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Archives - August 2004

August 31, 2004

"Open Letter to Roll Back Malaria from Prof. Amir Attaran" - "Prof. Attaran criticises, quite correctly, the many failings of the various Roll Back Malaria Partners as they prepare for their Global Advocacy meeting in Washington DC. Africa Fighting Malaria will not be present at the meeting as it seems RBM hasn't invited anyone that dare criticise the unmitigated failure that is RBM." (AFM)

"Malaria down in Swaziland and Mozambique" - "Thanks to DDT spraying, malaria cases are heading to all time lows in the region. Mozambique doesn't use DDT, but uses more expensive carbamate insecticides instead. If it used DDT like SA and Swaziland it could protect more people and save more lives." (AFM)

"Conflicting with Reality" - "Former New England Journal of Medicine editor Jerome Kassirer, in an August 1 Washington Post op ed, argues that conflicts in interest in medical science are so pervasive today that the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) cholesterol guidelines are somehow tainted -- not because the guidelines are themselves wrong, but because of their authors. He seeks to use an ad hominem argument of the worst kind to dictate the future use of scientific research." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"Media 'Con Game': Predetermined Storylines" - "NEW YORK -- Harper's magazine editor Lewis Lapham is being appropriately mocked for a major pre-GOP-convention boner. In the September issue of his magazine, which has been on newsstands for over a week, Lapham writes about the "Republican propaganda mill" and the GOP convention:

"The speeches in Madison Square Garden affirmed the great truths now routinely preached from the pulpits of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal -- government the problem, not the solution; the social contract a dead letter; the free market the answer to every maiden's prayer -- and while listening to the hollow rattle of the rhetorical brass and tin, I remembered the question that [Richard] Hofstadter didn't stay to answer. How did a set of ideas both archaic and bizarre make its way into the center ring of the American political circus?"

That's right, Lapham wrote about the GOP convention speeches before anyone even stepped to the podium. Lapham has apologized for what he's calling a "rhetorical invention," use of "poetic license," and a "mistake." (Nick Schulz, TCS)

"Foodmakers Search for A New Fat . . . Again" - "When major food companies began widely using partially hydrogenated oils in the 1970s, they thought they were making their products more healthful. Consumer groups and regulators applauded the industry's switch from heavily saturated fats, such as lard and palm oil.

But the evidence is growing that the trans fatty acids in partially hydrogenated oils are damaging to the heart too -- and more so than other kinds of fats. Once again, the food industry is looking for an alternative fat, only this time there doesn't seem to be an easy answer." (Washington Post)

"Full Body Scans Raise Cancer Risk, U.S. Study Shows" - "WASHINGTON - People who pay for whole-body X-ray scans in the hope of finding tumors at their earliest stages may, ironically, be raising their overall risk of cancer, doctors warned on Tuesday. The scans are marketed as a way to catch cancer before symptoms begin, but the radiation from the scans themselves could cause cancer, the researchers said." (Reuters)

"Science news can be hazardous to your health" - "Yes, al-Qaida is scary. But it's the science news in the daily newspaper that keeps me wondering if I will live until dinner. Plato said that the unexamined life was not worth living. I wonder if he would have said that if The Athens Advocate had kept running stories about asbestos in the Parthenon, PCB in the grapes and mercury in the baklava. Some days, when the science news tells me about a potential pandemic, a killer asteroid or the end of the universe, not necessarily in that order, I consider leaving the Sierra Club for the Hemlock Society." (Ralph Schoenstein, Newsday)

Sigh... "Are school uniforms making kids ill?" - "PARENTS are today warned that their children's school uniforms could be making them ill. Children are being exposed to toxic and cancer-causing chemicals used to make some types of school uniforms. As tens of thousands of Welsh children return to school this week after the long summer break, WWF Cymru urged parents to check their children's clothing labels for man-made chemicals, which are known to contaminate people and wildlife." (The Western Mail)

Hmm... "Special brew" - "Until recently the best cancer prevention advice has been: don't smoke, don't get fat, and cross your fingers. But a strange-tasting drink from South Africa could provide new hope, as Rory Carroll reports" (The Guardian)

"Sweatshops and the Olympics" - "OSLO -- The Olympics in Athens were not only a competition for gold medals. They were also part of a different battle over corporate image of sportswear companies. Self-styled anti-sweatshop groups took the opportunity to try to steal some of the limelight through the Fair Play at the Olympics campaign, targeting companies such as Nike, Puma, Adidas and Fila." (Jan Arild Snoen, TCS)

"Cold weather snaps are bad for your heart" - "MUNICH - Cold weather snaps can trigger heart attacks, particularly in people suffering from high blood pressure, researchers said on Monday. The increased rate of attacks seen during wintertime lows is probably due to the fact that cold temperatures increase blood pressure and put more strain on the heart." (Reuters)

GIGO: "Computers Add Sophistication, but Don't Resolve Climate Debate" - "When the Bush administration issued an update last week on federal climate research, it was criticized with equal vigor by environmentalists and by industry-backed groups.

The update featured new computer simulations showing that the sharp rise in global temperatures since 1970 could only be explained by human influences, mainly rising levels of greenhouse gases." (New York Times)

0831-sci-WARM-ch.jpeg (61550 bytes) Oddly, Meehl's graphic, reproduced here from the NYT, is truncated at 1999, just post-peak of the powerful 1997/98 El Niño-induced temperature spike evident in both MSU and GISS datasets. MSU data indicates a peak in April of 1998 at +0.746°C (annual mean +0.472°C) and GISTEMP peaked in February of that year at +0.97°C (annual mean +0.711°C) - by March '99 both had fallen significantly, to -0.088°C (annual mean -0.022°C) and +0.3°C (annual mean +0.437°C) respectively.

We're sure the resultant impression of runaway warming in Meehl's graph is purely accidental. Basing his anomalies graphic on the 1890-1919 average is also a rather novel approach, other items here are based on the climatological mean (1951-1980 average).

UStemp.gif (18879 bytes) Regardless, Meehl's graphic sure differs greatly from this one derived from one of the best financed and arguably best maintained near-surface datasets in the world - the continental United States of America. Kind of odd, considering they're depicting the same period, that one indicates significant and quite rapid warming while the other shows no increase in 7 decades.

Even more strangely, the GISSTEMP near-surface global mean temperature anomaly graph below does not appear to support Meehl's version either.


MSU_monthly_mean.gif (9662 bytes) So, which 'reality' is being modeled then?

The thumbnail to the left links to a graphic of lower troposphere temperature anomalies determined from data captured by NOAA satellite-mounted MSUs. July, 2004 global mean -0.213.

GISS_monthly_mean.gif (10451 bytes) The thumbnail on the right is linked to a graphic of temperature anomalies as suggested by the NASA GISS surface temperature analysis (GISTEMP), a near-surface temperature amalgam - July, 2004 global mean +0.3.

GISS_MSU_monthly_mean.gif (12886 bytes) Plotted together - the increasing disconnect between these datasets is obvious. The question is: how does the near-surface amalgam produce a resulting anomaly >0.5°C warmer than so-called satellite temps? This does not accord with the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis. Under that hypothesis the troposphere should warm and some of that increase should be reflected subsequently in near-surface measures - diametrically opposite to what has supposedly been measured.

This leaves us with several possibilities: the enhanced greenhouse effects works nothing like we suppose; the lower troposphere measures are incorrect; the near-surface amalgam is incorrect or; some combination of the above. Although there are many uncertainties regarding climate we think we have a fair understanding of the greenhouse effect - if not then the entire argument is moot. That leaves the temperature records. Of these, the satellite data has been validated against balloon-sonde measures while the near-surface amalgam is "odd man out." Satellite data gives near-complete global coverage while near-surface records increasingly reflect temperatures in cities and at airports, an urbanization of the record accelerated by closure of rural recording stations and urban development.

So, what are these computers modeling? Is it enhanced greenhouse effect (EGE) or urban heat island effect (UHIE)?

"Global Warming as Secular Faith" - "Tourists and locals alike in southern Italy have been plagued by swarms of locusts this summer. There have been many biblical comparisons to Old Testament plagues. That the town of Matera has been overrun by the locusts has undoubtedly contributed to such comparisons. Matera was the outdoor setting for the filming of Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ because it strongly resembles images of the Holy Land.

Global warming has been put under the spotlight as the principal cause of the locust swarms. Last summer's heat is said to have dried out grain fields, providing the locusts with ideal conditions to lay eggs. Meanwhile, this year's rains have increased breeding by traveling locusts. It seems that both hot and cold weather can be attributed to global warming." (Dominic Standish, TCS)

"British Gas accused of forcing its customers into ‘fuel poverty’" - "Energywatch, a UK consumer group, and Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, have criticised price rises by British Gas. British Gas recently announced a 12.4% rise in gas prices, and a 9.4% rise in electricity prices." (EthicalCorp.com)

"Mexico detects huge new deep-sea oil finds" - "Mexico's Pemex has detected vast new oil deposits in the Gulf of Mexico that could double the country's total reserves and boost its oil output to rival Saudi Arabia's, the state oil monopoly said Monday." (Reuters)

"Mexican Oil Claims Doubted" - "MEXICO CITY, Aug. 30 -- Officials at Mexico's state-owned oil monopoly said Monday that the company has detected massive new oil deposits in the Gulf of Mexico that could potentially double the country's reserves, but industry analysts cautioned that the company's findings are still unproven." (Washington Post)

"Ford Forced To 'Th!nk Twice' About Crushing Zero Emission Cars" - "San Francisco - Following three days of grassroots pressure this week in San Francisco and Oslo, Ford Motor Company has committed to 'reconsider' the fate of its Th!nk all-electric, zero emission vehicles, the most efficient cars in its oil addicted fleet. The company says that it will respond by September 15, 2004. Global Exchange, Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network followed up by sending a letter to Ford CEO Bill Ford, Jr. calling on him to live up to his environmentalist image, scrap plans to crush its U.S. fleet of Th!nk EVs and accept a purchase offer from Norwegian automaker Elbil Norge. Human rights and environmental leaders requested that Ford meet immediately with concerned citizens to map out an environmental recovery plan that will end the automaker's five year oil binge and put it on the road to a zero emissions future." (Rainforest Action Network)

Hmm... guess it depends on whether Elbil Norge manages to absolve Ford of all responsibility for these cheery little incendiaries, doesn't it. Ford shouldn't engage in appeasement games with anti-corporate groups - that's how Bill Clay Jr got into this fix in the first place.

"Windfarm scheme ‘threatens eagles’" - "BUILDING a windfarm on protected peatlands could harm a vulnerable population of golden eagles on Lewis, according to conservationists fighting the plans." (The Herald)

"Study Finds Electricity Beats Hydrogen for Power" - "A new study finds that major applications for hydrogen envisioned in hydrogen economy scenarios could be more efficiently accomplished with technologies that use electricity directly. It concludes that in key roles envisioned for hydrogen as an energy carrier - namely transmission of remote renewable resources, storage of intermittent renewables or for use in vehicles electricity offers options that are more energy efficient and might preclude massscale emergence of hydrogen technologies." (FuelCellsWorks.com)

"Would you like rat hair with your toast, sir?" - "Don't look too carefully at your toast this morning. American regulators have decided that it can safely contain one rodent hair for every 50g of the flour that goes into it. Your cup of coffee can contain 14 allegedly rodent-sourced carcinogens. And the canned tomatoes that you might have with your bacon are allowed up to either two maggots or 10 fly eggs in every 500g can.

AgResearch food safety scientist Guill Le Roux told New Zealand's annual food safety summit in Takapuna yesterday that people who objected to genetically modified food did not seem to realise that all food involved risks. "You can't have zero risks," he said. "Some degree of contamination of all foods is inevitable and regulations allow certain levels which, fortunately for the general public, is not well known." (New Zealand Herald)

It might seem an odd way to frame an argument but perhaps people are too removed from their food supply to realize the variety of 'foreigns' naturally present in their food supply - granted, probably not as many as all-singing, all-dancing, 'natural' organic products but ever-present just the same.

"Meet the new bully at Western Farm Press" - "Biotech Bullies Slander OCA & Growing Biodemocracy Alliance in California."

"Help the OCA Fight the Counter-Attack by Monsanto and the Farm Bureau"

I have been called many things during my 40-year journalism career, but never a bully. I was absolutely thrilled at my new moniker in the headline on the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) Web site. Made me feel young again. Being called a bully at my age is like getting a free six-pack of Viagra.

Those headlines were tattooed on articles from the last edition of Western Farm Press detailing the radical anti-GMO movement in California. (My e-mail was also kept busy with many responses to the articles)

OCA is the group out to convince everyone opposition to herbicide and pest-resistant crops is a local, grassroots, California movement. If the case, why doesn’t OCA ask that checks be sent to local committees. Read on." (Harry Cline, Western Farm Press)

"The Future of Genetically Modified Crops: Lessons from the Green Revolution" - Felicia Wu and William Butz, Rand Corporation, $20.00 (paperback, 114 pp.); ISBN: 0-8330-3646-7, MG-161-RC, © 2004

Abstract: The world is now on the cusp of a new agricultural revolution, the so-called Gene Revolution, in which genetically modified (GM) crops are tailored to address chronic agricultural problems in certain regions of the world. This monograph report investigates the circumstances and processes that can induce and sustain this new agricultural revolution. The authors compare the Green Revolution of the 20th century with the GM crop movement to assess the agricultural, technological, sociological, and political differences between the two movements.

Free, PDF version downloadable at http://www.rand.org/publications/MG/MG161/ (RAND)

August 30, 2004

Says it all: "The animal lab critic, cancer and hypocrisy" - "A PROMINENT animal rights campaigner, who spends her free time shouting abuse at people linked to laboratory testing and who has pledged to die for the cause, is being treated with a life-saving cancer drug that was tested on mice, rats, dogs and guinea pigs.

Janet Tomlinson, 61, has been active in animal rights causes for more than 20 years and is a regular protester outside Newchurch guinea pig farm, near Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, which supplies animals for use in medical research.

Yet when she was told in March that she was suffering from breast cancer, Miss Tomlinson wanted to live and accepted the treatment on offer. She said: “I can do more good for animals staying alive than dying.” (Valerie Elliott, The Times)

"Where's EPA's Waldo?" - "Waldo is the well-recognized cartoon character who hides in a highly detailed cartoon drawing, challenging the reader to find him. Only his black dot eyes wire rimmed glasses and striped stocking cap can be found after carefully scanning the drawing. Waldo is not easy to find. Neither is the identity of the subset of the Nation's population which EPA claims is currently exposed to unhealthy levels of particulate air pollution known as PM 2.5. So for discussion purposes, let's just call this segment of the population "Waldo." (Kay H. Jones, TCS)

"Doctors' body accuses drug firms of 'disease mongering'" - "The Royal College of General Practitioners has accused drug companies of "disease-mongering" in order to boost sales. The college, whose members include many of Britain's 37,000 GPs, says the pharmaceutical industry is taking the National Health Service to the brink of collapse by encouraging unnecessary prescribing of costly drugs. In evidence to a parliamentary inquiry, the college accuses the companies of over-playing the dangers of conditions such as mild depression or slightly raised blood pressure." (The Sunday Telegraph)

"Global study shows nine factors identify majority of heart attack risk" - "HAMILTON ONTARIO (August 29, 2004)--A major Canadian-led global study has found that the vast majority of heart attacks may be predicted by nine easily measurable factors and that these factors are the same in virtually every region and ethnic group worldwide." (McMaster University)

Not wishing to frighten anyone: "Drugs contaminate our drinking water" - "Before you read any more of this story, go to your kitchen sink and draw a glass of water. Hold it up to the light and take a good look. Take a sip. And think about this. Researchers are finding that our drinking water may contain small amounts of the many drugs that line the shelves of most of our medicine cabinets. In addition to that refreshing sip of water, you may be ingesting everything from the estrogen used in birth control pills to antibiotics and anti-depressants." (Wisconsin State Journal)

"Doubts over good carb diet claims" - "Nutritionists have cast doubt on a Lancet study showing cutting out "bad" carbohydrates leads to weight-loss. They were commenting on US research in the Lancet which showed the diet, which promotes foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) score - could be beneficial. Foods with low GI scores keep blood sugars stable, eliminating the peaks and troughs which can lead to snacking. But experts from the British Dietetic Association said cutting calories was still the key to weight-loss." (BBC Online)

"Eateries Push for Obesity Suit Protection" - "WASHINGTON — Bills to protect restaurants and food companies against lawsuits by people who claim the meals or snacks made them fat are moving ahead in the states like hamburgers passed out a drive-thru window. Measures known as "cheeseburger bills" bar people from seeking damages in court from food companies for weight gain and associated medical conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. Supporters say the proposals shield businesses from having to pay to defend themselves against frivolous suits. Opponents contend the claims often are valid and ought to be heard in court." (Associated Press)

Ah... 'energy efficient' buildings: "Pollution 'slows down' workers" - "The reading and writing speeds of millions of office workers are being dramatically impaired by poor air quality. For the first time, researchers have measured how sick building syndrome - the mystery flu-like illness often blamed on germs spread by office air conditioning - could be affecting workers' performance." (The Observer)

"Bush: Consider Landowners on Environment" - "WASHINGTON - President Bush on Thursday ordered Cabinet agencies to pay more attention to private landowners, states and local governments on how to manage the environment. That could influence federal decisions about the use of public lands, the level of protection for waterways and fighting pollution." (Associated Press)

Careful! Sounds like [gasp] property rights...

"Demographic 'Bomb' May Only Go 'Pop!'" - "REMEMBER the population bomb, the fertility explosion set to devour the world's food and suck up or pollute all its air and water? Its fuse has by no means been plucked. But over the last three decades, much of its Malthusian detonation power has leaked out.

Birthrates in developed countries from Italy to Korea have sunk below the levels needed for their populations to replace themselves; the typical age of marriage and pregnancy has risen, and the use of birth control has soared beyond the dreams of Margaret Sanger and the nightmares of the Vatican.

The threat is now more regional than global, explosive only in places like India and Pakistan. Ever since 1968, when the United Nations Population Division predicted that the world population, now 6.3 billion, would grow to at least 12 billion by 2050, the agency has regularly revised its estimates downward. Now it expects population to plateau at nine billion." (New York Times)

For those who consider people only as a problem: "A Greener Globe, Maybe" - "WITH all the hand-wringing about the economic perils of falling populations, and the prospect of a spreading demographic shift from explosion to implosion, there could be one beneficiary: the environment.

For decades, the rise in human numbers has been seen as the chief force threatening rain forests, depleting fisheries, choking the air and polluting the waters. So would an end to humanity's growth spurt make possible a not-too-diminished world with enough room for some wild things, with reasonably breathable air and drinkable water, with a livable climate?" (New York Times)

"Gaming the World's Poor" - "Upon returning from a United Nations-sponsored conclave in 1954, philanthropist Preston Hotchkis warned Americans to "[g]et acquainted with the United Nations, because what it does can touch your pocketbook." Hotchkis would not be surprised at how just many times his warning proved correct in the next 50 years. Many Americans are still not aware of the oddball ambitions of this international body -- ambitions that carry a steep price tag." (Neil Hrab, The American Spectator)

"Wettest summer in almost 50 years may be followed by warm, dry spell" - "It seems as if we have spent the summer huddled under umbrellas whingeing about the weather while meteorologists chide us that it is really not so bad. But moan at will because it is now official: we have been enduring the wettest summer for nearly half a century." (The Guardian)

"Now that summer's nearly over ... here comes the summer" - "It seemed that the heat had long disappeared amid the downpours of August. Yet following the record-breaking rains an unexpected reprieve has arrived: Britain is set for an Indian summer." (The Observer)

Meanwhile: "Farmers' Almanac Predicts a Wild Winter" - "LEWISTON, Maine -- Gas up the snowblower but don't put away your umbrella: The Farmers' Almanac is predicting a wild winter with heavy precipitation and dramatic temperature swings in the Northeast. The northern Plains and Great Lakes will be snowy, the almanac says, while it will be milder in the southern half of the country. The Northeast will have unusually wet weather -- either as rain or snow, according to the almanac. ``The big thing is it's going to be a winter of extremes,'' said managing editor Sandi Duncan, whose almanac hits newsstands Tuesday." (AP)

"Now here's the weather forecast: we haven't got a clue" - "If you want to know what the weather will be like later this week, don't bother with the Met Office's five-day forecasts: just have a guess. A Sunday Telegraph investigation has found that the forecasts, published on the Met Office's website each day and relied on by thousands of people, change wildly from day to day and are so vague and unreliable as to be virtually useless. The results of the investigation have prompted calls from leading meteorologists for the forecasts to be abandoned and for the reliability of the Met Office's forecasts to be subjected to independent scrutiny." (The Sunday Telegraph)

"Writers against... the weather" - "Arguing against war is easy, writes Ian Jack. Fighting climate change means making sacrifices." (The Guardian)

"Who Guards the Guardian?" - "One of the joys of middle age (or as I prefer to think of it, near maturity) is that most of the possible little tricks and evasions used in discourse have already been tried upon me. I have even, to the astonishment of my early trainers, become able to spot some of them before I am gulled. I don't mean the grand things in life, like the famed advice that one should try everything in this life except incest and folk dancing, or don't attempt to draw to an inside straight; more those minor matters that proponents of a particular cause or idea proffer as proof of their correctness." (Tim Worstall, TCS)

The Week That Was August 28; July 31; July 24; July 17, 2004 (SEPP)

"Acid oceans spell doom for coral" - "The increasing acidity of the world's oceans could banish all coral by 2065, a leading marine expert has warned. Professor Katherine Richardson said sea organisms that produced calcareous structures would struggle to function in the coming decades as pH levels fell. The Danish expert told the EuroScience Open Forum 2004 that human-produced carbon dioxide was radically changing the marine environment. CO2 levels are now said to be at their highest level for 55 million years." (BBC Online)

?!! "GLOBE EDITORIAL: Science sidelined" - "ONCE AGAIN a Bush administration scientific report blames emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases for global warming, and once again the reaction of the Bush White House is to say the evidence does not warrant action. Kennebunkport is going to go the way of Atlantis by the time this administration gets serious about climate change. This week the US secretaries of energy and commerce and the president's science adviser signed a report to Congress stating that warming trends in recent decades cannot be explained by natural factors and are due to increases in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. But the report gave the administration license for additional foot-dragging by adding that the studies in the report did not "make any findings of fact that could serve as predicates for regulatory action." (Boston Globe)

"Experts Welcome, But Doubt, Bush Climate Softening" - "OSLO, Norway - Environmental experts Friday welcomed a hint of a softening in U.S. skepticism about global warming but saw little chance President Bush might rejoin international efforts to cap greenhouse gases.

Some said the Bush administration report this week saying warmer temperatures in North America since 1950 were probably caused in part by human activity might simply be a bid to reach out to environmentally minded voters before the November presidential election.

"I don't think there is any policy shift at all," said Steve Sawyer, climate policy director at the environmental group Greenpeace. "It's election season and Bush may be trying to reach out to the elusive center." (Reuters)

"Knee-Jerk Reaction to White House Global Warming News; NCPA Cites Research Showing Earth Not Warming" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 -- Experts from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) criticized today's editorial in the New York Times for jumping to conclusions the White House did not draw. The editorial takes the White House to task for reporting that any recent global warming may be caused by human activity, but at the same time refuses to do anything about it. The NCPA further stressed the White House report in question relies on computer models proven to be unreliable." (U.S. Newswire)

"Canada Reinforces Its Disputed Claims in the Arctic" - "The $4 million exercise is the most prominent sign to date of Canada's intensifying effort to reinforce disputed claims over tens of thousands of miles of Arctic channels and tundra. Once nearly permanently frozen, forbidding and forgotten, the region is today seen by officials from Canada and competing nations as a potential source of both wealth and trouble.

Not all of Canada's vast claims to the Arctic are recognized internationally. The United States, the European Union and Denmark either contend that the region's waterways are open to all or have placed their own claims on parts where climate change is expected to increase access to the region's bountiful resources in coming years." (New York Times)

"Major temperature rise recorded in Arctic" - "German scientists probing global warming say they have detected a major temperature rise in the Arctic Ocean this year and linked it to a progressive shrinking of the region's sea ice. Temperatures recorded this year in the upper 500 metres of sea in the Fram Strait - the gap between Greenland and the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen - were up to 0.6 C higher than in 2003, they said. The rise was detectable to a water depth of 2,000 metres, "representing an exceptionally strong signal by ocean standards," it said." (AFP)

"Japan: Govt to propose new plan to fight global warming" - "Japan will propose the development and introduction of technology to save energy and help control global warming at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in December in Argentina.

The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday obtained a draft outline of countermeasures to be taken against global warming after the Kyoto climate treaty's target period ends in 2013. The list was compiled by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"The Alaskan Front" - "Where the battle of greens versus big oil is heating up, once again" (Brad Stone, Newsweek International)

"TransAlta's latest deal is hog manure" - "TransAlta hit the environmental comedy circuit four years ago with its purchase of "credits" from Ugandan farmers to cut down on their cows' flatulence. This week, the Alberta utility giant brought down the house once more with an agreement to pay an unspecified amount for non-emissions from Chilean hog manure." (Peter Foster, Financial Post)

"TransAlta completes first Canadian Certified Emission Reduction purchase under Kyoto" - "CALGARY, Alberta (Aug. 24, 2004) - TransAlta Corporation today announced it has made the first Canadian purchase of Certified Emission Reductions under the Kyoto Protocol. The purchase of 1.75 million tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions will be officially signed Tuesday, Aug. 24 at a ceremony in Santiago, Chile. Terms of the agreement are confidential." (News Release)

We know some Alberta residents are impressed by this, just not favorably.

"Oil Isn't Going Away" - "The real threat is the ever-rising challenge of meeting global demand" (Newsweek International)

"So what is Ford driving at?" - "The boss of the American car maker - which last year produced more than 6.7 million vehicles - sets high environmental standards, but is there any real prospect his firm will meet them?" (The Observer)

"Solar? Eclipsed." - "Why does wall street continue to look down on renewable energy?" (Newsweek International)

"Bananas could power Aussie homes" - "Australian engineers have created an electricity generator fuelled by decomposing bananas, and hope to build a full size fruit-fired power station. At present, much of Australia's annual banana crop goes to waste, because the fruit are too bruised or small. But rather than just letting them rot, the researchers would like to put the rejects to good commercial use." (BBC Online)

"The more we grow, the less able we are to feed ourselves" - "Rain may be ruining crops here, but globally there are record harvests. Yet it's still not enough to meet demand." (Independent)

Oh... does this mean we should get out of the way and let biotech assist in making up the shortfall?

"Seed crossings bring back old traits for organic farmers" - "What if organic gardeners and farmers could plant fruits and vegetables suited for life without chemicals? What if organic growers had access to varieties naturally resistant to diseases, to varieties with cold tolerance and with large leaf canopies to shade out weeds?" (San Francisco Chronicle)

These crops suited for life "without chemicals" (synthetic ones, presumably), they'd be the plants chock full of toxins to beat back predating insects, yes? So, poisons grown in plants are better than poisons applied to plants, no? So, biotech plants like Bt corn are just what organic farmers are looking for, yes?

"SOUTH AFRICA: GM foodstuffs are here to stay, says Grain SA" - "Despite controversies surrounding genetically modified (GM) foods, 65% of South Africa's yellow maize crop is grown from GM seed. Yellow maize is primarily used to feed livestock, according to Grain South Africa. Anti-GM activists claim GM maize fed to feedlot cattle results in a GM beef product entering the consumer market." (Pretoria News)

August 27, 2004

"Soda, Diabetes Linked by Scientific Misconduct?" - "If you doubt that our society's lifestyle nannies are of dubious integrity, a new highly publicized study supposedly linking regular (non-diet) sodas with weight gain and diabetes should clear up any remaining skepticism." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Obesity: a Sign We're Doing Things Right" - "Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson recently designated obesity a disease, with all the negative implications that entails. Our society, crippled, it seems, by obesity, is sick. Yet new research suggests this interpretation has got everything about face. Obesity is not a symptom of a sick society, but a sign of a very healthy one." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"Asthma problem 'levelling off'" - "Rates of asthma among children appear to have stabilised, according to a survey of youngsters in Aberdeen. But the pioneering study, which spans 35 years, identified an increase in the diagnosis of both eczema and hay fever." (BBC Online)

"Fishing Just for Fun Damages Stocks, Study Finds" - "WASHINGTON - People fishing for sport are doing far more damage to U.S. marine fish stocks than anyone thought, accounting for nearly a quarter of the catch from overfished species, researchers said on Thursday. And for the "charismatic" species that saltwater enthusiasts really go for, the impact is even more dramatic, the researchers found." (Reuters)

"Farmed Salmon: The Science And the Fury" - "As the public face of the six-member research team that reported high levels of PCBs in farmed salmon, David Carpenter has become a lightning rod for criticism by the salmon industry." (Ellsworth American)

"Conference To Examine Alternatives To Soil Fumigant" - "PLANT CITY - The latest developments in the quest for alternatives to methyl bromide will be examined next week at a conference in Plant City." (Tampa Tribune)

"Leader: Limits of freedom" - "Greg Avery, founder of Shac, the animal rights group campaigning for the closure of Huntingdon Life Sciences research work in Cambridgeshire, expressed shock at the home secretary's latest ban. Certainly to ban an American anti-vivisection campaigner from travelling to the UK to address a conference is a serious step. In Mr Avery's view it only reinforces his group's view that direct action is the only way forward. Freedom of speech is indeed a fundamental principle of a democratic society. But Dr Jarry Vlasak does not just make controversial speeches. In the words of the Centre for Consumer Freedom, which monitors animal rights groups for the science business world, "he's not making bombs, but is making bombers." (The Guardian)

The joys of socialism and poverty: "North Korea's environment crisis" - "The UN and officials in Pyongyang have agreed the first-ever assessment of the state of the North Korean environment. The report was written by North Korea's national coordinating council for the environment, together with the UN's Development and Environment Programmes." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"El Nino looming yet again" - "It is the last thing farmers want to hear: the possibility that a one in 100-year El Nino event is building in the Pacific." (The Australian)

When they breathlessly cite a "one in 100-year" event they don't mean exceptional magnitude or anything similar - rather that only once in 100 years of records has an El Niño event developed so late in the year, the pattern is usually well-established in June.

"U.N. Agency Sees No Rapid Development of El Nino" - "GENEVA - Fears of a new El Nino, a phenomenon that brings extreme weather patterns, are unfounded despite unusual ocean temperatures which often herald the devastating weather anomaly, the World Meteorological Organization said Thursday." (Reuters)

WMO might be right. A quick look at the sea surface temperature chart shows a significant pool of cool water extending north along the South American west coast, almost extending to the Galapagos Islands. In the past this has preceded a belt of cool surface water extending westwards along the equator into the central Pacific - no indication yet of La Niña but not suggestive of looming El Niño either.

