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Archives - August 2005

August 31, 2005

"Britain uses hate law to ban animal rights campaigner" - "Charles Clarke, the home secretary, has used the government's crackdown on preachers of hate to ban an American professor who speaks for the Animal Liberation Front." (The Guardian)

"Questioning the Authority of Scientific Journals" - "A Tufts University School of Medicine reporter has realized that a pretty large amount of scientific findings are, well, wrong. This work follows on from a recent publication of his that found that a third of medical research articles published in major scientific journals and then cited over a thousand times in the literature are later contradicted or have major questions raised over them." (Iain Murray, CEI)

"Ignore Rumors; Teflon Proven to Be Safe" - "Teflon is facing heat as anti-chemical groups and trial attorneys have joined forces to cook up controversy. But like many product-safety scares these days, the concerns that have been voiced about Teflon are bogus." (CEI)

"Case of the Vanishing X-rays" - "A trial lawyer admits that asbestos claims were phony." | Jack the Ripper (Wall Street Journal)

"Mobile phone cancer link rejected" - "Mobile phone use does not raise the risk of cancer, at least in the first 10 years of use, the largest investigation to date shows." (BBC)

"Crazy Cancer Warning on Chips and Fries?" - "California - the "Health Scare State" - seeks warning label over acrylamide." (Trevor Butterworth, STATS)

"Stressed to Excess: Fear's Links to Disease" - "The connection between excess worry and increased disease risk is not just hypothetical. Numerous studies have shown a link between ill health and stress reported by patients." (Washington Post)

Must be true, doomsters make me sick...

Right... "The end of the world is inevitable and it's going to be our fault" - "Ronald Wright explains why this is our last chance to save the planet." (Sunday Herald)

"All planned out" - "If public services took green issues seriously they could make a huge difference to the environment. But progress is patchy and painfully slow, finds John Vidal" (The Guardian)

Poor John Vidal just doesn't get it. Not realising that there's probably not one person on Earth who could name a single green/enviro prognostication of disaster that has ever come true or even been ballpark, perhaps because he's frequently guilty of disseminating their ridiculous claims, Vidal hasn't noticed that tying any claim to the enviros promptly wrecks its credibility and causes people's attention to wander.

Here's a tip, John: very few people are prepared to devote any effort or finance to try to trap the world (or any portion of it) in some sort of museum-display stasis just to suit your concept of the "right" world. Even fewer are likely to be enthusiastic about having their lives planned and micromanaged by John Vidal, et al. Most people seem to know and understand that the world's a vibrant, dynamic place where change is the norm - get over it.

"South Polar ozone hole makes big comeback" - "This season's Antarctic ozone hole has swollen to an area of ten million square kilometres from mid-August - approximately the same size as Europe and still expanding. It is expected to reach maximum extent during September, and ESA satellites are vital for monitoring its development." (European Space Agency)

"Changes in ozone layer offer hope for improvement, says team of scientists" - "Analysis of several different satellite records and surface monitoring instruments indicates that the ozone layer is no longer declining, according to a study by scientists working with the Center for Integrating Statistical and Environmental Science at the University of Chicago. In some parts of the world, the ozone layer has increased a small amount in the past few years, although it is still well below normal levels." (University of Chicago)

Cool! Um... what's a 'normal' level?

"Snowball Antarctica – early Drake passage opening led to global change" - "New results shed light on how Antarctica became the icy, barren continent that we know today. British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists have discovered that 30-50 million years ago, South America and Antarctica split apart very rapidly. This formed the Drake Passage and resulted in a major global cooling. The findings are published in the latest issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters." (British Antarctic Survey)

"Heavy snowfalls push NZ glaciers' recovery" - "New Zealand's glaciers are continuing to advance as the rest of the world's glaciers retreat, according to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research." (NZPA)

"Tomorrow's forecast: Hysterical" - "Data fail to back up claims weather is getting worse, says Tad Murty." (Toronto Star)

"Worst hurricanes of century yet to come" - "Researchers suggest after 30-year lull, U.S. will see more major storms." (Forbes)

Gotta love the byline - another Buncombe column: "King: Global warming may be to blame" - "Sir David King, the British Government's chief scientific adviser, has warned that global warming may be responsible for the devastation reaped by Hurricane Katrina." (Andrew Buncombe, London Independent)

Too much to expect a chief scientific adviser to avoid a simplistic association/causation muddle, we suppose. Parenthetically, we don't know how pleased Andrew Buncombe will be with his item in its current form - 04:30GMT Google linked the article thus:

Global warming not to blame for Katrina
Independent, UK - 5 hours ago
Global warming may be responsible for an upsurge in the intensity of recent storms but experts say there is no link between Hurricane Katrina and climate change ...

Sheesh! "Katrina's real name" - "THE HURRICANE that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming. When the year began with a two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles, the cause was global warming. When 124-mile-an-hour winds shut down nuclear plants in Scandinavia and cut power to hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland and the United Kingdom, the driver was global warming. When a severe drought in the Midwest dropped water levels in the Missouri River to their lowest on record earlier this summer, the reason was global warming." (Ross Gelbspan, Boston Globe)

"GERMAN PAPERS: Katrina Should be A Lesson To US on Global Warming" - "Seems like everything is President Bush's fault. One day after Katrina hammered the Gulf Coast, German commentators are laying into the US for its stubborn attitude to global warming and Kyoto." (Spiegel Online) | Discover Dialogue: Meteorologist William Gray (Discover.com)

"U.S. states fight EPA on greenhouse gases" - "BOSTON, Aug 30 - A group of U.S. states on Tuesday challenged a July court ruling upholding the Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emission, a factor in global warming. Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, the five states and the District of Columbia filed a petition asking the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review the July decision by a panel of the court, which Reilly said "allowed (the EPA) to continue on its path of inaction." "This case deals with one of the most serious environmental threats of our time," Reilly said in a statement. "Surely it warrants a decision by the full court." The group, which includes the attorneys general of Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia, said the EPA could not refuse to regulate greenhouse gases "simply because it opposes such regulation on policy grounds." (Reuters)

"N.C. global warming commission given final legislative OK" - "RALEIGH, N.C. -- The General Assembly gave its final approval Tuesday to create a legislative commission that would study global warming's impact on North Carolina." (Herald-Sun)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

Climate Models and the Sun-Climate Connection: Why the Two are Currently Incompatible: A well-known solar scientist writes about the failure of current climate models to produce the host of climatic responses to solar forcing that are evident in real-world instrumental and proxy climate data.

