in a nearby low spot.

Eventually the Mississippi built a broad swath of wetlands nearly 300 miles long. If you look at a map of the state, virtually everything south of Interstate 10 was dropped there by the river.

Now mud that would have settled into the swamps of the Atchafalaya or Barataria Bay shoots out into the Gulf of Mexico, never to be seen again. Meanwhile, the land is compacting, slowly turning to clay as it sinks under its own weight and squishes itself dry."

Excessive groundwater extraction and drainage works are causing subsidence problems in numerous regions around the world, giving the impression of dramatic local sea level rise despite actual rise being almost imperceptible. Coastal subsidence can be a significant problem and the cause in many cases is ultimately anthropogenic - what it is not is evidence of enhanced greenhouse warming.

"Nunavut Premier Stands Firm on Global Warming" - "IQALUIT, Nunavut, August 9, 2002 - Premier Paul Okalik used a simple story about his children to help derail Alberta's attempt to forge an anti-Kyoto Protocol consensus among Canadian premiers meeting in Halifax. At last week's provincial-territorial premier's conference, Okalik refused to side with Alberta premier Ralph Klein, who wants Ottawa to soften its position on reducing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 2012." (ENS)

"Canada's Kyoto waffling draws European ire" - "Banff, Alta. — Canada's Environment Minister says he will forge ahead with a bid to swap clean energy credits for Kyoto responsibilities despite harsh criticism from Europe.

David Anderson, in wrapping up a two-day meeting of G8 environment ministers Sunday, said Canada will present a formal proposal on clean credits next month at a United Nations meeting in Whistler, B.C.

He wants a break in how much greenhouse gas Canada has to reduce under the Kyoto protocol, noting that the cleaner natural gas and electricity it is exporting to the United States is less harmful to the environment." (Canadian Press)

"Govt eyes market for CO2 credits" - "The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry likely will set up a commodity exchange-like market for private businesses to trade the right to emit quantities of carbon dioxide as early as autumn this year, ministry sources said Friday.

The ministry plan is intended to help the nation attain its greenhouse reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted at the Third Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change held in 1997, the sources said.

According to the ministry plan, the government will inaugurate a system for settling funds that change hands as a result of trading CO2 emission credits among companies by assigning the management of such transactions to commodity exchanges and other market mechanisms, the sources said. Specific transactions of emission credits will be closely monitored and recorded." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Australia tops greenhouse list - theage.com.au" - "Australia's greenhouse gas emissions per capita are 35 per cent above the US and the highest in the industrialised world, according to research by the Australia Institute. Australia Institute director Clive Hamilton blamed a high reliance on coal to make electricity, and continued high levels of land clearance and automobile emissions. Australia produced 27.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide a head in 1999, the last year for which figures are available. That is a decline of 3.5 per cent from 1990 levels of 28.9 tonnes. The second-highest per capita producer, Canada, emitted 22.2 tonnes, up 13.2 per cent from 19.6 tonnes in 1990. Third on the list was the US, producing 20.7 tonnes a head in 1999 compared to 20 tonnes in 1990."

"El Nino blamed for weather chaos" - "The weather phenomenon El Nino is being blamed by scientists for the freak weather conditions which have caused chaos and many deaths around the world." (BBC News Online)

"The Fleeting Romance of the American Road" - "DETROIT - AMERICANS are falling out of love with cars.

In a speech last week, none other than William Clay Ford Jr., the chairman and chief executive of the Ford Motor Company, proclaimed the end of the affair.

"The love affair that people have had with automobiles has in some ways grown stale," he said. "Some would say it's even dying."

Mr. Ford chalked it up to the long running conflict between carmakers and regulators, particularly in California, where "people used to write songs about T-Birds and Corvettes. Today," he said, "they write regulations."

From his perspective, it will take continued effort on breakthrough environmental technologies and a more cooperative approach with regulators to turn things around. Then, he said, people might not be so offended by what their neighbors are driving." (Danny Hakim, New York Times)

"ABC News - 'Asian Brown Cloud' causing death and destruction" - "Scientists say a dense layer of pollution in the sky over a large part of Asia is altering weather patterns, damaging agriculture and causing premature deaths."

"Zimbabwe Ends Altered-Corn Dispute; Mugabe, Relief Agencies Agree to Grain Swap, Freeing Up Tons in Food Aid" - "Ending a dispute over gene altered corn, the Zimbabwean government and international aid agencies have reached an accord for the quick release of thousands of tons of food aid for the hunger-stricken nation, according to sources in Africa and the United States." (Washington Post)

August 10, 2002

Book review: "You've Been Had!: How the Media and Environmentalists Turned America into a Nation of Hypochondriacs" - "As his title suggests, epidemiologist Melvin Benarde is not one to mince words. For him, television, radio, and newspapers are "the scoundrels at whose doorsteps must be placed our current pandemic of mediagenic diseases." He cites recent scares over "an extraordinary range of potential causes of cancer," including "asbestos, dioxin, hot dogs, breast implants, pesticides, coffee, liquor, hair dryers, mouthwash, dietary fat, magnetic fields and cellular phones." He blames the media for creating "an epidemic of anxiety, year after persistent year of alarm." (Michael Fitzpatrick, British Medical Journal)

"Experts reject latest MMR research" - "Experts have rejected fresh claims of a link between the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine and autism. A study by scientists in the United States suggests a "strong association" between the three-in-one vaccine and autism. They said the vaccine triggers an autoimmune response which they believe plays a role in the onset of autism. But doctors in the UK have dismissed the study saying it provides no evidence of any link." (BBC News Online)

"Pests about pesticides" - "The UK green organisation Friends of the Earth (FoE) announced on 7 August that: 'New residue data shows need for pesticide action.' Yet the latest report from the UK government's Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC) shows a reduction across the board in the level of pesticide residues in British food. Even apples, the fruit most commonly cited by green campaigners to raise alarm about pesticide-poisoned children, showed a decline in toxins." (Jan Bowman, sp!ked)

"Despite death, variant seems to be disappearing: scientists; Creutzfeldt-Jakob cases much lower than earlier predicted" - "Despite the death of a Saskatoon man of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, scientists say the most puzzling thing about the degenerative brain disease is how fast it seems to be disappearing. "The trends are much lower than what we predicted four years ago," said Antonio Giulivi, director of health-care-acquired infections at Health Canada." (National Post)

"Farm children's lower allergy risk linked to cells" - "LONDON - Children who grow up on farms are less likely to develop allergies than other youngsters, and now researchers think they may know the reason why.

A new study shows that farm children have higher levels of two receptors on white blood cells than other children. Researchers think exposure to bacteria on the farm may encourage the cells to display the proteins, gently steering the immune system away from a path leading towards allergy." (Reuters Health)

"U.S. Seeks to Limit Conservation Law" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 — The Bush administration is arguing that a major environmental law does not apply to the vast majority of oceans under United States control, a move that environmentalists say could allow military maneuvers, oil and gas pipelines, commercial fishing, ocean dumping and scores of other activities to escape public environmental review." (New York Times)

"Top Biologist: Half of All Species May Be Gone By 2100" - "The world faces a "bottleneck of overpopulation and wasteful consumption" that could drive half of Earth's species to extinction in this century, eminent biologist Edward O. Wilson told more than 2,000 ecologists meeting in Tucson this week." (Arizona Daily Star)

"Ready to tackle Armageddon" - "A space mission to knock a potential rogue asteroid off course is undergoing feasibility studies with money from the European Space Agency (Esa). A Spanish company, Deimos-Space, is designing the mission and hopes its plans will convince Esa to give the go-ahead for a full scale test on a real asteroid." (BBC News Online)

"Comedy and Climate" - "Several years before he became a late night talk show funnyman in New York, David Letterman was merely a mid-day funny weatherman in Indianapolis. He once famously tickled some heartland funnybones when he predicted hail stones "the size of canned hams." Hoosiers thought this was humorous since, after all, they are used to huge Midwestern hail storms and they can handle the consequences.

But that image of ham-sized hail came to mind last week when a story emerged from China about giant hailstones devastating Henan province. Only, as with comedy, context is everything when it comes to the climate. For the people in Henan province, it was effectively hailing canned-hams. Except there was nothing funny about it: The hailstones killed 25 people and injured 200 more." (Nick Schulz, TCS)

"Canada Warns It Won't Make a Quick Kyoto Decision" - "OTTAWA - Climate change is such a complex topic that Canada will not be announcing a decision on whether to ratify the Kyoto Protocol at this month's "Earth Summit 2," Environment Minister David Anderson said on Friday. "This is the most complex issue the international community has ever faced up to. Ending the Second World War was not as difficult," he said in an interview in advance of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg." (Reuters)

"Groups to be paid for emissions cut" - "The Environment Ministry will start paying shopping malls and nonprofit organizations to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in next fiscal year as a measure to tackle global warming, ministry officials said Friday. The ministry-affiliated Japan Environmental Corporation will assess efforts of regional groups set up by shopkeepers associations, nonprofit organizations and public service groups, awarding one climate point for each kilogram of carbon dioxide emissions the groups manage to cut. The corporation will pay 50 yen per climate point and buy up to 400,000 points, worth 20 million yen, from each group." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Haze of pollution may cause vitamin D deficiency" - "NEW YORK - It's well known that pollution-choked skies can be hard on the lungs, but that may not be the only health hazard they pose. A new study from India suggests that sunlight-blocking haze may reduce children's exposure to the sun's vitamin D-inducing rays.