"Scientists warn of new Anthropocene age" - "STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Scientists are beginning to accept that Earth has entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, so named because humans have come to rival nature in their impact on the global environment. The EuroScience forum in Stockholm heard on Thursday that climate change was the most obvious of a complex range of man-made effects that is rapidly changing the physics, chemistry and biology of the planet." (Financial Times)

The Old Gray Lady morphing into a blue-rinse broad? "Editorial: Warming to Global Warming" - "After three years of belittling or suppressing science, the Bush administration appears willing to concede that humans and their industrial activity have been largely responsible for the recent warming of the earth's atmosphere. This tardy acceptance of what mainstream scientists have been saying for years does not mean that the administration is prepared to deal seriously with the problem - by, for instance, supporting mandatory caps on emissions of carbon dioxide. But at least nobody is trying to hide the evidence." (New York Times)

Romancing themselves somewhat aren't they? How do they get the above from "Warmer temperatures in North America since 1950 were probably caused in part by human activities"?

Juliet Eilperin does better: "Administration Shifts On Global Warming" - "A Bush administration report suggests that evidence of global warming has begun to affect animal and plant populations in visible ways, and that rising temperatures in North America are due in part to human activity.

The report to Congress, issued Wednesday, goes further than previous statements by President Bush. He has said more scientific research is needed before he imposes new restrictions on greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

In 2001, after the release of a National Academy of Sciences report on global warming, Bush said the concentration of greenhouse gases has increased, in large part, because of human activity, but he emphasized that other factors could have influenced warming. Referring to the NAS report, he said, "We do not know how much effect natural fluctuations may have had on warming."

Several administration officials characterized the study as a routine annual summary of scientific research on global warming. John H. Marburger, the president's science adviser, said the report has "no implications for policy." (Washington Post)

Oh boy... "The planet goes haywire" - "Fires and floods, heatwaves and hurricanes - it's been a year of extreme weather. And there's more on the way as global warming kicks in, warns John Vidal" (The Guardian)

"Bush u-turn on climate change wins few friends" - "In a dramatic reversal of its previous position, the White House this week conceded that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases were the only likely explanation for global warming. Mr Bush's former allies in the energy industry criticised the findings." (London Guardian)

"Warming to wilt mountain ways" - "In summer, the hillsides above Crested Butte look like a painting by Claude Monet. Reds, yellows and blues are dabbed everywhere brilliantly on a canvas of green. This is, says no less an authority than the state Legislature, the wildflower capital of Colorado." (Vail Daily)

"Ad Firm Targets Emissions Proposal" - "A public relations firm with ties to the automobile industry has launched ads suggesting that a proposed California rule to cut carbon dioxide exhaust could cause more people to die in traffic accidents.

Starring "Squeezy the Clown," the radio and newspaper advertisements by the Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America use humor to make a questionable claim: The regulation to combat global warming will compel auto companies to make smaller vehicles, forcing California families into diminutive cars and trucks that could endanger their lives." (Los Angeles Times)

Well, they're not the first to conclude that buzz-boxes are essentially small-wheeled coffins:

Back in 1989, car critics like Ralph Nader more honestly acknowledged the trade-off between safety and CAFE's goals. "Larger cars are safer -- there is more bulk to protect the occupant. But they are less fuel efficient ... ," he said after declaring small cars the least safe on the road.

According to a 1989 Harvard-Brookings study, CAFE-induced downsizing has increased car occupant fatalities by between 14% and 27%; that translates to between 2,000 and 4,000 extra deaths a year.

"Scientists shed light on hydrogen's splitting headache" - "The quest to produce hydrogen energy is a holy grail for the world's scientists. As oil prices soar, a substitute for a once plentiful resource no longer seems such a fantastic pursuit.

Today, at an international conference hosted by the University of NSW, professors Janusz Nowotny and Charles Sorrell will announce they have overcome one of the biggest barriers to the widespread use of hydrogen - how to produce it without emitting greenhouse gases.

"This is potentially huge, with a market the size of all the existing markets for coal, oil and gas combined, " said Professor Nowotny, the director of the Centre for Materials Research in Energy Conversion at UNSW.

He and Professor Sorrell believe the new technology will be up and running in seven years, providing the cleanest, cheapest energy ever produced." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Yeah, sure... "Sun will power us into paradise" - "In the not too distant future silent cars will glide around our city streets, rooftop panels harnessing the sun's energy will generate enough power for the whole country, the pace of global warming will have slowed and power lines will be replaced by underground pipes." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Aha! "Enron Spawned Trouble for Fish" - "To the long list of Enron Corp.'s victims, add Northwest salmon. A fresh round of evidence released Wednesday suggested that Enron traders shipped emergency power out of California, even as hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest — struggling to ease the energy crisis — were running full tilt. That's where the salmon, an icon of the Northwest, come in. Water that normally would have eased them away from massive hydropower turbines instead was used to make electricity, further endangering the already endangered fish." (Los Angeles Times)

So, now we have have it. Never mind the egregious fraud, Enron are bad because they competed with the fishies!

"Tracking America’s exported air pollution" - "A consortium of 100 scientists from 6 countries is cooperating on a 6-week study of air pollution as it leaves the east coast of the United States, flows across the Atlantic Ocean, and hunkers down over Europe." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"Nuclear power" - "Recent British speculation about an increased role for nuclear power in electricity generation has prompted Copeland Council to express its support for the development of new nuclear power generators to replace those closed at Calder Hall." (The Whitehaven News)

"Going nuclear looks the option" - "THE dramatic price increases by British Gas this week highlight how the economics of the energy market have moved against us. The spike in oil prices has hogged most of the headlines though for now prices are sharply back from their peak. But experts have been warning for some time that Britain is facing an underlying crisis as the golden era of self- sufficiency thanks to North Sea oil and gas comes inexorably to an end." (Daily Mail)

"Uncertain economics of wind energy" - "As media institutions across Europe grapple with the threat of global warming, politicians, NGOs and ministries in the Baltic states are laying the groundwork to increase the level of renewable resource energy." (The Baltic Times)

"The future's a gas" - "EVEN as headlines scream about $50 a barrel oil, energy firms and their investors are becoming increasingly excited about its likeliest replacement: not wind nor wave nor solar power, but gas—or, to be precise, gas that is frozen and transported as liquefied natural gas (LNG). This is expected to become as ubiquitous and crucial to the global economy as petroleum is today. Scenario planners at Royal Dutch/Shell think that gas may surpass oil as the world's most important energy source by 2025." (The Economist)

"Scientists' bioengineering feat" - "A man has enjoyed his first real dinner in nine years after a pioneering operation to rebuild his jaw using an artificial bone grown in one of the muscles of his back." (The Guardian)

"Explosion investigated at Watertown biotech company" - "WATERTOWN, Mass. -- An explosive device damaged the offices of a biological research company early Thursday morning, but no injuries were reported, officials said.

Watertown police and fire were called to to a building on Pleasant Street containing the offices of Amaranth Bio Inc. at about 3:41 a.m. where they found several shattered windows." (AP)

"Asia heads towards use of GMO foods, despite activist protests" - "HONG KONG, Aug 27 - A decision by Thailand, one of Asia's prime agricultural producers, to allow open-field trials of genetically modified crops marks another milestone for the controversial products in the region, as governments ignore activists' concerns, industry analysts said Friday.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced last weekend he had given the nod to the trials. Several other countries were expected to follow suit, while the Philippines and China already have huge plantations producing crops such as corn, as well as cotton." (AFP)

"WTO ruling delayed in transatlantic row over GMOs" - "GENEVA - The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has put off until March a decision on whether the European Union broke trade rules by not allowing imports of genetically modified foods (GMO), officials said on Thursday.

But environmentalists said a verdict in the politically charged case, brought against the European Union by the United States, Argentina and Canada, could take even longer after trade judges agreed to hear scientific opinion." (Reuters)

"Monsanto's rivals want a bigger piece of biotech crop pie" - "The agricultural biotechnology field, dominated since its inception by Monsanto Co. of Creve Coeur, is becoming more crowded. At least four major companies are identifying useful genetic traits and engineering them into a variety of crops. If these gain regulatory approval, some will compete head-to-head with Monsanto's products, while others may be sold alongside them. But one thing seems certain, industry experts say: Over the next few years, farmers will have more choices in deciding what to plant. And as the competition heats up, financial returns rather than brand loyalty will win the day." (Post-Dispatch)

"Profit no reason to manipulate life" - "In attempting to open the debate on biotechnology, and genetically modified (GM) crops and foods, Mark Fyvie, head of the state-funded Cape Biotech Regional Innovation Centre, serves up polemic presented as rational discourse ("Don't see GM food as a threat," Cape Times, August 18).

Instead of clarifying matters, he further muddies already murky waters. In 1 000 words he tells us little except that GM is good, an unsurprising claim considering his position." (Glenn Ashton, Cape Times)

"Fear Factor" - "Environmental activists seeking to halt the worldwide spread of the advanced technologies they fear see China as an important battleground. Predictably, Greenpeace is leading the charge against China's adoption of such technologies. In 2001, for example, the group ran a loud campaign demanding that the European Union not lend any money to help finance any Chinese nuclear power projects. Today, Greenpeace has China's acceptance of biotechnology in its crosshairs." (Neil Hrab, The American Enterprise)

"Genetically modified crop destroyed in France's south" - "MONT-DE-MARSAN, France, Aug 25 - A field of genetically modified maize planted by the US group Monsanto in south-western France was ripped up this week by unidentified individuals, police said Wednesday." (AFP)

August 26, 2004

"Revamp of malaria control essential" - "The science journal Nature has just published a series of papers on malaria and its control. Focusing on this preventable and curable disease is crucial and timely; malaria is the top killer of children in Africa, accounting for more than 1-million deaths worldwide each year." (Richard Tren, Business Day)

"Halting Malaria" - "Health Minister Manto Tsabalala-Msimang has drawn much criticism for what, at times, appear to be irrational actions. One such action is the continued use of the maligned insecticide DDT to combat malaria. The use of DDT in combination with effective drug therapy for malaria patients has kept the disease under control since 1946." (Business Day editorial)

"One Billion People Still Drink Unsafe Water-UN" - "GENEVA - More than one billion people drink unsafe water and over 2.6 billion, around 40 percent of the world's population, have no access to basic sanitation, U.N. agencies said on Thursday. "Around the world, millions of children are being born into a silent emergency of simple needs," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "We have to act now to close this (health) gap or the death toll will certainly rise," she added. The World Health Organization and UNICEF, the Children's Fund, said in a report children were particularly vulnerable to sicknesses brought on by dirty water and poor hygiene. Diarrhea kills some 1.8 million people each year, most of them children under five, with millions left permanently debilitated, they said." (Reuters)

"Study could bring diarrhoea vaccine closer" - "LONDON - Scientists have taken a step closer to creating a vaccine against a virus that causes the most common form of diarrhoea and vomiting in children. A team of scientists from Harvard Medical School and the Children's Hospital Boston in the United States created models down to the atom of key proteins that form part of the virus, called the rotavirus. The rotavirus infects almost all children, usually between six months and two years old, and kills an estimated 440,000 children per year, mostly in poor countries." (Reuters)

"Sweden slams European Commission approval of toxic chemical" - "The Swedish government on Wednesday reiterated its criticism of the European Commission's approval of the use of herbicides containing the toxic chemical paraquat inside the European Union." (Agence France-Presse)

"Blue Stockholm skies for ESOF" - "First pan-European meeting on science and society opens with a hopeful eye to the future" (The Scientist)

"Metabolic syndrome greatly raises risk of death" - "NEW YORK - People with metabolic syndrome -- a cluster of conditions that can include problems with weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar control -- are much more likely to die from heart disease and other causes than those without the syndrome, new research shows." (Reuters Health)

So, people who are sick are more likely to die... and they worked this out, all by themselves?

Imagine that... "Magnets may not really work for pain" - "NEW YORK - Natural magnets, believed by many to ease pain, may actually do little to that effect, new research reports." (Reuters Health)

Smoke screen (Number Watch)

I: "Asthma study smokes out dangers of a cosy fireplace" - "Babies who live in homes heated by gas or wood fires grow up to have more breathing problems and asthma, University of Sydney researchers have found." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

II: "Asthma risk 'exacerbated by house air fresheners'" - "Air fresheners, furniture polish and household cleaners may increase the risk of asthma in young children, a study has found." (Independent)

III: "Cleaning chemicals linked to asthma in young children" - "Fumes given off by cleaning products and solvents in the home may be a cause of asthma in young children, according to new research." (The Guardian)

So, it's fireplaces, air fresheners or cleaners, depending on the personal biases of the reporters.

Actually, I'd take exception to at least the second one - it's lack of air freshening that seems to be causing some problems (specifically, poorly ventilated "energy efficient" housing and electrickery too expensive for home heating).

"Environmental groups object to 'eco-label'" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Several environmental groups are objecting to Alaska's pollock fishery -- the largest fishery in the United States -- getting approval for an "eco-label." (Associated Press)

"Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) retrieves first Arctic core" - "The first 40 million years of Arctic climate history have been recovered from beneath the Arctic seafloor. The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program's (IODP) Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) retrieved 272 meters of sediment core. This core goes back to a time when there was no ice on the planet and it will tell us about the climate of the region and when it changed from hot to cold, and hopefully, why." (Swedish Polar Research Secretariat)

"Chile leads South Pole climate change research" - "Chilean scientists and military researchers will jointly assess climate changes in South Pole glaciers during air and land expeditions in late 2004, announced Chilean Defence Minister Michelle Bachelet." (Mercosur)

"Earth warned on 'tipping points'" - "The world has barely begun to recognise the danger of setting off rapid and irreversible changes in some crucial natural systems, a scientist says." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"Top U.S. newspapers' focus on balance skewed coverage of global warming, analysis reveals" - "SANTA CRUZ, CA--Reporters and editors at four of the nation's top newspapers adhered to the journalistic norm of balance at the expense of accurately reporting scientific understanding of the human contributions to global warming, according to an analysis that appears in the current issue of the journal Global Environmental Change." (UC Newswire)

Really? What "scientific understanding of the human contributions to global warming" would that be then?

We can state accurately that: atmospheric CO2 levels have measurably increased since the 1950s and; global near-surface temperature amalgams indicate a cooling and recovery over the same period - period! Won't find much press reflecting that though.

The hazards of election years: "White House Shifts Its Focus on Climate" - "In a striking shift in the way the Bush administration has portrayed the science of climate change, a new report to Congress focuses on federal research indicating that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are the only likely explanation for global warming over the last three decades." (New York Times)

"Global Warming Means More Frost-Free Days - Report" - "WASHINGTON - Frost will become less and less common across much of the world as global warming accelerates, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

The latest of a series of reports on the real-life effects of climate change shows fewer days and nights when the air temperature dips below freezing.

The report, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, joins a study from the same group released earlier this month predicting more severe and common heat waves in cities such as Paris and Chicago and another one focusing on California that showed higher temperatures would threaten the dairy and grape industries." (Reuters) | Falloff in freezes: NCAR study projects decrease in frost days (NCAR/UCAR)

"Summer breezes shouldn't freeze us" - "Exactly what's behind this way-too-cool Milwaukee summer? I've seen more than enough science fiction movies to suspect the logical answer: Gotta be global warming, right?" (Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

"President Bush, See You in Court" - "As climate change increasingly affects islanders and those living in the North, many are seeking legal recourse in international venues. Frustration with the Bush Administration's failure to take meaningful action on climate change is spilling over into the courtroom. Victims and potential victims of climate change, ranging from community organizations to city councils to entire nations, are taking legal action to force the US government to address the issue." (The Dominion)

Weekly Whipple: "More Heat Waves Expected" - "Boulder CO Aug 23, 2004 - Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research say global warming will bring about more frequent and more intense heat waves in the United States and Europe.

In the past, heat waves have increased the risk of death to the elderly and children. In 2003, for instance, various estimates showed the Paris heat wave took between 7,000 and 15,000 lives. Some 700 people died prematurely in a 1995 heat wave in Chicago.

In a paper published in the journal Science this month, NCAR senior scientist Gerald Meehl and colleague Claudia Tebaldi reported the results of global climate model runs that show "there is a distinct geographic pattern to future changes in heat waves." (Dan Whipple, UPI)

"Global Warming Must Be Turned To Our Advantage" - "Anthony Gibson: 'If one looks back over the weather extremes of the last half century, they have had no lasting impact' Whether or not what happened last week in Boscastle was a symptom of global warming, or just one of those natural calamities that could have happened in any age, it still ought to serve as a wake-up call to shake us out of our collective apathy when it comes to flood defences." (Western Morning News)

CO2 Measurement Problems (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

Uh-huh... "Put us all on rations" - "It will take more than a few extra pounds on our gas bills to make us do something about global warming" (Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian)

"What actually influences air pollution over the Indian Ocean?" - "Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry detect substantial pollution of the atmosphere during periods between summer or winter monsoons." (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft)

Swatting moonbats: "They think it's oil over - but they're wrong" - "THERE are few compensations from getting older, but one is how smug you feel when fashions come around again the second or third time. For instance, in Monday’s Guardian, the current leader of the Apocalypse Cult, George Monbiot, was explaining that the world is about to run out of oil and so we’d be better off living in wattle huts without electricity, in order to escape the coming energy famine. Mr Monbiot is a fashionable "environmentalist" who frequently crops up in lists of Britain’s brainiest people." (George Kerevan, The Scotsman)

?!! "New 'timber power plant'" - "Northern Ireland is to be the site of the UK's largest production facility for a new environmentally friendly fuel.

It will make high energy wood pellets from surplus sawdust and woodchips.

The pellets can be burned in industrial and domestic heating boilers without creating carbon dioxide, which causes global warming." (BBC News Online)

Reader asks: "What happens to the carbon if they burn biomass without creating carbon dioxide?"

Fair question. It has a couple of possible answers: maybe the combustion is incomplete & they're producing carbon monoxide (CO) rather than carbon dioxide (CO2) or maybe this Northern Irish plant is staffed by leprechauns practicing mysterious ancient arts. Then again, the scribe involved in this piece may have indulged in other Irish traditions.

"Scientists Say Sunoil Could Power Cars, Homes" - "LONDON - British scientists say they have found a new, greener way to power cars and homes using sunflower oil, a commodity more commonly used for cooking fries. In a presentation made to members of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia on Wednesday, researchers from Leeds University said in England said the popular vegetable oil could easily be used to make the hydrogen needed to develop fuel cells, a promising alternative source of energy." (Reuters)

What's the steam source for their reformation? What sort of energy efficiency are we talking here?

"Ford chief sets roadblock for hybrid auto bill" - "Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford, who pitches himself as one of America's leading corporate environmentalists, has launched a campaign in the waning days of the legislative session to kill a plan that would reward Californians who buy the most fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles.

Embraced by Hollywood celebrities, Treasurer Phil Angelides and even Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, AB 2628 by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, would set aside 75,000 permits to let owners of hybrids that average 45 mpg or more and meet near-zero-emission standards to drive solo in highway car-pool lanes." (Sacramento Bee)

"'Hidden' wind farm shows way ahead for green energy" - "Scotland's flagship wind farm was hailed yesterday as an example of the way forward for the renewable energy sector." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

August 25, 2004

"Malaria Drug Design On A Dime" - "Inspired by Chinese herbal medicine, ozonide proves a potent antimalarial" (Chemical & Engineering News)

Also from C&EN: Ode to DDT
A mosquito was heard to complain
That a chemist had poisoned his brain
The cause of his sorrow
Was Para-dichloro-
Diphenyltrichloroethane (Author unknown, reprinted C&EN)

"Africa 'faces new polio threat'" - "Africa could be on the verge of a major polio outbreak, the World Health Organization has warned. Mali and Guinea have reported their first cases of the disease in five years. Three cases have also been reported in the Darfur region of Sudan. The WHO had previously predicted that polio could be eradicated by the end of this year. These latest cases are being blamed on problems vaccinating people in parts of Nigeria last year." (BBC Online)

"Fishing Warnings Up Due to Mercury Pollution - EPA" - "WASHINGTON - Americans were cautioned about eating fish from more than one-third of U.S. lakes and nearly one-fourth of its rivers last year due to pollution from mercury and other chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Diazinon Insecticides For Home, Garden To Be Phased Out" - "EPA has canceled registrations for dozens of residential lawn care and garden products containing the organophosphate insecticide diazinon [Fed. Reg., 69, 48864]. These products are sold under various trade names such as Dragon Diazinon Granules, Ortho Diazinon Insect Spray, and Scotts Lawn Insect Control. The move does not affect agricultural and commercial uses of diazinon." (Chemical & Engineering News)

"Suspect pesticide still used on state's fruit trees" - "Apple, cherry and pear growers in Washington state continue to use large amounts of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that may be linked to lung cancer and nerve damage." (Associated Press)

"Oyster Revival In Bay Set Back: Predators Consume Shellfish Planted By Army Engineers" - "A federal experiment in restoring oysters to the Chesapeake Bay this summer unexpectedly turned into an underwater buffet for shellfish-loving predators, with about $45,000 worth of oysters quickly eaten, scientists said yesterday.

In June, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dumped about 1 million oysters into Virginia's Great Wicomico River. But within weeks, about 750,000 of the oysters were consumed by a creature called the cownose ray." (Washington Post)

"Government releases plan focusing on obesity in U.S." - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. National Institutes of Health said on Tuesday it was launching a systematic campaign to fight obesity, which now affects close to two-thirds of the U.S. population and threatens to overtake smoking as the leading cause of death." (Reuters)

From the 'here-we-go-again' files: "Sugary drinks up risk of diabetes, obesity in adults" - "NEW YORK - Adults who regularly drink sugar-sweetened beverages appear to be at a higher risk of both diabetes and obesity, according to new study findings reported Tuesday. U.S. investigators found that women who sipped at least one sugary drink every day had an 83 percent higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes -- the most common form of the disease that is linked to obesity -- than women who said they had less than one such drink per month." (Reuters Health)

II: "Added Sugars, Less Urgency? Fine Print and the Guidelines" - "IF you want a peek into the fierce debate over whether too much sugar is bad for you, start at the final recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report.

After hours of negotiations by committee members, the report, to be released tomorrow, lacks any direct recommendation that added sugar should be reduced, as previous reports had urged. Yet fairly hidden on Page 6 are details about the hazards of sugar, especially the kind found in soft drinks and sweetened juice beverages. It seems as if the committee wanted to have it both ways." (Marian Burros, New York Times)

"Feeding a Risk Factor Frenzy" - "An article in the August 25th issue of the Journal of The American Medical Association, "Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Weight Gain, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Young and Middle-Aged Women," adds yet another chapter to the feeding frenzy that drives our nation's love affair with epidemiological risk factorology. This article is a textbook case study in the misuse of epidemiological research for the development of health recommendations for the public." (Jon Robison, TCS)

"Lawyers seek ways to circumvent obesity laws" - "NEW YORK, Aug 24 - The U.S. food industry has successfully lobbied for laws preventing consumers from blaming companies for obesity problems, but lawyers are continuing to look for loopholes to make the companies pay.

In the past year, lawmakers have passed laws protecting restaurants and food producers from obesity lawsuits, even as researchers have published many more studies about the costs and dangers of being overweight." (Reuters)

"Weak El Nino Forecast in Pacific by End August-NOAA" - "WASHINGTON - A weak El Nino, a weather pattern that distorts wind and rainfall patterns worldwide, is expected to develop in the central Pacific by the end of this month, U.S. government forecasters said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Arctic team finds ship remains" - "A British team who are retracing the route taken by a group of Victorian Arctic explorers have found the remains of their ship, the Victory. The Royal Navy team found parts of the ship's engine and anchor in Felix Harbour, deep in Canada's Arctic. The Victory was carrying Sir John Ross and Sir James Clark Ross, during their search for the North West Passage. The crew became stranded in the Arctic wilderness and had to endure three cruel winters before being rescued." (BBC Online)

Dom Mee's online diary/log contains the following in the August 20th entry:

To be the first British expedition to reach the winter harbours is in itself a great achievement especially in the worst ice conditions in 60 years, to make such discoveries is beyond our wildest dreams.

Now, about this 'soon to be open due to global warming' North West Passage...

"One hundred seventeen year coastal temperature record reveals warming trends" - "After compiling what may be the longest coherent coastal sea surface temperature record in North America, oceanographers from the University of Rhode Island and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have discovered some surprising and not-so-surprising trends." (University of Rhode Island)

"Tuvalu's tides divide scientists" - "What is causing the seas around the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu to rise? Sharon Mascall reports." (The Age)

Funafuti.gif (20034 bytes) Significant mostly because it contains considerable skepticism, unusual for a Fairfax publication.

More information can be found in Pacific Country Report On Sea Level & Climate: Their Present State - Tuvalu (PDF, June 2003), which is the source of the adjacent graph, and Australia's National Tidal Centre.

"Sea levels no threat to Islands, says scientist" - "Low-lying Pacific nations are in no danger of disappearing under the sea, says an Australian oceanographer who has analysed over 10 years of fluctuating sea levels in the region. Dr Than Aung presented the latest data on sea-level records in the Pacific at a gathering of scientists and researchers in New Caledonia this week. Aung, who teaches at the University of South Pacific, told the New Zealand Herald yesterday that the fears of small nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu disappearing under the ocean were exaggerated. "We have never believed that these islands will go under water. People will live there for thousands of years yet." (New Zealand Herald)

"Awaiting Martin on Kyoto" - "He said it literally hundreds of times, but this quote is as good as any: "I want to respect our commitments to the Kyoto accord on climate change. Stephen Harper wants to rip it up." That was Paul Martin speaking, in the middle of the June election campaign. The question is, should we believe him?" (Globe and Mail)

"Predictable Distortion of Climate Change" - "Princeton University’s Stephen W. Pacala and colleague Robert H. Socolow plausibly argue in a recent Science article that emissions of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere through human activities could be significantly reduced if existing technologies were increasingly adopted. The problem is people have to want to use the technologies today, the technologies have to work, and they have to be affordable." (GES)

"A changing climate for insurance" - "Will it still be possible to get affordable household cover if flash floods become more frequent in the future? Hugh Thompson reports" (Daily Telegraph)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Elevated CO 2 Enhances the Potential for Carbon Storage in the Soils of Periodically-Burned Oak-Palmetto Ecosystems" - "What are the broad implications of this finding for the global carbon cycle and the so-called missing carbon sink?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Antarctica (Sea Level)" - "Is the unprecedented global warming of the past two millennia, as climate alarmists like to describe the 20th century increase in mean global air temperature, having a major impact on Antarctica's contribution to global sea level rise?" (co2science.org)

"Dimethyl Sulfide" - " Dimethyl sulfide is a climatically-important trace gas that plays a prominent role in a number of negative feedback phenomena that tend to counter greenhouse gas-induced global warming.  How significant is its impact?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Dropwort, Fescue, Indian Grass and Orchardgrass." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Little Ice Age-to-Modern Warm Period Transition Along the Northern Eurasia Timberline" - "What do the data reveal about the role of anthropogenic CO 2 emissions in post-1910 global warming?" (co2science.org)

"A Drought History of Pyramid Lake, Nevada, USA" - "What does it look like?  And what is responsible for the variations it contains?" (co2science.org)

"Response of Second- and Third-Generation Wheat Plants to Elevated CO 2 " - "Do they respond any better or worse than first-generation plants?" (co2science.org)

"Nitrogen Dynamics in a Slightly-CO 2 -Enriched Pasture" - "Is there enough inorganic nitrogen in the world's soils (or can enough be made available) to enable the planet's vegetation to respond to the fullest extent possible to the aerial fertilization effect of the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content?" (co2science.org)

"Battling to Protect the Biosphere from the Bad Effects of UV-B Radiation" - "Is it the Montreal Protocol?  No, it's the rising atmospheric CO 2 concentration." (co2science.org)

"TH!NK again: Ford crushes 'Clean Cars', ramps up SUVs" - "The Ford motor company is scrapping its fleet of zero emission electric vehicles in the US. Not content with being the worst ranked motor company on fuel efficiency it has decided to plumb new depths by sending its most fuel efficient, zero emission Th!nk cars to the crushers." (Greenpeace press release)

Given electric vehicles' propensity to self-immolation, several destroying homes and garages in the process, the suggested $1million offer for the TH!NK fleet would not go close to Ford's potential liability as manufacturer of these little incendiaries. Perhaps Ford is finally shifting from th!nking to thinking! They might even think twice before pandering to anti-corporate groups flying green banners in future.

"The Mummy Speaks" - "Ancient remains preserved intentionally or accidentally tell much about past human diseases caused by indoor air pollution from poor quality energy supplies and equipment. Yet today in sub-Saharan Africa and regions of Asia more than 90 percent of households lack electricity and must rely on hazardously burning coal, wood, vegetation or dried animal dung in open hearths or poorly ventilated stoves for their cooking and heating needs.

Daily, thousands of Africans and Asians die as a result of that energy poverty. The irritating particles released by the unvented and unfiltered indoor biofuel burning lodge in the lungs and trigger pulmonary disease." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"Coal gasification held back by cost" - "Everyone speaks well of a technology that could turn Illinois coal into energy, but hardly anyone wants to spend money to use it.

A once-vibrant industry, coal mining in Illinois has lost thousands of jobs in recent years, brought down by clean-air legislation of the early 1990s. The state's coal is loaded with sulfur, forcing the coal-fired generating plants that supply nearly half the state's electricity to buy cleaner fuel from western states.

But a technology known as coal gasification radically reduces the pollutants expelled from the exhaust stacks of power plants." (Chicago Tribune)

"Gas bills to soar 13% and electricity to increase 9.4%" - "British Gas last night announced the biggest ever rise in the price of gas and electricity and warned householders that the "era of cheap UK energy is over". More than 12 million homes will face increases in gas prices of 12.9 per cent next month, with the extra financial penalty of a 9.4 per cent rise in electricity bills." (Daily Telegraph)

"Minding the gaps" - "Ministers have a moral duty to make sure new buildings are properly insulated, energy efficiency experts tell Mark Tran" (The Guardian)

The other name for it is "poorly ventilated" - which is about the only thing we can point to in "sick buildings."

"Powerful argument" - "Plans to erect wind turbines alongside Hinkley Point nuclear power station have created waves on the north Somerset coast. Crispin Aubrey argues the 'pro' case" (The Guardian)

"Vast new energy source almost here" - "Australian researchers will tell an international conference on solar hydrogen this week that the means to extract hydrogen fuel from water, using solar energy should be ready within about seven years. Vast supplies of clean, pollution-free energy would then become available." (University of New South Wales)

"Big Business Follows the Green" - "The increasing presence of conventional food processors in the organic industry is raising debate about whether the values of organic agriculture and the motives of big business can co-exist." (Jason Mark, AlterNet)

"Building Better Bodies" - "For a glimpse of what post-human athletes may look like beginning in the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, take a look at an obscure breed of cattle called the Belgian Blue.