Subject Index Summaries:
Conterminous United States Temperature Trends: How has the temperature of the conterminous United States varied over the past century or so?

Life Span (Animal): What determines the length of an animal's life, and what would it take to extend it?

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: Paper Birch, Quaking Aspen, Rice, and Sugar Maple.

Journal Reviews:
Land Use Changes and Surface Warming in Eastern China: How much of the temperature increase experienced over the last four decades of the 20th century was a product of land use change?

Reconstructing 1000 Years of Precipitation in China: Are precipitation trends of the past two decades unprecedented in this region over the past millennium?

6500 Years of Asian Dust Flux: How has it varied over the past 6.5 millennia?  And what has been responsible for its variation?

The Net Effect of Predicted CO 2 -Induced Climate Change and the Known Biological Benefits of High-CO 2 Air on English and Welsh Wheat Yields: Will the change in yield be positive or negative at the mid-point of the current century?

Woody Plants Invading Grasslands: Effects on Soil Carbon Storage: What causes C 3 trees to encroach upon C 4 grasslands, what effect does this phenomenon have on carbon sequestration in soils, and why is it important?  A new paper broaches all of these significant questions. (co2science.org)

"Katrina Shows Weaknesses of Energy Supply Chain" - "The threat of gasoline price increases emphasizes the need to throw off government restrictions and disincentives to investment in new energy infrastructure." (CEI)

"Farmers warn on mandated ethanol" - "Intensive agriculture producers have slammed calls for the mandated use of ethanol in the Australian petrol supply, with a report warning it could cost the country $1.6 billion a year." (Australian Associated Press)

Subsidized grass growing (and burning): "Giant grass to be grown for power" - "GIANT tropical elephant grasses are to be planted across large swathes of British countryside under plans to encourage farmers to switch to crops that produce energy rather than food. The plan would see at least 800,000 acres covered with plantations of the grass, which grows to a height of 12ft and has razor-sharp leaves. Under the scheme, farmers will be offered government subsidies to grow the crop, while power generators would receive further subsidies. Burning the grass instead of fossil fuels will reduce Britain’s carbon dioxide emissions." (Jonathan Leake, Sunday Times)

"Biotech Expert to Speak on 'The Frankenfood Myth'" - "Gregory Conko, Director of Food Safety Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, will address the 25th Annual Meeting of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences on the topic of his most recent book, The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution." (CEI)

"GM crop that holds on to its seeds offers higher yields" - "Researchers have found a way of boosting the yield of a major crop by stopping its seedpods from bursting open. Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) is the most important oilseed crop in India after groundnut. It is grown largely to produce cooking oil from the seeds. However, because the seedpods open naturally to disperse their seeds at different times, part of each harvest is lost. This 'pod shatter' also makes it difficult for farmers to rotate crops because prematurely released seeds can germinate and become weeds." (SciDev.net)

"GMO farming offers 'immense economic advantages'" - "Genetically modified organisms (GMO) food production is growing worldwide despite vigorous anti-GMO campaigning, according to major agricultural seed and pesticide company Monsanto." (Sapa)

August 30, 2005

Glamorizing Eating Disorders, NY Times Style! -- The New York Times recently ran an article ("Critics Say Soda Policy for Schools Lacks Teeth", Aug. 22) spotlighting critics of the beverage industry's effort to combat childhood obesity by curbing soda sales in schools.

Maybe the Times will also find space for an article critical of its own advertisement policy that permits ads such as the one below, seemingly promoting starvation (New York Times Style Magazine, Aug. 28).

The Times' won't allow tobacco advertisement on its web site, but the glorification of eating disorders apparently is just dandy for its style magazine.

The Times does have something called the "Advertising Acceptability Department" whose function is "examine advertisements before publication to determine if they meet the standards of acceptability The Times has developed over the years. The Times may decline to accept advertising that is misleading, inaccurate or fraudulent; that makes unfair competitive claims or that fails to comply with its standards of decency and dignity."

I guess the Times needs to beef up its standards... as well as the model featured in the Ralph Lauren ad.

Send your thoughts to Times' publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Send JunkScience.com a copy at junkman@junkscience.com.

"Caloric restriction won't dramatically extend life span in humans: UCLA research" - "Severely restricting calories over decades may add a few years to a human life span, but will not enable humans to live to 125 and beyond, as many have speculated. "Caloric restriction is not a panacea," said UCLA evolutionary biologist John Phelan, who developed the first mathematical model demonstrating the relationship between caloric intake and longevity, using data from controlled experiments with rodents, as well as published studies on humans, diet and longevity." (University of California - Los Angeles)

"Most published research findings may be false" - "Published research findings are sometimes refuted by subsequent evidence, says Ioannidis in a paper published in the open access journal PLoS Medicine, with ensuing confusion and disappointment." (Public Library of Science)

"Pandering to pandas" - "One might expect the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to focus exclusively on advancing the health and development of humans. But since 2001, NICHD, a subdivision of the National Institutes of Health, has provided $1,178,450 to a "Fisheries and Wildlife" professor for research focusing at least in part on "giant panda habitats" in China. NICHD is not the only federal agency showering money on this professor. A 2002-2006 National Science Foundation grant is to give him $1,111,407 to study panda habitat, and another NSF grant in the 1990s paid him $321,055." (Terence P. Jeffrey, Washington Times)

"Would You Like Fries With That Breast Cancer?" - "It's been a tough time for French fries lately. First there was the unpleasant association with, well, all things French that led to one of America's favourite foods being renamed, at least within the Beltway, Freedom Fries. Then there was the New York City fat police "request" that restaurants stop using trans fats for frying fries, a move that many restaurant owners say will adversely affect the taste of fries. And finally there was the new scientific study from the Harvard School of Public Health that suggests that eating French fries as a child might lead to breast cancer later in life." (John Luik, TCS)

"Scientific Savvy? In U.S., Not Much" - "The findings of Jon D. Miller, a political scientist, about how much Americans know about science are not encouraging." (New York Times)

"Vioxx populi" - "Several correspondents and members of our forum have been rightly incensed at the latest coup by American scumbag lawyers in obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars from the manufacturers of the arthritis drug Vioxx (Rofexib). The biggest losers will be those deprived of pain relief by the withdrawal of a drug on spurious statistical grounds." (Number Watch)

"Ozone layer decline leveling off, according to new study" - "A new study involving long-term data from satellites and ground stations indicates Earth's ozone layer, while still severely depleted following decades of thinning from industrial chemicals in the atmosphere, is no longer in decline." (University of Colorado at Boulder)

"Bruce Babbitt Calls for More Dams To Cope with Global Warming's Effects" - "SACRAMENTO — California should build more dams and reconsider building a highly controversial peripheral canal, a key architect of the state's decade-old Delta water plan said Thursday. Bruce Babbitt, who served as Interior Secretary during the Clinton administration, said the state has to worry not only about an aging infrastructure and a growing population, but also the fact that the state's water supplies will be sorely stretched by the effects of global warming." (Contra Costa Times)

Wasn't "Ol' Babbles" busy trying to break dams during the Clinton administration? Oh well, pleasing to see his current change of heart anyway.