Vitamin D, which helps the body to absorb calcium, is often added to milk. The body also manufactures this nutrient when the skin is exposed to the ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation contained in sunlight, and this is generally a person's main vitamin D source." (Reuters Health)

"FEATURE - Solar power to challenge dominance of fossil fuels" - "MELBOURNE - Solar power is one of the world's fastest growing renewable energy sources, offering a potentially endless supply of power generation capable of meeting the electricity demands of the whole planet." (Reuters)

"Damning the dams" - "The Ilisu Dam in Turkey is one of the most controversial development projects in the world.

It is part of the $32billion South-Eastern Anatolia Project (known as GAP after its Turkish name, Guneydogu Anadolu Projesi) - a network of 22 dams and 19 power plants being built by European and US companies for the Turkish government's State Hydraulics Works Department (DSI). Ilisu is being built in the Kurdish area of south-east Turkey, on the river Tigris." (Andrew Cox, sp!ked)

"Revolution in science: a genetic discovery to change the world" - "A revolutionary development in genetics has raised the prospect of curing cancer and treating lethal viral infections using a technique discovered by scientists during a series of pioneering experiments.

Researchers are already comparing the findings to the earliest days in the development of antibiotics, which radically altered the way doctors treated bacterial diseases in the late 20th century.

Studies in the US and Europe last month showed that the use of the technique made human cells in the test tube immune to the effects of polio virus and HIV. Researchers believe it will also work against cancer and could even help to overcome tissue rejection in transplant operations." (Independent)

"Of pharmers and chimeras" - "The green fields that ostentatiously carpet the hills of Scotland are home to the drug factories of the Roslin Institute. These factories produce only a modest amount of gas, and nobody in the neighbourhood is complaining. After all, these 'factories' are sheep, genetically engineered to produce human proteins in their milk.

Welcome to the new world of pharming, a wonderfully low-impact technology that holds great promise for victims of emphysema, cystic fibrosis, thrombosis, haemophilia, AIDS, arthritis, malaria and more." (Scott Anderson, sp!ked)

"GM trade war" - "The European Union has banned imports of GM foods since the mid-1990s. But it's clear the ban is not really a safety precaution -- it's a barrier to trade" (Ronald Bailey, National Post)

"[New Zealand] Zero GE must go - experts" - "Scientists are calling on the Government to abandon zero tolerance for GE (genetic engineering) in imported seed after a second GE maize scare. Australian company Pacific Seeds announced yesterday it would destroy 30 tonnes of maize crops in Gisborne and Pukekohe, south of Auckland, after tests revealed they could be genetically engineered. The incident follows pre-election publicity over what may have been GE sweetcorn (a form of maize) seed imported in November 2000 and planted in Marlborough, Gisborne, and Hawkes Bay. In both cases there is uncertainty about the presence of GE because testing methods are not 100 per cent accurate. Compulsory testing of sweetcorn seed imports was introduced 12 months ago, and last week it was extended to maize seeds. From October 1 canola seed imports will be tested, and MAF is considering testing soybean seeds from January 1." (The Press)

"Zambia Urged to Accept 'GM' Corn" - "LUSAKA, Zambia - Two U.S. lawmakers urged Zambia to accept an American donation of corn Friday to ease massive starvation, despite concerns that it might contain genetically modified grain. "We are here to offer help in an emergency situation," Rep. Earl Hilliard, D-Ala., said. "The food is here and the food is much needed now in Zambia." (AP)

August 9, 2002

"Ground Zero Research Boondoggle" - "Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced this week an $11.4 million contract with the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine to determine whether World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers are experiencing related illnesses or injuries.

"We at Mount Sinai are grateful to President Bush, Secretary Thompson and Congress whose efforts have made this possible," said Mt. Sinai Medical Center CEO Dr. Kenneth Berns.

The rest of us should be far less sanguine. This is a waste of money." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"New insights into insect antimicrobials point the way to novel antibiotics" - "In a new study of an insect-derived antimicrobial peptide, scientists at The Wistar Institute have identified which segments of the peptide kill bacteria and which are involved in cell entry. The research team also identified a possible binding site for the antimicrobial peptide. An altered version of the peptide might be used as a delivery vehicle for a variety of drugs into human cells, rather than solely as an antimicrobial, the researchers say." (The Wistar Institute)

"Cornell researchers turn conventional thinking about canned corn on its ear" - "Conventional wisdom says fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier than their processed counterparts. A new study, however, shows that processed corn may actually be better for you than corn on the cob. Scientists found that heat processing of sweet corn increased the levels of naturally occurring compounds that help fight chronic disease, such as cancer and heart disease." (American Chemical Society)

"'Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day' -- Really?" - "It has become accepted wisdom: "Drink at least eight glasses of water a day!" Not necessarily, says a DMS physician Heinz Valtin, MD. The universal advice that has made guzzling water a national pastime is more urban myth than medical dogma and appears to lack scientific proof, he found." (Dartmouth Medical School)

"New study suggests MMR link with autism" - "New research which suggests a link between MMR vaccination and autism is likely to fuel the debate over the jab after it was published yesterday in the United States. The paper, published in the Journal of Biomedical Science, is from Vijendra Singh, a scientist at Utah University, who holds the view that measles vaccine could cause autism and has published a number of papers on his hypothesis. In his new study he says he has found an unusual MMR antibody in 75 children with autism which was not present in children who do not have the disorder." (The Guardian)

"Professor rebuts new claim linking MMR to autism" - "A LEADING authority on the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine has cast doubt on new research which indicates a direct link to autism.

A group of scientists in America said it had found a strong association between the vaccine and an autoimmune reaction thought to play a role in causing the developmental disorder.

However Peter Lachmann, Emeritus Professor of Immunology at Cambridge, said that the conclusions drawn by Vijendra Singh and his team did not make for a direct link between MMR and autism.

“In my view the associations that Dr Singh makes do not follow. His hypothesis does not show causality; he is drawing unjustifiable conclusions from the antibody data he has collected. I do not think such conclusions can be drawn.” (The Times)

"Whole Foods, Holier Than Thou" - "In his 1869 Inaugural Addresses, Ulysses S. Grant said, "I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution."

To that end, the American Council on Science and Health is taking action to illustrate the absurdity of California's Proposition 65. Prop. 65 requires that manufacturers put a warning label on products — even ones that pose no risk to human health — simply because they contain tiny amounts of a chemical that can cause cancer in lab animals if given to them in massive doses the likes of which no human would consume." (Jeff Stier, ACSH)

"Kids Are Healthier Now" - "Is today's vast supply of health and parenting advice making a difference in the well-being of American children?

Statistics on children's economic security, health, behavior, social environment, and education reveal some good news, according to a report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics: Kids in the U.S. are growing up healthier. "The well-being of America's children is probably better than it ever has been," says Dr. Duane Alexander of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development." (Adam S. Valerio, ACSH)

"Ecologists campaign for Green shoots of survival" - "GERMANY’S Green Party kicked off its general election campaign this week, knowing it has more to lose than the other main parties. With support waning for what was once the planet’s most successful environmental political movement, it is fighting not just for power but for survival. The Greens, in power with the Social Democrats, have lost ground in the last 18 regional elections, sometimes badly so. Polls indicate the party might struggle to gain the 5 per cent of the vote required for a single MP in the 22 September election. Defeat would bring down the curtain on a movement erstwhile supporters say was corrupted by power and pragmatism." (The Scotsman)

"The Challenge Of Sustainable Development" - "At the end of August 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development will convene in Johannesburg. The ten years since the last summit, in Rio de Janeiro, have seen astonishing economic expansion in industrialized societies -- expansion that, in many respects, has only served to sharpen the contrasts between the world’s rich and poor countries. That gap, in turn, has profound implications for world health, environmental conservation, and international peace and security.

To mark the summit, the 9 August 2002 issue of Science presents a collection of articles built around the theme of sustainable development, and the role of science and technology in achieving it. We’ve also assembled a selection of sustainable development readings from previous issues." (Science)

"Nature 'pays biggest dividends'" - "The cash return from conserving wild places is far higher than the gains made from developing them, researchers say. They estimate humanity loses about $250bn through the loss of the habitat destroyed in a single year. That loss occurs in the year the destruction happens, and in every subsequent year, they say. They put the benefit-cost ratio at more than 100 to 1 in favour of conservation. The researchers, from the US and the UK, report their findings in the journal Science. Their work was sponsored by the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the UK Government. The authors say an ecosystem's economic value can be measured in terms of the goods and services it provides - climate regulation, for example, water filtration, soil formation, and sustainably harvested plants and animals." (BBC News Online)

So... the world in its 'natural' state easily feeds and shelters 6 billion humans while generating additional trillions in wealth as long as we don't develop anything. Yeah, sure...

"Satellites see big changes since 1980s in key element of ocean's food chain" - "Since the early 1980s, ocean phytoplankton concentrations that drive the marine food chain have declined substantially in many areas of open water in Northern oceans, according to a comparison of two datasets taken from satellites. At the same time, phytoplankton levels in open water areas near the equator have increased significantly. Since phytoplankton are especially concentrated in the North, the study found an overall annual decrease in phytoplankton globally." (NASA/GSFC)

"Statoil wins prize for burying CO2 under North Sea" - "OSLO - Norwegian state-controlled oil firm Statoil said on Thursday that it won a prize for pioneering work to curb emissions of gases blamed for global warming by burying them beneath the seabed." (Reuters)

"New head of UN climate body vows independence" - "GENEVA - The new chief of a U.N. panel probing the effects of greenhouse gases on the global climate said on Thursday it would consult the oil and coal industries, but pledged that its advice would be independent. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), also said that the panel's reports would put more emphasis on assessing regional impacts of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere." (Reuters)

"ANALYSIS: Kyoto accord a distant memory" - "ROME - The World Environment Summit in South Africa was expected to be the stage on which the much-heralded Kyoto Protocol on global warming finally took effect. Now amid limited international support for the agreement, the 1997 accord will hardly be on the agenda.