Belgian Blues are unlike any cows you've ever seen. They have a genetic mutation that means they do not have effective myostatin, a substance that curbs muscle growth. A result is that Belgian Blues are all bulging muscles without a spot of fat, like bovine caricatures of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

These mutants may also point to the future of humans, particularly athletes. Gene therapies are being developed that would block myostatin in humans, and they offer immense promise in treating muscular dystrophy and the frailty that comes with aging." (Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times)

"California issues 14 permits for biotech species; nation's only such law" - "SACRAMENTO -- Wildlife regulators have issued 14 permits for genetically engineered species in the year since California became the only state to require such licensing, according to a report being released this week.

Their one rejection was a proposal to market a fluorescent zebra fish -- the nation's first transgenic pet, now sold under the trademarked name GloFish everywhere except in California.

Even then, the Fish and Game Commission reversed its earlier outright rejection, voting in April to seek a new recommendation from experts with the Department of Fish and Game." (Associated Press)

"Project Shows Promise for Grape Growers" - "RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Since the discovery five years ago that a ravenous insect was spreading grape-killing Pierce's Disease in California, grape growers have contributed millions of dollars to fund research projects they hope can end the scourge. One project at the University of California, Riverside involves introducing genetically altered bacteria into the plant. When the bug - known as the glassy-winged sharpshooter - eats the material, it neutralizes the pathogen that causes the disease. The technique, however, alarms environmentalists opposed to using genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in nature." (Associated Press)

"Pakistan: Govt formulates draft of bio-safety rules - Ministry warns against health and environmental hazards of GMOs" - "ISLAMABAD: The Environment Ministry has formulated a draft of bio-safety rules in order to ensure that no genetically engineered products are imported unless their “negative impact on human life is removed.” (Daily Times)

August 24, 2004

"Bed Nets Are Newest Weapon for Malaria-Prone Tanzania" - "Scores of women in colorful dresses with babies or toddlers strapped to their backs milled around government offices converted for the day into a medical clinic, waiting their turn.

It is on these days that the United Nation's children's organization, UNICEF, and the Tanzanian government hope to hand out discount vouchers to new mothers or expectant women to buy insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets.

The nets are touted as the way forward in preventing malarial infection in a country where 100,000 people die of the disease each year. They are said to reduce malaria deaths by 27 percent." (Reuters)

Big deal, DDT is capable of much greater reduction, cheaper too.

"The increasing number of adults with high blood pressure" - "A new analysis of the prevalence of high blood pressure in the US shows a striking increase over the last 10 years in the number of adults with this condition. According to this study, there are about 65 million hypertensive adults in this country or about a third of US adults (age 18 and older). The rising trend in hypertension has important consequences for the public health of this nation." (NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

"Don't Go Near the Water" - "Hundreds of thousands of Floridians were thrown into a Third World state last week thanks to Hurricane Charley. Not only did they lack the civilizing comfort, vital in Florida's heat, of air conditioning, thanks to massive power outages, but many also have had to do without something even more important -- potable water.

Would, though, that they also had a little less sophisticated advice and just relied a bit more on their common sense, as less-civilized people have done over the centuries." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

"Comfort and 'boredom'-eating rife" - "Almost half of adults turn to food to stifle feelings of boredom, loneliness and stress, research suggests." (BBC Online)

"Study finds most people don't know how much produce to eat" - "CONCORD, N.H. -- Despite years of public service campaigns -- and lectures from Mom -- Americans still aren't eating even close to enough fruits and vegetables, according to a recent study. What's more, most people don't know how much produce they are supposed to eat." (AP)

"Obesity linked to multiple cancer risks" - "WASHINGTON -- Heart disease and diabetes get all the attention, but expanding waistlines increase the risk for at least nine types of cancer, too. And with the obesity epidemic showing no signs of waning, specialists say they need to better understand how fat cells fuel cancer." (Associated Press)

"France says 'non' to child obesity" - "France is fighting back against an alarming rise in childhood obesity, and candy distributors in public schools are among the first to come under attack." (The Washington Times)

Pity people aren't mice: "Genetically-engineered 'marathon mouse' keeps on running" - "By enhancing the function of a single protein, Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have produced a "marathon mouse" with altered muscle composition and enough physical endurance to run twice as far as normal mice. Mice with the enhanced protein also showed an innate resistance to weight gain, even when fed a high-fat diet that caused normal mice to become obese." (Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

"Interview: Exposing the links between cancer and the environment" - "Interview: Exposing the links between cancer and the environment" - "Dr Samuel Epstein is a cancer specialist and toxicologist. He is also a tireless campaigner on the rising cancer levels, which he traces back to the increasing presence of known carcinogens in the environment." (WWF)

Uh-huh... this Dr Epstein.

"New PVC additives can make vinyl more fire-retardant without toxic heavy metals" - "One of the most widely used plastics in the world -- PVC -- could be on the verge of becoming more fire retardant and environmentally friendly. Organic chemist William H. Starnes, Ph.D., of the College of William and Mary will describe new, more benign additives at the upcoming 228th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, Aug. 22-26." (American Chemical Society)

"Sticking it to pesky flies--the natural way" - "For city dwellers, flypaper offers little more than a hint of nostalgia. But the strips of sticky, amber-colored paper, hung strategically to snare pesky summer flies, are not only making a comeback, they are gaining ground as the latest way to stay in tune with the environment." (The Asahi Shimbun)

"Offshore fish farming roils growing debate" - "Supporters looking at Strait of Juan de Fuca as possible aquaculture site" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Anti-Fishing Sign Gets the Hook" - "HOUSTON - An anti-fishing billboard in the coastal city of Galveston featuring a dog with a hook piercing its lip will be taken down after complaints from local drivers. The billboard, part of a campaign by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, went up last week along a highway leading to the island Texas city that draws thousands of anglers each year." (Reuters)

Right... "Automakers Getting a Taste for Vegan Values" - "Pleasing those who shun animal products is seen as key to reaching a wider, affluent group." (LA Times)

"Sadly, Kyoto lives" - "Like a masked serial killer in a teenage slasher flick, the Kyoto Protocol will not die." (The Tribune-Review)

"UK to take tough line against US over Kyoto" - "The government signalled a tougher British and European stance yesterday against the Bush administration's hostility to the Kyoto treaty when Tony Blair takes over the chair in both the EU and the G8 group of major industrial states next year. Ahead of Mr Blair's big September speech on climate change - the world's biggest collective challenge, he will say - a minister admitted the time has come for the government "to move from words to delivery" at home. Abroad it must also press Washington "to be more ambitious", he said." (The Guardian)

"Global warming makes China's glaciers shrink by equivalent of Yellow River" - "BEIJING Aug 23, 2004 Global warming is causing China's highland glaciers, including those covering Mount Everest, to shrink by an amount equivalent to all the water in the Yellow River every year, state media said Monday." (AFP)

Interesting arithmetic - 4 decades decline @ 7%/year, so there's only about 5% of what there was in the 1960s remaining now? Not sure that's correct somehow.

"Climate change affecting Italy's Chianti wine" - "ROME - The globe's rising temperatures are threatening Europe's premier wine-producing regions and could change them irrevocably within decades, three American climatologists have warned, the Italian daily La Repubblica reported. "We estimate that within 50 years temperatures in the region of Chianti, where summers are already very hot, will rise by an average of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)," Gregory Jones, of the Southern Oregon University, said at an international conference." (AFP)

Hot and Cold Summers (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"A Cool Summer Can Mean a Chill on Business, Too" - "All over the city, people are noticing how the cool summer is hurting business. In Lower Manhattan, Hawaiian shirts, once a hot seller, are filling up the discount bin at Alice Underground. In Washington Square, Haider Ali, 55, a native of Bangladesh, says beverage sales are off at his stand because fewer people on the street need a cool drink when the weather is mild. At Coney Island, Norman Kaufman's Bumping Boat Rides, which shoots through the water, has fewer takers when the weather isn't hot.

And don't even talk about ruined vacations. "This is the shortest summer I can remember," said Joseph Tusa, 39, a security guard at a hospital. He and his wife, Vivien, 37, a social worker, were sitting in lounge chairs on the beach at Coney Island. "We even took two trips to Florida and Puerto Rico because it was so cold here," he said. "We never do that. We didn't even have one barbecue, and we normally have barbecues all summer long." (New York Times)

"Brian Fallow: Full credit for turning off the gas" - "Grants worth tens of millions of dollars are on offer for climate-friendly projects.

And they should be easier to come by in the second tender round of the Government's Projects to Reduce Emissions programme, which opens next week.

The Government will peel six million units off the wad of tradeable carbon credits it gets under the Kyoto Protocol and hand them out as grants to projects which will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas New Zealand will be accountable for under the climate change treaty." (New Zealand Herald)

Ahem... these grants will have value only if people are truly gullible enough to buy hot air certificates - whether N.Z. can get people to pay "tens of millions" for them remains to be seen.

"Wave power delivers electricity to grid" - "The first wave-power machine to supply the national grid has been operating successfully for a week in Orkney at Emec, the European Marine Energy Centre, raising hopes that wave farms will soon join off-shore wind farms as a feature of coastal Britain. The Pelamis machine has a 750-kilowatt output, sufficient for up to 500 households, and is the first of a number of advanced prototypes being tried out in Orkney before being put into commercial production by Ocean Power Delivery of Edinburgh." (The Guardian)

From moonbat corner: "An answer in Somerset" - "The Age of Entropy is here. We should all now be learning how to live without oil" (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

"Aquatic plants sequester toxins, remove contaminants from wetlands" - "Researchers have found that a common aquatic plant removes many persistent organic compounds that are discharged into natural waters and engineered wetlands." (Georgia Institute of Technology Research News)

"Petri Politics" - "The stem cell debate recently took its place in Presidential campaign politics. Senators Kerry and Edwards mounted a full frontal assault, accusing the current Administration (apparently without irony) of playing politics with science. Politics and stem cell science aren't strangers. Far from it. It's a branch of science that has been heavily politicized from the beginning. And like all heavily politicized topics, there's been much obfuscation of the true issues behind the debate." (Sydney Smith, TCS)

"City team ready for big break" - "One Edinburgh team of scientists is growing bones - and even trying to talk to them " (Evening News)

"GM sheep to be used in fight against cruel disease" - "New Zealand researchers have won approval to create the world's first flock of sheep that will be genetically modified to get Huntington's disease. The flock of about 60 ewes and their descendants will give their lives to help scientists learn how the fatal hereditary disease develops. But the sheep will be bred in Adelaide because the scientists say they cannot afford to get regulatory approval for the project in New Zealand." (New Zealand Herald)

"Improving crops without genetic modification – natural variation holds the key" - "Dramatic improvements in crop yield (in tomatoes, in this case) can be achieved by breeding selected genetic regions from wild species into domesticated varieties." (Public Library of Science)

"Thailand taking the disastrous path to GMOs" - "Environmental group Greenpeace today condemned the Thai government's decision to open Thailand to genetically modified crops as nothing short of leading the country into disaster." (Press Release)

"THAILAND: Reversal of Ban on GM Crops Incenses Activists" - "BANGKOK, Aug 23 The reversal by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of an earlier ban on the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops has inflamed environmentalists, farmers' groups and consumer networks, with food experts warning that this could mean exposing Thais to serious health risks." (IPS)

"Thai PM faces down opposition to GMO crop decision" - "BANGKOK Aug 23, 2004 Thailand's prime minister hit back at his critics Monday and denied his administration had bowed to US pressure to allow open-field trials of genetically modified food." (AFP)

August 23, 2004

"Tobacco Smoke Toxins 'Poison Air'" - "Smokers pump out clouds of poison which can seriously affect the breathing of those around them, new research has found. For the first time scientists have shown that endotoxins, which are made by bacteria and occur naturally in the air, are produced by tobacco smoke in high concentrations. The findings will add to growing calls for a ban on smoking in enclosed public area such as pubs, restaurants and other workplaces." (PA News)

"Pitted Against Pest, Md. Island Relies On 'Mosquito Man.'" - "Most communities in the region don't want state trucks to come to fog their neighborhoods with pesticide. But in the low-lying coastal plains of Maryland and Virginia, areas that nurture swarms of buzzing and biting mosquitoes, they've been spraying EPA-approved pesticides for years." (Washington Post)

"Experiments continue to neutralize effects of PCB" - "Biologists at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Benner Spring Research Station are currently conducting fish food experiments that could help to put the PCB issue behind the agency." (State College Centre Daily Times)

"We can end food allergies, researchers claim" - "Scientists have discovered how to neutralise the proteins in food that cause allergic reactions. It is a breakthrough that could change the lives of millions of people around the world and prevent at least 30 deaths a year in Britain." (Daily Telegraph)

"High price of defying animal terrorists" - "On most farms, the electrified fencing is designed to keep animals in, but at Darby Oaks Farm it is the first line of defence. John and Chris Hall, third-generation owners of the 800-acre farm, have become targets of animal rights extremists trying to force them to close their guinea pig breeding operation." (Daily Telegraph)

"'Smart' window knows when to shut off the heat" - "It is the news that sweltering office workers have been waiting for. British scientists have invented a "smart" window that blocks out the summer heat when the temperature rises too high.

The window glass is coated with a thin film of chemicals. In normal conditions, the film allows sunlight and heat to pass through, but when the outdoor temperature reaches 25C light is still allowed through but the infra-red rays that cause heating are shut out." (Daily Telegraph)

"Meat-eaters soak up the world's water" - "A change in diets may be necessary to enable developing countries to feed their people, say scientists" (John Vidal, The Guardian)

"Moist soil 'hot spots' may affect rainfall" - "While the Earth is moistened by rainfall, scientists believe that the water in soil can, in turn, influence rainfall both regionally and globally. Forecasters, water resource managers and farmers may benefit once this connection is better understood. A NASA researcher led an effort that used a dozen computer models to locate "hot spots" around the world where soil moisture may strongly affect rainfall during northern hemisphere summertime. The results appear in the August 20 issue of Science Magazine." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

Worth reading, if only for the admissions on model limitations.

There are a few decent climate change articles in this weekend's capture - and a lot of "global warming" rubbish. I guess most decent reporters are preoccupied with Olympic events and other distractions. So, careful what you step in & off we go...

"Water Rises in Great Lakes After Near Record Low" - "CHICAGO - Great Lakes water levels have rebounded from near record lows thanks to a months of heavy rain, providing a boon to boat owners, swimmers and fish, scientists said. Rising a foot (0.3 meter) from 45-year lows last year, the five Great Lakes have reversed a six-year, 3-foot (1 meter) drop that exposed broad stretches of beaches, left marinas high and dry, and bent propellers." (Reuters)

"Glaciers Shrink, But Some Resist Global Warming" - "OSLO - Glaciers are melting faster than before in some regions from the Arctic to the Alps but others are getting bigger, scientists said on Friday.

They are unable to crack the conundrum of why certain glaciers may be more resilient to global warming, though one reason could be that melting sea ice falls back to earth as snow and so causes some of the ice mountains to grow.

"It's too early to say if glacier melting is accelerating worldwide" compared to U.N. forecasts in 2001, Jeffrey Kargel of the U.S. Geological Survey told a seminar on glaciers in Oslo. "In some areas it is, but the picture is mixed." (Reuters)

"We could face flooding of our own making" - "... Amateur video, later screened worldwide, caught the drama as the torrent of water came after two rivers burst their banks when 75mm, the average August rainfall, fell in just two hours. More than 150 people were airlifted to safety from stranded cars, rooftops and trees where they had climbed to escape the flood.

But experts point out that such events, though extraordinary, are not "freaks". In the wider perspective, such events occur over a regular period." (Scotland on Sunday)

Scots beat English in careful science reporting... (EnviroSpin Watch)

"More storms - then comes Hurricane Danielle" - "Just when you thought the weather couldn't get worse or wetter, forecasters have warned Britain to brace itself for even more of a battering. The Met Office expects torrential rain to start sweeping the country this afternoon. In some areas, almost a month's average rain will fall in a day. The new storms have raised fears that global warming is already beginning to have a profound effect on our weather." (Robin McKie and Mark Townsend, The Observer)

"Why does it always rain on us?" - "The only thing we know for certain about the weather is that it just goes on changing" (Brian Cathcart, The Observer)

"Nature hits back" - "Don’t for a moment think the recent bad weather was a blip, a one-off. With the effects of global warming becoming ever more apparent, and with many parts of Scotland particularly at risk, are we doing enough to protect ourselves and our homes?" (Rob Edwards, Sunday Herald)

"Flood, sweat & tears" - "This August weekend began with forecasts of severe weather and with flood warnings in place for dozens of rivers. After the week of the Cornish deluge, science editor Steve Connor asks: 'What is going on with our weather?" (Independent on Sunday)

"Severe thaw threatens Arctic" - "OTTAWA—A few final brush strokes are still being added to the definitive and official picture of how climate change will affect the Arctic, and how much it already has. The result, called the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, is scheduled for publication in November." (Toronto Star)

"Warming hurts health" - "Urban areas likely to get hotter, deadlier in summer" (Poughkeepsie Journal)

"Pollution 'hides' global warming" - "The true extent of global warming is being hidden by air pollution, a German scientist is warning. The earth could heat up more quickly as the cooling effect of pollution is reduced, Meinrat Andreae will tell a London conference on Monday. He believes aerosols - tiny particles of pollution suspended in the air - help to cool the earth. As these are expected to diminish in coming decades, global warming will happen faster." (BBC Online)

"Global warming 'could boost jobs'" - "Global warming may create an unexpected employment surge in Scotland, according to experts." (BBC Online)

"HK heat 'risks bacteria growth'" - "Environmentalists warn that densely built cities like Hong Kong could become breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses as temperatures rise." (BBC Online)

"All that hot air in the asphalt jungle makes temperatures rise" - "Spring buds are bursting earlier. Autumn leaves are dropping later. America is greener longer these days. And global warming is not the only thing making it happen.

A new analysis of NASA satellite data shows that in at least 70 US cities the urban heat island effect - elevated temperatures caused by a proliferation of asphalt streets, buildings, car exhaust and human activity - has lengthened growing seasons for everything from daffodils to oak trees." (Cox Newspapers, The New York Times)

"Is global warming forcing lobsters north?" - "Maine's lobstermen have been hauling up phenomenal numbers for almost 15 years. Their 62.3 million pounds in 2002 set a record -- triple the typical catch in the 1980s. That's more than $200 million worth of lobster and by far the dominant share of the Northeast's most valuable fishery. But can it last?" (AP)

"Exotic species are now catch of the day" - "It was not the largest fish caught off Southend pier at the weekend, but it was certainly the most colourful, with yellow stripes, red fins and pearly dots on its iridescent body.

It was a variety of rainbow wrasse and, even though this is a Mediterranean or semi-tropical fish, its presence hardly surprised some Essex fishermen who have been hauling out octopuses, squid, sardines, sea cucumbers, seahorses and anchovies recently.

The North sea and the Thames estuary are warming up so fast with climate change, they say, that they are now catching species that they used only ever to see on holiday and which would have been undreamed of in British coastal waters just a few years ago." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

"Scotland's 'wet deserts' brought back to life" - "Global warming and biodiversity are at stake in peatland scheme" (The Guardian)

"A solution to global warming" - "Global warming is occurring at an unprecedented rate and is starting to have adverse consequences, such as increased frequency and severity of droughts, heat waves and floods. The World Health Organization estimates that global warming is already killing 150,000 people a year. Here in Colorado, rising temperatures and changes in precipitation are hurting farmers, ranchers and Colorado's ski industry." (Howard Geller, Denver Post)

"Air pollution blamed for 750 deaths in heatwave" - "More than 750 people were killed by air pollution in last year's record temperatures, a government-funded study has revealed. The sudden surge in deaths occurred last August as most Britons were basking in the highest summer temperatures since records began. The study suggests there will be further increases in the numbers of pollution-related deaths as global warming takes effect." (Independent on Sunday)

"Scientists Say Risk of Water Wars Rising" - "STOCKHOLM - The risk of wars being fought over water is rising because of explosive global population growth and widespread complacency, scientists said." (Reuters)

"Scientists study trees to get to root of pollution debate" - "Researchers in northern Wisconsin examine the effects of high levels of carbon dioxide and ozone on forests." (Duluth News Tribune) | Group of Trees in Wis. Forced Into the Future (Washington Post)

"Plan to relax emission curbs to head off energy crisis" - "The Government is considering lifting constraints on harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants in order to ensure energy supplies in a crisis." (London Daily Telegraph)

"Oil addicts" - "It lubricates all our lives. But can we live without the black stuff, asks Heather Stewart " (The Observer)

"Face the facts. The future must be nuclear" - "Renewables won't deliver. Government must learn to stop worrying and love nuclear power, argues former energy minister Brian Wilson" (The Observer)

"From A bombs to energy" - "Everyone who follows current events is aware of the disturbing news about nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea, and the danger that terrorist organizations like al Qaeda could acquire nuclear weapons. But there is also good news that has gone largely unreported: the destruction of Russian nuclear warheads and their conversion into fuel for American power plants." (The Washington Times)

"Ready to Bet on Alternative Energy? Well, Think Again" - "WHEN oil prices rise, public interest in alternative energy often does, too. Tapping into renewable sources of power like wind, solar power and hydrogen, which are inexhaustible but far from inexpensive, seems to make more commercial sense when crude oil costs $47 a barrel.

But the logic is evidently escaping Wall Street. Many companies involved in alternative energy have missed out on the rally that has lifted shares of oil and gas companies.

Some investors, particularly advocates of what is known as socially responsible investing, expect the cost gap to narrow. They say that producing energy from renewable sources is becoming cheaper, while fossil fuels will become more expensive as supplies dwindle, long after the current pressures that have been pushing prices higher have receded." (New York Times)

"Natural gas burned as worthless, getting new life" - "If converted to liquid fuels, there is enough stranded natural gas in the world to produce 10.5 trillion gallons of fuels such as diesel and jet fuel." (Houston Chronicle)

"Wind farm would affect historic sites, analysis finds" - "HYANNIS -- An offshore wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound would alter the scenic views from 16 historic sites and lighthouses on Cape Cod and the islands, according to a consultant and the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The Army Corps of Engineers apparently agrees, and is expected to include the finding in a draft environmental impact statement to be issued on the project in coming weeks, the Cape Cod Times reported yesterday." (Associated Press)

"UK: Majority support wind turbine use" - "A majority of people in Somerset who responded to a survey say they support the principle of generating renewable energy from wind turbines." (BBC Online)

"Charles faces opposition over turbine at homes site" - "The Prince of Wales, who considers wind farms to be "horrendous", faces stiff opposition over a flagship housing project designed by one of his charities which has a turbine on the site.

About 1,200 environmentally-friendly homes designed by the Prince's Foundation are due to be built next to a 49ft turbine, which will provide electricity for the project." (Daily Telegraph)

"Plants are being charged with excessive killing of fish through cold water intakes" - "Power plant discharges on rivers and lakes are hot spots for anglers, but their cool water intakes kill untold numbers of fish. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued the first national standards for reducing fish kills at existing plants, though environmentalists say it lets energy companies off the hook." (Post-Gazette)

New Book: "The Frankenfood Myth" - "How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution" (Henry I. Miller , Gregory Conko)

?!! "Multi-national firms accused over GMOs" - "The newly-registered Kenya Small-Scale Farmers Forum yesterday claimed that the Government was being arm-twisted by multinationals to accept genetically modified food whose consumers become infertile as recently proved by German sheepkeepers." (East African Standard)

"Thai PM gives green light to GMO crops" - "BANGKOK - Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he would allow an open-field trial of genetically modified food in what would be a key step towards commercial use of such crops in the kingdom." (AFP)

"Survey: Few North Dakota shoppers have knowledge of biotech foods" - "BISMARCK, N.D. - A survey of North Dakota shoppers has found that few state residents are knowledgeable about genetically modified foods, and many would like biotech ingredients listed on food labels.

''Even though we live in a rural state, North Dakota residents are not really that much different in their level of understanding and awareness about GM technologies than consumers around the country,'' said Cheryl Wachenheim, an associate professor of agribusiness and applied economics at North Dakota State University." (Associated Press)

"SOUTH AFRICA: Distribution of GM maize blocked until permit appeal" - "Multinational seed company Syngenta has been stopped from distributing genetically modified (GM) maize seed in South Africa by a Pretoria High Court ruling.

The court ordered Syngenta not to distribute the seed until a Department of Agriculture Appeal Board had reached a decision on a legal appeal lodged by Biowatch South Africa.

Biowatch, an environmental watchdog, maintains in court papers that the authorities acted unlawfully in granting Syngenta a permit in August last year to grow and distribute the GM maize Bt11, which is to be used for animal and human food." (Cape Times)

August 20, 2004

"Enviros Blame Bush for WTC Health Hazards" - "The Sierra Club this week attacked the President for supposedly showing "reckless disregard" by failing to warn the public of alleged health risks posed by "toxic" smoke from the World Trade Center rubble." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Improved nutrition could reduce malaria burden worldwide" - "A new report from researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that a large percentage of child deaths related to malaria are attributable to undernutrition and deficiencies of vitamin A, zinc, iron and folate. Improving child nutrition could prevent more malaria-related illnesses and deaths than previously thought." (Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health)

"Passenger screening advised to cut risk of importing drug-resistant malaria to Africa" - "Imported resistance has rendered ineffective the two affordable malaria drugs which have been the mainstay of malaria treatment in Africa for forty years, according to experts writing today in the journal Science." (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)

Uh-huh... "Group urges EPA for more pollution cuts" - WASHINGTON -- If the government required deeper cuts in air pollution from power plants, at least 3,000 lives would be saved and 140,000 children would avoid asthma and other respiratory ailments, an environmental group said Tuesday." (Associated Press)

"Chloramine complications" - "Alternatives to drinking-water chlorination, such as chloramines, may produce increased concentrations of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) with toxicities far more potent than those currently regulated, according to research just posted to ES&T’s website." (ACS)

"For residents, spraying 'long overdue'" - "The New York City Health Department launched a counter-attack on biting mosquitoes in the Rockaways yesterday, hoping to bring relief to beleaguered residents." (New York Newsday)

"Govt of Canada Assures Public that Farmed and Wild Salmon are Safe to Consume" - "Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Geoff Regan today reassured Canadians that both wild and farmed fish sold in Canada are safe to consume, despite recent media reports suggesting higher health risks associated with farmed fish." (Medical News Today)

"Emotionally Compelling, Environmentally Unsound" - "An Associate Research professor at George Washington University's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health is advising other professors to show the documentary Fallon, NV: Deadly Oasis to students.

The film is touted by Physicians for Social Responsibility as an "emotionally compelling documentary that illustrates the link between environmental exposures and health."

While the documentary may indeed be an interesting way to show students how emotion can play a large role in environmental health investigations, we question whether a documentary with such an agenda is useful." (ACSH)

"Mass hysteria strikes small rural U.S. high school" - "NEW YORK - Ten healthy female students at a rural, co-ed North Carolina high school had repeated bouts of seizures, swooning and hyperventilation over a four-month period in 2002 -- an outbreak that experts are calling an example of mass hysteria." (Reuters Health)

"Animal shortage 'slows science'" - "A worldwide shortage of laboratory apes and monkeys could be holding back research into new drug treatments and genetics, it has been claimed." (BBC Online)

"Japan vs. the NGOs" - "If environmental non-governmental organizations NGOs) were to keep a list of their "most favored nations," one would expect Japan to rank near the top. As any visitor to Japan can attest (I've been there twice), the country's population of 120 million recycles enthusiastically. The Japanese government supports the greens' beloved Kyoto Protocol-itself drafted in Japan. And many Japanese companies loom large in the race to develop so-called "green" technologies. Despite all this, once a year, the Japanese get a kick in the teeth from environmentalists. But this year, the Japanese are kicking back." (Neil Hrab, The American Enterprise)

"Weak El Nino Seen Affecting U.S. This Fall, Winter" - "WASHINGTON - A weak El Nino, the weather anomaly that distorts wind and rainfall patterns worldwide, is expected to develop and affect the United States this fall and winter, U.S. government weather experts said on Thursday.

"Current observations ... indicate an enhanced likelihood of weak El Nino conditions from this fall through at least early 2005," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its monthly drought outlook report." (Reuters)

"Drilling reveals climatic secrets" - "Scientists have found a unique record of past climates underneath a Northcote park, showing that our current pattern of alternating "El Nino" and "La Nina" weather may have switched on and off at roughly 10,000-year intervals." (New Zealand Herald)

"Record low temperatures posted in Midwest" - "TOWER, Minn. -- The calendar may say August, but in this northeastern Minnesota town early Thursday, it was cold. Plenty cold.

The thermometer overnight fell to 25, while nearby Embarrass posted a reading of 27, the National Weather Service said. Both readings beat the old records for the date by 2 degrees." (Associated Press)

Funny, isn't it? Every warm event, virtually every notable weather event, is seized upon as at least indicative of the much-proselytised "global warming" - yet we don't hear much about these (inevitable) little counter-events. Wonder how long it will be before we return to another "global cooling crisis" like this?

Ah, phenology: "Cool weather has some plants showing fall colors early" - "Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, part of the Missouri Department of Conservation, and says that fall might indeed be coming a few weeks early for some species this year." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Since early blooms and late fall colours are regularly used to suggest catastrophic warming, I guess this indicates looming ice age...

"Thunder Down Under" - "It sounds like a biblical epic - a story of floods, cyclones, ferocious storms and drought - but it is a history of Australia's weather, writes Daniel Lewis." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Plankton respond to warmer seas" - "Study suggests that climate change can decouple ecological relationships." (The Scientist)

"Modeling Ocean Behavior: The Key To Understanding Our Future Climate" - "Scientists have long recognized the importance of oceans in our climate. In fact, the unique physical characteristics of our oceans are largely responsible for making the Earth a livable environment." (SPX)

"Evidence for the impact of climate change on deep-sea biodiversity" - "An extensive climate anomaly, which occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean, caused a significant deep-sea biodiversity change, according to the work of Danovaro, Dell'Anno and Pusceddu in the September issue of Ecology Letters." (Blackwell Publishing Ltd.)

"'Toyota-isation' is latest global threat as desert dust storms spread" - "There is an environmental problem that is just beginning to be recognised as being of global significance: "Toyota-isation".