"A Real Nor'easter" - "Environmentalists recently leaked to the New York Times plans for costly regulations that will significantly raise energy, goods and services prices for both businesses and consumers within a nine-state region of the northeast. The regulations will have adverse impacts far beyond the region, too. These increases will materialize, unless vigorously opposed, as early as this coming fall." (Lawrence A. Kogan and Slavi Pachovski, TCS)

Paul's recycled anti-Barton rhetoric: "Republicans accused of witch-hunt against climate change scientists" - "Some of America's leading scientists have accused Republican politicians of intimidating climate-change experts by placing them under unprecedented scrutiny." (The Guardian)

For those actually puzzled over whether committee requests to "show us the data and tell us who paid for it" are either unusual or "outrageous" just consider the situation and try a little substitution:

Suppose, for a moment, a group of scientists (possibly funded by say, Exxon-Mobil) produced papers radically altering perception of the last 1,000 years of Earth's climate. This new 'history' indicates that it's dreadfully cold now and that there will be catastrophic consequences if we do not radically alter lifestyles, deny development opportunity to developing nations and, for the privilege, we would need to transfer vast sums and political power currently undisclosed groups who may or may not have bought the research (or researchers) to begin with. Would anyone be distressed that said scientists were then asked to show their data and calculations, not to mention declare exactly who paid for their efforts? Note that the data might be commercially privileged if privately funded but that would significantly devalue its persuasive power, no? On the other hand, if the research was publicly funded then representatives of the public, say the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, would apparently have every right to every last measure, calculation and note relating to research bought and paid for by said public.

Now substitute scientists who have effectively written out of history the warmth, prosperity and development of the Renaissance and the cold, hunger and misery of the Little Ice Age, radically altering perception of the last 1,000 years of Earth's climate. This new 'history' indicates it's dreadfully hot now and that there will be catastrophic consequences if we do not radically alter lifestyles... Given that this 'new history' flies in the face of libraries of literature describing harsh seasons, crop failures and social unrest associated with the terrible cold of the Little Ice Age (perhaps a degree or two cooler than now) and the relative plenty and development dating back to the Viking Sagas and beyond associated with the Medieval Warm Period (perhaps a degree or two warmer than now) and that such revision underpins policy change that will cost human society dear, does anyone doubt it should be scrutinised to the nth degree?

So, which is the more outrageous position, changing 1,000 years of history because three guys say so or raising a sceptical eyebrow and asking them to prove it?

"Is Global Warming Fueling Katrina?" - "Is global warming making the problem worse? More-frequent hurricanes are part of most global warming models, and as mean temperatures rise worldwide, it's hard not to make a connection between the two." (Time Magazine)

Hmm... much is being made of hurricanes and global warming so perhaps a little perspective might be in order. There seems little contention that the planet is warmer now than it was in the 18th Century and yet, if memory serves, that was a horrendous period for sailors and trading houses with whole fleets of merchant vessels and men-o'-war lost to hurricanes in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. History buffs might correct me but I think these could represent the largest peacetime trade losses in the millennium.

"Storms Vary With Cycles, Experts Say" - "Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming. But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught "is very much natural," said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season." (New York Times)

"Response to Andy Revkin’s Science Question of August 26, 2005" - "Is most of the observed warming over the last 50 years likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations." (Climate Science)

"India: This is one GM that’ll be the boss" - "Environmentalists will cry murder, but the coming decades may well belong to genetically modified crops in major parts of the world as higher yields and lower costs turn sentiment." (Bombay Economic Times)

August 29, 2005

"Pesticide Study Makes Life-Threatening Conclusions" - "A new article threatens to undermine the battle against malaria around the world. In it, the authors suggest public health officials should rethink the use of DDT for malaria control—discouraging use of the most vital tool in an effort to save millions of lives." (CEI)

"Making a case for dusting off DDT" - "DDT strikes under-50 Americans as viciously bad, although they often know little about it. As West Nile virus and plant infestations sweep across North America, perhaps south-of-Boston residents might reexamine the insecticide." (Boston Globe)

"EU relaxes control on 'gender' chemicals" - "Gender-bending chemicals are to be exempted from tough new Europe-wide safety controls despite concern that they are causing bizarre sex changes in children and wildlife, leaked documents reveal." (London Independent)

"Pataki Fulfills Promise on "Green" Cleaning Products (Sigh)" - "In January 2005, New York governor George Pataki issued an executive order mandating the use of so-called "green" cleaning products in all state agencies and authorities; he later extended his order to New York schools. According to an Associated Press notice, the governor signed legislation putting his orders into law, effective September 1, 2006. So now we can all breathe a sigh of relief when standing for hours in a queue at the Department of Motor Vehicles or any other state offices, right?" (Ruth Kava, ACSH)

Da chicken done it... "Lawsuits claim chicken litter poisons hundreds" - "In six lawsuits, the people of Prairie Grove are blaming arsenic in chicken litter spread as fertilizer on fields for the multiple cases of cancer and deaths since the mid-1990's." (Springdale Morning News)

"Bird flu epidemic 'could be like BSE'" - "Ministers are repeating the mistakes of the BSE crisis over bird flu and putting the interests of agribusiness above people's lives, two of Britain's most eminent experts told The Independent on Sunday yesterday." (London Independent)

Like BSE? So, much hysteria over little risk then.