Because of the problems with passing the Kyoto agreement, its place in the world's consciousness has faded in recent months. On its official agenda, the Johannesburg talks have replaced what most environmentalists say is the world's biggest environmental danger with a focus on helping poor nations develop." (United Press International)

"Love affair with the remote is overheating the planet - smh.com.au" - "Australia's obsession with remote controls, which means appliances are now rarely fully turned off, is helping to release five million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year - the greenhouse impact of one million cars. In 2000, the power sucked up by appliances on standby accounted for 11.6 per cent of the electricity used by households - an extra $500 million on bills. The newly discovered extent of the wasted power has prompted a campaign by the National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Committee."

"Japan considers aid to 7 Asian nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions" - "TOKYO - Japan will offer an aid package to help seven Asian countries lower emissions of greenhouse gases and stem global warming over the next few years, an official said Thursday. Environment Ministry official Soichiro Seki said Tokyo's proposal will mostly consist of training and joint research projects in anti-pollution measures for China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines." (Associated Press)

"Ford says SUV fuel economy goal getting tougher" - "TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan - Ford Motor Co.'s goal of increasing the fuel efficiency of its sport utility vehicles by 25 percent in five years has become tougher because some new fuel-saving techniques have failed to live up to expectations, Ford's environmental chief said on Thursday. "When you look at the different technologies we thought we could employ, as you get further down the development stream you might find they don't give you the fuel economy improvement you thought," Sue Cischke, Ford's vice president of environmental and safety engineering, told Reuters." (Reuters)

"Businesses warn New York needs more power plants" - "NEW YORK - Problems in New York this summer stemming from a heat wave and heavy use of air conditioners have heightened concerns among local businesses the state needs more power plants to ensure reliable electric service." (Reuters)

"Green power plant axed" - "A power plant which claimed to be the first in the world fuelled only by wood has been put into liquidation. The Arable Biomass Renewable Energy, or Arbre project, at Eggborough, near Selby, will now be sold to pay creditors. Around 40 staff are out of work and 55 farmers have been left with nobody to sell their willow crops to. Local MP John Grogan said the closure had set back the UK's green power industry by 10 years. Bristol-based Energy Power Resources pushed for the liquidation at a shareholders meeting in London. It said the £30 million power station wasn't viable." (Ananova.com)

"Italy grid sets green certificates at 0.084 euros" - "ROME - Italian electricity grid operator GRTN, which handles environmentally-friendly power initiatives, said on Thursday it was setting the price of green certificates for 2002 at 0.084 euros per kilowatt hour.

The grid issues the tradeable certificates to renewable energy producers, who can then sell them to companies which are required by law to use a certain quota of green power. In Italy that quota is two percent. The certificates allow buyers who are below quota to emit carbon dioxide, widely seen as a contributor to global warming, and the proceeds give renewable energy producers another source of income." (Reuters)

"Study finds stem cells may save limbs" - "LONDON - Injecting patients' own stem cells into their leg muscles could create new blood vessels, eliminating pain from bad circulation and helping to prevent gangrene or amputations, new research indicates.

The study, described this week in The Lancet medical journal, is the first demonstration that implanting stem cells into humans can result in new blood vessel networks, a process called angiogenesis." (AP)

"Fabric from Corn: Greenfleece or Greenwash?" - "The dramatic ads feature thought provoking tag lines such as "the seeds of a revolution are sometimes just that," and "unlike every other revolutionary product, this one won't change the world." Blanketing the outdoor equipment trade press over the last several months, the ads hype the biggest environmental breakthrough in fabrics since the creation of fleece from recycled plastic soda bottles.

The marketing blitz by Cargill Dow heralded the unveiling of a line of fabrics called "NatureWorks PLA" (polylactic acid), made entirely from corn. At first blush it seems like the sort of environmental wonder technology always promised." (Corpwatch)

"Corn crop seized in new GE scare" - "About 30 tonnes of suspected genetically modified corn seed produced on farms around Pukekohe and Gisborne has been discovered and will be destroyed.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is moving quickly to contain damage from the country's second major GM contamination scare in a month.

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said last night the new discovery showed GM corn or maize was now so widespread in the US that New Zealand should stop importing any more seed from there." (The New Zealand Herald)

"Genetically modified crops may pass helpful traits to weeds, study finds" - "For the first time, researchers have shown that a gene artificially inserted into crop plants to fend off pests can migrate to weeds in a natural environment and make the weeds stronger. Scientists studied genetically engineered sunflowers - those modified with a gene that produces a chemical toxic to certain insects - to see what happened when these foreign genes, called transgenes, were inadvertently passed along to weedy relatives." (Ohio State University)

"Biotech eyed for papaya, other RP plants" - "A leading Filipino molecular biologist is developing a papaya variety that has a high level of resistance to a deadly pest and increasing the prospect of increased supply of the vitamin A-rich fruit at cheaper prices in the local market. Scientist Pierriden Perez recently concluded experiments at Malaysia’s MARDI Biotechnology Center to develop special papayas that are resistance to the ringspot virus, the worst scourge of the fruit in the Philippines and other tropical countries." (The Philippine Star)

August 8, 2002

"Newsday.com - Gov't to Reverse on Illness Claims" - "WASHINGTON -- Under pressure from Congress, the Bush administration has decided to reverse policy and quit fighting illness compensation claims from Cold War-era nuclear weapons workers exposed to toxic chemicals. Final Energy Department regulations, obtained by The Associated Press and expected to be issued Thursday, instruct contractors not to contest medical panels' findings that workers' illnesses are related to job exposure."

"AP Wire | 08 08 2002 | Doctors: Amount of arsenic in playground wood not harmful" - "MIAMI -- Arsenic-treated wood used in playgrounds and backyard furniture does not pose a health risk to people, said a panel of doctors appointed by the state Department of Health. Their conclusion comes six months after a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreement to end the use of chromated copper arsenate by December 2003 in almost all the lumber used for residential projects. The chemical is a powerful pesticide used to protect lumber from decay and insect damage."

"When journalists juggle figures, the public is at risk" - "A 97 per cent increase in credulity about statistics leaves us ill-equipped to deal with manipulators, writes Ross Gittins." (The Melbourne Age)

"M&S calls on other stores to ban pesticides; Supermarkets attacked for 'potentially dangerous' food residues" - "Supermarkets could eliminate within a year at no extra cost to consumers the majority of pesticides which leave potentially dangerous residues in fruit and vegetables, according to food chain Marks and Spencer. It yesterday attacked the chemical industry and other supermarkets for behaving "like dinosaurs." (The Guardian)

"BBC NEWS | Health | Pesticide levels 'falling'" - "Levels of pesticide residues found on food appear to have fallen, latest official figures show. Seventeen per cent of the samples examined by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had the residues in or on them. The figures represent an improvement on findings by Friends of the Earth that up to two thirds of fruit and vegetables in supermarkets contained pesticide residues which could damage human health."

"Hormone found to reduce appetite by a third" - "An international team of scientists has discovered a hormone that can significantly decrease the appetite, reducing the amount of food eaten in a day by a third." (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine)

"Medicated ecosystems: Human drugs alter key aquatic organism" - "Antibiotics may be adversely affecting zooplankton, tiny organisms that underpin the health of all freshwater ecosystems, says new research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison." (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

"New weapons for war on superbugs; Natural enzyme makes new antibiotics in unnatural circumstances" - "Researchers in the United States have made a range of potential antibiotics by using a remarkably versatile natural catalyst1. Some of the new antibiotics kill the dreaded bacterium methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, against which many standard antibiotics are useless." (NSU)

"Chemical combat foils superbugs; Chemistry trick restores antibiotic potency" - "Within weeks of the first report of a superbug that is resistant to the 'last-resort' antibiotic vancomycin, US chemists have revealed a potential new weapon against the dangerous bacteria. Tampering with vancomycin's chemical structure can foil some types of drug-resistant bugs." (NSU)

"Foaming Rhine riddle solved; Scum on Swiss river caused by plants not pollution" - "Pollution is not to blame for the ominous foam that clogs the River Rhine in Switzerland, scientists have found. The froth is caused instead by chemicals released by a plant that thrives in the river. Since the early 1970s, foam has been appearing beneath the Rhine Falls, a popular tourist attraction at Schaffhausen. As well as being unsightly, it has raised fears about whether the water might be contaminated with toxic chemicals." (NSU)

"Ecojargon the lingua franca at Johannesburg summit" - "AMSTERDAM -- The 50,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries set to throng the Johannesburg summit later this month will have no problem finding a common language to thrash out a strategy for sustainable development. They'll be immersed in the eco-jargon that splits experts from the lay community -- most of whom have no idea what the broad, vague phrase "sustainable development" actually means. Virtually every discipline comes with its own code words designed to divide the uninitiated from the seasoned pro." (BusinessWorld Online)

"Wind flows tear at ozone layer" - "Climate change is giving scientists a new perspective on Northern Hemisphere ozone depletion. Ozone chemist Neil Harris says "it's now clear" that shifts in large-scale wind flows dilute the stratosphere's ozone and open mini ozone holes at northern mid-latitudes even when ozone-eating chemicals are not directly involved. He adds that this implies that we won't return to the pre-ozone-loss atmosphere even when the chemical culprits are gone." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"What's the Forecast?" - "Global climate models attempt to describe the Earth's climate and are used in variety of applications. These include the investigation of the possible causes of climate change and the simulation of past and future climates. World leaders are making critical decisions based upon predictions of so-called General Circulation Models (GCMs) or Global Climate Models as they are sometimes called. These models suggest that humans are causing global climate change in general and global warming in particular. But these models are limited in important ways." (David R. Legates, TCS)

"In global warming fight, trees not always best answer" - "LOS ANGELES — Scientists have overestimated the potential of trees and shrubs to soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a new study. The reassessment casts doubt on whether planting trees is always a positive step in the fight against global warming, as President Bush and others have suggested.