The surfaces of deserts are being broken up by four-wheel drive vehicles such as the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Japanese version of the Land Rover and a great favourite with drivers in the Sahel, the dry states to the south of the Sahara, as well as many other challenging places." (Independent) | 4x4s replace the desert camel and whip up a worldwide dust storm (The Guardian) | Dust 'is hidden climate problem' (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

"NCPA: California Global Warming Study: Pure Politics; Study Uses Models That Can't Predict the Present to Predict Future Doom in CA" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 -- California will become hotter and drier by the end of the century, menacing the valuable wine and dairy industries, even if dramatic steps are taken to curb global warming. That was the doomsday prediction of a new study released by researchers from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in Stanford, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Yet experts from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) responded that this is just the latest example of climate alarmists using junk science to make a political point." (U.S. Newswire)

"Storms blamed on global warming" - "Experts say last night's storms could be clear signs of the effects of global warming. Climate change has been blamed for the increasingly erratic weather patterns being seen around the world." (Evening Standard)

"Floods: rich nations 'must share the blame'" - "The role of climate change — even if only partial — in helping to trigger the current floods increases the moral duty of rich nations to provide assistance. The issue is all the more pressing as the frequency of flooding is likely to increase in the future." (Saleemul Huq, SciDev.net)

"Experts Divided over Causes of Extreme Weather" - "Freak weather stories have dominated the headlines in recent weeks with a seemingly ever increasing number of climate-related catastrophes around the world. Hurricane Charley battered the Florida coast last week causing millions of pounds worth of damage and left 19 people dead. Closer to home, a 10ft wall of water caused havoc in the Cornish village of Boscastle as mother nature unleashed her fury. Meanwhile, in Scotland a main road was turned into a river of mud as a landslide struck due to heavy rain, And in France, Bangladesh and India freak weather has caused havoc.

Experts are divided as to what is causing the extreme weather conditions. Some blame global warming for the floods and storms while others point to local factors, such as topography.

Weather expert Dr Mark Saunders from University College, London, cautioned against blaming global warming." (PA News)

"The outlook may not be all doom and gloom" - "IT IS hard to believe but Scotland, buffeted this week by monsoon-like rains and landslides, could benefit from global warming. Rising temperatures could give the country's beleaguered tourism and agriculture industries a welcome shot in the arm, according to research to be presented at an international conference in Glasgow today." (The Herald)

"Attorneys General Sue Polluters" - "Eight state attorneys general have joined together to sue the nation's five largest public utilities. The goal: to force a 3 percent annual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions over the coming decade.

The problem, however, is that none of the utilities are located in any of the eight states, and that the AG's have neither the authority nor the responsibility to act in the broader national interest—as they are claiming to do." (Robert Levy, FoxNews.com)

"European fuel oil - has it hit rock bottom yet?" - "LONDON - European fuel oil discounts to crude futures have almost doubled this year, prompting traders to look to Asia to soak up the oversupply and refiners to consider cutting throughput as margins turn negative.

Some traders said the moves, as well as anticipation that exports out of the former Soviet Union will probably drop in the coming months ahead of winter, suggest the market is close to the bottom of its trough." (Reuters)

"Saudi raises stakes in bid to calm oil price scare" - "LONDON - Top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia's decision to raise supply close to its capacity limit is a gamble aimed at dousing world markets with enough extra crude to force prices down from record highs, analysts say." (Reuters)

"Governments push renewable energy for 1 billion people worldwide" - "More than 150 governments have agreed to an international action plan for renewable energy, which contains detailed commitments from each country and includes surprisingly ambitious pledges from China. The delegates have also adopted a far-reaching Political Declaration that promises to supply 1 billion people with renewable energy by 2015." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"Nanofear" - "The science of small might have a big problem. His name is Pat R. Mooney, and he is a high school dropout from Canada with no scientific training. Yet his Ottawa organization, the ETC Group, is widely credited with being one of the first to raise health and environmental concerns about genetically modified food. Its efforts, along with those of other outfits like Greenpeace, led to a public relations fiasco for the biotech industry. In Europe the name Monsanto, which sells genetically modified seed, still exemplifies the ugly American multinational. Because of the fear Mooney helped generate, Nestlé and others don't sell food with GM ingredients in Europe. Restaurants post signs assuring customers meals are virtually GM-free.

Now Mooney, 57, has set his target on nanotechnology, the business of manufacturing on a molecular scale." (Michael Freedman, Forbes)

"Chemical engineers discover filtration system to help biotech industry" - "Chemical engineers at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have developed a new filtration system to enable scientists and engineers to separate and purify two different kinds of proteins having relatively close molecular weight. Until now, doing such separations with membrane filtration was impossible." (New Jersey Institute of Technology)

"Pure But Not Yet!" - "The opposition to transgenic crops by environmental organizations is beyond rational explanation, since the introduction of transgenic crops has led to significant reductions in pesticide use in the U.S., as well as in other countries such as China in which transgenic crops are grown. Herbicide tolerant crops have allowed for the expansion of conservation tillage, which conserves soil, water, and biodiversity, and saves fuel along with reducing pesticide use (Fernandez-Cornejo and McBride, 2004, 27). In addition to the absolute reduction, the "substitution caused by the use of herbicide-tolerant soybeans results in glyphosate replacing other synthetic herbicides that are at least three times as toxic and that persist in the environment nearly twice as long" (Fernandez- Cornejo and McBride, 2004, 28, see also ED 2004 for comparative figures on the toxicity of glyposate compared to pesticides used in either conventional or organic agriculture such as copper sulphate). For those still under the illusion that "organic agriculture" does not use pesticides or at least, does not use synthetic pesticides, see USDA 2004." (Thomas R. DeGregori, Butterflies and Wheels)

"FRANCE: Hesitant Vindication of Transgenic Crops" - "PARIS, Aug 19 A report by the French food security agency AFSSA that highlights the benefits of transgenic crops was received with scepticism in local scientific circles, where experts noted the ambiguity of the study's own conclusions." (Tierramérica)

August 19, 2004

"Herbal medicine spawns antimalarial chemical" - "After more than a decade of research, scientists believe they have come up with a fresh line of defence against the increasingly drug-resistant malaria parasite. Results suggest that the drug, which recently entered clinical trials in Britain, could revolutionize treatment of the disease." (News @ Nature)

"World's Anti-AIDS Donations Slow, Cutting U.S. Contribution, Too" - "The rest of the world has contributed so little to the fight against AIDS that the U.S. cannot make its full contribution this year." (New York Times)

"Anti-bacterial additive found in Maryland streams" - "researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that a toxic chemical used in hand soaps, cleaners and other personal care products to kill germs is deposited and remains in the environment long after the products are used. The study furnishes the first peer-reviewed environmental data of triclocarban contamination in U.S. water resources." (Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Yup, it's August: "Sceptic's tests support homoeopathy. Now the challenge for scientists is to repeat it" - "To some it is the snake oil of the New Age. To others it is a tried-and-trusted treatment that has been good enough for the likes of Bill Clinton, the Prince of Wales, Geri Halliwell and David Beckham.

Homoeopathy is big business and getting bigger. Yet there is little if any evidence to show that it works, and absolutely nothing to justify its central claim - that highly diluted solutions containing nothing but water can affect human health." (Independent)

"Fuel Stations May Pose Child Cancer Risk -Study" - "LONDON - Living near a fuel station may quadruple the risk of acute leukemia in children, research published on Thursday showed. French scientists who carried out a study of more than 500 infants found that a child whose home was near a fuel station or vehicle-repair garage was four times as likely to develop leukemia as a child whose home was further away." (Reuters)

"Group Blames Feds Over 9/11 Toxic Smoke" - "NEW YORK -- The Bush administration showed "reckless disregard" for public health after the World Trade Center collapse by failing to warn people of the health risks of breathing toxic smoke and dust at ground zero, an environmental group said Wednesday." (Associated Press)

Sierra Club saying things that could be construed as anti-Bush? Imagine that...

"Russian civil rights groups see threat in Putin oversight" - "The State Duma is to consider a series of regulations that could restrict or heavily tax funding for Russia's NGOs.

"Far from all [nongovernmental organization] are geared toward defending the people's real interests," he said. "For some [the priority is] obtaining funding from influential foreign and domestic foundations. For others, it is servicing dubious groups and commercial interests."

A package of tax code amendments presently before the pro-Kremlin State Duma would give teeth to Putin's thought by creating a commission to control funding for NGOs. According to the draft regulations, all foreign or domestic donors will have to go through a tough registration process and provide full details of how the money will be spent. Any "unregistered" contributions are to be taxed at a rate of 24 percent." (The Christian Science Monitor)

Hmm... Greenpeace and the usual suspects' Russian branches could become socially responsible entities yet - at least taxpaying ones anyway.

"Saved from the saw, ancient Japanese forests now threatened by tourism" - "YAKUSHIMA, Japan - A generation ago, a battle was successfully waged on this rugged island to preserve what was left of its primeval forests, home to giant trees millennia old. Now tourism spawned by this natural heritage is threatening its survival." (AFP)

"Hoj takes charge in AustraliaNew ARC chief hopes to bring country's R and D into the 21st century" - "With low business research and development (R&D) dragging Australia's overall research expenditure below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average, the Australian government has picked someone whose career has straddled both pure and applied research to head the Australian Research Council (ARC) for the next 5 years." (The Scientist)

"Scientists studying desert air to understand weather and climate" - "NASA, Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists have assembled in the Arabian Desert to study tiny airborne particles called aerosols and their effect on weather and climate. The scientists are collaborating with researchers from the United Arab Emirates Department of Water Resources Studies and 20 other U.S., European and South African research laboratories to decipher the complex processes controlling the area's climate." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"Builders turn Tokyo into a greenhouse" - "IT has been the hottest summer on record in Tokyo but for once environmentalists are not blaming global warming.

Instead, they claim massive city construction projects are responsible for playing havoc with local weather patterns, sending the thermometer to a record 42.7C last month.

They also believe they have the answer: "wind paths" through the crowded city which would allow cooler air to flow across the city from the coast." (The Scotsman)

"Heatwave scale could save lives" - "A heatwave warning system, similar to the scales used to predict wind speeds and hurricanes, is being developed to protect people as the climate warms, the conference heard yesterday. Heatwaves are killing more people each year in America than tornadoes, hurricanes and floods combined, according to John Harrington, of Kansas State University, who is working on a one to five warning scale." (Paul Brown, The Guardian)

wpe1.gif (16506 bytes) Uh-oh... "Global cooling, everywhere" - "For Canadians who have spent the summer asking where summer has gone, new satellite observations show we're not alone.

According to an analysis by scientists at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, July was the coldest worldwide since 1992. That year's cool spell was precipitated by the eruption of the Philippine volcano Pinatubo, which spewed 20 to 30 million tonnes of sunlight-deflecting dust into the atmosphere.

But scientists don't know why the Earth's thermostat has dropped this year." (Stephen Strauss, Globe and Mail)

"Summer storms packing high winds lash Europe, kill nine in France" - "PARIS - Freak storms packing howling winds and heavy rain that lashed Britain and France this week continued, threatening more destruction after leaving at least nine dead in their wake and ripping apart houses in several towns and villages." (AFP)

Spitzer spits: "Behind the Global Warming Lawsuit" - "Robert J. Samuelson assailed a group of state attorneys general about a lawsuit they filed that was intended to help curtail global warming. He said the effort was insincere and the cause hopeless [op-ed, Aug. 11]. Unless the entire world adopts corrective measures, the actions we seek won't matter, he said.

He is wrong. The consensus among scientists is that even modest reductions in pollution levels are beneficial. And that is what our lawsuit is designed to achieve." (The Washington Post)

I'm sure you're a legend in your own lunchbox Eliot but the essential trace gas you are suing to reduce just ain't a "pollutant" lad.

"In hot pursuit of polluters" - "Global warming goes to court as eight US states sue utilities for physical damage." (The Christian Science Monitor)

This might prove to be a good thing in the long run, at least from the perspective of exposing what a cobbled crock of superstition and make-believe the entire enhanced greenhouse-forced catastrophic global warming farce really is.

And, while we're about it, if nasty CO2-emitters are to be made responsible for emitting an essential trace gas on society's behalf (while providing the electrickery we demand) - made to take ownership of it, in other words - then these owners must be able to charge end users of that gas. This means all crops that benefit from aerial fertilisation, all stock that eat fodder that benefited from enhanced CO2 and people's gardens, cities' parks, national parks and reserves and so on have all been taking the utilities' CO2 without recompense - we've been stealing it!

You can't have it both ways - either essential CO2 is a wonderful renewable commons resource or it belongs to and remains in control of its source emitters, in which case we owe an enormous amount of back-rent on a resource we absolutely cannot do without.

"Global warming's surprising fallout" - "Can global warming lead to earthquakes?" (The Christian Science Monitor)

Virtually: "European Winters Could Disappear by 2080 - Report" - "AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Europe is warming up more quickly than the rest of the world, and cold winters could disappear almost entirely by 2080 as a result of global warming, researchers predicted Wednesday." (Reuters)

"The long-range weather forecast: more flash floods for Britain" - "Britain should expect more dangerous flash floods, catastrophic rain and hail storms, droughts and heatwaves from the rapid changes in rainfall patterns brought by global warming, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said yesterday as clean-up operations continued in flooded Boscastle." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

Oh dear! Either Vidal seriously misquotes EEA's report (likely) or the report is so seriously flawed as to be not worth reading: "The concentration of CO2 , the main greenhouse gas..." We are hopeful that the EEA has heard of H2O and is aware of its significance as a GHG. Vidal, however, is a lost cause to whom it is not really worth explaining that a compound cannot be "the main" GHG when another compound is an order of magnitude more significant. Viewed from the perspective that >1% of the troposphere is water vapour and <0.04% is carbon dioxide we would more correctly list CO2 as a minor GHG.

"Call it baked Alaska" - "HEAT WAVE: Anchorage has tied a 1936 record for most days at 70-plus degrees." (Anchorage Daily News)

"UK consumers face more gas, power price hikes" - "LONDON - British residential and industrial consumers face more rises in their gas and power bills this year as companies pass on surging wholesale energy prices, analysts and firms said yesterday. Wholesale electricity and gas prices have risen sharply in the last year on a mix of record high oil prices, rising subsidies for green power and dwindling supplies from North Sea gas fields." (Reuters)

"Windfarm ruling angers campaigners" - "ANTI-WINDFARM campaigners warned that the Highlands was on the edge of environmental disaster after councillors granted planning permission for 17 turbines beside an area of protected landscape." (The Herald)

"Sewage waters a tenth of world's irrigated crops" - "A tenth of the world’s irrigated crops - everything from lettuce and tomatoes to mangoes and coconuts - are watered by sewage. And much of that sewage is raw and untreated, gushing direct from sewer pipes into fields at the fringes of the developing world’s great megacities, reveals the first global survey of the hidden practice of waste-water irrigation." (NewScientist.com news service)

"Why pious organic munchers need to modify their reasoning" - "The ethical shopper is not necessarily one who snubs the multinationals, writes Julian Baggini." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Food Safety Concerns Drive US Organic Food Sales -Study" - "NEW YORK--Food safety concerns are contributing to the robust sales growth of organic foods, according to a study conducted by Chicago market research firm Mintel. Overall, the U.S. market for organic foods and beverages increased 81% from 2001 to 2004 to reach more than $5.3 billion, Mintel said. With reports about "mad cow" disease, bovine growth hormones in milk and other food crises circulating in the media, consumers expressed concerns about food safety and the integrity of the food supply. Roughly half of the respondents in the Mintel study said they were "highly concerned" about food safety. Another third described their concern as at a " medium" level. Half of the respondents also said they are concerned about genetic modification of foods." (Dow Jones)

"GM foods: perception vs. reality" - "DEPENDING who you listen to, you might easily presume that most Australians are dead set against genetically modified foods, or you might easily presume that most Australians don’t mind too much at all about genetically modified foods.

The truth, as ever, lies somewhere in between. The most accurate recent surveys show that about 50% of Australians will eat GM foods and about 50% won’t.

This hasn’t changed very much over the past few years, but the drivers of attitudes have changed. In 1999 and 2001, when Biotechnology Australia first conducted major Australia-wide studies into consumer attitudes towards gene technology, the major reason for people rejecting GM foods was health and safety concerns.

In late 2003, when the last phase of the study was undertaken, this had changed to the rejection of GM foods being based more on a lack of perceived consumer benefits in the foods." (ferret.com.au)

"Government opposes GM crop moratorium" - "The government has come out against a proposal calling for a five-year moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops in Switzerland. It said such a move would damage Switzerland’s standing in the field of agricultural research as well as its trade relations with other countries. Put forward by a coalition of environmental groups, consumers and farmers, the people’s initiative calls for a ban on the farming of GM crops for use in food, and the importing of GM seeds and fodder." (Swissinfo)

August 18, 2004

"Fiddling Piano Keys While Africa Burns" - "On Friday the science journal Nature published a series of papers on malaria and its control. Focusing on this preventable and curable disease is crucial and timely; malaria is the biggest killer of children in Africa accounting for over 1 million deaths world wide each year. Furthermore, we are now at the halfway point through the World Health Organization's (WHO) Roll Back Malaria program which can only be described as an unmitigated failure. Unless urgent and far reaching reforms are made to Roll Back Malaria and its partner organizations, malaria's death toll will continue unabated. One partner, UNICEF, the UN children's agency, is even sending a pianist instead of urgently needed nets and drugs.

The WHO, World Bank, the US aid agency, USAID, and UNICEF launched Roll Back Malaria in 1998. Their aim was to halve malaria deaths by 2010. So far malaria deaths have risen by 12%." (Roger Bate and Richard Tren, TCS)

"The Omega Fish" - "In the midst of unfounded health scares claiming that fish consumption is hazardous to your health, a recent study actually encourages increased fish intake. On July 19, 2004, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard School of Public Health and his colleagues published a study in the journal Circulation that attributes reduced risks of atrial fibrillation* to increased consumption of broiled or baked fish. This study adds to the larger body of research pointing to the health benefits of eating fish." (Sagine Gousse, ACSH)

"Steps families take to minimize asthma triggers in the home are either wrong or ignored" - "Parents of children who suffer with asthma are making many efforts to clear their homes of substances that could trigger their child's symptoms, but the steps they take aren't always the ones that could do the most good, a new University of Michigan study finds. And many don't take other steps that are known to help." (Medical Study News)

"School runs do not cause obesity" - "Driving children to school does not turn them into couch potatoes, UK research suggests. Whether a child walked to school or was driven made no difference to their overall activity levels, scientists at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth found. The additional activity of the average six minute walk to and from school each day made up only 2% of the children's total weekly activity." (BBC Online)

'Mad' Margot Wallström's being replaced and eco-doomsters are not happy:  "Eco sounding: All hope is lost" - "If the European Commission really wanted to signal that it didn't give a monkey's about the environment then it would probably choose as its new environment commissioner an old, rightwing free-marketeer lawyer who used to work for the World Bank and had responsibility for Africa in the bad old 1970s. Impossible? Not in the slightest. Welcome Stavros Dimas, 62, Greek economist, Wall Street banker and conservative lawyer. The fragile hopes of Europe's mountains, rivers, climate and forests rest on you." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

"LAWSUIT LIMITS?: Two rulings signal trouble for environmental law" - "Two recent state Supreme Court decisions bode ill for environmental protection in Michigan, as the slimmest majority of justices came to the brink of overruling a historic section of Michigan law.

The Michigan Environmental Protection Act, which has its roots in the 1970s, says that "any person" can go to court to protect "the air, water and other natural resources and the public trust in these resources." The four justices in the majority, who normally tout their faithfulness to the plain language of the law, went through contortions to explain why they'd prefer to ignore the words that say anyone can sue.

Basically, they said, the legislative branch of government can't just dump off every crackpot dispute that comes along onto the judicial branch; separation of powers requires more than that, they say." (Detroit Free Press)

"Nimbyism 'can bring benefits in planning'" - "Nimbyism can be a force for good that prevents bad planning decisions and protects rural areas from inappropriate development, according to researchers. Groups often accused of being selfish and parochial are sometimes engaged in progressive community action against planning authorities that are too influenced by particular, often private, interests. Geographers from Spain and Australia spoke up for the Nimby (not in my back yard) tendency at the congress of the International Geographical Union in Glasgow yesterday. They found that Nimbyism is a growing worldwide phenomenon, and that, ironically, such protest groups work to keep newcomers out while often being led by those who have recently moved into communities." (Daily Telegraph) | Selfish? Maybe, but nimbys can do real good (The Guardian)

"The Chasm Between Grand and Great" - "Next to Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground." (Shawn Macomber, Los Angeles Times)

"Siberian forest fires partly to blame for Seattle area violating EPA ozone limit" - "Siberian forest fire smoke pushed Seattle's air quality past federal environmental limits on one day in 2003, and a University of Washington scientist says rapidly changing climate in northern latitudes makes it likely such fires will have greater effects all along the West Coast." (University of Washington)

"Cool Weather Killed Gypsy Moths in Wisconsin" - "MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin's annual battle against a leaf-eating insect got some help from this spring's nasty weather, which resulted in a huge decline in tree defoliation, a state forestry expert said Monday.

The cool, wet spring was ``downright deadly'' for the gypsy moth, killing tens of millions of the caterpillars before they went on a munching binge in late June and July, said Andrea Diss, coordinator of the Department of Natural Resources' gypsy moth program.

Recent aerial surveys over much of eastern Wisconsin where the infestation is the worst spotted only 20 acres of moderate defoliation near Westcott in Shawano County, Diss said.

In 2003, the surveys determined 65,000 acres of wooded areas were defoliated by gypsy moth caterpillars, mostly in Marinette, Portage and Waupaca counties, she said." (AP)

"Matter of Time Before Tibet Lake Bursts -Official" - "BEIJING - A Tibetan lake formed by a Himalayan landslide is steadily rising and will sooner or later burst its banks and flood a valley in neighboring India, a Chinese official said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

Naturally: "Floods Intensify Global Warming Debate" - "The devastating floods in Boscastle intensified the global warming debate today as experts remained divided as to the cause of freak weather disasters." (PA News)

II: "A flash flood in the pan or a rainstorm caused by global warming?" - "Increasingly severe summer rainstorms like the one which led to the flood that devastated Boscastle are beginning to suggest the influence of global warming, a flood scientist said yesterday." (Independent)

From the aptly named FoE: "Weather Warning - Climate Change is Happening" - "Friends of the Earth issued a weather warning today as heavy rain caused flooding in the south west of England and thundery rain threatened the rest of the country. This summer's unpredictable conditions could be a warning of things to come as the UK's climate becomes more unstable as a result of climate change, the environmental campaign organisation said." (Press Release)

Starts well but can't resist GW hand-wringing in the end:  "A phenomenon that is difficult to forecast, and impossible to prevent" - "Fifty millimetres of rain across one square kilometre will add up to 50,000 tonnes of water. Altogether, in the hills above Boscastle, an estimated 70mm (nearly 3in) fell in just two hours.

The thin Cornish soil was already saturated with rain, and most of it started to run off, and run down hill. Across even a tiny catchment area of no more than 40 sq km, an estimated 3m tonnes of water would have cascaded down steep-sided valleys and into the rivers towards the sea.

Such conditions are perfect for a flash flood." (The Guardian)

Reality check : "Boscastle today, Prescott's concrete Britain tomorrow" - "THE DEVASTATING floods in Boscastle are a dramatic reminder that coastal beauty is often bought at a high price, being the outcome of the ever-restless sea and storms.

This picture-postcard resort in North Cornwall snuggles in a deep combe, gouged out of the rock beneath the confluence of three rivers, flowing through hills largely denuded of forest cover. Moreover, the stone-built and plaster-covered houses bravely face the mighty Atlantic Ocean, which throughout geological time has thrown all its wild energy and fury at this most capricious, yet charming, of coasts.

Inevitably, like scavengers, the “global warming” seagulls are now circling the stricken settlement, screeching ever more shrilly their cries of doom. I find this distasteful. We know that, for the past thousand years, the folk of this rough-hewn coast have suffered from “weather” and from the unpredicted coincidences of mighty natural phenomena." (Philip Stott, The Times)

See also: Rain, rivers and ruin (The Guardian)

"Extreme weather? It's the norm" - "What's up with the weather?

Hurricane Charley lashed the coast of Florida over the weekend, causing at least 19 deaths and billions of dollars of damage. The biggest swarm of locusts in a decade is currently devouring crops in West Africa. News reports show us dramatic photos of the village of Boscastle in Cornwall, England, looking like a town swept into the sea after yesterday's floods. The rest of the UK has tropical storm Bonnie, which killed three people in America, to look forward to (though by the time it reaches us it will only be 'high winds and rain'). And there have been 'extreme weather conditions' in Australia, China and Utah over the past week, too." (Brendan O'Neill, sp!ked)

"Mapping more of Northwest Passage question of Canadian sovereignty: scientists" - "Aboard The Amundsen Icebreaker In The Franklin Strait - Climate change threatens to create a northern sovereignty problem for Canada as an Arctic access route previously protected by ice becomes open to ships from other countries, researchers warn.

Many lives and ships have been lost over the centuries in the quest for the Northwest Passage, the legendary shortcut connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean in Canada's high Arctic that eluded such famous adventurers as Francis Drake, Martin Frobisher and Henry Hudson." (CBC News Online)

Before you go investing your hard-earned in fabulous far-Northern shipping enterprises, I know where there's a bridge you might be interested in.

"Cosmic ray link to global warming boosted" - "The controversial idea that cosmic rays could be driving global warming by influencing cloud cover will get a boost at a conference next week. But some scientists dismiss the idea and are worried that it will detract from efforts to curb rising levels of greenhouse gases." (New Scientist)

"Plankton poo key to global warming" - "IN science the little things really do count. Just ask Tasmanian researcher Dr Karin Beaumont, who is making it her life's work to discover how the microscopic poo of tiny ocean organisms is affecting global climate change." (AAP)

"Europe 'must adapt on climate'" - "Europeans must learn how to live with a changing climate as well as seeking to limit its effects by cutting emissions, the European Environment Agency says. An EEA report, Impacts of Europe's changing climate, says fewer than 50 years remain to act against the threat. It says melting meant Europe's glaciers lost a tenth of their mass last year, and harvests fell by almost a third. The EEA says the climate change under way now probably exceeds all natural climate variation for a thousand years." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"The Symbiont Shuffle" - "Upon entering the Modern Warm Period, earth's corals have begun to dance to a radically different tune than that which was popular in prior decades and centuries; and that new tune is requiring, and causing, a significant realignment of the corals' symbiotic algal partners." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Antarctica (Sea Ice)" - "Is the sea ice of the Southern Ocean gradually disappearing in response to the supposedly unprecedented global warming of the past quarter-century?" (co2science.org)

"Biodiversity (C 3 vs. C 4 Plants" - "As the air's CO 2 content continues to rise, will C 3 plants out-compete C 4 plants, leading to their exclusion from certain of earth's ecosystems and a reduction in species richness?" (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Big Bluestem, Buffalo Grass, Little Bluestem and Switchgrass." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"A Twentieth-Century History of North Atlantic Hurricanes" - "Have they become more frequent as the globe has warmed in completing its recovery from the Little Ice Age?" (co2science.org)

"The Medieval Warm Period on Russia's Kola Peninsula" - "Just how warm was it?  And what do the results suggest about the infamous hockeystick temperature history that is used by climate alarmists to promulgate their rapidly fading claim that the world is currently warmer than it has been over the past two millennia?" (co2science.org)

"The Urban CO 2 Dome of Krakow, Poland" - "Diurnal sets of data obtained at different times of the year reveal the urban CO 2 dome of Krakow, Poland to be similar in nature and origin to the CO 2 domes of several other cities of the world." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated CO 2 on Plant Nutritional Quality and Subsequent Herbivory by Grasshoppers" - "Do CO 2 -induced decreases in the protein contents of C 3 grasses lead to greater foliage consumption by grasshoppers that feed on them?" (co2science.org)

"The Response of Earth's Biosphere to Atmospheric CO 2 and Temperature Trends: 1981-2000" - "With the "twin evils" of the climate-alarmist crowd rising to "unprecedented" levels over the last two decades of the 20th century, one would expect the biosphere to be truly "feeling the heat," i.e., suffering.  Is it?" (co2science.org)

"New York issues emergency order to cut acid rain emissions" - "ALBANY, N.Y. -- Citing what they called a public health emergency, New York officials on Tuesday ordered power plants to reduce emissions blamed for acid rain.

State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin Crotty announced the emergency order aimed at reducing emissions at least temporarily. At the same time, she announced an appeal of the decision by a state judge this spring that had blocked the same regulations from taking effect permanently.

"These regulations are critical in order to further protect public health and New York's precious natural resources," Crotty said.

"Any delay in implementing these critical regulations will result in more than 40,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide being pumped into New York's air," she added." (Associated Press)

But that sulphur is protecting us - from global warming (Erin must've seen it, it was in all the news!).

"We're Lucky to Have Clean Air, but it's not all Due to Luck" - "Around the country--and especially in America's biggest metro areas--air quality has been good this year. Given this continuing trend, it is evident that no further federal clean air regulations are required." (Ben Lieberman, The Chicago Sun Times)

"Wind farm planned in Monterey could be largest in Virginia" - "Plans for a large commercial wind farm are drawing complaints from some residents who say towering windmills will mar stunning vistas that gave Highland County the nickname "Virginia's Switzerland." (Associated Press)

Now, about those nuclear 'hazards'... "14 miners die a day hauling coal for China's masses" - "JINCHENG, China - Every morning, hundreds of thousands of miners descend into China's coal caverns and begin heaving out the black chunks that help drive the nation's expanding economy. By nightfall on an average day, 14 of the miners are dead.

Coal mining, on which China relies for two-thirds of its energy needs, is by far China's most dangerous occupation. Cave-ins, floods and explosions reap a daily human harvest. Miners pay for the sneakers and blouses that China exports with crushed bones, asphyxiated comrades and lives lost in dim and dust-choked caverns." (Knight Ridder Newspapers)

"Taking stock of sustainable development" - "TWO years after SA hosted the World Summit on Sustainable Development, government has taken on the daunting task of leading the implementation of targets set by world leaders at the Johannesburg summit. SA wants to avoid falling into the same trap as the previous summits held in Stockholm and Rio de Janeiro, which have come under fire for failing to monitor progress and implement targets more than 10 years after hosting the event. To mobilise South Africans behind the Johannesburg development goals, government will mark the second anniversary of the summit with a conference to take stock of progress made." (Business Day)

"World faces population explosion in poor countries" - "Rich nations will downsize, but Britain will grow at the fastest rate in Europe" (The Guardian)

"Head of Dolly clone lab is found hanged" - "THE head of the science lab which created Dolly the sheep has been found hanging in his holiday home. Professor John Clark, who was believed to have been suffering from depression was found in his remote cottage in the village of Cove, north of Eyemouth, on the Berwickshire coast. Prof Clark lead the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, one of the world’s leading animal biotechnology research centres." (Evening News)

"Monsanto ripped over wheat experiments" - "TORONTO - Field trials of genetically modified wheat are still being conducted in Canada by multinational biotech giant Monsanto despite a pledge earlier this year that the testing would be abandoned, critics said Tuesday." (CP)

"Farmers told growing GM food 'safe'" - "A South African expert on genetically modified (GM) food says Australian farmers should not be afraid of growing the crops. A professor of microbiology at the University of Cape Town, Jennifer Thompson, has addressed the International Entomology Congress being held in Brisbane." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"French Plans to Test Genetically Modified Vines Prompt Outcry From Many European Winemakers" - "Stirring up controversy in Europe, French researchers may plant genetically modified grapevines in a test vineyard in Alsace this fall if the government approves the project, which is backed by government scientists but strongly opposed by some leading winemakers." (Wine Spectator)

August 17, 2004

"Ban on assault weapons didn't reduce violence" - "The federal assault-weapons ban, scheduled to expire in September, is not responsible for the nation's steady decline in gun-related violence and its renewal likely will achieve little, according to an independent study commissioned by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

"We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence," said the unreleased NIJ report, written by Christopher Koper, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania." (The Washington Times)

"Canaries in a coal mine" - "For people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, 'harmless' chemicals can be lethal" (The Daily Camera)

Despite Google coming up with some half-million odd hits for "Multiple Chemical Sensitivity" there's no evidence such a condition actually exists. Perhaps one of the more useful links provided from a net search would be the one pointing to Quackwatch.