"Connecticut Weighs Health Risk of Mercury Fillings" - "Connecticut officials are trying to decide if a ban on products with mercury should include amalgam dental fillings. Some dentists say the mercury risk is low and that mercury-free fillings are expensive. Others disagree." (National Public Radio)

"California files suit on french fry health warning" - "SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 27 - California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has filed a lawsuit to force top makers of potato chips and french fries to warn consumers about a potential cancer-causing chemical found in the popular snacks." (Reuters)

"Pursuit of the obesity pathogen" - "West Virginia's status as the third-fattest state, confirmed in a recent report from the Trust for America's Health, gives new meaning to the phrase "Mountain Mama" in John Denver's Blue Ridge paean "Country Roads." For the morbidity and mortality experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it also poses a puzzle: Why are West Virginians so fat? I'll hazard a guess and say it's because they eat too much. But the CDC is not satisfied with layman's explanations. A few months ago, it sent a team of investigators to hunt the source of West Virginia's obesity outbreak." (Jacob Sullum, Washington Times)

"Coffee is number one source of antioxidants" - "Coffee provides more than just a morning jolt; java is also the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Scranton (Pa.). "Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close," says study leader Joe Vinson, Ph.D. The study will be described Aug. 28 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C." (American Chemical Society)

"Almanac Warns of Temperature Fluctuations" - "LEWISTON, Maine -- Get your sweaters, mittens and hats ready. The Farmers' Almanac warns that the coming winter will bring unusually sharp fluctuations in temperature, and says readers ''may be reminded of riding a roller, or in this case, 'polar' coaster.'' ''Mother Nature seems to be in the mood for some amusement this winter season,'' the almanac said in its 2006 edition, just off the presses." (AP)

"Why Africa's Climate Change Burden Is Greater" - "Africa can easily be said to contribute the least of any continent to global warming. Yet experts believe that the people living on the continent that has contributed the least to global warming are in line to be the hardest hit by the resulting climate changes." (Environmental Health Perspectives)

"Global warming: The flaw in the thaw" - "Many climate change activists have seized upon Kilimanjaro as a striking symbol of global warming, a poster child for the shrinking ice caps and glaciers around the world. It may not be that simple." (New Scientist)

"Japan fish catches may drop because of global warming" - "The first detailed study in the world to predict the impact of global warming on fish varieties and regions concludes that some Japanese fish catches may decline by as much as 70% over the next century." (Japan Times)

"Australia: Prime Minister claims Kyoto vindication" - "JOHN Howard claims he has been vindicated over his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol after business groups in New Zealand and Germany demanded their countries quit the agreement as soon as possible and join the Asia-Pacific climate pact." (The Australian)

"Does lighter equal deadlier?" - "The Bush Administration says its goals for mileage standards are modest because as more gas is saved by making cars lighter, more people are killed. Have traffic deaths really occurred because of efforts to conserve gas?" (New York Times)

"10 MPG: The Road to Energy Independence" - "With gasoline busting three bucks a gallon, the Bush administration Tuesday proposed higher fuel economy standards for SUVs and minivans, along with what the Washington Post called "a new regulatory system that sets different mileage goals for six sizes of vehicles, replacing the current single standard for all light trucks." But greater efficiency doesn't reduce the amount of energy we use. Just the opposite. I'll explain in a second, but first the news…" (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Novel compounds show promise as safer, more potent insecticides" - "Research teams at Nihon Nohyaku Co., Ltd., Bayer CropScience and DuPont have developed two new classes of broad-spectrum insecticides that show promise as a safer and more effective way to fight pest insects that damage food crops. The insecticides, which represent the first synthetic compounds designed to activate a novel insecticide target called the ryanodine receptor, may also help tackle the growing problem of insecticide resistance, the researchers say." (American Chemical Society)

August 27, 2005

"George Taylor, Oregon State Climatologist, responds to the Willamette Week article written by Paul Koberstein" - "An article about me and my viewpoint on global warming was published on August 24, 2005 by Willamette Week. The article contained many misleading statements and errors. Below I address some of statements in the article with which I take issue." (George H. Taylor) | Hot or Not: Oregon's official weatherman has good news about global warming-it doesn't exist (Paul Koberstein, Willamette Week)

August 26, 2005

"Another Stem Cell Fast One" - "The embryonic stem cell research lobby must think the rest of us are pretty gullible." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Big J award winner: "Health risks and benefits of bis(4-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane (DDT)" - "Summary: DDT (bis[4-chlorophenyl]-1,1,1-trichloroethane) is a persistent insecticide that was used worldwide from the mid 1940s until its ban in the USA and other countries in the 1970s. When a global ban on DDT was proposed in 2001, several countries in sub-Saharan Africa claimed that DDT was still needed as a cheap and effective means for vector control. Although DDT is generally not toxic to human beings and was banned mainly for ecological reasons, subsequent research has shown that exposure to DDT at amounts that would be needed in malaria control might cause preterm birth and early weaning, abrogating the benefit of reducing infant mortality from malaria. Historically, DDT has had mixed success in Africa; only the countries that are able to find and devote substantial resources towards malaria control have made major advances. DDT might be useful in controlling malaria, but the evidence of its adverse effects on human health needs appropriate research on whether it achieves a favourable balance of risk versus benefit." (Walter J Rogan and Aimin Chen, The Lancet)

Hypothetical hooey and real-world deaths are not equivalent. How disappointing that The Lancet felt compelled to uncritically publish European precautionary principle-style handwringing when real third world mothers and babies are dying for want of affordable indoor residual sprays. Appalling. | DDT FAQ | Malaria Clock

"Malaria, a Silent But Serious Killer" - "Africa Fighting Malaria stands by comments made by the Ugandan Minister of Health Jim Muhwezi to use DDT for Indoor Residual Spraying purposes in the fight against malaria." (AFM)

Mercury scare victim? "Autistic boy dies during controversial treatment" - "A 5-year-old Monroeville boy died this week during a medical treatment that's being touted by some as a cure for autism." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Chelation Therapy: Unproven Claims and Unsound Theories (Saul Green, QuackWatch)

"Four legs good, two legs bad" - "Britain is the best place in the world to be a laboratory animal, but the worst place to breed one." (The Economist)

"Wronged" - "Science does not deserve to be the target of protests, whatever you think of animal rights." (The Economist)