In the study, published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, Duke University scientists say trees and shrubs growing in areas of abundant rainfall are less effective storehouses for carbon than native grasslands they have steadily replaced across much of the western United States." (AP)

"Jet contrails alter average daily temperature range" - "For three days after September 11, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded commercial aircraft in the U.S., stranding travelers, hindering mail delivery and interrupting courier service, but for scientists at Penn State and the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, the three-day shutdown provided a rare glimpse of the climate effects of jet contrails." (Penn State)

"Panic and politics fuel Kyoto" - "Last week Lloyd Axworthy, Canada's former minister of Foreign Affairs, shared his views on the Kyoto Protocol and "global warming." His tone was desperate, his anxieties palpable. His opinions were offered because the Prime Minister is planning to attend a crucial United Nations meeting later this month in Johannesburg to discuss sustainable development.

According to Axworthy, Jean Chrétien's decision at this so-called Earth Summit "will be the defining moment for this country for many years to come." Canada, he said, must fulfill its commitments and take part in "one of the most significant international undertakings of this new century," the Kyoto Protocol. Signing Kyoto will be both "momentous" and "historic." But it can be done, he said, only if the opponents are overridden, resisted, discounted and ignored. After squishing the opposition, Axworthy assured his readers, Canada can "plot a course distinct from our southern neighbour and fire up the political system for a major mobilization." But time is short because "we are living in a carbon-induced climate maelstrom." (Calgary Herald)

"ABC Australia News - 08 08 02 : Australia tops greenhouse emissions" - "An analysis by Canberra based think-tank, the Australia Institute, shows Australia has the greatest level of greenhouse emissions per person in the industrialised world. The conclusion comes after an analysis of United Nations data which shows Australia's emissions per person are 35 per cent higher than for the world's largest polluter, the USA."

"Ford Heir Says America's Love for the Car Has Lost Its Zip" - "William Clay Ford Jr. said Wednesday that a credibility gap on environmental issues had eroded America's love for cars." (New York Times)

"The Nando Times: Cheap gas hinders diesel's appeal" - "TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (August 7, 2002 9:42 p.m. EDT) - The combination of cheap gasoline prices and a perception it is a dirty fuel is preventing new, cleaner diesel fuel from catching on with U.S. consumers, leaders of the Big 3 automakers said Wednesday. "Clean diesel is something ... in this country that hasn't really been well received," said Ford Motor Co. chairman and chief executive Bill Ford Jr. on Wednesday at the annual Management Briefing Seminars, an auto industry conference."

"The Anti-Energy Manifesto Of The State Attorneys General" - "In a joint letter of July 17, 2002, the attorneys general (AGs) of Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont urged President Bush to adopt mandatory controls on emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas targeted by the Kyoto Protocol, the non-ratified UN global warming treaty. CO2 is the inescapable byproduct of the hydrocarbon fuels that supply 70 percent of U.S. electricity and 84 percent of all U.S. energy. Like the Kyoto Protocol, the AGs demand, in effect, that the United States institute a regime of energy rationing." (Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"Is the answer blowin' in the wind?" - "The Government is expected to commit itself to providing 20 per cent of electricity from renewable resources by 2020: The Daily Telegraph asked two writers to put the case for and against wind power" (Daily Telegraph)

"Tilting at Windmills" - "There's a dread new enemy kicking up whitecaps all across Nantucket Sound these days. From Martha's Vineyard to Hyannis Port, a who's who of environmental groups have convened in a spirit of grave concern. The International Wildlife Coalition, the Humane Society and the Ocean Conservancy are all there. Ted Kennedy even dropped in.

Judging by the list, you'd guess that the very future of East Coast summer was at stake, not to mention the spawning of the cod, the life cycle of the whale and the migration of the monarch butterfly. But this is not your usual eco-crusade. The object of their outrage is a wind farm. The environmentalists are irate because a private company wants to provide renewable energy to much of Nantucket Sound." (The Wall Street Journal) [Subscription required]

"The contraceptive plague" - "After more than a decade of trying, Australian researchers have created an infectious virus that could wipe out the country's rabbit pests by making females infertile. But the prospect of releasing genetically engineered viruses into the wild is likely to spark fierce debate." (New Scientist)

"The future on a plate" - "Organic farming will not solve the crisis in food production, writes Henry Gee" (The Guardian)

"Italian court probes 10 seed companies over GMOs" - "ROME - An Italian court is investigating 10 seed companies for allegedly using maize containing genetic material in violation of Italian law, a judicial official said. The court in Turin launched the probe late on Tuesday after state seed agency Ense tested samples from seed companies for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and found some of them to be positive, the official, who asked not to be identified, said." (Reuters)

August 7, 2002

"Dental fillings unlikely to cause mercury poisoning" - "LONDON - A range of ailments that some people attribute to the mercury in "silver" dental fillings are more likely to be caused by other factors, German researchers report." (Reuters Health)

"EPA: Setting the Record Straight on Pesticide Tolerance Evaluations" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 -- On Friday, Aug. 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it had met a significant milestone for food safety by reassessing more than 6,400 allowable pesticide residues on food (called tolerances) to ensure that they satisfy the tougher food safety standard contained in the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. Reaching this goal was accomplished through an exhaustive scientific and regulatory effort involving key stakeholders throughout the process.

Unfortunately, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), who has worked closely with EPA on this issue, has recently disseminated misinformation rather than facts. EPA would like to set the record straight." (U.S. Newswire)

"BBC NEWS | UK | WWF rapped for 'alarming' advert" - "Conservation charity, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, has been criticised by the advertising watchdog for an "alarming" advert about chemicals in food. The WWF's advert was for a campaign highlighting the risks of toxins to people's health. But the Advertising Standards Authority said it implied all man-made chemicals may cause health problems."

"TV junk food ads spur kids' obesity - group" - "CANBERRA - TV advertisements that aggressively market junk food to children contribute to the growing obesity epidemic and should be regulated, according to group made up of Australian physicians and researchers. Australian children aged five to twelve watch an average of two and a half hours of television a day and much of that time is filled with advertisements for junk food, according to the Coalition on Food Advertising to Children in Australia. (Reuters Health)

"School playgrounds are far too dangerous for playing in" - "We cram them, we test them, we grade them and we train them to meet any number of government-imposed targets, but we probably think that our schoolchildren are still free to let off steam during playtime. A survey by the Children's Society and the Children's Play Council shows a different picture, however, revealing that the time many youngsters spend on the playground has become as regimented as the hours they endure in the classroom. Schools are now so terrified of being sued in the case of accidents that they are forbidding any games that could possibly lead to one. Time-honoured favourites such as tag, expressions of exuberance such as handstands and even innocuous pastimes such as making daisy chains are forbidden in an increasing number of schools." (Daily Telegraph)

"Staying out of the sun has downside" - "An Australian campaign to reduce skin cancer by persuading people to stay out of the sun may have led to vitamin D deficiencies." (BBC News Online)

"Indian Drought, Floods Linked To Warming" - "Drought and floods in various parts of India are probably the result of human-induced climate change, Inter Press Service reported yesterday, citing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chief Rajendra Pachauri." (UN Wire)

"New Zealand Herald - Caring about environment good for business say scientists" - "Countries that act first to reduce global warming may get business advantages by showing off as "clean and green", say two visiting scientists. Kevin Anderson, from Britain's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and Larry Parker, from the United States' Congressional Research Service, believe New Zealand could gain from adopting a carbon tax and other measures before Australia."