"Cleaning Up Indoor Air" - "Aug. 16, 2004 -- These days, the air inside many homes is more polluted than the air outside. That's because everything from pets to gas appliances to paint and cleaning products contributes to indoor air pollution." (NPR)

"Save the Whales! Then What?" - "Some whale populations are on the rebound. Can they be both protected and eaten?" (New York Times)

"Low-carb diets get thermodynamic defence" - "Biochemists argue that food calories are not all equal." (News @ Nature)

Must be August... "The devil in their diet" - "Parents have long believed that artificial food colourings could cause hyperactive behaviour in children. Now, at last, scientists seem to have proved it, writes Geoff Watts" (Independent)

"Korean scientists have found that regions near AM radio-broadcasting towers had 70 percent more leukemia deaths than those without" - "The study, to be published in an upcoming issue of the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, also found that cancer deaths were 29 percent higher near such transmitters.

However, they also said their study did not prove a direct link between cancer and the transmitters.

"There have been many studies like these, and they aren't very convincing," said Mary McBride, an epidemiologist at the British Columbia Cancer Agency. Many other factors could have contributed to those cancer rates, said McBride, who has headed a number of similar studies and found no direct link.

Equally important is that studies in the lab don't show how radio waves can produce cancers, she said." (Wired News)

"Death rates for young children are related seasonal levels of particulate air pollution and cold temperatures" - "Seasonal variations in death rates for young children are related to high levels of particulate air pollution and cold temperatures during the winter months, and to high levels of particulate pollutants and nitrogen dioxide during the summer months, according to a Spanish study in the August Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine." (News-Medical.Net)

Sir John writes again: "Global warming is getting worse - but the message is getting through" - "In a Guardian article a year ago, I called Global Warming a weapon of mass destruction. I warned that events such as heat waves, floods and droughts will be more frequent and destructive as more carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas." (John Houghton, The Guardian)

"Experts: West is feeling the heat" - "Ongoing warm-up hikes chances of spring floods and shrinking supply of water from snowpack." (Sacramento Bee)

Not the Two-buck Chuck! "Global Warming Menaces California Wine Industry" - "WASHINGTON - California will become hotter and drier by the end of the century, menacing the valuable wine and dairy industries, even if dramatic steps are taken to curb global warming, researchers said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Study Finds Climate Shift Threatens California" - "SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 16 - A scientific study released on Monday presents an alarming view of climate changes in California, finding that by the end of the century rising temperatures could lead to a sevenfold increase in heat-related deaths in Los Angeles and imperil the state's wine and dairy industries." (New York Times)

"New Zealand: Glaciers growing" - "Last summer's snow storms in the Southern Alps are being credited with ice mass gains in the region's glaciers. National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research senior climate scientist Jim Salinger said in a statement today the 50 Southern Alps glaciers the institute monitors have gained much more ice than they lost during the past 12 months. Dr Salinger said this was because much more snow fell in the Southern Alps last spring and summer in more frequent cool and stormy conditions. From September 2003 to February 2004 temperatures were 0.5degC below average and snow precipitation was between 30 per cent and 50 per cent more than normal." (NZPA)

"Hurricane Charley highlights prediction problems" - "Storm's intensity caught forecasters unawares." (News @ Nature)

"Climate legacy of 'hockey stick'" - "There are few more provocative symbols in the debate over global warming than the "hockey stick". The hockey stick was a term coined for a chart of temperature variation over the last 1,000 years, which suggested a recent sharp rise in temperature caused by human activities." (BBC Online)

"Ironing out an idea" - "New proposal would use ocean to store carbon" (Sacramento Bee)

"Probe into rising ocean acidity" - "The UK's Royal Society has launched an investigation into the rising acidity of the world's oceans due to pollution from the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The change could have catastrophic consequences for marine life. Oceans mop up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, lowering the water's pH value - an effect that may be exacerbated by burning of fossil fuels. Scientists on the working group are due to publish an initial report into the phenomenon by early next year." (BBC Online) | Reefs under threat from acid oceans (The Guardian)

"Climate-change deal signed" - "AUSTRALIA and China have agreed on six new projects to combat greenhouse gases under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed today in Beijing. The projects range from using satellite imagery to help measure greenhouse emissions from farms to helping China formulate a national climate change strategy. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who signed the MOU in Beijing with China's National Development and Reform Commission, said both countries had much to gain from a bilateral program in the climate change area." (AAP)

"Hot air on global warming won't save lives" - "Some California policy-makers believe they have divined a way to protect the planet from global climate change. But the pending regulations from the state's Air Resources Board will have no discernable effect on planetary temperatures, while wrecking havoc on our highways and lifestyles." (Barry W. McCahill, San Francisco Chronicle)

Hmm... "UK: Maverick scientists struggle to be heard" - "Scientists with unorthodox views face an uphill struggle to be heard in the UK as the first instinct of the scientific community is to shout down dissent, a researcher claimed today." (Press Association) | Science creates 'own mavericks' (BBC Online)

I don't think Pusztai was suspended for holding his views but rather for inappropriately blurting non-reviewed and sensational nonsense in an interview - contrary to his employing institute's instructions. Whatever the case, he and his wife have since become the darlings of the anti-science brigade, touring the world at the expense of wealthy pressure groups and proliferating anti-science views that all reviews dispute. That doesn't make Pusztai 'a maverick struggling to be heard' but rather something of a dangerous dill with a megaphone.

"Biotech bans finally arouse farm industry" - "California's agricultural establishment is gearing up for a ballot-box brawl this fall. Worried that county bans on biotech crops could spread throughout the state, mainstream farm groups from the California Cattlemen's Association to the national Farm Bureau are marshaling their resources. It's a change in tactics for biotech backers, who until now have left the ban issue mostly in the hands of biotech companies." (Sacramento Bee)

"Rival groups in GM controversy clash in French maize field" - "A new front has opened up in the controversy over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food with the surprise emergence in France of a group of radical rural campaigners claiming to be in favour of open-field experiments.

In a maize field near Marsat in the Puy-de-Dôme at the weekend, gendarmes intervened after the anti-globalisation campaigner José Bové and 500 of his supporters came to blows with a new group describing itself as "volunteer farmers and researchers in favour of GMO tests".

The clash came amid growing signs that the French authorities are wavering in their opposition to open-field tests of GM crops, the seeds of which are developed in laboratories to be resistant to certain pests or to herbicides. In recent weeks even the conservative French wine-growing industry has announced it wishes to keep an open mind over the possible benefits of GMOs." (Independent)

"California Wine vs. Two-Legged Pests" - "California is under attack by parasites, of both the six-legged and two-legged variety. The former are glassy-winged sharpshooters, leaf-hopping insects that are among the state's most insidious agricultural pests. They carry Pierce's disease, a lethal bacterial infection of grapevines and other major crops, for which there is no cure. The two-legged parasites are the activists and regulators who are making safe, effective new agricultural technologies unavailable in California." (Henry I. Miller, TCS)

August 16, 2004

"USAID's Troubling Malaria Efforts" - "The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), once responsible for saving millions of lives when it funded the global malaria eradication programme in the 1950s and 60s, has lost its way on malaria control. Since the 1980s, it has chosen not to support some of the most effective methods of malaria control and chooses instead to fund what it considers appropriate -- something often at odds with what malaria countries want and need. Allegations have been made by senior malaria control officers at a recent Southern Africa Malaria Control Conference in Botswana that USAID is not only ignoring what makes for good malaria control, but that it is actually trying to subvert the sovereign rights of a nation to determine its own malaria control policy. USAID's actions cost lives and have to stop." (Richard Tren, TCS)

"USAID Bemoans Malaria Spread" - "The Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria, Dr. Garba Abdul, has bemoaned the increasing level of malaria in the country, saying the situation has become worrisome especially with its increased impact on infant death." (This Day, Nigeria)

"The 'Dead Zone' Fish Story" - "It was the "Summer of the Shark." In 2001, massive numbers of hapless swimmers were shredded up and down U.S. shores. Or so the media told us. Turns out there were 11 FEWER U.S. shark attacks than the year before. The hysteria only ended in September, when the nation got some truly scary news.

But as 9/11 fades from memory, shark attack stories are back -- with a twist. The media have combined them with another bit of nonsense it consistently promotes with the ominous name of "The Dead Zone." Shark attacks AND a dead zone, oh my! Good thing it's all a fish story." (Michael Fumento, TCS)

"There's a Cure for Frivolous Drug Lawsuits" - "Morning sickness — the nausea and vomiting that afflicts more than half of all pregnant women — can be debilitating. There used to be an excellent prescription medication to treat it, but the manufacturer stopped selling the drug in the United States. Safety problems? Unprofitability? Not at all. Frivolous, debilitating lawsuits killed this drug." (Henry I. Miller, Los Angeles Times)

"Weighing the Benefits and Risks of Eating Farmed Salmon" - "Farmed salmon is getting yet another grilling this summer. Reports in an environmental journal once again suggest that contamination with "chemicals" (this time including fire-retardant chemicals) makes salmon a less than healthy food. There are many, however, who beg to differ." (Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)

"Police blame health crisis on radio mast" - "Six people including a chief inspector, other officers and civilian workers at a police station have blamed debilitating health complaints on a mast for a controversial new communications system yards from their desks.

Chief Insp Steve Strong and his staff reportedly believe their bouts of dizziness and severe headaches began when a transmitter for the Tetra radio network was put up.

Around 25 people living near the mast at the station in North Walsham, Norfolk, have complained of similar symptoms. Other reported health complaints include repeated nosebleeds, especially among children, disturbed sleep and skin problems." (Daily Telegraph)

"Children beating cancer" - "ALMOST two in three cancer victims are surviving the disease, with new figures showing a dramatic increase to 61 per cent - up from 50 per cent 20 years ago. Research released last week showed child cancer rates also improved sharply, with eight out of 10 children beating the disease. "It's a major turnaround," Cancer Council chief executive, Dr Andrew Penman, said. "It's remarkable what advances have been achieved - 50 years ago, cancer was a death sentence." (The Sunday Telegraph)

"Chronic overeating called an addiction" - "Just as federal health officials defined obesity as an illness, researchers at the University of Florida say mounting evidence suggests chronic overeating may be a substance abuse disorder and should be considered an addiction." (The Washington Times)

Uh-huh... "Pollutants cause huge rise in brain diseases"- "The numbers of sufferers of brain diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, have soared across the West in less than 20 years, scientists have discovered." (The Observer)

Two words: "labelling" "longevity"

and another dog days item: "Birth Month May Influence Brain Cancer Risk" - "NEW YORK - The time of year in which a person is born may somehow sway the risk of developing brain cancer in adulthood, new research suggests." (Reuters Health)

Wash Post series: "An Agency Takes a Turn" - "Under President Bush, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has made sometimes subtle changes in regulations that carry large consequences for workers and employers. Across the government, the Bush administration has started fewer regulations and killed more of the proposals Bush inherited than two predecessors." (The Washington Post)

II: "A Policy Puts Science on Trial" - "A last-minute addition to an unrelated piece of legislation has created a tool for attacking the science used by federal agencies as a basis for new regulations. Industry has embraced the Data Quality Act to challenge 32 major proposals, including a successful assault on efforts to restrict the use of the herbicide atrazine." (The Washington Post)

Wash Post has a problem with quality data? Social responsibility demands it, the precautionary principle underlines the need for it and the Wash post don't like the DQA - go figure.

III: "A Word Accelerates Mountaintop Mining" - "By changing the word "waste" to "fill" in a regulation covering coal mining, Bush appointees have allowed an increase in the destruction of mountaintops in Appalachia." (The Washington Post)

"Scientists exercise their minds so we won't have to" - "Medical treatment to reduce obesity without dieting or exercise is promised by Australian research. A team of medical scientists led by Mark Febbraio from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Skeletal Muscle Research Laboratory has isolated a protein, interleukin 6, that breaks down fat in humans." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"NASA Identifies Foam Flaw That Killed Astronauts" - "NEW ORLEANS - The foam that struck the space shuttle Columbia soon after liftoff -- resulting in the deaths of seven astronauts -- was defective, the result of applying insulation to the shuttle's external fuel tank, NASA said on Friday." (Reuters)

"Hungry world 'must eat less meat'" - "World water supplies will not be enough for our descendants to enjoy the sort of diet the West eats now, experts say." (Alex Kirby, BBC News Online)

Wrong non-solution - again. The answer lies not in curtailing people but desalinating a lot more water.

"The Sun, Cosmic Rays and Our Environment" - "The capability of new instruments to detect fine amounts of matter created high in the Earth's atmosphere by cosmic rays leads to a strange notion -- that some local environmental change on Earth is linked with the fluctuations of cosmic rays over periods of years to millennia." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"Greenland ice core project yields probable ancient plant remains" - "A team of international researchers working on the North Greenland Ice Core Project recently recovered what appear to be plant remnants nearly two miles below the surface between the bottom of the glacial ice and the bedrock." (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Oops! Ozone Al touts a fraud: "'Boiling Point': Who's to Blame for Global Warming?" - "THE blend of passionate advocacy and lucid analysis that Ross Gelbspan brings to this, his second book about global warming, is extremely readable because the author's voice is so authentic. When Gelbspan first encountered the issue as a reporter nine years ago, he writes, he had no inkling of how it would change his life. But as he put together the evidence of the global climate crisis he describes in this book, he found himself pulled inexorably to do more than simply write about it. So he now feels called to a kind of mission: to describe what is happening, to single out the specific failures and misdeeds of politicians, energy companies, environmental activists and journalists who share responsibility for our predicament, and then propose bold solutions that -- unlike more timid blueprints already on the public agenda -- would in his view actually solve the problem.

For a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the top of his game, this is a career detour requiring courage I greatly admire." (Al Gore, New York Times)

Poor Ozone Al, now he's touting for a "Pulitzer Prize-winner" that Pulitzer does not list in their database of winners and finalists. This was raised years ago and Gelbspan's still full of it!

"Charley's Aftermath" - "Hurricane Charley, whose destructive path surprised meteorologists, should remind us that nature is almost as hard to predict as it is to control." (New York Times editorial)

You see! Even the Old Gray Lady is still capable of occasionally lucid commentary on weather and, by extension, climate. We can't predict weather 50-100years hence and we sure as heck can't control it!

"Worlds apart" - "In any discussion of climate change, it is essential to distinguish between the complex science of climate and the myth - in the sense of Roland Barthes, or the 'hybrid', following Bruno Latour - of 'global warming'" (Philip Stott, sp!ked)

Really? "Ancient Rome's fish pens confirm sea-level fears" - "Coastal fish pens built by the Romans have unexpectedly provided the most accurate record so far of changes in sea level over the past 2000 years. It appears that nearly all the rise in sea level since Roman times has happened in the past 100 years, and is most likely the result of human activity." (New Scientist)

Well, perhaps not - it could just as easily prove that guesstimates of +5" (~13cm) rise in mean sea level over the past century are way overblown - especially since Australia's National Tidal Facility can find no such rate of rise from a geologically stable platform with extensive shores on the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans.

Rav'n in Aussie: "Warning of global warming 'insanity'" - "VAST tracts of northern Australia will turn to desert, the nation's alpine vegetation will disappear and thousands of plant and animal species will become extinct this century.

These predictions were made by internationally renowned botanist Peter Raven as he arrived in Brisbane to deliver the keynote address today to the International Congress of Entomology.

Dr Raven said he was concerned the public was becoming complacent about global warming because a "small handful" of scientists were generating widespread publicity for their view that world temperatures are not rising.

British botanist David Bellamy and Swedish statistician Bjorn Lomborg are among those who say the hot weather of recent years is not unusual historically and that greenhouse gas emissions are not causing a global warming crisis." (The Australian)

"Climate Alarmist Alert! New Princeton Study Warns of Doom, Promises the Moon" - "Washington, D.C., August 12, 2004— According to a new study appearing in the August 13 issue of the journal Science, “We already have the technology we need to take the world off the path toward dramatic climate change.” But a cursory glance at the advance summary reveals that the study, conducted by Princeton Environmental Institute’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI), is completely out of touch with economic, political, and environmental reality." (CEI)

"You can't sue the sun (yet)" - "A few weeks ago, eight state attorneys general (representing California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin), joined by the corporation counsel of New York City, announced a federal lawsuit against five power companies (American Electric Power Co., Cinergy Corp., Southern Co., the Tennessee Valley Authority and Xcel Energy Inc.).

The AGs contend those companies produce about 10 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions by burning fossil fuels and thus contribute to global warming. The lawsuit has been brought under a legal theory that global warming is a "public nuisance" caused by the generation of greenhouse gases as a byproduct of power production." (Thomas Humber, The Washington Times)

"A Manhattan Project for Climate Change?" - "The cover a recent issue of Business Week focuses on global warming. The story line is that there is a growing consensus among scientists, governments, and business for fast action to combat climate change. This sample is typical: "'Climate change is a greater threat to the world than terrorism', argues Sir David King, chief science adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair: 'Delaying action for a decade, or even just years, is not a serious option.'" (Pete Geddes, TCS)

"Architects warn buildings need to be stronger to cope with climate change" - "VIOLENT climate change will force Scottish architects to re-think building design, experts warned last night. They said that widespread flooding and rising temperatures, as witnessed in many parts of the country last week, are likely to become a regular feature of the Scottish climate. And architects believe some buildings will not be able to withstand the dramatic change in climate." (Scotland on Sunday)

"1.3 billion reasons to worry about oil: China to rival U.S. as oil guzzler" - "American leaders have good reason to worry about the price of oil. Oil price shocks can play a decisive role in ending a presidency, as in the cases of Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. The Nov. 2 election may well hinge on the cooling of the economic recovery caused by sustained high levels of oil prices. But that's not really what the next president should be so concerned about. The real oil shocks - much more damaging and sustained than ever before - will come a bit later, but much sooner than anyone had expected, from a part of the world not even discussed seriously in the current campaign: China." (Newsday)

"Why reacting against reactors is irrational" - "A couple of questions have been bothering me recently. Exactly when does the government expect the lights to start going out round Britain? And, more importantly, when do our masters think it might be timely to act?" (Robin McKie, The Observer)

"Tidal flow to power New York City" - "Come September, the fishy inhabitants of New York's East River will acquire some sleek new neighbours.

Verdant Power, an energy company based in Arlington, Virginia, plans to plunge six electricity turbines into the East River. If the $4.5-million project is successful, the generators will form the first farm of tide-powered turbines in the world." (News @ Nature)

"New plan turns waste into fuel for the future" - "A STATE-of-the-art recycling facility that removes and sorts glass and metal from unsorted domestic waste, and produces a substitute fuel from the remainder for energy production is to be built in Dumfries and Galloway." (The Scotsman)

"Clue to stopping killer viruses" - "Scientists believe they may have found a new way to fight diseases like Aids and leukaemia. Researchers in the United States say they have identified a chemical, which may be able to stop so-called retroviruses in their tracks." (BBC Online)

"Don't Let the Bugs Bite" - "Can genetic engineering defeat diseases spread by insects?" (Science News Online)

"French protesters trash biotech corn field" - "MARSAT, France - Several hundred protesters trashed a field of genetically engineered corn, despite the presence of about 100 pro-biotech militants and almost as many police." (AFP)

"Enriched rice a distant dream for India" - "New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) Fears of environmental damage and food safety have held up India's plans to develop varieties of genetically modified (GM) nutrition enriched rice that could solve some of India's malnutrition problems.

"Products like salinity- and drought-tolerant rice varieties as well as the vitamin-A enriched Golden Rice have been developed but we are not getting the green signal to go ahead with field-testing," said Swapan K. Datta of the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Fears about food safety of GM agriculture products continue to be a major hurdle to solutions for problems like pests, salinity and drought, he contended." (Indo-Asian News Service)

"Tough To Swallow" - "As America and Europe squabble over the viability of genetically modified foods, Egypt is quietly developing modified corn and cotton crops that have the potential to boost output and reduce chemical spraying. But even if the crops prove safe, some fear GM production could interfere with Egypt’s exports to the EU. Are GM foods worth the risk?" (Business Today Egypt)

August 13, 2004

"Study Linking Whiteners, Cancer Has Cavities" - "Do tooth whiteners lead to oral cancer? That was the disturbing question presented by Georgetown University researchers this week at a medical conference in Washington, D.C." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Science — and Asbestos — in the Courtroom" - "A recent study comparing x-ray analyses of asbestos-related lung damage revealed some troublesome results. An alarming discrepancy was found between conclusions drawn by physicians (certified experts called B-readers) hired by the plaintiff's lawyers and those drawn by unaffiliated physicians who reviewed the same x-rays. The B-readers, certified by the Public Health Service's National Institution for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), evaluated these chest x-rays for court cases, while the six outside consultants did not know the context from which these x-rays came, nor were they prompted to look specifically for asbestos. The results: the plaintiffs' B-readers reported that 95.9% of 492 chest x-rays had possible asbestos-related lung damage, the unaffiliated doctors found that only 4.5% of them showed possible damage. The enormous discrepancy between evaluations has called into question the system under which scientific evidence is presented in court cases." (Sagine Gousse, ACSH)

"Federal study finds no public health risk at Livermore lab" - "Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory does not pose an apparent public health risk, a federal study has concluded, sparking anger among people in the community who called the assessment flawed." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"DuPont Defends Its Reporting on Teflon Ingredient" - "Chemical giant DuPont Co. told the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday that it fully complied with federal reporting rules on health and environmental risks associated with a key ingredient used in making Teflon." (Washington Post)

"EPA stands by action on C-8" - "Federal regulators said Thursday that despite claims by the DuPont Co. that it acted properly, they will continue to pursue action against the chemical company for failing to report potential problems with a chemical used in Teflon production. DuPont officials late Wednesday rejected the Environmental Protection Agency accusations and sought a hearing on the alleged violations.

DuPont said perfluorooctanoic acid was not a hazard at levels outlined in the federal complaint and said the federal agency had been aware of some of the disputed information for years." (The News Journal)

"Animal Crackers" - "The recent spate of animal rights incidents in Britain was perfectly timed to coincide with the government's upgrade of its anti-animal rights terrorism laws. Recent news reports have shown the strong and growing influence of animal rights extremists in Britain. Apart from the usual terror tactics used against employees and anyone remotely connected to Huntingdon Life Sciences, activists have more recently targeted shareholders from Montpellier, the company due to build a new research laboratory in Oxford. Threats of "prompt action" from extremists brought the project to a screeching halt and resulted in a 19 percent drop in share prices.

Indeed, this kind of situation is not unusual in Britain, where the Animal Liberation Front and its various spin-offs have been making life hell for ordinary people and their families under the banner of preventing animal cruelty. Their actions have even forced many people to go into hiding. It has been estimated that threats from anti-vivisection militants have been costing the country £1 billion per year in lost investments and special protection costs." (Florence Heath, TCS)

They're after your lunch... "Is your lunch killing the planet?" - "Aberfeldy, Scotland - What’s the connection between a toucan and mayonnaise? How is an orang-utan affected by your choice of sandwich? Why is the booted eagle thirsty because of your fizzy drink?" (WWF)

"The War on Fat" - "Is the size of your butt the government’s business?" (Jacob Sullum, Reason Online)

Oh dear... back to form: "Countryside alliance" - "Behind the rural nimbyism of the protests against wind farms is the sinister presence of the nuclear lobby" (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian)

For a deconstruction of Ms Toynbee's bizarre little rant, see The dark side of Our Polly... (EnviroSpin Watch)

In the virtual world: "Heat waves set to become 'brutal'" - 'Heat waves in the 21st Century will be more intense, more frequent and longer lasting, US experts report in the journal Science. Scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) used climate modelling to predict geographic patterns of future heat waves. Future heat waves in some areas of Europe and North America will become more common and extreme in the second half of the 21st Century. The research shows greenhouse emissions are likely to exacerbate the problem." (BBC Online) | Future heat waves: More severe, more frequent, longer lasting (NCAR/UCAR) | Future heat waves: More severe, more frequent and longer lasting (NSF)

"Non-linear Climate Change" - "Page 4 of the “Summary for Policymakers” section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR) prominently displays this misleading statement, “Since the late 1950s (the period of adequate observations from weather balloons), the overall global temperature increases in the lowest 8 kilometers of the atmosphere and in surface temperatures have been similar at 0.1°C per decade.” This implies near-surface and lower atmospheric temperatures behave in similar fashion, which is important to the IPCC because that’s how climate models predict they should behave. If things don’t act the way climate models say they should then there is a fundamental problem with the models. That's not something to which the IPCC warms up or owns up." (World Climate Alert)

"Settling Global Warming Science" - "How many times have we heard from Al Gore and assorted European politicians that "the science is settled" on global warming? In other words, it's "time for action." Climate change is, as recently stated by Hans Blix, former U.N. Chief for weapons detection in Iraq, the most important issue of our time, far more dangerous than people flying fuel-laden aircraft into skyscrapers or threatening to detonate backpack nukes in Baltimore Harbor.

Well, the science may now be settled, but not in the way Gore and Blix would have us believe. Three bombshell papers have just hit the refereed literature that knock the stuffing out of Blix's position and that the United Nations and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)." (Patrick J. Michaels, S. Fred Singer and David H. Douglass, TCS)

"Amy Ridenour: Global warming suits -- AGs ignore science, Constitution" - "THE ATTORNEYS GENERAL of eight states -- California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin -- have filed a lawsuit against five of the nation's largest electricity producers. The attorneys general claim their intent is to "curb global warming." More likely, it is a desire for publicity and, for some, an effort to jump-start political campaigns for the higher office of governor." (The Providence Journal)

"Stabilizing the global 'greenhouse' may not be so hard" - "Today's tools could cap emissions that contribute to global warming, study finds." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Technology already exists to stabilize global warming" - "Existing technologies could stop the escalation of global warming for 50 years and work on implementing them can begin immediately, according to an analysis by Princeton University scientists." (Princeton University)

"Global warming causes shrinkage of highland glaciers in Asia" - "Shrinkage of highland glaciers in Asia, including one on Mount Everest, has intensified over the past decade due to global warming, a senior Chinese scientist said on Wednesday.

While two-thirds of the total glaciers began shrinking in the 1950s to 1960s, still about 10 per cent of the glaciers in the area advanced, and others remained unchanged, head of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Yao Tandong said." (Press Trust of India)

"Industries doubt success of EU CO2 trading - study" - "AMSTERDAM - Companies across Europe are sceptical about the success of the European Union industrial emissions trading scheme and expect a delay in its launch beyond January 2005, a study showed yesterday." (Reuters)

"Ireland failing to meet Kyoto emission targets" - "Ireland's greenhouse-gas emissions are running far ahead of the targets set under the Kyoto Protocol, new figures published by the Central Statistics Office yesterday reveal." (Irish Times)

"Spoils of Pricier Oil" - "Americans need a higher gas tax as a market incentive to be weaned off an oil economy." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Kerry’s energy plan: stale air, not fresh ideas" - "One of Sen. John Kerry’s top applause-getters these days, as he campaigns from town to town, is the danger of America’s reliance on foreign energy, especially oil coming from Saudi Arabia.

It’s an issue that cuts several ways for the Democratic nominee: It allows him to make an implicit slap at President Bush’s long-standing relationship with the Saudi royal family. It allows him to lament the spiraling cost of oil and gasoline, which threatens the economy’s tenuous recovery. And it allows Kerry to assert an unassailable goal — self-sufficiency — without really explaining how he’ll get us there.

The problem is that it’s all hooey. Like it or not, this is a nation reliant on foreign oil. The Middle East holds a majority of the world’s oil reserves. Unless Kerry intends to import oil from another planet, his vaguely jingoistic rhetoric is beside the point: America is tied to foreign oil indefinitely." (The Virginian-Pilot)

"Fuelish Attack on Natural Gas" - "Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel, one reason it provides almost a fourth of U.S. energy and heats over half our homes. But already North America can't meet the continent's gas needs. With America's growing energy requirements, the amount we'll need to import is expected to double within 20 years. If some people have their way, though, that supply – and we – will be choked off." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Sun and hydrogen 'to fuel future'" - "Capturing sunlight to make enough hydrogen fuel to power cars and buildings has been brought a step closer by a British research company. Hydrogen Solar says it has managed to convert more than 8% of sunlight directly into hydrogen with fuel cell technology it has specially developed." (BBC News Online)

"Bigger wind turbines urged for birds' safety" - "A state-commissioned report that analyzed the relationship of dead birds and the world's largest wind farm in the East Bay found that bigger is better. So is taller. And fewer. Contained within a California Energy Commission report released this week were solutions for how to reduce the number of bird deaths in the Altamont Pass. The report recommends replacing the small wind turbines with fewer, larger turbines on taller towers." (Mercury News)

"'White biotechnology' attracting worldwide attention" - "TOKYO — Business enterprises worldwide are increasingly introducing "white biotechnology," aimed at saving energy and reducing waste by using fermentation, as a production method to cut corporate expenses. In Europe, biotechnology is categorized into three areas — "green" for the agricultural field, "red" for the medical field and "white" for the industrial field." (Japan Today)

"EU Commission prepares for battle over GMO seeds" - "BRUSSELS - Europe may again display its deep differences over biotechnology next month when the European Commission battles to find common ground on purity rules for seeds, the last piece in the EU's legal GMO jigsaw." (Reuters)

"‘Europe the loser' in race to develop GM food" - "European farmers will lose out to US growers if consumer sentiment changes and the public backs genetically modified crops, according to the head of BASF's agrochemical and biotechnology businesses. Peter Oakley said entrenched opposition in Europe to genetically modified crops could rapidly evaporate once products with clear benefits to the consumer were developed. But the crops would be grown elsewhere because of prohibitive rules being drafted that would make farmers and the industry liable for any economic damage to non-GM farming caused by GM crops, he said in an interview with the FT." (Financial Times)

"Beware of GM foods, Shein tells Africa" - "Africa should not be forced to accept genetically modified foods, Vice-President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein said yesterday. He said African countries must give serious consideration to related consequences before accepting genetically modified foods under the pretext of fighting hunger. Dr Shein made the remarks in Dar es Salaam when opening the Ninth Session of the Council of Ministers of the African Regional Industrial Property Organisation (Aripo)." (IPPMedia.com)

August 12, 2004

"Low level radiation 'no danger'" - 'The widely held view that even low levels of radiation damage health has no basis in hard science, a leading expert has said. Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski, former chairman of a United Nations committee on radiation effects, believes low levels may even be beneficial. He told the BBC Today programme: "Low levels of radiation are probably essential for life itself." However, the National Radiological Protection Board rejected the claim." (BBC Online)

But where are the bodies? The NRPB adheres to the Linear Non-Threshold hypothesis and yet can point to no apparent radiological harm suffered by people living in regions where natural background radiation levels are significantly higher than the allegedly maximum safe dose.