"Doubts raised over 'metabolic syndrome'" - "LONDON - The world's top two diabetes organizations are questioning the existence of "metabolic syndrome", a medical condition much in the news lately. The American Diabetes Association and European Association for the Study of Diabetes said in a joint statement on Thursday that metabolic syndrome -- which has come to be seen as a predictor of cardiovascular disease and diabetes -- was poorly defined, inconsistently used and in need of further research." (Reuters)

"Lancet study says homeopathic medicines don't work" - "LONDON, Aug 26 - The world may be beating a path to the doors of homeopathic practitioners as an alternative to conventional medicines, but according to a new study they may just as well be taking nothing. The study, published in Friday's edition of the respected Lancet medical journal, is likely to anger the growing numbers of devoted practitioners of and adherents to alternative therapies that include homeopathy. "There was weak evidence for a specific effect of homeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions," the study concluded. "This finding is compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homeopathy are placebo effects," it added after examining findings from 110 homeopathy trials and an equal number of conventional medical trials." (Reuters) | As a fourth study says it's no better than a placebo, is this the end for homeopathy? (The Guardian)

Hmm... "Growth Spurt for EDC Recognition" - "Once in a great while, a scientific conference takes place that later proves to have been a turning point in a particular field. A session on endocrine disruption at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society may prove to be a landmark example." (Environmental Health Perspective)

"Study: Antiseptic agent in cosmetics ages skin cells in ultraviolet rays" - "Methylparaben, an antiseptic agent widely used in cosmetics such as foundation, advances the aging process in skin cells when exposed to ultraviolet rays, causing wrinkles and liver spots." (Asahi Shimbun)

"Proteins point to dioxin toxicity" - "Exposure to dioxin is known to cause reproductive and developmental abnormalities, as well as immunological and hormonal changes in humans. A new study finds that a particular dioxin may also lead to other serious health problems, including liver disease and cancer." (Environmental Science & Technology)

For "Exposure to dioxin is known to ..." read "Exposure to dioxin is alleged to ..." since the only known human response is chlorachne.

"Group dismisses dioxin cancer links" - "The American Council on Science and Health petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate "junk science" when determining what chemicals cause human cancer." (Biloxi Sun Herald)

Good grief! "Inhospitable climate" - "Raymond Bradley, now a professor of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts and director of its Climate System Research Center, became an internationally recognized paleoclimatologist known for drilling into the sediment beds of frozen Arctic lakes to find in their layers evidence of centuries of climate change. He's also one of three scientists in a political maelstrom." (Boston Globe)

Is the data and/or research so crappy we have to have personal puff pieces in an attempt to stop anyone kicking the tyres and looking under the hood of the AGW bandwagon?

"Breaks in monsoon get longer with time" - "New Delhi. Aug 25: The spells of weak rainfall during the monsoon season have lengthened since 1950, scientists at the Cochin University for Science and Technology (Cusat) said today. The total annual monsoon rainfall over India has not changed over the past 100 years, the researchers said, but the shorter spells of active monsoon and longer spells of weak monsoon could harm agricultural output." (Calcutta Telegraph)

"Nature paper: Burning asteroids may play 'more important climate role than previously recognized'" - "In a study to be published this week in the journal Nature, scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division, the University of Western Ontario, the Aerospace Corporation, and Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories found evidence that dust from an asteroid burning up as it descended through Earth's atmosphere formed a cloud of micron-sized particles significant enough to influence local weather in Antarctica." (DOE/Sandia National Laboratories)

Hmm... "Trees don't suck up carbon dioxide as hoped" - "Trees don't seem to grow any faster when given an extra dose of carbon dioxide, Swiss scientists have found. Their study could shatter the widespread belief that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide may be kept partly in check by blossoming plant growth." (Nature)

"World getting 'literally greener'" - "The world seems to have begun to turn greener, in the strictly literal sense, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep). Satellite data show plant growth has been measurably more vigorous over the last 25 years. The news comes in Unep's first Global Environment Outlook Year Book 2003, which highlights trends and problems. (Alex Kirby, BBC)

"Global Garden Gets Greener" - "Leaving aside for a moment the deforestation and other land cover changes that continue to accompany an ever-growing human population, the last two decades of the twentieth century were a good time to be a plant on planet Earth. In many parts of the global garden, the climate grew warmer, wetter, and sunnier, and despite a few El Niño-related setbacks, plants flourished for the most part." (NASA Earth Observatory)

"UN director links natural disasters and climate change" - "UNEP's Klaus Töpfer sees the forest fires in southern Europe and the floods in parts of central Europe as signs of climate change already in action." (EurActiv)

"Global warming 'has doubled storm threat'" - "Weather expert finds destructive power worse than models predict." (The Guardian)

Wonder how good earlier data is and whether current metrics are comparable.

"North Pole sea ice may melt by 2040, researchers find" - "Global warming could melt summer Arctic sea ice by the end of the century, scientists say, making for an ice-free North Pole for the first time in more than a million years." (Scripps Howard News Service)

Sounds a lot like the silly statements NYT had to quietly retract a few years back, doesn't it?

"Peru's glaciers in retreat" - "Experts predict all the Peruvian glaciers below 5,500 metres will disappear by 2015. This is the majority of Peru's glaciers. This will severely disrupt the water supply for millions of Peruvian residents, and also impair much of the country's hydroelectric capacity." (BBC)

"Kyoto on the horizon" - "MASSACHUSETTS and eight other Northeastern states are close to taking a crucial step in reducing the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The states are proposing to first cap the carbon dioxide emissions of their electric power plants and then reduce them by 10 percent by 2020. To emit CO2, plants would need special carbon allowances, which could be bought and sold among power producers throughout the nine states. The proposed reduction is modest, but the principle of a carbon cap is so important to slowing climate change that the initiative is well worth supporting." (Boston Globe)

"Northeastern Alliance Bucks Kyoto Trend; Cooperative May Be Costly, Harm State Economies, Says NCPA" - "DALLAS, Aug. 25 -- Despite growing concern about the causes of global warming and the rising price of oil, officials in nine Northeastern states have preliminarily agreed to freeze power plant emissions and even reduce them by 10 percent by 2020, according to published reports. But scholars with the National Center For Policy Analysis' (NCPA) E-Team project say such an alliance will impose significant regional economic costs." (U.S. Newswire)

"Fuel Efficiency Trade-Offs" - "Without CAFE standards, automotive companies will improve gas mileage at the rate that technology and people's demand for safety will allow." (CEI)

"The eternal challenge" - "A new nightmare for greens: conserving water may encourage sprawl." (The Economist)

"No More Chicken Run" - "Factory farming is healthier: for animals and people. That's the take-home message as Dutch health authorities this week ordered free-range poultry farmers to bring inside their five million outdoor birds. There the birds will be less vulnerable to catching or spreading the deadly avian flu virus that's made its way from Southeast Asia to the doorstep of European Russia in recent weeks.