"Condensed Tannins, Belching Ruminants and Atmospheric CO2: A Novel Natural Way of Reducing Methane Emissions" - "Summary: Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations stimulate a plant-based phenomenon that actually leads to reductions in animal methane emissions to the atmosphere, thereby providing a natural brake on global warming." (co2science)

"Subject Index Summaries; Feedback Factors (Clouds)" - "Summary: As the earth warms, the atmosphere has a tendency to become more cloudy, which exerts a natural brake upon the rising temperature. Many of man's aerosol-producing activities do the same thing. In fact, there appear to be a number of such cloud-mediated processes that keep the planet from becoming too hot in the face of rising greenhouse gas concentrations." (co2science)

"Deciduous Forests Exert a Brake on Global Warming as They Lengthen Their Growing Seasons and Sequester More Carbon" - "Summary: This significant negative feedback phenomenon may well be much stronger than anyone has heretofore thought." (co2science)

"North Atlantic Storminess" - "Summary: It appears to have gotten worse over the last couple of decades. Could "unprecedented" global warming be to blame? The Holocene 12: 363-369." (co2science)

"The Length of the Illinois Frost-Free Season During the 20th Century" - "Summary: How has it changed during this period of unprecedented global warming? Climatic Change 52: 219-238." (co2science)

"Cholera and Climate" - "Summary: Is there a connection? Microbes and Infection 4: 237-245." (co2science)

"Orange Juice Vitamin C Concentration: How Is It Linked to the Air's CO2 Content?" - "Summary: In addition to enhancing the productivity of nearly all of earth's plants, the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content often alters the concentrations of various substances produced within different plant organs. Many of these substances have important implications for people's health, especially when the plant parts in which they are found are consumed as food. A new study of this phenomenon yields some very good news for humanity. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 90: 1-7." (co2science)

"Cosmic rays 'explain climate conundrum'" - "A puzzling feature of climate change may have an extra-terrestrial explanation, according to a researcher in the US. Many scientists agree that the Earth's surface appears to be warming, while low atmosphere temperatures remain unchanged. Fangqun Yu, of the State University of New York-Albany, suggests the answer may lie in cosmic rays. He argues the rays may cause changes in cloud cover which could explain the temperature conundrum." (BBC News Online)

"From stalk to fuel tank, ethanol a net energy gain" - "WASHINGTON - Measured from cornfield to the fuel tank, ethanol provides more energy than is consumed in producing it, researchers said in a new report that could figure in congressional debate over U.S. energy policy." (Reuters)

Hmm... but what if you include field preparation, planting, care and harvest energy inputs?

"Tokyo turns to rooftop gardens to beat the heat" - "TOKYO - At a run-down three-storey office block in downtown Tokyo, government clerks and secretaries cool off amongst azaleas, hydrangeas and even blueberry bushes during coffee breaks, seemingly far away from the sweltering urban heat. The garden is not a perk for bureaucrats or reckless use of taxes in a city with some of the world's priciest real estate.

It's on the roof and, what's more, it's saving money. The oasis is the brainchild of Kazuyoshi Kojima, a 52-year-old public servant spearheading the drive to lower temperatures in Japan's cities." (Reuters)

"Silent revolution across Africa" - "AFRICAN scientists along with leaders in agricultural development have had a busy time this year preparing for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The need for a clear and unified position has been prompted by other pan-African initiatives such as the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad). It is a paradox that one of the most contentious sciences biotechnology has become the unifying factor for African scientists. However, given the controversies relating to the science, arriving at a consensus position has not been easy. Biotechnology has gained acceptance because there is consensus that it is a global opportunity. Both multinational groups and farmers stand to gain, as confirmed by experiences in China and Africa." (Florence Wambugu, Business Day)

"In Africa, suspicion of genetically altered corn" - "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The U.S.-chartered cargo ship Liberty Star dropped anchor in South Africa last week loaded with enough emergency food aid to feed 2.4 million people for a month. For a drought-stricken region with 13 million people facing starvation, its arrival should have been a cause for celebration.

But the ship's American-produced cargo has been greeted mostly by suspicion and controversy - because the 36,000 metric tons of food aid includes genetically modified corn.

Engineered to resist pests, survive dry spells and produce greater yields, the grain is widely consumed in America. In Africa, however, the corn is less welcomed, and its arrival is renewing debate over the safety of genetically engineered food." (The Baltimore Sun)

August 6, 2002

"Challenge to Gulf War Syndrome ruling" - "The Ministry of Defence has started an attempt to overturn a landmark legal ruling which officially recognises Gulf War Syndrome The MoD is hoping to appeal against a decision by a pensions tribunal which recognised former Parachute Regiment medic Shaun Rusling as suffering from the condition. Mr Rusling, from Hull, won his case in April, opening the way for thousands of veterans to claim they also suffer from the Syndrome. But the MoD is claiming the condition does not exist, despite many veterans reporting a wide range of debilitating symptoms." (BBC News Online)

"Long Island Study Sees No Cancer Tie to Pesticides" - "A long-awaited federal study on possible links between pollution and high rates of breast cancer on Long Island has failed to show any connection between the disease and pesticides that were once widely used on the island. It also found only a very slight correlation between cancer rates and exposure to other pollutants, like car exhaust and cigarette smoke.

The findings of the National Cancer Institute study, to be released today, come as a sharp disappointment to local advocates for breast-cancer research and to politicians who pushed Congress to approve the seven-year, $8 million study. It is the keystone of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, a $30 million federal effort that includes 12 studies in all." (New York Times) | Newsday.com - Federal study shows no link between pollution and breast cancer

"US childhood asthma may have hit plateau: CDC" - "NEW YORK - Although asthma rates among US children has climbed markedly in the past two decades, the number of cases now appears to be leveling off, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)." (Reuters Health)

From the dubious claims dept.: "Measures aim to improve air quality" - "The life expectancy of one million people will be increased by an average three to six-and-a-half months as a result of measures to improve air quality announced by the government yesterday." (The Guardian)

"Misuse of antibiotics must be curtailed" - "More than a quarter-century ago, I did a television program that discussed the hazards of misusing antibiotics, including using antibiotics as growth-promoters in livestock. Today, this practice continues in much of the world even though it has been implicated in the rise of antibiotic resistance, which can make some of our most powerful drugs useless." (David Suzuki, David Suzuki Foundation)

"Fish killer microbe may not be toxic, after all" - "WASHINGTON - A tiny organism blamed for killing billions of fish off the U.S. East Coast and for making some fishermen sick may not be toxic, but may simply weaken fish by nibbling holes in their skin, researchers said on Monday.

The scientists said they found no evidence that Pfiesteria, blamed for high-profile fish kills over the past decade, secretes a deadly toxin, as had been previously believed. In fact, the strange one-celled organisms do not produce any known poison, chemist Robert Gawley of the University of Miami and colleagues reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." (Reuters)

Books: "BW Online | August 12, 2002 | Water Everywhere...And Not a Drop to Drink?" - "Summer, for most of us, means water-soaked fun at a pool, lakeside, or beach. But as we nonchalantly paddle about, the world's water supply is imperiled. Consider some of this year's headlines: Unprecedented wildfires in Arizona fueled by moisture-starved brush. Hydropower shortages in the Pacific Northwest. Creeping desertification of farmland in the Midwest, Central Africa, and East Asia. The situation is grim and getting worse." (BusinessWeek Online)

"Timber Tom the Hypocrite" - "Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle brings many skills to his job, including one few of us knew he possessed—that of professional land manager. Last week, he quietly attached an amendment allowing timber sales and fire-prevention treatment in his home state of South Dakota to a bill concerning terrorist attacks." (Linda Platts, TCS)

"Brazil may earn pollution credits from forestry" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - A pilot forestry project, which could earn Brazil tradeable pollution credits under the Kyoto protocol, is one of the main innovations in the 2002/03 (July/June) agriculture and livestock investment plan." (Reuters)

"Garbage in, legislation out -- The Washington Times" - "On July 25, at a hearing of the House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee (the same folks who grilled WorldCom), the nation found out how little real science there is about global warming. The hearing was prompted by the discovery that federal scientists were using computer models they knew could not replicate U.S. temperatures. They appeared in two landmark documents that have served as the basis for very expensive and intrusive energy legislation. What came out of the hearing has people asking if the same problems affecting Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, etc. are now troubling environmental science."

"Where the big liars lurk" - "Just who do they think they are kidding? The British Met Office have announced that the first six months of 2002 have been the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere since records began 143 years ago. Many may choose to disbelieve this says the Guardian (too right!). The Times dutifully slipped it in to the hospital admissions report mentioned above. Number Watch tries hard not to be yet another Global Warming site; there are already several splendid scholarly ones in our Links; but the sheer mendacity of these people outranks anything else, even tobacco." (Number Watch)

"UK breadmaking wheats selenium deficient" - "New research from the UK has revealed that selenium (Se) levels in British bread-making wheats are 10 to 50 times lower than in their American or Canadian counterparts. The study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture , concludes that bread made from such wheat will fail to help consumers meet the Se intake levels recommended for human health.

The UK scientists suggest that, ironically, reduced pollution may be partly to blame. "A general deficiency of Se in UK soils, and reduced atmospheric deposition from fossil fuel burning are probably the most important contributory factors," said Professor Steve McGrath of Rothamsted agricultural research institute and author of the study." (FoodNavigator)

"Agricultural Biotechnology: Quality of food improved for both developed, developing world" - "Plant biotechnology is an important tool to help address nutrition needs in the developing world, as well as chronic lifestyle- and diet-related diseases in the developed world, Monsanto's chief scientist said at the 10th Annual International Association for Plant Tissue Culture and Biotechnology (IAPTC&B) Congress." (Genomics and Genetics Weekly)

"Africa torn between GM aid and starvation" - "STARVING nations in southern Africa are being forced to choose between accepting genetically modified food aid or condemning millions of people to death in the worst food shortage in 50 years. They fear the long-term effects of GM foods, as well as their impact on exports to Europe.