"Genes May Determine Who Developed Gulf War Syndrome, University at Buffalo Researchers Find; Variant in ACE Gene Appears to Cause Susceptibility to Environmental Triggers" - "BUFFALO, N.Y., Aug. 10 -- Veterans of the first Persian Gulf War suffering from medically unexplained fatigue associated with Gulf War Syndrome may have a genetic predisposition for developing the condition, geneticists at the University at Buffalo have found." (AScribe Newswire)

"Does your drinking water have Prozac in it?" - "It's unlikely. While all manner of drugs can be detected in sewage, and in rivers close to sewage outlets, processing the water appears to destroy any residual traces." (The Guardian)

"Fears grow as blood stocks pass on prions undetected" - "Transfusions could perpetuate Britain's vCJD epidemic" (News @ Nature)

The Polly Toynbee? "The BBC must not be led by the shock tactics of the Mail" - "Careless TV costs lives, as the over-hyped vaccine scares have shown" (Polly Toynbee, The Guardian)

"How many vaccinations is it safe for a baby to have at once?" - "Believe it or not, a baby has the theoretical capacity to tolerate 10,000 vaccines at any one time. This is, no doubt, news to the campaigners who have been arguing this week that the government's proposed new five-in-one jab could, at least according to the Daily Mail, overload a young baby's immune system while increasing the danger of autism and other brain disorders." (The Guardian)

Everyone's entitled to an opinion: "The true cost of meat" - "Americans each chomp their way through an astounding 100 kilos of meat every year - that's a medium steak per person per day. This worries Robert Lawrence, because a meaty diet with so many calories in saturated fats squeezes out healthier fruits, vegetables and grains. But, as he told Liz Else, he's busy providing the academic ballast for a national campaign to save the country from itself. And fortunately for him, he's an optimist." (New Scientist)

Inevitably: "EU Wants to Expand 'Dirty Dozen' Chemicals List" - "BRUSSELS - Nine "nasty" chemicals should be added to a list of 12 substances blamed for causing deaths and birth defects that are outlawed by a U.N. pact, the European Commission said on Wednesday. The European Union executive said it proposed banning the additional chemicals, which are all part of a group of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) -- toxic substances said to accumulate in people's and animals' bodies." (Reuters)

Apparently including breakfast cereal: "Denmark bans Kellogg's vitamins" - "Danish health officials yesterday banned the cereal company Kellogg's from adding vitamins and minerals to its famous food brands, saying they could damage the health of children and pregnant women. The company, which expressed incredulity at the decision, had hoped to enrich 18 breakfast foods and cereal bars with iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and folic acid, just as they already do in many countries including Britain." (The Guardian) | Food giant 'not cereal offender' (BBC Online)

Recycling 'synergy': "The mystery of chemical mixtures" - 'Dr Kortenkamp is a research scientist based at the University of London’s Pharmacy School. His interest is in the environmental effects of mixtures of chemicals — how mixtures of estrogenic chemicals may become endocrine disruptors, interfering with the normal functioning of hormones. His research has demonstrated that while single chemicals may not have observable results, once they are mixed with others in the environment, their effects may become pronounced." (WWF)

"Science in the movies: Hollywood or bust" - "Last month, a handful of scientists who have toyed with the idea of writing for the movies were given a masterclass by Tinseltown's finest. Jonathan Knight joined them." (News @ Nature)

"Reefs get global warming lifeline" - "Coral may be able to adapt to increased sea temperatures more easily than experts had thought. The finding allows cautious hope that the world's reefs will escape devastation at the hands of global warming." (News @ Nature)

Gee, wonder if that's how corals survived previous warmer episodes in Earth's (very) recent history.

[Insert guffaw here] "Climate predictions gain surer footing" - "Researchers who have devised a new approach to calculating global warming say they have reduced our uncertainty about the extent of warming to expect over the next 100 years.

The method, which predicts a temperature rise of at least 2.4°C over the next century, is not dependent on guessing the values of unknown factors. This should put climate modelling on a more solid footing and give policy makers a more rational basis for making decisions about preventing climate change and dealing with its consequences, says study leader James Murphy from the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter." (News @ Nature)

The item includes: "Near certainty? The results, presented in Nature, suggest that if carbon dioxide concentrations double over the next hundred years - as many believe they will - the planet will warm by between 2.4 and 5.4°C."

So, we're right back with the IPCC's absurd storylines - post industrial revolution we've had an increase of approximately 100ppmv atmospheric CO2 and here's our near-certainty - relying on a similar magnitude increase every 26 years through this century. So, the oil that's allegedly running out will remain cheap and abundant; technological improvement that's taken us from the horse and buggy to hybrid gas-electric vehicles, coal fires to heat pumps, sextant to GPS etc. over the last century will cease and energy efficiency will not improve at all over the next century and; standards of living (and longevity, with associated consumption increases and no fall in fertility rate) in the more populous third world will exceed that of the United States in less than a generation? Even under these 'worse case x 10'-type assumptions made by IPCC prognosticators a doubling of atmospheric CO2 would indeed be a prodigious effort.

"Academic causes new storm over global warming" - "Danish author Bjorn Lomborg raised an international hullabaloo two years ago with his "don't worry, be happy" approach to mounting evidence of impending global environmental catastrophe.

His claims drew sharp and immediate criticism from scientists, academics and environmental groups, some of whom dubbed him a pseudo-scientist or tabloid environmentalist.

And just as the dust is starting to settle over the Lomborg affair, a local academic has stuck his head into a hornet's nest by claiming that climate change predictions are really much ado about nothing.

Professor Will Alexander, from the University of Pretoria's Department of Civil and Biosystems Engineering, believes that global warming is actually good for South Africa.

Rather than harming the environment, he claims, the effects of global warming "are more likely to be beneficial than damaging." (The Mercury, ZA)

Guess The Mercury must've missed the press release on the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation repudiating the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty's unscientific and dishonest attack on Lomborg. Not that that's really a surprise, the prophets of the Green-Left, their acolytes and media machine were tireless in their efforts to silence Lomborg while only disinterested scientists and a few honest journalists fought to air any dissent. We might be able to understand the tawdry acts of pop-science rag SciAm but the disgraceful behaviour of once-great journal Nature was unforgivable. What a sordid little episode this has all been.

"MPs criticise UK's record on carbon emissions" - "Britain's strategy for countering climate change is seriously off course, and the Government is likely to miss one of its key global warming targets, a powerful cross-party group of MPs alleged yesterday." (Independent) | Climate change policy 'off course' (The Guardian)

"UK: MPs call for petrol prices to be increased" - "Petrol and diesel prices should rise "at the earliest opportunity" to help the fight against global warming, a committee of MPs has concluded in a highly critical report." (Daily Telegraph)

"NRDC Cooks Up Recipe For Disaster" - "In their July 2004 report Heat Advisory: How Global Warming Causes More Bad Air Days, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) ignores the observed downward trend in ozone concentration and concludes global warming, over the course of the next several decades, will lead to ozone concentrations in eastern U.S. cities significantly greater than today’s. To cook this one up, NRDC chooses to overlook observed quantities such as the trend in the air pollutants that are the precursors of ozone formation. The NRDC’s conclusions, like so many other predictions of widespread ecological disruption linked to anthropogenic global warming, exist only in the output of computer models. Real world observations tell a different story." (GES)

"Global Oil Demand Expected to Exceed Forecasts, Report Says" - "PARIS, Aug. 11 — Global oil demand is expected to be higher in 2004 and 2005 than initially forecast, increasing pressure on oil producers to boost their output at a time when rising oil prices may hurt a recovering world economy, according to a report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency." (New York Times)

"China in massive power surge" - "China hopes that a fivefold rise in nuclear-generating capacity by 2020 will help it to stave off a growing energy crisis and one of the planet's worst pollution problems. With plans to build two new reactors in each of the next 16 years, the world's fastest-expanding economy is attracting a throng of foreign power companies eager to grab a share of the biggest nuclear-construction boom since France in the 1980s.

The potential market is vast. China's population of 1.3 billion gets just 2% of its electricity from the country's nine reactors at present. Most of the rest - more than 75% - comes from coal-fired plants, which belch out a growing cloud of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases." (The Guardian)

"Simpler, so safer" - "The new generation of nuclear power plants is designed to be less complex (and, hence, safer) but, at the same time, more efficient." (The Guardian)

"Nuclear plants bloom" - "Is the reviled n-power the answer to global warming? John Vidal talks to the converts to the cause." (The Guardian)

"India's Woe Over H2O" - "Water is rarely a political topic in rich countries, and in most developing ones it only reaches the national media when its delivery becomes a problem. But India is something of an exception. It has both serious water problems and politicians that are routinely fired for not delivering voters this most precious substance. India desperately needs water reform, and especially privatization, but even the current Indian government -- the most free-market oriented realistically imaginable -- is unlikely to try to tackle hydro-politics." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"Stiffer rules required to stop commerce milking Antarctica" - "Bioprospecting could damage polar environment, say researchers" (News@Nature)

"Gene therapy cures monkeys of laziness" - "Switching off key gene turns layabout primates into keen workers." (News @ Nature)

"We must cotton on to the green con" - "It serves no one to demonise modified crops that help the land and the starving, writes Miranda Devine." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

August 11, 2004

"PCB-like chemical at higher levels in farm-grown fish" - "A PCB-like chemical used as a flame retardant has been discovered in commercially sold farmed salmon at levels significantly higher than in wild salmon.

A study to be published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology also shows that the levels of the contaminant vary according to where the fish were raised, with European fish having higher concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, than salmon raised in North or South America." (San Francisco Chronicle) | Farmed Salmon Raise Concerns (Washington Post)

"Fishing for a Scare" - "With every new bit of terrorist-related news, we hear that the color on the Department of Homeland Security's terror threat system is or isn't changing — from yellow (elevated) to orange (high), for example (here in New York City it's been orange since 9/11). Not that that change actually gives the average person any real directive on how he or she should change behavior. Now I'm beginning to wonder if we're seeing a similar phenomenon with respect to food — salmon in particular." (Ruth Kava, ACSH)

Fish good, soy bad? "Fatty acids show opposite effects on prostate cancer" - "NEW YORK - The fatty acids found in fish may slightly lower a man's risk of prostate cancer, but another type of fatty acid found in a range of foods may raise the risk, a large study suggests.

Researchers found that among nearly 48,000 U.S. men followed for 14 years, those with the highest intakes of two fatty acids found in oily fish were 26 percent less likely than men with the lowest intakes to develop advanced prostate cancer.

The opposite was true, however, when it came to alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Like the two fish-oil fats, ALA is an omega-3 unsaturated fatty acid that is thought to promote heart health; it is found in vegetable sources such as soybeans, canola oil, walnuts and flaxseed, and to a lesser extent in meat and dairy products." (Reuters Health)

"My Asbestos Patients" - "Of those 600,000 asbestos claimants, 34,000 are in Cleveland, Ohio. Some of those are my patients. Some worked on the assembly line at auto plants, some only in the cafeteria. None of them has any clinical evidence of asbestosis. But all of them are eagerly awaiting the day their check comes in." (Sydney Smith, TCS)

"Excess levels of nitrogen, phosphorus linked to deformed frogs" - "A collaboration involving ecologists at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Wisconsin strongly points to farming practices and development, two factors that create a condition called eutrophication in ponds and wetlands, as the cause for deformed frogs. Eutrophication is caused by higher phosphorus and nitrogen (prime components of agricultural fertilizer) levels in wet ecosystems. Higher levels of these nutrients create a profound impact on the food web that imperils the frogs' existence." (Washington University in St. Louis)

"Fat Bounces Back" - "Government nutrition advisers since the early 1990s have conveyed a simple message: Eat less fat. But Americans have steadily gained weight -- lots of it -- making obesity one of the nation's top health concerns.

Now, the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food labels and health claims on them, is easing its decade-long war on fat, and increasingly taking aim at calories. In an effort to draw attention to foods' overall caloric content, the agency may even change the "Nutrition Facts" box, eliminating the line giving the number of calories from fat, and increasing the type size for overall calories.

"When we emphasized fat in the early '90s, it didn't seem to work," says Lester Crawford, acting commissioner of the FDA. "We've concluded that the emphasis on low fat and no fat obscured the central message that calories are the main thing." (The Wall Street Journal) [Subscription required]

"Children walk nearly as much as their grandparents did" - "The popular notion that all modern children are chauffeured around by their parents and never walk has been overturned by researchers at Lancaster University. The study, which was funded by the ESRC, has discovered children may not be as pampered as had previously been thought." (Economic & Social Research Council)

"A global view of our forests" - "As you enjoy your deck or park gazebo this summer, eating hot dogs and apple pie off paper plates, consider the world around you, and your impact on it. You use forest products every day, from napkins and newsprint, to crayons, cosmetics, and charcoal for the barbecue." (Donna Dekker-Robertson, The Washington Times)

"Harry Potter, congressman" - "In the world of politics, various members of Congress seem to think that by waving the magic wand of legislation, they can repeal the laws that govern science and human nature. It's as if Harry Potter and his many friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

However, while the wizards and witches in the fantasy world of Harry Potter books and movies have magical powers, Congress does not. Reality cannot be altered no matter how much power politicians believe they wield." (Raymond J. Keating, The Washington Times)

Oops! "Eco sounding: Hot air" - "Two misleading statements, but where do they come from? First: "95.5% of carbon dioxide emissions come from nature ... only 3.5% come from man ... and of that only 13% of that from cars." And: "German and Swiss scientists reckon that ... global warming might have something to do with the fact that the sun is burning more brightly than it has for the last 1,000 years." The answer? The BBC's Top Gear motoring show." (John Vidal, The Guardian)

Well, we believe the figure is actually about 4% for anthropogenic CO2 emission John but, apart from such a minor figure discrepancy, what's your point? There have certainly been several announcements in recent months concerning solar irradiance, some stating explicitly that it's currently at its brightest for 1,000 years. That the source of the planet's warmth might have something to do with the warmth of the planet is hardly misleading.

How sad that the Beeb's motoring scribes seem so much better informed about the planet than The Guardian's environment editor.

"Kyoto's Future Lies in Putin's Hands" - "With the withdrawal of the United States, Russia has now been given the power to decide whether or not the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change will become international law." (Alexander Golub and Benito Muller, The St. Petersburg Times)

Not a bad effort: "Attorney Generals' Hot Air" - "You have to give New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and his friends an A for ambition. A few weeks ago Spitzer and the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin, as well as the corporation counsel of New York, filed suit against five large electric utilities to force them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Having battled teenage smoking and Microsoft, the attorneys general are now fighting global warming.

Well, not really. The main thing this suit might produce is publicity for the people who filed it. Even an amateur lawyer must suspect the suit's legal grounds are weak. The news release says that the case was filed in federal district court "under the federal common law of public nuisance, which provides a right of action to curb air and water pollution emanating from sources in other states. Public nuisance is a well-established legal doctrine that is commonly invoked in environmental cases." In other words: The utilities haven't broken any existing law; the attorneys general hope to create "new law" through a judge's decision." (Robert J. Samuelson, The Washington Post)

Samuelson goes on to make the same error of thinking anthropogenic emissions and global total emissions are the same thing when natural emissions dwarf humanity's by a factor of about 25:1. Shutting down all 174 fossil-fuel-fired generating plants owned by the five cited utilities could reduce emissions by a paltry 0.1% although the resultant economic devastation would amplify the effect.

"Climate Consensus: Scarce resources should be spent where they’ll do the most good" - "There's a scientific consensus, we're often told, that global warming is a problem — despite the opinion of qualified experts ranging from the Russian Academy of Sciences to the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at MIT that it isn't. Yet even if those worried scientists are right, science can't tell us whether acting to prevent further global warming is worth the trouble. For that, we have to look to economics. And in that field there is a growing consensus that global warming is the least of our problems." (Iain Murray and Zack Klein, NRO)

"In the Heat, Nobody Thinks of the Warming" - "ATHENS, Aug 10 - -The scorching sun of Athens would suggest this might be more the place to think global warming than Salt Lake City where the winter Olympics of 2002 were held. It has turned out to be just the other way round." (IPS)

For the most ardent global warming hand-wringers: "World Bank undermines efforts on global warming" - "WHILE WE are all preoccupied with an unnecessary war costing billions of dollars and eating up time that might far better be spent on the alleviation of poverty and disease, global climatic disruption gains momentum and moves toward irreversible climatic chaos." (George M. Woodwell and Kilaparti Ramakrishna, Boston Globe)

II: "Think it's hot now? It'll be worse in 100 years" - "Global warming will make Tokyo as hot as Kyushu, researchers predict. In 100 years, the Kanto region will be baking in the summer, day and night. The rice crop will drop. Old people will suffer more heatstroke. And everybody will face a greater risk of food poisoning. That's the bleak outlook based on a forecast by the Japan Meteorological Agency, which speculates that global warming-if unchecked-will fundamentally hurt Japan." (The Asahi Shimbun)

"Hot enough for ya?" - "That's the headline you'd expect us to be writing on Aug. 11. The unusually cool summer weather has been enough to drive well-meaning global-warming alarmists into seclusion and hemlines to fall." (Pioneer Press)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"The Capacity of Man and Nature to Control Climate Change" - "If man begins to adversely perturb earth's climate system, can the rest of the biosphere forestall the potential negative consequences?  Marine phytoplankton may be able to do just that." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Antarctica (Glaciers)" - "Does historical glacial activity on the coasts of Antarctica harmonize with the climate-alarmist "hockeystick" temperature history of the IPCC?  Or is it more in line with the naturally-occurring millennial-scale oscillation of climate for which ever more evidence becomes available almost weekly?" (co2science.org)

"Algae" - "The effects of simple algae on earth's diverse ecosystems is simply astounding, and the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content is likely magnifying their significance even more." (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Big Bluestem, Blue Grama, Little Bluestem and Indian Grass." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"The Urban Heat Island of Shanghai, China" - "How has it changed over the past two decades?  And why?" (co2science.org)

"A 423-Year Record of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)" - "Tree-ring based proxy records of low-frequency (60-100 years) variability in North Atlantic basin-wide sea surface temperatures "confirm that the AMO should be considered in assessments of past and future Northern Hemisphere climates." (co2science.org)

"Insect Damage of Myrtle Oak Trees Exposed to Elevated CO 2 " - "Is it greater or less than the damage experienced by myrtle oak trees growing in ambient air?" (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated CO 2 on Plant Nutritional Quality and Subsequent Herbivory by Moth Larvae" - "Do CO 2 -induced decreases in the protein contents of C 3 and C 4 grasses lead to greater foliage consumption by caterpillars that feed on them?" (co2science.org)

"The Photosynthetic Response of a Marine Diatom to Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment" - "Do the microscopic algae that inhabit the earth's oceans and comprise the foundation of the marine food chain respond to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment?" (co2science.org)

"Are Specialized Gasoline Blends Obsolete?" - "As recently as the early 1990s the nation's gasoline supply was fungible. The same regular, mid-grade, and premium fuel was sold from coast to coast. But today, we have a bewildering variety of gasoline recipes in use across the country. Each of these specialized blends was designed to help clean the air, but the decade-old track record for the experiment in boutique fuels indicates that it has done more economic harm than environmental good." (Ben Lieberman, TCS)

"MPs 'call for higher fuel duty'" - "A committee of MPs is expected to say petrol should be made more expensive to curb the emissions from vehicles that have been linked to global warming. The Environmental Audit Committee is expected to call for more radical measures from ministers, to put a brake on rising emissions from transport. It will argue that despite the current high oil price, petrol is still relatively cheap in real terms. It wants the government to make a stronger case for higher fuel taxes." (BBC Online)

Uh-huh... "Leader: Wind farms - Good clean fight" - "There was an optimistic glimpse of the future in Scotland yesterday: at Ardrossan in north Ayrshire, where a new 12-turbine electricity wind farm was officially opened, and at Stromness in Orkney, where a testing centre for the exploitation of wave and tidal energy was unveiled. Projects such as these hold out the prospect of supplying the UK with clean, renewable energy sources. Repeated on a large scale, they will reduce the country's dependency on greenhouse gas-emitting generators.

In that light, the government's decision to issue new planning guidelines - making it easier to gain permission for building wind farms - should be strongly supported." (The Guardian)

"Food for thought" - "Global hunger is on the wane but it is still hampering the growth of people, and of economies" (The Economist)

"Caterer turns the tables" - "PORTLAND - A major cafeteria management chain has torn up its mission statement and rewritten it to signal its move toward an entirely sustainable system of food delivery.

Bon Appetit Management Co., which serves a million meals each week at on-site restaurants at more than 150 corporations, is asking each of its chefs to use locally grown fruits and vegetables, and meat which is free of hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified feed.

Oil used to fry French fries will be recycled and turned into environmentally friendly diesel fuel. Only wild salmon and dolphin-safe tuna is to be served." (The Associated Press)

"Farm changes 'behind wasp plague'" - "New eco-friendly ways of farming could be causing a steep rise in the UK's wasp populations, an expert has said." (BBC Online)

"Brazil Maps Coffee Genome to Create 'Super Beans'" - "BRASILIA, Brazil - Brazil has created the world's first DNA map of the coffee plant to cut production costs and create beans that cater to the rich tastes of U.S. and European consumers, the country's government said on Tuesday.

After over two years of work, the world's biggest coffee grower is using the DNA map to create the world's biggest genetic data base on the plant. It contains information on the 200,000 DNA sequences, and 35,000 genes that create different aromas and caffeine levels in the beloved tropical bean." (Reuters)

"Graduate student formidable foe for rice water weevil" - "Because of the work of graduate student Dr. Bandara Ratnayake, scientists may now be able to identify proteins that are toxic to the insect and develop genetically-altered rice varieties." (Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications)

"India pins green revolution hopes on GM seeds, technology" - "NEW DELHI - Biotechnology is needed to combat pests and other challenges facing India's farmers, and could spur another "green revolution," the country's science and technology minister said.

"It's a new age weapon to fight the odds in agriculture," Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told an agricultural biotechnology conference.

He pledged the government would ease red tape surrounding clearance of biotechnologies." (AFP)

"Africans Wrestle With Grim Choice: GM Crops - Adapt Or Starve In Africa" - "Sam Musoke knows what his people will and will not eat.

Like many farmers in central Uganda, Musoke doesn’t use chemical pesticides. Instead, he prefers manure and mulched tobacco leaves to fertilize the red arid soil on his 10-hectare commercial farm in Nsangi District, where banana, mango and avocado trees grow in fenced plots.

But fences designed to keep his farm animals out have proved useless against the various pests and viruses that continue to ravage his crops - a problem that has plagued many subsistence farms in the region.

Musoke says these poor farmers can hardly produce enough food for themselves, let alone for profit. Manure and pesticides are costly. Farmers want solutions, even if that means planting genetically modified crops.' (Robert Scalia, Scoop)

"INTERVIEW: Biotechnology Will Make US Catch Up in Food Production" - "DR KISAMBA MUGERWA, Uganda's Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, has been appointed director of the International Service for Agricultural Research, a new division of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Special Correspondent BARBARA AMONG spoke to him recently about what the appointment means for the region" (The East African (Nairobi))

August 10, 2004

"Science secret of grand masters revealed" - "Chess experts gain the edge over opponents by falsifying their own ideas." (Nature News)

Sadly, far too few attempt to falsify hypotheses - that includes scientists.

"Is the WHO Becoming the World 'Harm' Organization?" - "The acronym "WHO" stands for the World Health Organization. With its recent track record, however, the Geneva-based global health body is running the risk of becoming the World Harm Organization. If that sounds unduly harsh, consider a series of developments that have badly jeopardized global health." (Nick Schulz, TCS)

"Nature 'mankind's gravest threat'" - "Giant tsunamis, super volcanoes and earthquakes could pose a greater threat than terrorism, scientists claim. Global Geophysical Events, or "Gee Gee's", as they are nick-named, are not being taken seriously enough, they say. The global community needs to monitor these risks, and develop strategies to cope in the face of a catastrophe. However, we are making good progress in reducing the threat of asteroid impacts, the researchers said during a briefing at the Royal Institution, UK." (BBC Online) | Millions in U.S. Face Mega-Wave from Island Collapse (Reuters)

This 'progress in reducing the threat of asteroid impacts' - that'd be looking up and not seeing anything about to hit us, would it? What other 'progress' has been made? Has someone developed some new weapon capable of blasting away looming asteroids? Interplanetary airbags, perhaps?

Granted, 'nature' is certainly far from benevolent - downright hostile, actually - but we can no more control giant tsunamis, super volcanoes and earthquakes than we can the global climate so let's focus on the doable, shall we? It will take a long and sustained effort but terrorists can and must be chased down every hole, shaken out of every tree and expunged from the planet - that's threat abatement.

"vCJD continues to baffle scientists; teenagers disproportionately susceptible" - "That young people tend to eat more beef products is not enough to explain the strikingly high proportion of new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease cases among children and adolescents. An article published this week in BMC Infectious Diseases, shows that young people must also be more susceptible to vCJD infection because of their age." (BioMed Central)

"The Vicious Cycle That's Killing Us" - "It appears that America has a new public health crisis on its hands, one "every bit as threatening as the terrorist threat." Economist Christopher Ruhm concludes in a paper published last year by the National Bureau of Economic Research:

"During temporary economic downturns, smoking and weight decline, while exercise rises. Specifically, the drop in tobacco use is stronger for heavy smokers, the fall in body weight is larger in the severely obese, and exercise increases most among those who were completely inactive."

Ruhm drew similar conclusions in a 2000 study, when he found that a 1% dip in the employment rate generally corresponds to a 0.5% drop in the death rate. As the NBER Digest notes, "Three other studies have shown similar results: a fall in total fatalities during economic downturns for 50 Spanish provinces, 16 German states, and 23 OECD countries."

Unless we act now, affluence may soon become America's number one killer." (Radley Balko, TCS)

"Second Hypoxic Event Off Oregon Coast May Indicate New Trend" - "CORVALLIS, Ore., Aug. 9 -- For the second time in three years, a hypoxic "dead zone" has formed off the central Oregon Coast. It's killing fish, crabs and other marine life and leading researchers to believe that a fundamental change may be taking place in ocean conditions in the northern Pacific Ocean." (AScribe Newswire)

"Nature's early warning sign: Warming study suggests season for blooming is coming sooner" - "No need to journey to the Arctic to find evidence of global warming: Venture to Arnold Arboretum, where flowering trees like dogwoods and magnolias have been blooming more than a week earlier than a century ago, according to a new study." (Boston Globe)

"Is Kyoto antiquated?" - "It seems like all the time we hear about science declaring new discoveries in climate study and global warming. But does public policy reflect those findings, or is there a disconnect between hard research and actual policy?

According to the U.S. Climate Change Research Initiative and researchers at CU-Boulder, the latter is the case. Last week, CU-Boulder's Center for Science and Technology Research was awarded a $2.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study climate policy to see if the gap can be bridged between hard science and public policy." (Colorado Daily)

"Finding the Truth about Kyoto in a Lie by Bill Clinton" - "The old joke goes, "How can you tell a politician is lying?" to which the answer is, "His lips are moving." At this year's Democratic Convention, former President Bill Clinton's famously tremulous lip was moving plenty when he blamed the current administration for squandering the world's goodwill after 9/11 by rejecting, among other things, the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. This is hogwash. The Bush Administration announced its opposition to Kyoto long before 9/11, but also never actually withdrew from the treaty. The truth is that both parties are confused about what to do over global warming." (Iain Murray, TCS)

From moonbat corner: "Goodbye, kind world" - "People choose to believe the climate change deniers because the truth is harder to accept" (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Weekly Whipple: "Climate: The fickle fingerprint of change" - "BOULDER, Colo., Aug. 9 From deep ocean to high mountain, the fickle finger of global warming is pointing the way to extinction for some species -- or, at least, to changing the composition of populations." (Dan Whipple, United Press International)

Yeah, sure... "UK power sector could do nine times more to reduce CO2 emissions" - "Godalming, UK - New independent research commissioned by WWF shows the UK power sector could do nine times more to reduce its CO2 emissions, thereby significantly reducing the UK’s contribution to climate change." (WWF)

"Anger as wind farm rules relaxed" - "Planning permission for wind farms and other renewable energy sources, even projects inside previously sacrosanct national parks, will be easier to obtain as a result of new guidance to local authorities issued yesterday." (The Guardian)

"Demonized extractors" - "Extractive industries — oil, gas, and mining — characteristically evoke economically wayward shrillness or myopia born of popular suspicion." (Bruce Fein, The Washington Times)

"Yield of Dreams" - "Yuan Longping is one of China's most renowned scientists. For 40 years, the pioneer in hybrid rice technology has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the productivity of Chinese farmers, which would help the world's largest country feed itself. Today, Yuan is the director-general of China's National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center in Changsha, a sleepy provincial capital best known as the city where the young Mao Zedong first made his mark as a Communist Party radical." (BusinessWeek Online)

"Austrian researchers in a world first have successfully engineered an allergy vaccine" - "Austrian researchers in a world first have successfully engineered an allergy vaccine using a genetically modified version of the birch pollen allergen." (Medical Research News)

"Opposition to agriculture biotech is biggest pest of all" - "California is under attack by terrorists. Not political, but biological ones: glassy-winged sharpshooters, leaf-hopping insects that are among the state's most insidious agricultural pests. They carry Pierce's disease, a lethal bacterial infection of grape vines and other major crops, for which there is no cure. Although there are technological fixes that could protect California's agriculture, local anti-biotechnology referendum measures and federal regulations are making them unavailable." (Henry I. Miller, The Mercury News)

At first I thought this was typed with a lisp but, apparently not: "Protest thongs" - "It's not just a gathering of near-naked partiers wearing body paint and playing Twister; it's a political demonstration." (Chicago Tribune)

"Canada to sell GE potatoes to China" - "A Canadian biotechnology company has a deal to supply more than 1.3 million pounds of genetically-modified seed potatoes to China next year." (Pacific Business News)

August 9, 2004

Obituary: "Philip Abelson, Chronicler of Scientific Advances, Dies at 91" - "Philip H. Abelson, a versatile scientist, editor and administrator who helped discover the element neptunium and later chronicled laboratory advances as editor of the journal Science, died on Aug. 1 in Bethesda, Md. He was 91." (New York Times)

The New York Times obit failed to mention that Abelson significantly contributed to the politically incorrect Manhattan Project. Although not formally associated with the atom bomb project, his invention of the Liquid Thermal Diffusion isotope separation technique proved a critical step in creating sufficient fuel for the weapon.