German health authorities are considering their own ban on outdoor birds, over the objections of their country's organic, free-range poultry farmers. Thomas Dosch, head of Bioland, Germany's largest organic organization, said that "exceptions are needed from the order," such as allowing birds to use open-air pens covered by netting. Unfortunately, such netting will not protect the flocks from the wild-bird droppings that spread the disease. Organic farmers are obviously more concerned with their market premiums than public and poultry health.

Southeast Asia has been the origin of all pandemic flu strains and the less deadly annual flu varieties. The new H5N1 flu strain has killed more than 60 people in Asia and destroyed Asia's poultry industry. Why? Free-range farming." (Alex Avery and Dennis Avery, The Wall Street Journal)

Sigh... misinformation flourishes: "Genetic crops spell doom" - "CUTTACK, Aug. 25. — The Koraput valley in Orissa believed to be one of the world’s two sources of rice next to Myanmar may go the Mexico way if introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops including transgenic crops is allowed in the state as a part of the new biotechnology policy that was announced by the Naveen Patnaik government with much fanfare recently." (Statesman News Service)

"Farmers, environmentalists urge ban on GMOs" - "GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Local farmers and environmental groups renewed their calls to immediately ban entry and planting of genetically-engineered (GE) crops in the country in the wake of the recent government approval to commercialize a new transgenic corn variety." (MindaNews)

August 25, 2005

"Candles to Keep Malaria At Bay" - "Concern for the environment is fine, but many Kenyan's suffer and die from malaria each year. If malaria control were as simple as lighting candles, malaria deaths would be a thing of the past. If Kenya were to spray DDT (which incidently is safe for humans and the environment) many of those deaths would be prevented." (AFM)

"Uganda Fails to Pick $28m Malaria Cash" - "Bureaucracy and complacency on behalf of the Ugandan government are set to cost the lives of millions of Ugandans suffering from malaria." (AFM)

"Spraying critics seize meeting" - "A meeting intended to calm fears in Davis, California about possible pesticide spraying to combat West Nile virus erupted in chaos Tuesday, as opponents shouted objections to the meeting's strict format, drove off government leaders and then took over the session." (Sacramento Bee)

"Obesity Rate Is Nearly 25 Percent, Group Says" - "Mississippi is the nation's most overweight state, Colorado is the least, and the Southeastern states generally have more heft than the rest of the country, according to a report released yesterday by a public health advocacy group." (New York Times)

"TV ads market junk food to kids, new study finds" - "For young Americans, the "food landscape" in television advertising is packed with junk food, according to a new study. The study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the first to explore the nutritional composition of foods advertised to children using Nutrition Facts labeling." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Testicular cancer risk linked to mothers' weight" - "Pregnant women's weight is apparently associated with the subsequent risk of testicular cancer in male offspring once they become adults, according to a Scandinavian study." (Reuters Health)

Oh boy... "Row over Charles' medicines study" - "A report commissioned by the Prince of Wales into the cost of complementary medicines has sparked controversy. Prince Charles, an enthusiast for alternative medicine, asked an independent economist to work out how much such therapies could save the NHS." (BBC)

Former Vice President Al Gore To Speak at NAIC Fall National Meeting - Former Vice President Al Gore will speak at the NAIC's Fall National Meeting in New Orleans during a special educational seminar entitled, “The Implications of Climate Change on Insurers and Insurance Consumers.” It has become evident that climate change will continue to challenge insurers and state insurance regulators. Inevitably, this will pose a threat to the availability of essential insurance coverages for consumers.

Poor Al, still doing his sky-is-falling shtick. Fortunately, US insurers seem far better informed:

Climate change a 'blind spot' for US insurers - Climate change is barely on the radar for the U.S. insurance industry, rating far less attention than asbestos and terrorist attacks. Unlike their counterparts overseas, American insurers suggest that climate change, while probably a very real phenomenon, isn't such a big deal. (Oakland Tribune)

What a model world... "Climate model links higher temperatures to prehistoric extinction" - "Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research have created a detailed computer simulation showing Earth's climate at the time of the greatest mass extinction in history. The work supports a theory that increased atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide triggered the Permian extinction 251 million years ago." (NCAR/UCAR)

At least they include the caveat: The modeling presented unique challenges because of limited data and significant geographic differences between the Permian and present-day Earth. The researchers had to estimate such variables as the chemical composition of the atmosphere, the amount of sunlight reflected by Earth's surface back into the atmosphere, and the movement of heat and salinity in the oceans at a time when all the continents were consolidated into the giant land mass known as Pangaea.

"Federal Judge OKs Global Warming Lawsuit" - "SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge here said environmental groups and four U.S. cities can sue federal development agencies on allegations the overseas projects they financially back contribute to global warming. The decision Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White is the first to say that groups alleging global warming have a right to sue." (AP)

"Cosmic dirt makes deep climate impact" - "A MASSIVE 40,000 tonnes of space dust and debris rain down on Earth every year - and the particles are big enough to affect the planet's climate." (The Australian)

"States to the Rescue" - "It's been obvious for some time that state governments are taking the problems of global warming and oil dependency much more seriously than the Bush administration is, and have been far more creative in devising solutions." (New York Times)

Rescue? We might ask "Of what, from what?"