After the UN World Food Programme appealed for £325 million to buy 1.2 million tons of food to prevent 13 million people from dying of starvation, the United States, where GM products are widely used, donated nearly 300,000tons of food aid. But the UN agency has since said that it cannot guarantee that its shipments will be GM-free." (The Times)

"How Biotech Can Avoid Frankenfood Syndrome" - "We've all heard bullish predictions about a biotech revolution in the 21st century to rival the commercial success of the IT revolution of the late 20th century. But we know how that ended, and it wasn't pretty. Make no mistake: Genomics and related biotech advances have the potential to transform the way medicine is practiced. But they'll need help. Without the right regulatory environment and a concerted effort to work with skeptics and fear-mongers, biotech will fall short of its potential." (The Wall Street Journal)

August 5, 2002

"Newsday.com - EPA on Track in Pesticide Study" - "WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it has met two major deadlines for safeguarding the nation's food supply from potentially harmful pesticide residues. But an environmental group that sued the agency to enforce one of the deadlines said Friday that EPA didn't meet all its obligations and violated a court agreement on the pesticides review reached last year."

"Four Are Killed in Big Outbreak of West Nile Virus on Gulf Coast" - "Fifty-eight Louisianians have become ill from the West Nile Virus in recent days and four have died." (New York Times)

"Cancer agent is discovered in microwaved food" - "ACRYLAMIDE, the cancer-causing food contaminant, is generated by microwaving as well as frying and baking, research has revealed. The chemical, which can attack nervous tissue including the brain, has also been detected in sautéed green vegetables, according to a study due for publication next week. Acrylamide has already been found in foods such as chips, crisps, some breakfast cereals, bread and some cooked meats." (The Times)

"Antibiotics not tied to childhood asthma, allergies" - "NEW YORK - Contrary to earlier findings, there appears to be no link between the use of antibiotics in babies and the development of asthma and allergies later in childhood, according to Boston-based researchers." (Reuters Health)

"No asthma risk through breast milk" - "Mothers who have asthma can not give it to their babies through breast milk, say scientists. There had been concerns that asthmatic mothers might increase their child's risk of the condition if they breastfed them." (BBC Online)

"Tests suggest CJD blood risk" - "Scientists say tests on animals suggest there may be a risk of people catching the human form of BSE through blood transfusions, according to reports. Tests at the Institute of Animal Health indicated that one in six animals given blood from infected sheep appeared to develop the illness, the Guardian newspaper says. The study suggests red cells and plasma may have infectivity for vCJD - the human form of BSE which destroys brain tissues - but the full version of the research is not published until November." (BBC Online)

"Jeremy Clarkson: To stay alive, you’re better sorry than safe" - "Companies are no longer run by management or trade unionists or even accountants. Nowadays, all the important decisions are made by some berk who’s been on a two-day health and safety course in Harrogate. These people are always the same: slightly plump, prone to sudden jumpers and to be found behind a sign which says: “You don’t have to be mad to work here but it helps.” Do they care if the company is losing money? No. Just as long as their even bigger sign in the car park says there have been zero accidents in the past eleventy years." (The Sunday Times)

"Culprit in costly homeowner policies: mold" - "HOUSTON – It had to be a mistake, Kimberly Fowler told herself as she peered at her new homeowner's policy. Could her premium really being going up 120 percent, from $853 in 2001 to $1,888 in 2002? After all, she had never filed a claim with Allstate in the four years she'd owned a three-bedroom home in northwest Houston. "I immediately called them on the phone and asked, 'Did you make a mistake? What happened?' " says Ms. Fowler. "They started giving me all this crazy talk about mold." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"SPECIAL REPORT Experiments on Humans Business of clinical trials soars, but risks unknown Medical studies give new hope to patients, yet" - "At Children's Hospital in Oakland, nurses poked Kendra Gottsleben's arm, looking for a vein to deliver an experimental enzyme that's designed to tame the toxins ravaging her body. Gottsleben, 17, suffers from a rare disease that has left her just 39 inches tall, and unless medical researchers can devise a treatment, chances are she could be dead in a few years. No one would fault this experiment. But clinical trials are not always so ethically straightforward." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Sustainable development is a hoax: we cannot have it all" - "Wherever in the world people experience the consequences of ecological ruin, they say: "Things can't go on like this." Every time we hear of the extinction of some fragile creature whose name we scarcely know; whenever we learn that the past year has been one of the hottest on record; when we see oil-coated seabirds rescued from some spillage; each time statistics are published showing that the highest rate of growth in cancers is among those affecting the human reproductive system - cervix, ovaries, prostate, testicles, breast - we are roused to repeat: "Things can't go on like this."

But when the bills come in, when the mortgage payment is due, the credit-card account, the holiday deposit must be paid; when we see how far a new generation is bonded to perpetual growth of the economy, we know things cannot possibly not go on like this. They have to. Our income depends on it. We must find refuge in the contradiction of a world where livelihood is at war with life." (Jeremy Seabrook, The Guardian)

"ECOLOGY Saving Species of World's Islands Berkeley group preserves island treasures Native peoples get benefits for protecting environment" - "Berkeley -- Four months ago in the remote Yasawa Islands in Fiji, a Saudi Arabian buyer eager to build a hotel offered $700,000 for a 40-acre, forest-encrusted islet.

Local villagers weren't eager to sell, but that amount of money is a fortune to them. The money was a way to finally get a community center the village had dreamed of for years.

That's when Seacology, an international environmental group based in Berkeley, stepped in with an unusual offer that the 800 villagers didn't pass up: Leave the island, as well as a neighboring isle, undeveloped for 20 years and create a fishing reserve around them for 10 years, and Seacology would build the community center for free." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Eco-warriors have fought too well for their own survival" - "Open your window and breathe in the air. Go to your nearest river and smell the water. Visit your nearest beach and take a paddle. Does it not make you angry? Do you not feel you must do something; join a group and protest?

No, I did not think so. And that is the problem facing the environment movement. The environment is just not in bad enough shape. In fact, unfortunately for green groups that raise funds by outraging people about the sins of humanity, it just keeps getting better, at least in the West. The frightening future for environment groups is not that the end of the world is nigh, but that the end of environmentalism is nigh. It is being replaced by legislation, inspection and conservation. As next month’s world summit in Johannesburg shows, it is changing global priorities from environmental protection to development." (The Times)

"Lions and Tigers and Bears, Goodbye" - "LONDON -- James Grover Thurber, quondam humorist of The New Yorker magazine, loathed neologisms. 'Automation' signified the end of civilization, as he knew it. It is therefore distinctly gratifying that he died in 1961, a good quarter-century before a group of earnest scientists in Washington DC coined the word 'biodiversity' for lots of animals and plants. And Thurber thought a great deal about beasts and verbiage, especially dogs, tigers, and the Stepmother's Kiss." (Philip Stott, TCS Europe)

"Swarms of Dying Mayflies Bring Good News" - "In an unheralded and sometimes annoying consequence of cleaner waterways, mayflies are mating and dying in greater numbers than they have in half a century." (New York Times)

"Wildlife extinction rate down dramatically: UN" - "UNITED NATIONS - Half as many birds, mammals and fish are becoming extinct as a century ago, when the world's human population was a fraction of its current six billion, a new United Nations report finds." (National Post)

"Missing Lynx; Are Animals More Important Than People?" - "Commentary By John Stossel, ABCNews.com)

"Say It Ain’t So Senator Daschle or Shame on Environmentalists?" - "Quislings, losers, quitters, and cowards: all these words have a despicable ring to them. And those who desecrate the natural world are now using those terms to label environmentalists. Americans have always relished those who stand behind their principles and fight to achieve them. Robert F. Kennedy told us, “ Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

Despite having the best interest of children at hand, equipped with irrefutable science and the moral high ground, the big green team knowingly plays a game of pragmatic defeatism. Why are they afraid to ask for what they want, battle to the bitter end, and let the collective chips fall where they may? The collective silence from National Audubon, Sierra Club and other mighty greens on Senator Tom Daschle’s frontal assault on the nation’s forests will only embolden the despoilers of nature to take on these lightweights. And our grandchildren will not look fondly on us." (John F. Borowski, Common Dreams)

"Without fire, red pines could disappear, model shows" - "Red pine groves could eventually vanish from Minnesota's Boundary Water Canoe Area if what we usually view as a foe to forests -- fire -- fails to sweep the terrain occasionally, says a new study." (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

"British acid rain helps our trees, says Norway" - "British acid rain is good for Norway's trees, says a Norwegian scientific study. It wipes out damage caused by pollution from local industry and has helped the country's forests spread by a quarter in recent decades. The report, by the state-run Norwegian forestry research institute, says that acid rain has been unfairly demonised. Svein Solberg, of the institute, said: "After 15 years' research, it is now clear to us that, as far as forests are concerned, our fear of acid rain was totally unfounded." (Telegraph)

"The effects of human-caused atmospheric changes on tropical forests" - "Panama City, Panama - For more than a century humans have been changing the composition of the world's atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, agriculture, and other activities. The resulting climate changes may already be having far-reaching impacts on tropical forests. A symposium at the 2002 meetings of the Association for Tropical Biology, hosted by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Panama, examined the evidence for these changes and their implications for the future." (Smithsonian Institution)

"NYT and Alaska" - "There has already been two brief stories recently exposing the use of incorrect temperature trends for Alaska by the New York Times. They did it not once, but twice when their `correction' to the first story proved to be just as false as the original story.