Long-time editor of Science and defender of sound science, Abelson wrote of Junk Science Judo: "Many people are concerned about cancer and other diseases caused by exposure to unknown substances. Their fears of chemicals are fostered by organizations and individuals who benefit by peddling exaggerations and untruths. Too often journalists and editors serve as their willing allies. In contrast, Milloy is one of a small group that devotes time, energy, and intelligence to the defense of truth and science. His new book deserves widespread reading, quotation, and responsive action."

"Good and bad news on control of malaria" - "The Southern Africa Development Community is set to strengthen its coordination of malaria control which is good news - the bad news is that USAID appears to be interfering in Global Fund applications and favouring its contractors instead of malaria control programs." (Business Day)

"WHO Africa 'a political club'" - "A leading medical journal has published a scathing attack on the World Health Organization's (WHO) regional office for Africa. In an editorial The Lancet describes the office as a political club, rather than an effective health agency, and says it must evolve or die." (BBC Online)

What's Monday without some emotional twaddle to start the week: "Watchdogs: Officials and industry minimize chemical dangers - and residents need the jobs" - "JEFFERSON COUNTY, Texas - Ann Tillery spends her retirement in a macabre ritual of scanning obituaries, watching television news, checking donation jars and searching for children with cancer.

She is determined to fulfill her vow to her 15-year-old grandson, Justin O'Neill. As he lay dying of gliomatosis cerebri, a rare brain cancer, he asked her to find out what caused his disease.

Three years later, Tillery has few answers and many questions. State officials and industry proponents say there is no scientific proof Jefferson County is a "cancer belt, and Tillery has a good idea why the public doesn't push them to look harder.

"It's not in the best interests of this community to have negative vibes about the refineries," she says, suggesting why solid data is so elusive. "We want the jobs. We want the money. So what if a few kids die?" (The Salt Lake Tribune)

"Environmental priorities for Government" - "India's former Secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Forest laments the fact that DDT isn't used more widely in malaria control and notes that "The Greens sound the alarm too often and often for trivial reasons." (Hindu Business Line)

"Millions poisoned by wells dug to save lives" - "MORE than 270,000 will die in the world’s worst mass poisoning after up to 77 million people in Bangladesh and India were exposed to drinking water contaminated with high levels of arsenic, according to a new report by the World Health Organisation.

The WHO expects the high death toll over the next two to three years as a result of long-term exposure to polluted water which is being drunk from shallow tube-wells." (Scotland on Sunday)

"CAGW Report Slams Federal Funding for Junk Science" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 -- Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), the nation's largest taxpayer watchdog group, today released its latest Through the Looking Glass Report: A New Health Threat: Federally-Funded Health Policy Based on Junk Science. The report is a continuation of CAGW's investigation of how federal health activities and programs, costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually, have been politicized to the detriment of the public health. As with federal policies on alcohol and food, bias on the smokeless tobacco issue shows how federal agencies cater to neo-prohibitionist constituencies that have no interest in finding the truth." (PRNewswire)

"Agent Orange, the Next Generation" - "A new cast of victims in the battle over Agent Orange, this time Vietnamese as well as American, has returned to the American courts seeking justice and dollars." (New York Times)

"DuPont, Now in the Frying Pan" - "TEFLON has been hugely successful for DuPont, which over the last half-century has made the material almost ubiquitous, putting it not just on frying pans but also on carpets, fast-food packaging, clothing, eyeglasses and electrical wires - even the fabric roofs covering football stadiums.

Now DuPont has to worry that Teflon and the materials used to make it have perhaps become a bit too ubiquitous. Teflon constituents have found their way into rivers, soil, wild animals and humans, the company, government environmental officials and others say. Evidence suggests that some of the materials, known to cause cancer and other problems in animals, may be making people sick." (New York Times)

"Sweeping changes to baby vaccines" - "Babies will no longer be given vaccine that contains the neurotoxin mercury when they are eight weeks old. polio
The move follows pressure from parents and fears of a link between the metal and the development of autism. Doctors across the country are being sent letters telling them of changes to the infant vaccine programme, which introduce a new five-in-one jab at two months of age. They are also being told to switch from live polio vaccine, given by mouth, to an injection of a "killed" vaccine which avoids the rare cases of polio contamination." (Daily Telegraph)

"Experts warn of wider vCJD threat" - "Many more people could become infected with vCJD than previously thought, experts have warned. It follows analysis of a probable transmission of the human form of BSE, via a blood transfusion. CJD Surveillance Unit scientists found the patient's genetic make-up differed from that of any other person so far diagnosed with the disease. This suggests that wider groups of people could be at risk than was thought, they write in the Lancet." (BBC Online)

"Cadbury says choc firm is scapegoat for fat crisis" - "Sir Adrian Cadbury, former chairman of the family drinks and chocolate group Cadbury-Schweppes, has complained that his firm is being made a 'scapegoat' for Britain's obesity epidemic." (The Observer)

Nah! I read about 'chocoholics' all the time - must be Cadbury's fault!

"Inquiry ordered into Atkins diet" - "The controversial Atkins diet is to come under government scrutiny amid growing concern over obesity figures, it is reported." (BBC Online)

?!! "UK: Warning over 'alcohol through eye' craze" - "DOCTORS yesterday warned against a new craze of taking alcohol through an eye socket. Pubs and clubs are selling drinks to be taken through the eye because revellers believe they get them drunk quicker and stay in their system longer. The main drink used is the cinnamon-flavoured alcoholic shot Aftershock, which has a potent 40 per cent alcohol content. However, it can leave the eye painful and bloodshot, and overuse of the technique could lead to blindness, say experts." (The Scotsman)

Get drunk quicker & remain so longer? Surprised the fools don't mainline pure ethyl alcohol - one dose'd last a lifetime, literally.

For the black helicopter brigade - rational people should skip to next item: "Prozac 'found in drinking water'" - "Traces of the antidepressant Prozac can be found in the nation's drinking water, it has been revealed. An Environment Agency report suggests so many people are taking the drug nowadays it is building up in rivers and groundwater." (BBC Online)

See! It's not the contrails - they're putting it in the water!

"'Rubbish tax' to punish families who fail to recycle" - "Families face a "rubbish tax" in a new drive to cut waste and increase recycling. Householders will be charged for "unsorted waste" dumped in rubbish bins as an incentive to recycle paper, glass, cardboard and other reusable materials." (Independent)

"Frogs' trip surprises scientists" - "Previously unseen in Virginia, the Southern chorus frog has now hopped into five counties" (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

'Unseen'? Unlikely. Unnoticed? Probably.

"Scientists embark on icy voyage to solve climate riddle" - "A TEAM of Scots scientists are to brave unbreakable ice-floes, polar bears and temperatures of minus 20 degrees in an effort to find clues to the fate of the world hundreds of fathoms beneath the Arctic Ocean.

Eight Edinburgh geologists will play a key role in a £6 million expedition to drill samples of rock from more than 1,500ft beneath the seabed, which will provide evidence of the way climate has changed over the last 50 million years.

By examining fossils contained in the rock, they hope to find out what happens to the planet during periods of rapid global warming and how quickly it is able to recover." (The Scotsman)

"Cooler Heads newsletter, Aug 4 2004"

"UK offices becoming 'hotter than Cairo'" - "Siestas, going home in hot weather, longer holidays - and working in the cooler north of Britain - are the only way office workers will survive roasting summers later this century, the government has been told." (The Guardian)

?!! "Global Warming: Consensus is growing among scientists, governments, and business that they must act fast to combat climate" - "The idea that the human species could alter something as huge and complex as the earth's climate was once the subject of an esoteric scientific debate. But now even attorneys general more used to battling corporate malfeasance are taking up the cause. On July 21, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and lawyers from seven other states sued the nation's largest utility companies, demanding that they reduce emissions of the gases thought to be warming the earth. Warns Spitzer: "Global warming threatens our health, our economy, our natural resources, and our children's future. It is clear we must act." (Business Week)

"Mauna Loa CO2 Measurements Updated" - "In March of this year a widely reported story about CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa was discussed in CO2 Report Makes the Rounds. Since then, the data on which the report presumably was based have been posted at CDIAC. Here is a graphic summary of annual averages of the CO2 measurements at Mauna Loa since 1960, including the data added for 2003." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Calif. Issues Final Greenhouse Gas Plan for Cars" - "SAN FRANCISCO - California released its final plan on Friday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks by about 30 percent by requiring hundreds of dollars in technology to control air pollution in new cars.

The plan is the first of its kind among U.S. states. It has been closely tracked by car makers as California accounts for nearly 13 percent of the U.S. auto market and because other states may adopt similar rules.

Auto makers have said they may sue to block the plan." (Reuters)

"Proposed emissions trading, carbon tax set to be hard sell" - "The introduction of an emissions trading system and a carbon tax would be effective in reducing Japan's greenhouse gas emissions, an Environment Ministry panel said in an interim report released Friday. Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, Japan pledged to slash its its greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. But Tokyo is falling behind on this promise; fiscal 2002 emissions were 7.6 percent higher than in 1990." (The Japan Times)

"Smog and Climate Change Connection False; NCPA Says NRDC Study Flawed; Allows Politics to Cloud Science" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 -- A new report from the National Resources Defense Council, a liberal environmental advocacy group, makes the erroneous claim that future ozone smog levels will increase thanks to human-induced global warming. According to experts from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), the study is fundamentally flawed, leading to false conclusions.

"Contrary to the reports' dire warnings, smog will go down regardless of warming," said H. Sterling Burnett, an NCPA senior fellow. "Smog has been reducing for the last 25 years, and it will continue to do so because of the stringency of air pollution regulations and technological improvements." (U.S. Newswire)

"A farewell to cheap energy? Maybe" - "A long era of cheap energy is over, a world-shaking turn that is certain to reshape how American consumers live, what they drive and where they work. Or maybe not." (North County Times)

"Nuclear power is fine - radiation is good for you" - "Oil prices are at their highest for almost 20 years amid ever-increasing concerns that the world faces an energy drought. At the same time, as a signatory to the Kyoto Treaty, our Government is giving financial incentives to those who want to cover the country with giant wind turbines.

Yet, why, with the notable exception of James Lovelock, the inventor of the Gaia hypothesis, do the world's environmentalists reject nuclear power, which emits almost no greenhouse gases? Because they are frightened of accidents and of radiation emanating from nuclear power stations and nuclear waste. Their fears of radiation are not only widely shared, but they are nourished by official sources and have even become official policy.

The present policies for radiation safety are based on the "linear no-threshold assumption", which is endorsed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. This is the assumption that even the smallest amount of radiation is harmful and may cause cancer and genetic disorders, and that the risk of harm increases proportionately with the dose." (Dick Taverne, Sunday Telegraph)

"Editorial: Wind a smart part of energy future" - "One key to the state's energy future is blowing in the wind. Washington must rapidly accelerate the development of wind energy.

Despite political games in Congress that have allowed a helpful tax credit to expire, the state is making progress toward more use of the environmentally friendly power. In part, high natural gas prices have made wind projects more cost efficient." (Seattle Post-intelligencer)

"Prince Charles: wind farms are horrendous" - "The Prince of Wales believes that wind farms are a "horrendous blot on the landscape" and that their spread must be halted before they irreparably ruin some of Britain's most beautiful countryside.

The Telegraph can reveal that Prince Charles, who has an abiding interest in environmental issues, has told senior aides that he does not want to have any links with events or groups that promote onshore wind farms.

The Prince, who believes that Britain needs to rethink its energy policy, is considering making his anti-turbine views public at a time when the issue is on the political agenda and wind farms are spreading throughout the country." (Sunday Telegraph)

Book Review: "The Proteus Effect: Stem Cells And Their Promise For Medicine" - "By Ann B. Parson Joseph Henry Press, 304 Pages, $24.95

THE massive disinformation campaign by ad vocates of greater federal funding for embryonic stem cells (ESCs) has been incredibly successful. Sometimes it involves grossly exaggerating progress with ESCs; other times, as with Ron Reagan's pathetic Democratic Convention speech, it means refusing to even acknowledge an alternative called adult stem cells (ASCs) even exists. This is notwithstanding that only ASCs have ever treated a human being and that they carry no moral baggage.

Thus, it's a shame that a well-researched, highly readable book about both types of cells that starts out being so informative ultimately collapses into a polemical heap, ripping conservatives for allowing alleged religious zealots to delay development of ESCs." (Michael Fumento, New York Post)

"Profits thin on ground for organic farms" - "Serious fears about the future of Britain's organic farming industry were revealed in a survey yesterday which showed that most farmers rated their profitability as low or borderline." (Independent)

"Political Food Folly: Putting food on the negotiating table" - "India has rip-off drug makers, China sweatshop textile tycoons, southern Africa its mineral magnates, and all, naturally, have different concerns when it comes to World Trade Organization negotiations. But in global public-policy terms, there is one issue that pulls all developing countries together, and nearly everyone in the rich world too — the misery caused by Western agricultural subsidies." (Roger Bate, NRO)

"Biotech request alarms food industry" - "The Grocery Manufacturers of America is concerned about ProdiGene's plans to grow biotech corn in Texas." (The Des Moines Register)

"French Food Safety Agency Reports Benefits of Biotech to Human Health" - "Highlight: According to a scientific report recently issued by the French government, the French Food Safety Agency (equivalent to the FDA in the United States), has come up with definite conclusions indicating that, under certain circumstances, biotech crops can be beneficial to human health. The reports explicitly says that the production of new crops that are resistant to insects would have a doubly positive impact on both farmers and consumers’ health by lowering their exposure to pesticides and to mycotoxins. The entire text of the French Food Safety Agency report can be found on http://www.afssa.fr/ftp/afssa/2004-SA-0246-Bénéfices-OGM.pdf." (FAS Online)

"A Peek Into The Future" - “I never think of the future,” said Albert Einstein. “It comes soon enough.”

Now, I’m not going to argue with one of the smartest people who ever lived, but I will say this: Sometimes I think the future can’t come soon enough - especially when I have a chance to sit back and think about what’s in the “biotech pipeline” (Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade & Technology)

"Ben Bova: History debunks the fears we have about new technologies" - "Whenever a new technology reaches the public's attention, pundits, politicians and even news reporters express dire fears that the new capability will harm us.

Ever since our cave-dwelling ancestors tamed fire, there have been self-appointed worry-warts pointing quavering fingers and loudly predicting that this new idea spells the doom of all the good things in life.

Yet it seems to me that new technology has almost always led to increased human freedom. Starting with the taming of fire and the invention of the wheel, new technology has been a blessing to us. While some worry about what they perceive as the dangers of nuclear power, or vaccinations, or computerized information systems, I'd like to examine three examples of how new technologies have led to increased human freedom.

And then we'll look at a fourth technology that is heading our way at breakneck speed." (Naples Daily News)

August 6, 2004

"Scientist Who Warned Against DDT Ban Dies" - "The removal of the unwarranted stigma from DDT and the saving of many future lives is now nearer at hand than it has been in the last 30 years thanks to the efforts of Dr. J. Gordon Edwards, who passed away on July 19 at the age of 85." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"AIDS drugs off WHO list" - "Generic antiretrovirals taken off prequalification list after CROs fail quality standards" (The Scientist)

Guessing that Kerry's "overseas leaders' support" didn't come from Taiwan: "Editorial: Is John Kerry China's secret weapon against Taiwan?" - "Ambiguity has always been the hallmark of U.S. presidential wannabe John Kerry." (The Asian Pacific Post)

"The Threat of Hospital Infections" - 'Four infants died of a bacterial outbreak at Westchester Medical Center in New York state last month. The investigation is ongoing, but Harvard Medical School pediatrician Don Goldmann told a newspaper that in most outbreaks "it's concluded that the organism was transmitted from baby to baby or patient to patient because the hand hygiene was not perfect." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Epidemic of vCJD may be on the way, scientists warn" - "Britain's blood transfusion service faces a crisis after new research revealed that techniques used to filter the human form of BSE - or "mad cow disease" - are far less effective than was previously thought." (Independent)

Candidates for the Charles Darwin Award for Gene Pool Cleansing: "New peril in driver's seat: films on DVD" - "As GPS screens proliferate, more drivers pass the time by watching movies." | No DVDs on Dashboards (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Alaskan Delegate to New York: Don't Fence Us In" - "NORTH POLE, Alaska, Aug. 1 - Doug Isaacson has a few ideas about city folks. First of all, they do not understand Alaska. Second of all, they do not understand Alaska." (New York Times)

"Our Friday essay: confusing 'global warming' with climate change..." - "What do Sir David King, The Guardian and The Independent have in common? They all fall into the trap of confusing the myth of 'global warming' with the reality of climate change..." (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Just a hot flash in the pan?" - "Conflicting statements on global warming emanating from the White House make it impossible to divine whether President Bush and his advisers believe it's all a myth cooked up by worrywart scientists or they're simply skeptical that human activities — such as burning coal to produce electricity and driving gas-guzzling cars — have anything to do with the slow but steady rise in worldwide temperatures.

There is a third scenario: that the administration realizes global warming is a serious threat but is keeping its fingers crossed, hoping the problem will go away on its own.

Either way, the administration hasn't done much in the last four years to address the issue — short of studying it to death — and has taken great pains to avoid talking about it. Until now." (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Shouldn't be a problem - it's 'natural': "Climate: The missing methane link" - "Methane is a greenhouse gas that remains in the atmosphere nine to 15 years and is 21 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Although scientists have been able to track methane entering the atmosphere from a variety of sources, both natural and anthropogenic, they have recognized that something was missing: There was more methane being added into the atmosphere annually than could be attributed to a known source. Now, researchers working in Azerbaijan have quantified one of the missing methane emitters — mud volcanoes." (American Geological Institute)

"Global warming" - "As Europe baked in record-breaking temperatures last summer, global warming alarmists had themselves a field day. This year Mother Nature rained on their parade. Midway into July, most of the continent was still waiting for summer to begin, having endured weeks of chilly temperatures and rain. In England, British Gas had to employ its winter emergency contingency plan as customers turned on their heat. In France, where some 15,000 people died in last year's heat wave, temperatures remained well below average with overcast skies." (The Tribune-Review)

'Naturally': "Leader: Climate change: Getting warmer" - "The monsoon flood which hit London and parts of southern England on Tuesday, causing sewers to overflow and thousands of dead fish to float down the Thames, was a salutary reminder of the effects of worldwide climate change in years to come." (The Guardian)

"Kyoto's Future Lies in Putin's Hands" - "With the withdrawal of the United States, Russia has now been given the power to decide whether or not the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change will become international law." (Alexander Golub and Benito Muller, The Moscow Times)

"EDITORIAL: No more waiting Reduce fossil fuel emissions" - "Patience may be a virtue, but there comes a time when action must replace passivity. Such is the case regarding fossil-fuel emissions that literally are changing the world's climate." (The Ithaca Journal)

"Nuclear past bodes well for future" - "... No surprise that in the 50 years of the nuclear Navy there has never been a radiation-related accident. For half a century, nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers and other vessels have shown the extraordinary reliability of nuclear power reactors. It's also worth noting the excellent safety record at our country's commercial nuclear power plants — no radiation-related accidents that led to any deaths or injuries. Nuclear safety and reactor dependability are uppermost at U.S. nuclear utilities, and no small part of the credit for this goes to the Rickover team." (Phillip Bayne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Uh-huh... "UK: Up to 100,000 deaths from air pollution over next 20 years, figures show" - "Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, Norman Baker MP, has warned that up to 100,000 deaths could be caused over the next 20 years as a result of air pollution from increasing levels of ozone." (Edie)

"Smog shrinkage" - "Summer is more than half over, and thus far it has been a very good one for air quality in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. By many measures, June and July were among the cleanest on record. Of course, Washington's relative hiatus from summer smog may or may not last through August, but long-term trends indicate improvement in years ahead." (Ben Lieberman, The Washington Times)

"Electricity From Plants? Syngenta Sees A Bright Future..." - "How oilseed rape might brighten up Britain: When homes plug in to a field of yellow

Electricity may not exactly grow on trees. But thanks to a new initiative in the UK, it could increasingly grow in farmers’ fields. Syngenta is teaming up with two partners there to help turn oilseed rape (OSR) into electricity. This is the first such large commercial project in Europe." (Syngenta.com)

"EAT First! -- CHOICE? WHAT CHOICE?" - "Americans make tough choices every day: Breyer’s or Dreyer’s ice cream? Fresh broccoli or asparagus? Organic strawberries? Genetically modified tomatoes?

Affluent societies expend countless hours on “fluff’ choices while ignoring places in the world where choices are truly tough and very different. In third world countries people choose between food or malaria medicine because they can’t have both. During drought, poor farmers must choose between feeding their kids today or feeding the family cow for milk tomorrow.

Protestors and pseudo-environmentalists whine loudly about the “terrible choices” we rich people make. A favorite target is technology-based agriculture. They would rather we forgo synthetic fertilizers and pest control and choose to farm “organically”. That’s fine. They can make that choice because both are available. America is rich enough to cater to silly whims. But they have no right to force their ideological nonsense on others, especially countries that don’t have the choices we have." (www.agbioworld.org)

"USDA told to disclose 'biopharm' locations" - "The federal government must reveal where companies grow genetically modified pharmaceutical crops in Hawai'i, a judge ruled yesterday.

Public interest groups are seeking the information to force the government to study the environmental impact of the crops they see as potentially dangerous. The government and industry contend public disclosure could lead to crop vandalism and corporate espionage of trade secrets." (The Honolulu Advertiser)

August 5, 2004

"A Miracle in Africa" - "The AIDS epidemic in some parts of Africa is so severe and growing so quickly that hope seems impossible to find. But the African nation of Botswana is miraculously conquering despair and is on the verge of being the first African nation to do what not long ago seemed impossible: treating all those in need. The rest of the world will benefit by learning from Botswana's success." (Roger Bate and Lorraine Mooney, TCS)

"Study Raises Questions of Witnesses" - "A new study raises significant questions over the medical findings of some doctors acting as expert witnesses in asbestos liability lawsuits. In the study, an independent panel of doctors reviewed 492 chest X-rays that had been submitted by plaintiffs' lawyers in asbestos lawsuits. They found that only a small fraction indicated possible asbestos-related lung damage. That was in stark contrast to the conclusions of the doctors who originally read the X-rays after being retained by lawyers representing people who were claiming injury. Those doctors found that 96 percent of the X-rays showed possible damage." (New York Times)

"The Happiness Police" - "Happiness Research" amounts to a flimsy excuse for left-wing academics to claim that they should be given control over how the rest of us live. Suppose that you could choose to live either in our society with its current choice of lifestyles or in a society where "happiness police" tell you how many hours you can work, what kind of job you can have, and what kinds of goods and services you can buy. Which society would make you happier? " (Arnold Kling, TCS)

"The question: to burn or not to burn" - "Modern incinerators like the one in Brampton are infinitely cleaner than their predecessors, MARCUS GEE writes" (Globe and Mail)

"Alas for the green lobby, nothing is sustainable" - "ACID RAIN, according to one scientific study, offsets global warming. What, can the Devil speak true? This is a deeply disturbing result. Once, preserving stability meant opposing pollution. We are shocked if environmental issues are not so simple. Our righteousness depended on our being unambiguously on the side of the angels. And the angels, after all, of our new religion: sustainability. A search of The Guardian’s website gives 15,575 hits for “sustainable”, only 1,174 for “Marx”. Times have changed." (Jonathan Clark, The Times)

"'Dead zone' spreads across Gulf of Mexico" - "HOUSTON, Texas -- A huge "dead zone" of water so devoid of oxygen that sea life cannot live in it has spread across 5,800 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico this summer in what has become an annual occurrence caused by pollution." (Reuters)

This might be a good time to re-feature: Hypoxia Hype in the Gulf of Mexico by Michael Fumento

"Deep Sea Cold Cited In Fish Kill: Atlantic Croakers Succumb to 'Upwelling'" - "Up and down the beach at Ocean City, they washed ashore: dead fish, rotten and smelly, victims of what scientists believe was a sudden shift in the temperature of the ocean. More than a million Atlantic croaker fish are believed to have died in recent days off the Maryland and Delaware coasts, and many of them have turned up on the beaches from Ocean City to Delaware's Indian River, Maryland officials said. The fish kill, which could be the largest in Maryland's recent history, showed no signs of a man-made cause, such as a toxic chemical spill or pollution-fed algae bloom, said Rich McIntire of the Maryland Department of the Environment. Instead, officials said the fish might have been killed by a natural phenomenon called an "upwelling," a sudden surge of cold water from the bottom of the ocean." (Washington Post)

"Desperately Seeking Climate Change Impacts" - "Heat Advisory," a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), argues that global warming will cause increases in future ozone smog levels, because warmer temperatures favor ozone formation. NRDC claims that the number of exceedances of the 8-hour ozone standard will increase 60% as a result of global warming." (Joel Schwartz, TCS)

"No-Second-Thoughts “Science” - A noticeable difference" - "Two recent findings, one right next to Washington D.C., the other as far away as is possible to imagine, demonstrate the limits of what we can learn from scientific models. When researchers put together theories to predict what should happen, that's a model. When the model conflicts with reality, the model is flawed. Yet there are some scientists who don't accept that, which should give us pause to think about their claims." (Iain Murray, NRO)

Letter of the moment: "Disgraceful behaviour of British delegation to recent climate change conference in Russia" - "I should like to apologise for what appears to have been the disgraceful behaviour of the British delegation to the recent climate change conference held in Russia. I believe Russia is doing the world a great service by questioning the wisdom of the Kyoto Protocol and of the 'science' behind the idea of 'global warming'. I can assure you that many people in the UK are deeply unhappy with the current position of the British government on the climate change issue." (Philip Stott, Pravda)

Video now available: "Is global warming a bigger threat than terrorism?" - "Former Labour Environment Minister Michael Meacher and Dr S. Fred Singer, president of the US-based Science and Environment Policy Project, answered your questions in a special interactive programme." (BBC Online)

Not very likely to change anyone's mind. Poor S. Fred did his best to inject the voice of reason into a Beeb farce.

Must be moonbat season: "Imagining the Unthinkable: Abrupt Climate Change" - "Critics who have dismissed the recent report commissioned by the Pentagon, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security, should instead view it as a clarion call. Small risks which can result in catastrophic consequences - even if they cannot be precisely quantified - should not be ignored. Neither should the government use it as excuse to postpone effective action." (World Resources Institute)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Plant Micronutrient Concentrations in a CO 2 -Enriched World" - "In a series of Editorials published in CO 2 Science Magazine (30 Oct 2002, 20 Nov 2002, 27 Nov 2002a and 27 Nov 2002b), we and one of our Scientific Advisors debate the effects of atmospheric CO 2 enrichment on plant micro-nutrient levels and, ultimately, human health and longevity.  Now, a FACE study that broaches the subject much more directly has been published.  Which way does it tend to tip the scales?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Antarctica (Ice Shelves)" - "Is there anything about ice shelf behavior along the coasts of Antarctica that can be considered evidence of unprecedented, or even modest, CO 2 -induced global warming?" (co2science.org)

"Worms" - "They are some of the lowliest life forms on the planet - "out of sight, out of mind," to most of us - but they figure prominently in the CO 2 -induced rejuvenation of the biosphere that is currently taking place … and right beneath our feet." (co2science.org)

Plant Growth Data:
"This week we add new results (blue background) of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO 2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature for: Blue Grama, Buffalo Grass, Jack Pine and Switchgrass." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Hurricane Intensity vs. Temperature" - "How has the former responded to what climate alarmists typically describe as the unprecedented increase of the latter over the past quarter-century?" (co2science.org)

"U.S. Tropical Cyclone Landfalls: 1950-2002" - "How were their numbers influenced by ENSO activity over this period?" (co2science.org)

"Effects of Drought on Trace Gas Emissions from the Soil of an Amazon Forest" - "Any CO 2 -induced warming that might induce regional drying over the Amazon Basin would likely induce a strong negative feedback that would significantly temper, or maybe even totally eliminate, the impetus for warming." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment on Plant Respiration" - "Are they real?" (co2science.org)

"Added Upon: Indirect Effects of Atmospheric CO 2 Enrichment on the Productivity of Grasslands and Deserts" - "Experiments designed to reveal the primary photosynthetic or biomass responses of plants to increases in the air's CO 2 content under controlled environmental conditions may not reveal their full potential for response in natural settings." (co2science.org)

"High gas prices aren't driving sales of fuel-efficient cars" - "High fuel prices have prompted half of B.C. drivers to reduce the amount they drive every week, while more than a third said they will consider switching to a more fuel-efficient vehicle, a recent B.C. Automobile Association survey found. But those considerations have not yet translated into greater sales of gas-saving cars, Vancouver car dealers say." (Vancouver Sun)

"World Bank Board Disappoints NGOs Over Mining, Energy Review" - "WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug 4 - To the disappointment of independent environmental and development groups, the executive board of the World Bank Group (WBG) has given general approval to a management plan to continue investing in oil, gas, and mining projects despite a three-year Bank-sponsored review that called for an immediate halt to the WBG's support for coal projects and a four-year phase-out of its lending for oil projects in poor countries." (OneWorld)

"Clean coal? Squeeze it, say scientists" - "Victorian scientists have found a way of drying brown coal which could cut greenhouse emissions by a third - they squeezed it. Research scientists in Clayton have perfected a process that removes 70 per cent of the water from brown coals found in Victoria and South Australia, resulting in huge reductions in greenhouse gases when the coal is burnt in a power station." (The Age)

"Ireland wants wind power to provide 13 percent of energy by 2010" - "DUBLIN - Ireland wants wind power to provide 13 percent of its energy needs by 2010, Environment Minister Martin Cullen said, unveiling a plan that could see wind farms constructed in environmentally sensitive areas. Cullen said the plan would "bolster the Government's national climate change strategy and reduce our dependency on dirty fossil fuels." (AFP)

"Japan may tax end users of fossil fuels" - "TOKYO - In hopes of encouraging businesses and consumers to save energy, the environment ministry is considering taxing end users of fossil fuels, including petroleum and coal, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun has reported. To ensure that Japanese business does not suffer, steel makers and other businesses using coal and oil as fuel would be given tax waivers or receive lower rates." (Asia Pulse/Nikkei)

"Japanese scientists use salmon to make trout" - "LONDON - Japanese scientists have created trout whose fathers were salmon in an experiment that they say may help preserve endangered species and boost the world's fish supplies." (Reuters)

August 4, 2004

"The news is usually bad, and that's good" - "There's no news like bad news. Can you remember the last time you read a positive headline in a newspaper or saw one on television? "Suicide bombers in Iraq," Genocide in Sudan," "Captured prisoners beheaded," honestly, all that's been missing is an announcement of the apocalypse. But wait; there already have been announcements of the apocalypse. "Y2k Bug threatens global shutdown," "Global Warming threatens planet," "Antibiotics losing effectiveness."