Obvious cause for hand-wringing: "Warm and wealthy Britain tempting second homebuyers" - "A warmer climate and strong economy are prompting rising numbers of Britons wanting second homes to buy in this country rather than investing aboard, according to research published today." (London Telegraph)

"Experts warn of more floods" - "The Swiss Meteorological Office has sent out a stark warning that the country should brace itself for more severe flooding in future. An increase in the average temperature in Switzerland of between 1.2 and 1.5 degrees Celsius in the past 150 years is being blamed for the intense periods of heavy rainfall witnessed last weekend." (swissinfo)

"Global warming: The flaw in the thaw" - "Campaigners have seized upon the world's shrinking glaciers as proof of global warming. But there is more to it than that, reports Fred Pearce." (New Scientist)

"Maldives: Paradise soon to be lost" - "To visit the Maldives is to witness the slow death of a nation." (BBC)

"Estimating future sea level changes from past records" - "Abstract: In the last 5000 years, global mean sea level has been dominated by the redistribution of water masses over the globe. In the last 300 years, sea level has been oscillation close to the present with peak rates in the period 1890–1930. Between 1930 and 1950, sea fell. The late 20th century lack any sign of acceleration. Satellite altimetry indicates virtually no changes in the last decade. Therefore, observationally based predictions of future sea level in the year 2100 will give a value of +10±10 cm (or +5±15 cm), by this discarding model outputs by IPCC as well as global loading models. This implies that there is no fear of any massive future flooding as claimed in most global warming scenarios." (Nils-Axel Mörner, Global and Planetary Change, Volume 40, Issues 1-2, January 2004, Pages 49-54)

"Advanced biotech must to cope with future food demand: Anwar" - "Although the use of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) in farming has sparked debates between governments, environmentalists and the multinational companies, Agriculture Minister MK Anwar said Bangladesh needs advanced biotechnology to cope with future food demand and generate more revenue." (Financial Express)

August 24, 2005

"Poor countries to miss 2015 health goals - WHO" - "The WHO now warns that countries will not reach their Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Well, if the WHO performance on malaria control is anything to go by, one reason that countries will not meet the MDGs is the WHO itself." (AFM)

Misanthropists terrorise another victim into submission: "Targeted guinea pig farm closes" - "A farm that has been breeding guinea pigs for medical research for more than 30 years is to stop after intimidation by animal rights activists. The family-run Darley Oaks Farm in Newchurch, Staffordshire, has been hit by a six-year campaign of abuse. The owners and people connected with the firm have received death threats. The family said they hoped the decision would prompt the return of the body of their relative Gladys Hammond, whose remains were stolen from a churchyard." (BBC) | UK Farm to Close Following Animal Rights Protests (Reuters) | 'We give up,' says family besieged by activists (The Guardian) | Anger over 'victory' for animal rights campaign (The Guardian)

"Animal tests get renewed backing" - "More than 500 UK scientists and doctors have pledged their support for animal testing in medical research. They have signed a declaration stating that a "small but vital" part of medical research involves animals. The statement, which was drawn up by the Research Defence Society (RDS), has disappointed animal welfare groups." (BBC)

"Silicone Chip on My Shoulder" - "Readers of National Review Online yesterday (August 22) had the pleasure of reading Dr. Sally Satel's piece describing her justifiable outrage regarding the continued restrictions on silicone breast implants. It is galling to those of us in public health that a strident group of activists can impose their will upon the overwhelming majority of consumers based upon nothing more than their version of what is "best" for everyone else." (Gilbert Ross, ACSH)

"New Study on Quick Service Restaurants Near Schools Recommends Zoning Restrictions, Compares Fast Food to Guns" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 -- If you live, work, or shop in an area with high commercial activity, you might want to enjoy one last lunch at your favorite local restaurant, because the food police want to close it down. A study released today in the American Journal of Public Health looks at restaurant locations in the Chicago area and suggests they are located too closely to schools and should, therefore, face strict zoning restrictions." (PRNewswire)

"Seeing the trees for the forest: WHRC scientists creating national biomass and carbon dataset" - "Scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center are producing a high-resolution "National Biomass and Carbon Dataset" for the year 2000 (NBCD2000), the first ever inventory of its kind. Through a combination of NASA satellite datasets, topographic survey data, land use/land cover data, and extensive forest inventory data collected by the U.S. Forest Service, this "millennium" dataset will serve as an invaluable baseline for carbon stock assessment and flux modeling in the United States." (Woods Hole Research Center)

"Antarctic ozone hole grows from last year-WMO" - "GENEVA - The winter hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica appears to have grown from last year but is still smaller than in 2003, when it was at its largest, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"Panelist Who Dissents on Climate Change Quits" - "The scientist, Roger A. Pielke Sr., a climatologist at Colorado State University, said most of the other scientists working on the report were too deeply wedded to particular views and were discounting minority opinions on the quality of climate records and possible causes of warming. "When you appoint people to a committee who are experts in an area but evaluating their own work," he said in an interview, "it's very difficult for them to think outside the box of their research." (New York Times) | CSU scientist quits Bush team in dispute over climate research (Denver Post) | Resignation from the CCSP Committee “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere-Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences” (Climate Science)

Open Comment to Andy Revkin with Respect to your 23 August 2005 Article in the New York Times Regarding my Resignation from the CCSP Committee (Roger A. Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

"Talks renew vigour to tackle global warming" - "Politicians from all around the world visiting the Arctic on a fact-finding trip left professing new determination that action to tackle climate change must be taken everywhere." (BBC)

"Is extreme weather down to climate change?" - "With fires raging through southern Europe - a region experiencing its worst drought for decades - and some of parts of the continent submerged by floods, it is tempting to ascribe such extreme weather to the effects of global warming." (BBC)

"'Geology' September 05 cover story: Coral reef decline - not just overfishing" - "Scientists widely agree that coral reefs are in declining. As featured in Geology in its September 2005 issue, a team led by Richard Aronson of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab took cores of reefs in Belize that reconstructed their history over the past several thousand years and found that they were healthy and vibrant until the 1980's when they were killed by disease and high sea temperatures. This dictates a different strategy for policymakers intent on saving reef ecosystems than just focusing on overfishing." (Dauphin Island Sea Lab)

Still GIGO only faster: "New climate modelling computer provides more reliable risk analyses" - "Enhanced computing capability will make it possible to gain new insights on climate change. On Tuesday, August 23, the climate modelling computer Tornado was inaugurated by Lena Sommestad, who is Environment Minister in Sweden." (PhysOrg)

"Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer within 100 years, scientists say" - "If present trends continue, the current melting will accelerate, driving the Arctic to a new seasonally ice-free state unlike any the Arctic has experienced in the last million years, according to a report in the Aug. 23 issue of Eos. The research team could not identify any natural systems that would act as a brake on the increased warming and melting." (University of Arizona) | Panel Sees Growing Melting Arctic Threat (Associated Press)

That's always the rub, isn't it? "If present trends continue..." Trouble is, we won't know what the present trend is for another thirty years or so (the length of time an anomaly must continue before climatologists have the temerity to claim it a trend). Even if urban heat island effect has been adequately addressed and accounted for in the near-surface record (dubious) then a century and a half of measurements suggest a background warming of about +0.6 °C/century might continue (insufficient to deice the Artic) but that the recent step-warming is unlikely to be sustained for much longer (if it hasn't finished already).