The press are the guardians of the public interest against abuse by government and government officials. But to whom is the press accountable when they publish stories which are false, and demonstrated to be so by the very institutions they are quoting?" (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Premiers deeply divided on Kyoto" - "HALIFAX — Canada's premiers left their annual meeting yesterday deeply divided and increasingly testy over the Kyoto accord on greenhouse gas emissions." (Toronto Star)

"Northern nations suffering hottest summer yet" - "While premiers and federal cabinet ministers wrangle over whether Canada should be the final signatory to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the Northern Hemisphere is in the grip of perhaps the hottest and weirdest summer ever because of greenhouse-gas pollution in the air." (Globe and Mail)

"Boston Globe Online Editorials | Opinions Choking on climate change" - "IT IS HARD to convince the Bush administration to do anything significant about climate change. They're having enough trouble trying to stabilize the stock market and prop up public confidence. But climate instability is becoming hazardous to our health, and bold responses to this global problem would also boost the economy. While some of us lose sleep wondering when birds and bugs will spread diseases like West Nile fever to Alaska and Argentina or whether diseases or drought-driven fires will consume forests first, a health problem close to us all is the epidemic of asthma. From the 1980s to the 1990s, asthma and asthma deaths doubled in the United States and elsewhere. Research has focused on indoor pollutants and genetic, emotional, and socioeconomic factors, including access to care. All are involved. But burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) is also related to asthma via several pathways."

"Keep politicking out of global warming debate" - "Rising sea levels caused by global warming threatens to engulf small islands in the Pacific. But the world remains divided over how to deal with the situation. While some island nations warn their territories are submerging and their populations must be relocated, some advanced countries insist the rise of sea levels is not yet serious." (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Cooler Tokyo summers may be just a pipe dream away" - "TOKYO - In what could be the ultimate in public works projects, a Japanese panel of experts has proposed relieving the misery of steamy Tokyo summers by cooling the huge city with sea water and a labyrinth of underground pipes." (Reuters)

"Gas-guzzling drivers face road tax rise" - "Drivers who own gas-guzzling executive cars and 4x4 off-road vehicles will be forced to pay higher road tax under plans to encourage drivers buy "greener" vehicles. Environment and transport ministers are alarmed by the surge in sales of cars such as the Land Rover Freelander and Toyota's Rav4, which have jumped by 50 per cent in the past five years. They fear that, unless fuel-hungry cars are priced off the roads, the Government's plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a tenth by 2010 will fail." (Independent)

"Drivers may be blamed for all bicycle accidents" - "The Government said yesterday it had concerns over possible European legislation to make car drivers responsible for all accidents involving cyclists ­ even if motorists are not in the wrong." (Independent) | Two wheels good, four wheels bad (Guardian)

"Administration Approves Stiff Penalties for Diesel Engine Emissions, Angering Industry" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 — Over the fierce objections of the long-haul trucking industry and Republican lawmakers, including Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, the Bush administration has approved hefty new penalties for the makers of diesel engines that do not reduce their emission pollutants by October.

The penalties run up to $12,000 for every engine that is made after Oct. 1 and violates federal emission standards." (New York Times)

"Wind turbines may be green but some see only eyesore" - "Wind energy, a virtually limitless power source with no harmful emissions, has long been hailed as a godsend for a world imperilled by global warming and air pollution. But wind power has one downside: Many residents near proposed wind-turbine sites don't want them, arguing they're a form of visual pollution." (Globe and Mail)

Yeah, going 'organic' worked good... "Iceland in deep freeze after 10% sales slump" - "Iceland, the supermarket chain that issued its fourth successive profits warning just a week ago, is suffering fresh pain at the check-out. Latest 'till roll' sales figures from the respected retail research arm of Taylor Nelson Sofres show the extent of Iceland's woes. While other leading supermarkets recorded healthy sales growth, Iceland's like-for-like sales declined by 10 per cent in the four weeks to 21 July." (The Observer)

"Concerns growing over `pharma-crops'" - "Other companies are experimenting with growing potatoes engineered to help obese people lose weight and nicotine-free tobacco to help smokers break their habit. There are concerns, though. Researchers and consumer groups wonder if the industry, government and ``pharmers'' can ensure that drug-containing crops do not find their way into the food supply." (Associated Press)

"Scientists steal the jump on cane toads - theage.com.au" - "Scientists are preparing to test a virus that could spell the end for one of Australia's most infamous pests, the Venezuelan cane toad. And if the trials are successful at the Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, the virus could be adapted to rid Australia of European carp and other exotic creatures. Researchers at the CSIRO in Canberra and Geelong have isolated several genes that aid the development of tadpoles into cane toads. The researchers have also identified a virus endemic to Australia. They plan to introduce the virus into one of the genes to prevent that metamorphosis, thereby blocking the species."

"Zimbabwe reconsiders GM grain" - "Zimbabwe's Government has told the United States it will accept 20,000 tons of food aid to feed hungry Zimbabweans.

We do have an indication of preparedness on the part of the Zimbabwe Government to accept 20,000 metric tonnes of food But spokeswoman for the US embassy in Harare, Heather Lippitt, told the UN information network, IRIN, that she understood it was on the condition that the maize was milled before being imported.

She said a series of meetings had been held since Monday to discuss who could mill the maize and where." (BBC News)

August 2, 2002

"Hormone Hysteria or Hype?" - "Women have been scared during the last several weeks with new studies about alleged health risks from hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This scare contrasts starkly with the preceding decades of HRT being touted as the fountain of youth." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"BBC NEWS | Health | Household chemicals warning" - "Many chemicals found routinely in products around the home could be damaging our health, according to claims. Many of them have the ability to bio-accumulate - gathering in the body's tissues over a period of time, and in some cases can be passed to babies via breastmilk. In many cases, however, the link between the chemicals and ill-health has not be proven in humans, although it is strongly suspected. Campaigners say EU regulations need to be tightened, however, to reduce the risk to consumers."

"New York Plans Code Overhaul for High-Rises" - "New York City officials are creating a sweeping plan to change the codes that govern how all high-rise buildings are protected against fire and structural damage and how they are evacuated in an emergency. The plan is one of the first concrete signs that the fiery collapse of the World Trade Center is going to transform the construction and operation of high-rises around the nation." (New York Times)

"Asthma attack 'epidemic' warning" - "Asthma patients have been urged to be on their guard against a possible attack. It comes amid fears that an 'asthma attack epidemic' is sweeping the country." (BBC News Online)

"1918 human influenza epidemic no longer linked to birds" - "The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History historic bird collections was critical in determining that the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed 20 million to 40 million people worldwide did not originate from birds, as previously thought." (Smithsonian Institution)

"Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets increase risk of kidney stones and may raise bone loss risk" - "Popular low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets may result in rapid weight loss, but researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas report that they also pose serious health problems, including an increase in the risk of kidney stones and a possible higher risk of bone loss." (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas)

"Study finds fish diet exposes Indians to higher health risks" - "LYLE, Wash. - A study being released this week concludes that members of American Indian tribes whose diets include large amounts of Columbia River fish have a higher risk for cancer and other diseases. The Environmental Protection Agency study finds that the risk for their children is even greater. "You don't need to be a rocket scientist to look at this and say, 'Wow, the risk is really high,' " Anne Watanabe, an attorney for the Yakama Tribe, which participated in the study, said in a story published Wednesday in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Columbia River fish are loaded with an assortment of toxic pollutants that are threatening the health of some 20,000 American Indians, the EPA concludes." (Associated Press)

"Clemson researchers find bacteria fighter that does not promote bacterial resistance" - "Health officials fear that lifesaving drugs can lose their effectiveness when overused. They are especially concerned about anti-microbial additives, found in everything from kitchen cleaners to face soaps, because the bacteria they try to kill are becoming resistant. Clemson University scientists have found a new bacteria fighter that does not promote bacterial resistance." (Clemson University)

"Atlantic sharks coming closer to shore - researchers" - "WASHINGTON - Overfishing of shark prey in the Atlantic Ocean means sharks are coming closer to shore to find food and may mistake swimmers for a meal, according to new research by U.S. oceanographers." (Reuters)

"Fewer species are becoming extinct" - "THE rate of animal extinctions has fallen to its lowest level since the mid-19th century, a United Nations report on the diversity of life has found.

But it claimed that human influence has removed up to 200 times as many species as would be expected to disappear naturally.

The World Atlas of Biodiversity, produced by the UN Environment Programme, said that 20 known species of birds, mammals and fish became extinct in the last third of the 20th century.

That is a decrease from the more than 40 known extinctions in the last third of the 19th century, and is equal to the rate of extinction in the early 16th century, when many species were killed after the discovery of the New World." (The Times)

"Atlas maps the web of life" - "An interactive atlas of the world's natural wealth paints a graphic picture of humanity's inexorable spread. It shows that since 1850 humans have affected almost half the planet's land. It cites one estimate that current extinction rates mean we are losing one major drug every two years. But the atlas, produced by the United Nations, says nature is resilient enough to survive our impact." (BBC News Online)

"Satellites reveal a mystery of large change in earth's gravity field" - "Satellite data since 1998 indicates the bulge in the Earth's gravity field at the equator is growing, and scientists think that the ocean may hold the answer to the mystery of how the changes in the trend of Earth's gravity are occurring." (NASA/GSFC)

"Britain really is hotting up" - "Many may choose to disbelieve it, but the first six months of 2002 have been the warmest on record, according to Met Office figures released yesterday. Despite torrential rain across Britain in recent days, the average temperature in the northern hemisphere has been the warmest in 143 years." (The Guardian)

"Warmer winters will save 2 million days in hospital" - "WARMER winters will mean 20,000 fewer deaths and cut hospital admissions by two million days as global climate change heats up Britain, a report by leading scientists from the Department of Health will disclose today.