Even when Mother Nature makes the headlines, it's always in a terrible way. "Flooding in Bangladesh," "Wildfires in British Columbia," "Tropical Storm Alex becomes hurricane." Just what kind of hell has our planet become? Does God not want us living here anymore? And more importantly, does he read my articles?

I may complain and lament about all the "bad news" writing out there, but like everyone else, when I see a headline that says "Impending doom," I'm more likely to pick it up and take a read. After all, if my doom's impending, I want to know about it. But that's the way the news works. Papers exist, for the most part, to sell advertisements. The more people read your paper, the more you can usually charge for ads. Scary headlines grab people's attention, and so by essentially scaring the public to death you can ensure a steady stream of readership." (Ike Awgu, Ottawa Sun)

"US scientist challenges UK on Gulf war illness" - "A US scientist who led investigations suggesting that nerve agents injured troops in the first Gulf war yesterday called on British researchers to join the hunt for reliable brain scans and other tests." (Guardian)

"Gulf allies 'all faced chemical exposure'" - "US investigators researching illnesses suffered by veterans of the first Gulf war yesterday insisted that all troops and civilians in the area might have been exposed to low levels of chemical agents." (Guardian)

"Mad cow found in cows born after feed ban" - "LONDON, Aug. 3 -- Mad cow disease has been detected in two English cows born years after protective safeguards were put in place, authorities announced Tuesday." (UPI)

"Study finds high mercury in lake fish" - "Fish from lakes and reservoirs sampled by federal researchers were contaminated with mercury, and most exceeded federal exposure limits for young children and women of childbearing age." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Lake mercury sources likely global" - "Global pollution is likely the main cause of mercury in Lake Whatcom fish, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report released Monday." (Bellingham Herald)

"How Sick Is Your Home?" - "Experts say new concerns are cropping up every day that could be potential health hazards, including the combination of certain chemicals and the continuing presence of some chemicals in homes years after they have been banned." (Business Week)

"Fight bell sounds for `fat liberation'" - "Activists for overweight take up effort to insert some tolerance into medical campaigns against obesity." (Associated Press)

"How can the alcohol industry avoid the fate Big Tobacco suffered?" - "Never underestimate the imagination or the perseverance of the trial lawyer establishment when it comes to scoping out new targets for its favorite revenue-enhancing toy -- class-action lawsuits.

Less than a decade ago, the trial bar's class-action efforts garnered multibillion-dollar settlements from the tobacco industry. Not content with that, however, the trial bar is now teaming up with a new generation of ex-government bureaucrats, liberal doctors, and other do-gooders, to prepare a new set of class actions." (Bob Barr, CNN.com)

"Supreme Court takes middle ground in dispute over who can file environmental suits" - "The Michigan Supreme Court has declined for now to settle a debate over what qualifies a citizen to file environmental protection lawsuits." (Associated Press)

"Climate change could doom Alaska's tundra" - "In the next 100 years, Alaska will experience a massive loss of its historic tundra, as global warming allows these vast regions of cold, dry, lands to support forests and other vegetation that will dramatically alter native ecosystems." (Oregon State University)

Reader D A Norris highlights the hazards of global warming prognostication:

August 1: "Peru's Snowy Peaks May Vanish as Planet Heats Up" - "LIMA - The snow atop Pastoruri, one of the most beautiful peaks in the Andes and a big draw for mountaineers and skiers, could disappear along with many of Peru's glaciers in the next few years because of global warming, experts say." (Reuters)

but, only a few days earlier, July 29: "U.N. Delivers Aid to 17,000 Snowstruck in Peru" - "LIMA, Peru - The U.N. food aid agency has begun delivering $180,000 in supplies to 17,000 people in Peru's high southern Andes after the worst frost and snowstorms in 30 years killed livestock and wiped out crops. The World Food Program said on Thursday cereals, oil and sugar were being distributed in Puno, near the border with Bolivia, where temperatures have plunged as low as -31 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 degrees Centigrade) and 80 percent of land is covered by snow." (Reuters)

"Pittsburghers warming to cooler summers" - "For Andy Hardie, the owner of Dave and Andy's Homemade Ice Cream shop in Oakland, this summer has been almost perfect: Not too hot and not too cool, although he could do without all the rain. "Anywhere from 80 to 85 degrees, that's perfect for me," Hardie said. "Any hotter than that, people don't want to come out of their air-conditioned offices at lunch to buy ice cream."

Luckily, Hardie hasn't had too many unbearably hot summer days to worry about in the past couple of years. Temperatures in Pittsburgh haven't reached 90 degrees in almost two years -- since Sept. 3, 2002, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Lou Giordano." (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

"Scientists alarmed at increase in melt rate of ice" - "GREENLAND’S cover of ice is melting ten times quicker than previously thought, an increase that could lead to floods across the world, scientists have found." (The Scotsman)

"Eco sounding: Friends like these" - "Peter Harper and Paul Allen from the Centre for Alternative Technology, talking at the Gaia and global change meeting at Dartington Hall, Devon, started with the premise that: "The worst possible nuclear disasters are not as bad as the worst possible climate change disasters." Much later they said: "What we suggest now (at the risk of becoming pariahs in the official green community) is to debate the following scheme: that we start with a modest revival of nuclear energy in sites where there are already nuclear installations, where local jobs make people sympathetic to the idea. Say 10 1,200MW pressurised water reactors or equivalent, with a 40-year design life, and no replacements. Use converted military uranium as well, and gradually run down the UK's military-nuclear capacity, as a way of promoting non-proliferation. This will help to sell the idea to the sceptics." It might take more than that lads, and some wag asked if they would be joining David Bellamy in an anti-wind protest next." (Paul Brown, The Guardian)

"MEDIA ADVISORY: Ford Forced To Face Fuel Efficiency Fiasco" - "Automaker Can't 'Escape' Lowest EPA Ranking For Fifth Consecutive Year

San Franicsco - Preempting the release of the hybrid Ford Escape, leading grassroots organizations are uniting to send a message to America's flagship automaker that it must chart a new course and produce an entire fleet of fuel efficient, environmentally safe cars and trucks. On August 4, one day before the first token hybrid SUVs roll off Ford's assembly line, a coalition of human rights and environmental groups will collectively call on the automaker to stop driving U.S. oil dependence and climate destruction by committing to clean car technology." (Media Release)

We have to wonder why William Clay Ford Jr. continually tries to appease activists. After squandering significant amounts of shareholders' money trying to develop vehicles which do not contribute to alleged global warming, which consumers apparently do not wish to buy, what is the result? Even before a supposedly desirable hybrid version of popular Sports Utility Vehicles rolls off the production line activists are attacking Ford again. We'll say it again: appeasement does not work.

Mandy Griscom has it bass-ackwards again: "Public Nuisance No. 1" - "It may have sounded like the understatement of the year when a lawsuit was filed last week against five major U.S. energy companies, alleged to be among the biggest global-warming culprits in the nation, on the legal grounds that they're causing a "public nuisance."

In reality it may have been one of the gutsiest legal maneuvers the U.S. has ever seen on climate change -- and some observers say it could have the strange side effect of encouraging energy companies to ask the feds for mandatory emissions caps." (Amanda Griscom, Grist Magazine via GreenBiz)

"Japan: Govt to allow trade in CO2 emission credits" - "To reduce the domestic emission level of carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the gases that contributes to global warming, the Environment Ministry has decided to start a program from fiscal 2005 that will allow corporations to sell CO2 emission credits to underachieving firms if they have achieved their own reduction goals, ministry sources said. Under the program, such companies will be eligible for subsidies that cover one-third of the costs needed to install energy-saving equipment at their facilities." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Guess Your Liability!" - "In a move destined to cost companies millions, green activists are pushing industries to guess potential liabilities from environmental and social problems." (Fred Smith, CEI)

"Tiny California county bans biotech from borders" - "SAN FRANCISCO - Officials in tiny Trinity County banned genetically modified plants and animals from its borders in remote Northern California Tuesday, becoming the second California county to do so this year.

The local law passed on a 3-1 vote and makes it a misdemeanor to grow or raise genetically engineered plants and animals. But it's effect is more symbolic than practical since Trinity County ranked 51st out of 58 counties in farming output in 2002, according to the Trinity County Farm Bureau.

Timber accounts for nearly all the agriculture revenue in the county, which has a population of 13,000. No trees are being genetically engineered on a commercial scale, though several labs across the country are experimenting with modified trees that grow faster, resist disease and could even serve as pollution fighters." (AP)

"GM cotton aids environment: report" - "The advent of genetically modified (GM) cotton had helped the environment, an independent report has found. Compiled by the University of Sydney, the report found GM cotton had led to a huge cut in the use of destructive pesticides by cotton farmers. This had led to the use of other products which were much more tolerable to native animals. GM cotton now accounts for more than 50 per cent of the total Australian cotton crop, with plants modified to make them resistant to particular herbicides or to attacks from certain insects. Report authors Angus Crossan and Ivan Kennedy said their study of Roundup Ready cotton - a GM cotton resistant to the broadacre herbicide Roundup - have found major environmental benefits from the crop." (AAP)

"Claims GM sugarcane safe" - "BSES (Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations) Bundaberg, in south-east Queensland, says genetically modified (GM) sugarcane is safe because it cannot contaminate other farms. The University of Queensland has lodged an application for a field trial of GM sugar, and the Australian Democrats has raised concern that may affect the industry's clean and green image." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

August 3, 2004

"Science more creative and less 'true' than many believe, educator says" - "Science is not just evidence, but intuition, not just procedures, but creativity. Its conclusions are not set in stone, but ever-changing and open to question as part of a dynamic social enterprise. Yet the predominant view in schools and among the general public is that science is completely rational, objective, procedural, authoritative and free of cultural influence — a prescribed and trusted means for finding "the truth," says an education professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"A Question From the Edge: Is Fat Contagious?" - "The continuing battle against the obesity epidemic moves this week to a biotech park affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. That's where physician and scientist Richard Atkinson, president of the American Obesity Association, starts assembling a new lab designed to test blood for a fat virus.

Yes, that's right. A fat virus." (Sally Squires, The Washington Post)

"Toronto's garbage woes have long, smelly history" - "With all of the clean, affordable ways for cities to dispose of their waste, MARCUS GEE writes, why is it still such a hot-button issue here?" (Globe and Mail)

"Old-style landfills linger like a bad smell" - "But modern sites have undergone a technological revolution, MARCUS GEE writes" (Globe and Mail)

"Unnatural Disaster" - "Record floods and drought are devastating South Asia, but man is as much to blame as nature" (Time)

Gotta love some of this:

"Droughts and floods account for more than half of the world's total deaths from disasters, according to the United Nations. But unlike many other catastrophes, most water crises are man-made. Nature may bring the occasional monsoon downpour or dry spell, but environmentalists agree that global warming, dams, deforestation and slash-and-burn farming exponentially exacerbate these seasonal weather patterns. Inept and corrupt water management also contributes to the problem, allowing plentiful water to run off to the seas or leaving it to lie in floods on the land, while a few hours away, crops wither in parched fields."

Okay... hands up all those who think they can come up with a plan acceptable to said environmentalists for storing 'plentiful water runoff' and relocating that and/or floodwater to parched agricultural regions - presumably for that nasty irrigation. Whoever heard of an enviro that saw a dam they didn't hate? Who thinks they could start earthworks without protests and litigation?

"Acid rain turns into an unlikely ally in the battle against global warming" - "ACID rain, the pollutant blamed for killing fish and damaging forests, has been shown by new research to have an unexpected environmental benefit. British scientists have discovered that it reduces emissions of a key greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Their research suggests that the high sulphur content of acid rain cuts the production of methane, which is thought to be responsible for about a fifth of today’s enhanced global warming effect." (Mark Henderson, The Times) | Acid rain not all bad (Press Association) | Acid rain 'could have benefits' (BBC Online)

"Global warming challenged" - "Two UR studies fault computer models used to determine threat." (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

For those who wish to be convinced that the source of the planet's warmth is not the source of the planet's warmth: "How strongly does the sun influence the global climate?" - "Researchers at the MPS have shown that the Sun can be responsible for, at most, only a small part of the warming over the last 20-30 years." (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft)

"Pseudo-Tort Alert!" - "As is now widely known, states' attorneys general garnered a huge windfall for their treasuries (and for the bank accounts of selected private lawyers) in tort suits against tobacco companies. The suits were invalid as a matter of law, but never mind -- they pressured Big Tobacco to agree, in exchange for shelter from competition, to split future profits with the states. (When private parties do this, it's racketeering.) Unfortunately, eight states' AGs have just shown that these suits are addictive -- on July 21 they filed a new pseudo-tort intimidation suit against five large electric utilities." (Michael I. Krauss And S. Fred Singer, The Wall Street Journal)

"New York's Greenhouse Gasbags" - "August 2, 2004 -- Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and city Corporation Counsel Michael Card ozo must have too much time on their hands.

Two weeks ago, the two officials joined with attorneys general from seven other states to sue five power companies — American Electric Power Company, the Southern Company, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Xcel Energy and the Cinergy Corporation — over carbon dioxide emissions.

Under a rather creative reading of "public nuisance" law, the suit — filed in federal court here in Manhattan — contends that the five companies produce carbon dioxide emissions that have contributed to global warming, an alleged "public nuisance."

The plan is to try to force the companies through litigation to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

While most kooky conspiracy theorists were going to see Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" this summer, apparently these lawyers preferred the schlock-environmental disaster flick, "The Day After Tomorrow," which essentially blames global warming for bringing about another Ice Age.

Cardozo, Spitzer & Co. make about as much sense." (New York Post)

"Are power plants crying wolf over lawsuit?" - "Industry officials predict dire consequences if a lawsuit to restrict greenhouse gases prevails, but some economists say that industry routinely exaggerates the costs of environmental restrictions." (Sacramento Bee)

"Turning Genetically Engineered Trees Into Toxic Avengers" - "Last summer, on the site of 35 former hat factories where toxic mercury was once used to cure pelts, city officials in Danbury, Conn., deployed a futuristic weapon: 160 Eastern cottonwoods.

Dr. Richard Meagher, a professor of genetics at the University of Georgia, genetically engineered the trees to extract mercury from the soil, store it without being harmed, convert it to a less toxic form of mercury and release it into the air.

It was one of two dozen proposals Dr. Meagher has submitted to various agencies over two decades for engineering trees to soak up chemicals from contaminated soil. For years, no one would pay him to try. "I got called a charlatan," he said. "People didn't believe a plant could do this." (New York Times)

"GMO Crop Vote Off in North Dakota, on in California" - "WASHINGTON - North Dakotans will not vote this year on regulating biotech wheat, a leader of the "Go Slow with GMO Committee" said on Friday, shifting the election-year debate over genetically modified crops to California." (Reuters)

"China may approve biotech rice in 1-2 yrs-analyst" - "WASHINGTON - China was likely to approve the planting of biotech rice in the next year or two, potentially starting a global stampede for genetically modified crops, including wheat, the author of a report on Chinese agriculture said." (Reuters)

"GMOs the Way Out of Hunger" - "As Kenya faces yet another famine, food experts say that irrigation and adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops could be the way out of the perennial hunger problem.

Top government officials have in the past two months issued statements that suggest the country may be taking some radical steps to seek alternative ways of producing food." (The East African Standard (Nairobi))

August 2, 2004

Uh-huh... "Leader: Why Kerry will have our support" - "We would all be safer without Bush" (The Observer)

Frequently this site has found cause to point to the UK's Guardian/Observer pair with a mixture of mirth and bemused horror. Occasionally we have accused them of complete psychosis, metaphorically clinging by their fingernails to the left edge of a flat Earth. Never, however, have we witnessed such an arrogant misunderstanding of the world and the American people as the drivel linked above.

The Guardian stable, firmly rooted on the political Left, is home to the nature good, people/progress/technology/science bad brigade, championing neo-Luddite destruction of biotech crops, scientifically unsupportable organic regimes, anthropogenic [anything] must be bad and they claim America's Republicans are anti-science? No wonder they support John Kerry.

"Bangkok Bust - failing AIDS policy, again" - "The July 13 edition of The Bangkok Post headlined "US blasted for 'doing too little.'" While Uncle Sam is donating $15 billion over five years, the Post noted, "It was not enough for the activists who even praised Thailand as having done more than the US in helping the fund. Thailand has decided to give $1 million for five years." As Newsday columnist James Pinkerton, assessed: 'Now let's see here: the US is giving $15 billion over five years, while Thailand is giving $5 million over five years. Even adjusting for population and GDP, the US is making 134 times the effort. And yet the activists "praised Thailand as having done more." Welcome to the bizarro world of AIDS conferences." (Roger Bate, Medical Progress Today)

"UK: Police given new powers to curb animal fanatics" - "Extra powers for police to tackle animal rights extremists were announced yesterday by the Government as it delivered a clear endorsement of experiments on animals." (Daily Telegraph)

"The animal rights crowd are beyond reason" - "The Government's decision to deploy fresh legal measures against animal rights terrorists comes just a little late in the day, for the campaign against using animals in medical research has cost British drugs companies up to £1 billion. But the real price is not financial: it is in the suffering of human patients who will not get the drugs which might have been developed, but for those fascists who prize animal life over that of humans." (Sunday Telegraph)

Paul not-even-close Ehrlich: "Ecologist calls for creation of an international panel to assess human behavior" - "Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich is urging fellow ecologists to join with social scientists to form an international panel that will discuss and recommend changes in the way human beings treat one another and the environment.

Ehrlich is scheduled to call for the establishment of a Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB) during a speech at the 89th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 2. The goal of MAHB will be to avoid the approaching collision between humanity and its life-support systems, he noted." (Stanford University)

"Water bug scare was cash down the drain" - "IT WAS one of Scotland’s biggest health scares, forcing 150,000 people to boil their water and costing more than £2.5m. But now public health experts have labelled the exercise a waste of time.

Scotland on Sunday can reveal that an official report into the cryptosporidium crisis that hit the Glasgow area in August 2002 has concluded that the order not to use tap water unless it had been boiled was "a kneejerk reaction" and "misguided." (Scotland on Sunday)

"Where the boys aren't" - "Living with constant pollutants emanating from a dense concentration of chemical plants, a native band struggles to understand why women are giving birth to a disproportionate number of girls" (Martin Mittelstaedt, Globe and Mail)

"Formula for a New Foam" - "Abstract: As the 2010 phaseout date for chlorofluorocarbons draws nearer, materials engineers are working to find replacements for these ozone-depleting chemicals in the production of plastics and other products. One team of engineers is focusing on a combination of two low-cost and environmentally benign substances--supercritical carbon dioxide and clay nanoparticles--to meet these needs. The result is a strong yet lightweight alternative that retains all the beneficial qualities of solid plastic." (Environmental Health Perspectives)

"Droughts like 1930s Dust Bowl may have been unexceptional in prehistoric times, new study suggests" - "Events like the great Dust Bowl of the 1930s, immortalized in "The Grapes of Wrath" and remembered as a transforming event for millions of Americans, were regular parts of much-earlier cycles of droughts followed by recoveries in the region, according to new studies by a multi-institutional research team led by Duke University." (Duke University)

"Duke study disputes idea that trees can 'relocate' quickly in response to climate change" - "In a study with implications for how North American trees might respond to a changing climate, molecular information collected by Duke University researchers refutes a widely accepted theory that many of the continent's tree species migrated rapidly from the deep South as glaciers retreated at the end of the last Ice Age." (Duke University)

"Warmer weather, human disturbances interact to change forests" - "While a rapidly changing climate may alter the composition of northern Wisconsin's forests, disturbances such as logging also will play a critical role in how these sylvan ecosystems change over time." (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

The Indy warms to its theme: "Seabird breeding crisis spreads to England" - "England's biggest seabird colony is suffering from the global warming-induced severe food shortage that has devastated the birds of the Northern Isles of Scotland." (Independent)

"Spotting climate change" - "As with the rest of the world, Northern Ireland is getting ready to brace itself against whatever climate change has to throw at it. But with no retreating glaciers or imminent submerging of low-lying islands, signs of climate change are harder to spot. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea, the island of Ireland has been cushioned from any recent startling changes in its climate or environment. Finding something to measure is taxing researchers. It's hard to see if sea levels are rising because Ireland is still rising after the last ice age, so there is little to note." (BBC Online)

The Beeb continues: "Sea engulfing Alaskan village" - "It is thought to be the most extreme example of global warming on the planet." (BBC Online)

All BBC sound and fury, but signifying little... (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Rising seas force road canal plan" - "More than one million acres of countryside could be abandoned to nature, with roads used as emergency canals, in a desperate bid to cope with rising seas and flood waters." (The Observer)

"Global warming remains the deadliest foe" - 'LONDON -- Perhaps philosophers have a name for it -- this modern phenomenon of continuing to enjoy life in a way that we know is leading to destruction because we feel that there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

I am, of course, referring to the ecological crisis we are now in, which can only be resolved two ways: a revolutionary change in the way we live or the destruction of the world as we know it." (Sarah Benton, The Japan Times)

Oh puh-lease! "Seas turn to acid as they absorb global pollution" - "The world's oceans are sacrificing themselves to try to stave off global warming, a major international research programme has discovered." (Independent on Sunday)

What a bunch of eco-theistic twaddle! Oceans are "sacrificing themselves"? How selfless and noble can a bunch of overgrown puddles get?

"The Darkening Earth: Less sun at the Earth's surface complicates climate models" - "Much to their surprise, scientists have found that less sunlight has been reaching the earth's surface in recent decades. The sun isn't going dark; rather clouds, air pollution and aerosols are getting in the way. Researchers are learning that the phenomenon can interact with global warming in ways that had not been appreciated." (David Appell, Scientific American)

"North Sea burial for greenhouse gases - New wave of marine-based solutions to global warming" - "Proposals to bury millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide under the North Sea are to be unveiled by ministers as the government turns to the oceans in a bid to cut the threat of global warming.

The North Sea scheme will be revealed as the Department for Trade and Industry is poised to announce a big increase in funding for wave and tide-power projects in the face of growing protests about wind turbines." (The Observer)

"Australia: Signing Kyoto 'environmental madness'" - "Environment Minister Ian Campbell has accused green groups of simplifying the climate change debate by advocating Australia ratify the Kyoto Protocol and increase its mandatory renewable energy target.

In an interview with The Age Senator Campbell said climate change was the "greatest challenge to Australia and the world", but maintained the Federal Government's position, that signing Kyoto would be "environmental and economic madness" for Australia and lifting the renewable energy target would be premature." (The Age)

For those who believe Kyoto is a zero-cost 'precaution': "Economy slows as energy costs rise" - "The US economy slowed dramatically in the past three months as consumers, battered by higher energy prices, sharply curtailed their spending." (Boston Globe)

"More Highways, Less Pollution" - "Environmental activists continue to mis-diagnose air pollution's causes and cures and to obscure or ignore positive trends in pollution emissions and ambient levels. "Highway Health Hazards," a new report from the Sierra Club, is the latest example." (Joel Schwartz, TCS)

"Wind farms find unlikely foe in environmentalists" - "SEARSBURG, Vt. -- In ecologically minded New England, it was the gusty dream of energy officials and environmentalists: Windmills were going to help the region reduce its dependence on pollution-spewing power plants.

But seven years after the region's first commercial wind farm was built, it is becoming clear that wind power faces a hard road here, partly because of environmentalists themselves. Last year was a near record year for commercial windmill installations nationwide, with enough built to power almost 500,000 residences, yet not one went on line in New England. Wind farms have gone up in Texas, California, and Wyoming, but in Massachusetts the only commercial wind farm is Searsburg's 11 turbines, which went up in 1997.

"I hoped way back when because of the stronger environmental consciousness here it would be an easier place to locate" turbines, said Tom Gray, deputy executive director of the American Wind Energy Association. "The irony I did not foresee is that it would be more difficult." (Boston Globe)

"Delay urged for wind farm review" - "Governor Mitt Romney has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to postpone its long-awaited review of a controversial offshore wind farm, saying that the state may have more jurisdiction over the renewable energy project than previously recognized.

Embracing an argument raised by a group fighting the project, Romney wrote in a letter sent to the Army Corps this week that newly discovered rock outcroppings may require changing the state boundary line, which lies 3 miles offshore.

If the boundary is changed, several of the wind turbines proposed by the developer could fall within state waters, giving the state more authority over the project than previously expected, he suggested." (Boston Globe)

"Coastal wind farm would destroy bird haven say protesters" - "Plans to build a wind farm on the edge of one of Britain's most important bird sanctuaries have raised fears that the area could be destroyed as a haven for wildlife.

The 12 turbines 380-feet high would stand on a stretch of coast visited by a huge number of waterbirds that feed on its mudflats and salt marshes.

Migrating flocks also fly over the area and opponents of the scheme fear many birds could be killed by the rotor blades of the turbines." (Sunday Telegraph)

"UK: Wind farms will need new pylons" - "THOUSANDS of electricity pylons will be needed in some of Britain’s remotest and most unspoilt areas if wind farms and tidal energy are to become a significant source of power, industry experts have warned.

New pylons will be concentrated in the Scottish Highlands and the Welsh mountains plus clusters around the Wash in Lincolnshire, the Thames estuary and Liverpool bay with others stretching across the country to connect the new power sources to the national grid.

Dozens of offshore wind projects have been approved by the government. But most of the pylons will be needed for the many onshore wind farms that have been approved. North Norfolk, Cornwall and Cumbria are the most likely places in England to see wind developments in their remote beauty spots.

The warning comes from the Energy Networks Association (ENA), a trade body representing the electricity distribution industry. It believes that the government’s renewable energy policy will fail unless more attention is focused on how power generated by wind farms and other sources is carried to cities." (Sunday Times)

"Counting the true cost of green energy" - "IS WIND farming over the hill? The small amount of electricity is in contrast to the volume of hot air generated. At a recent debate in Edinburgh, four anti-wind commentators argued a powerful case against the government’s subsidy of this kind of renewable energy." (Tom Miers, The Scotsman)

"Scotland catches the wave of funds for clean energy" - "Britain will seek to become a world leader in wave energy today with a £50m fund to help harness the tides around the coasts, and ambitious targets for renewable energy use in Scotland. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will commit the money over the next three years to a variety of marine energy projects. There is growing public disquiet at the impact of wind farms on the countryside." (The Guardian)

"Eat your heart out, Dracula - scientists turn blood into biscuits and chocolate" - "It has always been the staple and highly nutritious food of vampires even if a diet consisting entirely of blood could hardly be considered balanced. But now scientists have found a way of turning it into biscuits, yoghurts and drinks." (Sunday Telegraph)

"Finally... the big picture on tiny machines" - "IMAGINE a world in which a deaf child can gain hearing, where disease can be cured without surgery, where your car will warn you if you are in danger of crashing, in which you can tell by the colour of the packaging how fresh your meat is, and where once damaging industrial processes are now environmentally friendly.

Some believe that, with nanotechnological advancements, such breakthroughs could be as little as a few years away.

But critics say this is a utopian ideal and is completely unattainable. They see a future with nanotechnology as a far more sinister place - and one of those critics is the heir to the throne. So is nanotechnology a force for good or evil?" (Evening News)

"Cloning Experiment Shows Cancer Reversible - Report" - "WASHINGTON - A cloning experiment may show that the body itself has the ability to reverse cancer, U.S.-based researchers said on Saturday." (Reuters)

"Cynical and Cruel: Ron Reagan’s DNC Speech was Exploitation — of His Father and of Science" - "It “may be the greatest medical breakthrough in our or in any lifetime: the use of embryonic stem cells,” Ronald Reagan Jr. told enthralled listeners at the Democratic Convention. These cells could “cure a wide range of fatal and debilitating illnesses: Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, lymphoma, spinal cord injuries, and much more.”

Yet “There are those who would stand in the way of this remarkable future, who would deny the federal funding so crucial to basic research,” he warned, concluding we must “cast a vote for embryonic stem cell research” on election day.

Now why would the Democrats choose RR Jr. to deliver this speech? Heretofore, his only recognized expertise was in ballet. He never pretended his medical knowledge went further than perhaps watching General Hospital as a youth." (Michael Fumento, National Review Online)

"Report: Five-year deal with Novartis hurt UC Berkeley" - "A $25 million, five-year research deal between plant biologists at UC Berkeley and the biotechnology company Novartis was a costly experiment that should not be repeated, outside reviewers conclude in a report being released today.

The reviewers, from Michigan State University's Institute for Food and Agricultural Standards, found that damage done to the University of California's premier research campus, from campus infighting to a tarnished reputation, simply wasn't worth the money.

The findings could reverberate far beyond Berkeley. Campuses around the country, including UC Davis, considered the Novartis agreement a possible model for their own arrangements with industry." (Sacramento Bee)

This is somewhat ridiculous. The value of universities as pure ivory towers of 'learning' is rather limited, not least by the fact that someone has to pay the bills and Mr. & Mrs Taxpayer are unlikely to be happy about paying significantly more tax to support a vast number of institutions that, in all likelihood, will return exactly zero benefit to those doing the paying. True, some specialise in teaching (though sadly too few concentrate their teaching on producing real-world employable graduates). Most universities, however, are multifaceted beasts that do some teaching, some research and engage in some commercial activity to meet at least some of their costs incurred. Why shouldn't universities engage in commercial deals with corporate enterprise? If their research departments are any good then they'll get more contracts, progress will be made and everyone will be happy - if not, businesses will take their business elsewhere and research will be funded on potential commercial merit. That way, entities engaging in pure public benefit research with little or no commercial application are not competing in near so large a competitive pool for finite amounts of public research funds.

"Column: The face of the anti-biotech movement" - "FRESNO, Calif. — My apology up front for the length of this commentary. It is longer than usual and will jump to another page. The reason is I received a series of disturbing e-mails from a man who represents a segment of a so-called environmental activist group attempting to ban biotechnology from California agriculture. The e-mails are worth reading if California agriculture is to understand the challenge it faces in turning back this emerging statewide biotech ban battle." (Harry Cline, Western Farm Press)

"GE papaya found in local farm" - "Greenpeace today revealed that genetically engineered (GE) papaya has been grown for at least 12 months on a farm in the province of Khon Kaen in a widening GE contamination scandal and violation of the country's GE ban. The revelation is part of the environmental group's ongoing investigation of GE papaya seeds illegally sold by the agricultural research station of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) in the said province." ('peas press release)