Summers, however, will become deadlier as scientists predict a rise in average temperatures that will bring more cases of skin cancer, heatstroke and food poisoning. Heat-related deaths are to rise by 2,000 a year from the present rate of about 800, with skin cancer affecting between 5,000 and 30,000 more people annually, according to the report.

A sustained increase in temperatures may also bring long-term physiological changes, such as thinner blood, which will be a positive health benefit. According to one calculation there could be two million fewer days spent in hospital by 2050 as a result." (The Times) | Changes in climate 'may cut hospital admissions' (Independent)

"World heading for warmest year yet - UK Met Office" - "LONDON - The first six months of the year have been the second warmest ever and average global temperatures in 2002 could be the highest ever recorded, British weather experts said yesterday." (Rueters)

"Not In the Driver's Seat" - "Faced with a state budget deficit that exceeds the GNP of most UN members and widespread voter perception that he exacerbated last year's energy crisis, California Gov. Gray Davis last month did what any astute politician would do. He punted the ball of blame to his favorite scapegoat - the auto industry - by signing into law a bill that would require auto makers to drastically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide coming from the tailpipes of every new vehicle sold in California.

Carbon dioxide, you say? Isn't it more commonly known as CO2 - a key component of the air we breathe and a compound absolutely vital to plant growth? Well, yes, you're right, but ..." (Alexandra Liddy Bourne, TCS)

"Contra Costa Times | 08 01 2002 | Smog check no solution, study says" - "SAN FRANCISCO - Legislation to toughen pollution checks on Bay Area cars would worsen smog in Contra Costa County while doing little to clean air in the Central Valley, according to a study released Wednesday.

The study fans a hot debate on how far the Bay Area should go to rein in its own pollution to stop dumping downwind.

San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley political leaders are pressing a lawsuit and state legislation to force Bay Area motorists to have the more rigorous Smog Check II requirements in place in many of those valley areas.

But scientists hired by the Bay Area's air pollution agency conclude tighter inspection rules would increase smog slightly in Contra Costa areas east of the Caldecott Tunnel -- contrary to what many people might think."

"Potato to prevent cervical cancer" - "The humble potato may help scientists to protect women from a common sexually transmitted virus that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. US researchers hope to engineer a potato that carries a vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV). In theory, this should provide an easy way to spread immunity at the dinner table. Potatoes produced and tested by scientists at the University of Rochester, Cornell University and Tulane University provoked an immune response in mice that munched on the transgenic spuds. And when enhanced with a substance derived from E.coli to boost their effectiveness, the potatoes provoked the immune system in the same way thought to be necessary to protect humans from the virus." (BBC News Online)

"Earlier Safety Reviews Proposed for Gene-Altered Crops" - "Worried that unapproved genetically modified crops will leak into the food supply, the White House is proposing new safety reviews to better protect consumers and to avoid the need for disruptive recalls.

The proposed new rules, which are being published today in the Federal Register, are based on the premise that there are so many field trials of experimental genetically engineered crops that some of the crops will almost inevitably find their way into food, either by cross-pollination or because some of the modified seeds become mixed with other seeds.

Because the crops that are being tested have not been approved for commercial growing or human consumption, even low levels of contamination could prompt health concerns or food recalls." (New York Times)

"US says Zimbabwe prepared for possible GM maize" - "HARARE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government will accept 20,000 tonnes of United States food aid, which might include genetically modified maize, to feed hungry Zimbabweans, a U.S. embassy spokeswoman said yesterday." (Reuters)

August 1, 2002

"Framingham heart study finds strong link between overweight/obesity & risk for heart failure" - "According to a new study, excess body weight is strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of heart failure. This risk, which increases continuously with increasing degrees of body weight, is 34 percent higher for overweight individuals and 104 percent higher for obese persons." (NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

"NEJM obesity study is junk science" - As always, I call 'em like I see 'em.

"CDC: Wisconsin deaths may be linked to deer disease" - "NEW YORK - The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is helping the Wisconsin health department determine if three hunting partners who died in the 1990s of rare brain disorders may have contracted the disease from the deer they ate. If so, "this would be the first time we've actually seen where this disease progressed from animals into humans," said CDC spokesman Llelwyn Grant." (Reuters Health)

"Hungry For Help" - "Africans are dying while Europe twiddles its thumbs.' (James S. Shikwati, TCS Europe)

Book review: "Toxic to the Tongue; How Big Business Feeds You Hazardous Food" - "To step into the gallery of photos in Fatal Harvest, a most unusual coffee-table book, is akin to spiraling downward into Dante's nine circles of hell. Avarice and deceit take on the characters not of Dante's Malacoda or Geryon, but of industrial agriculture's multinational corporations: Monsanto, Philip Morris, Archer Daniels Midland. The book tells the story of how in the years after World War II, food-producing corporations found a renewed purpose for the noxious chemicals developed to protect soldiers from insects (including DDT and malathion): As pesticides, they would expand industrial agriculture. For decades these corporations doused the soil on massive farms with these toxins, with the aim of growing more food, more efficiently, and reaping vast profits. In the meanwhile, they have often knowingly and gradually poisoned countless generations of plants, animals, and humans." (The Village Voice)

"Elemental trade-off -- The Washington Times" - "You know something is wrong when conservative Republicans support legislation that the radical group Greenpeace gleefully calls "a breakthrough." Sponsored by Sen. Jon Corzine, this bill (S. 1602) would slap regulations on industrial facilities in the name of security. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently passed the bill unanimously, but conservatives on that committee should have known better. The bill doesn't really serve security; it serves Greenpeace's radical environmental agenda."

"The Seattle Times: Local News: Study worries tribes that eat Columbia fish" - "From disbelief to puzzlement and outrage, the reaction is mixed among Columbia River tribes to a new study of contaminants in Columbia River Basin fish. The federal study, started in 1994, found concentrations of toxic chemicals in fish in the Columbia River Basin that might pose a risk to the health of people who eat them, depending on the chemical toxicity; its concentration in the fish; the species and part of fish eaten, and how much and how often the fish is consumed. The data "was not clear-cut, satisfying, or yes or no," said Patricia Cirone, study coordinator and chief of the risk-evaluation unit at Region 10 of the Environmental Protection Agency. Neither the federal government nor the state health departments in Washington or Oregon plan to advise tribes to stop eating fish."

"The prehistory of neotropical lowland forests" - "Panama City, Panama - Although they have persisted for tens of millions of years, neotropical lowland forests have changed greatly in extent and composition due to climatic variation and to human impacts. In a symposium at the 2002 meetings of the Association for Tropical Biology, hosted by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Panama, scientists presented the latest results of research on neotropical forests and their transformations up to the time of Columbus." (Smithsonian Institution)

"Researchers measure Antarctic ice shelf tides from space for the first time" - "In efforts to determine how Antarctica is changing--whether due to natural or human-produced climate change--scientists use satellite and radar technologies to monitor the height and thickness of the continent's ice shelves." (University of California - San Diego)

"ABC News - Global warming causes giant squid blowout" - "Australian scientists say global warming is turning the world's squid into much larger creatures, with huge appetites and fast breeding cycles."

World Climate Report Volume 7, Number 23, August 5, 2002 is now available (GES)

"Has political will run dry?" - "The time has come for Canada to be counted among nations willing to take on one of the biggest challenges the world has faced, says LLOYD AXWORTHY" (Globe and Mail)

"First ministers' meeting on Kyoto winning support from premiers" - "HALIFAX -- Alberta Premier Ralph Klein appeared to win support Wednesday for his goal of holding a first ministers' meeting on the Kyoto Accord, but couldn't resolve the growing division between his and Quebec's position on the climate-change pact. Several premiers from across the country said they would favour a consultation with the prime minister on the federal government's disputed blueprint on climate change." (CP)

"UK gives go-ahead for major offshore wind farm" - "LONDON - Britain approved the single largest offshore wind farm project in the UK, North Hoyle in Wales, yesterday as part of a scheme to boost its renewable energy industry." (Reuters)

"Bid to Delay New Emissions Rule Fails (washingtonpost.com)" - "The White House yesterday rejected a plea from House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and other lawmakers to postpone a tough new anti-pollution standard for long-haul diesel trucks that will provide stiff penalties for companies that don't meet the deadline for compliance."

"Galloping costs of ecology cult -- The Washington Times" - "Now that we have all breathed a sigh of relief at the rescue of the miners trapped underground in Somerset, Pa., perhaps we might reconsider some of the things that send men down into such hazardous places to get us the fuel to power our economy."

"ABC News - Aust accused of moving backwards on green issues" - "A leading US environment negotiator has attacked what he calls the Australian Government's backwards slide on international environment issues."

"Opinions: HENRY I. MILLER: A food labeling fiasco" - "If you were designing a label to inform consumers that, for safety reasons, certain foods need to be cooked or handled in a certain way, what would it say? How about "Made in Brussels?" No way, you say. Ridiculous and irrelevant, you say. Right on all counts. But that's essentially what the European Commission and parliament have decided to require for foods derived from organisms that have been genetically improved with the most precise and sophisticated gene-splicing techniques. This is public policy that puts politics and groundless fears ahead of science and common sense, and into conflict with more rational U.S. regulations." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"GM row delays food aid to Zimbabwe" - "A row over genetically engineered maize is overshadowing efforts to tackle the famine that threatens the lives of at least 14 million people in several southern African countries. Negotiations were under way earlier this week to settle the dispute." (New Scientist)