Chinese study finds more evidence for solar forcing of climate change: "Temperature responses to quasi-100-yr solar variability during the past 6000 years based on δ18O of peat cellulose in Hongyuan, eastern Qinghai–Tibet plateau, China" - "Abstract: During the past 6000 years, the temperature variation trend inferred from δ18O of peat cellulose in a peat core from Hongyuan (eastern Qinghai–Tibet plateau, southwestern China) is similar to the atmospheric 14C concentration trend and the modeled solar output trend. The general trend of Hongyuan δ18O during the past millennium also coincides well with the atmospheric 14C concentration trend, the 10Be concentration trend in an ice core from the South Pole, the reconstructed total solar irradiance trend, as well as the modeled solar output trend. In addition, temperature events also correspond well to solar perturbations during the past 6000 years. Therefore, the driving force of Holocene temperature variations should be properly ascribed to solar activity. The spectrum analysis further illustrates that quasi-100-yr fluctuation of solar activity was probably responsible for temperature variations in northeast Qinghai–Tibet plateau during the past 6000 years." (Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology)

"9 States in Plan to Cut Emissions by Power Plants" - "Officials in New York and eight other Northeastern states have come to a preliminary agreement to freeze power plant emissions at their current levels and then reduce them by 10 percent by 2020, according to a confidential draft proposal. The cooperative action, the first of its kind in the nation, came after the Bush administration decided not to regulate the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Once a final agreement is reached, the legislatures of the nine states will have to enact it, which is considered likely." (New York Times)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

The McCain/Clinton Surreal View of Global Warming: How warped it is!

Subject Index Summaries:
Alaskan Temperature Trends: Is there anything unusual or "unprecedented," as climate alarmists like to suggest, about the recent temperature history of Alaska?

Oceans (Productivity): As atmospheric CO 2 concentrations and temperatures rise, so too do cries of alarm that they will negatively impact both terrestrial and oceanic productivity.  We here explore this contention as it applies to the world's seas.

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: Jack Pine, Mongolian Oak, Paper Birch, and White Potato.

Journal Reviews:
15,000 Years of ENSO Activity in the Santa Barbara Basin of California, USA: It is frequently claimed that global warming is causing more intense ENSO activity that will wreak all manner of weather-related havoc across the globe.  How does this claim stack up against the proxy ENSO record from the Santa Barbara Basin?

20th-Century North American Streamflow Trends: Climate models suggest streamflow discharge rates should be increasing as a result of global warming.  What do empirical data from North America show?

Growth Response of a Freshwater Microalga to Very High Atmospheric CO 2 Concentrations: How high can the air's CO 2 concentration go and the alga still exhibit a positive growth response to it?

Effects of Elevated CO 2 on the Effectiveness of Transgenic Bt Cotton: How will the ongoing rise in the air's CO 2 content impact the effectiveness of genetic modifications of cotton that have been developed to reduce damage caused by the cotton bollworm?

Range Responses of British Dragonflies and Damselflies to Recent Regional Warming: Were the winged insects forced to contract their ranges in the first stage of a climate-alarmist-predicted journey towards heat-induced extinction as Britain warmed over the past few decades? (co2science.org)

"NHTSA to Make Fuel Economy Program Deadlier" - "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today is expected to announce new fuel economy standards which CEI believes will make the program even deadlier for the millions of Americans on our nation’s highways." (CEI)

"US proposes to boost light-truck fuel economy" - "U.S. auto regulators on Tuesday proposed new standards that would improve gas mileage for popular sport utility vehicles and other light trucks in an effort to cut consumption and save consumers money." (Reuters)

"Coal-powered fuel cell aims for efficiency" - "A new coal-powered fuel cell may lead to a more efficient way of extracting energy from the fossil fuel than simply burning it." (New Scientist)

It may (eventually) lead to a more efficient way but, at one-fifth the efficiency of coal-burning generation, there's a long way to go.

"Cleaner coal power for China is possible" - "China is poised to build hundreds of new coal-burning power plants in the coming decades. Their combined emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide could largely exceed current UK emissions." (SciDev.net)

"AFRICA: Water, Water Everywhere..." - "STOCKHOLM - The crisis-weary African continent, which has two of the world's longest rivers -- the 6,400-kilometre Nile River and the 4,370-kilometre Congo River -- is suffering from a virtual economic paradox: a shortage of water amidst potentially plentiful supplies." (IPS)

"Bacteria are key to 'green' plastics, drugs" - "Commercial trials are underway in Kansas on a "green" method of making succinate, a key ingredient of many plastics, drugs, solvents and food additives. Scientists are using a genetically modified bacteria that metabolizes glucose from grain sorghum and produces almost pure succinate. Finding clean, renewable production methods for succinate and other high-use chemicals is a high priority of the U.S. chemical industry, the Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture." (Rice University)

August 23, 2005

"Officials: Ethiopia fears malaria epidemic" - "Hundreds of children are dying each day of malaria in Ethiopia and yet officials and donors refuse to fund programs using Indoor Residual Spraying." (AFM)

"Fansidar could have a new lease on life as a protective malaria drug" - "The 20-year-old malaria drug Fansidar has been shown to dramatically reduce death as well as other complications associated with malaria in a test group of children." (AFM)

"Stop endangering employees" - "Banning guns from the workplace seems like the obvious way to prevent workplace violence. At least that is the policy at ConocoPhillips and many other companies. The nation's largest oil refiner bans employees from storing locked guns in their cars while parked in company parking lots. The issue erupted this month when the NRA announced a boycott of Conoco and Phillips 66 gasoline stations and editorial pages across the country attacked the NRA's action as outrageous." (John R. Lott Jr. and April L. Dabney)

"Medical Studies and the Average American Kid" - "The federal government is making a major push to have more medications tested in children, offering pharmaceutical companies valuable patent extensions. But that push has led a number of experts to scrutinize the current standards for such tests." (Washington Post)

"Flicks and ashes" - "In the 2005 movie "The Jacket," Kelly Lynch plays a drunk who burns to death after falling asleep while smoking. According to the research cited by activists who object to cinematic portrayals of smoking, Miss Lynch's character is part of an insidious plot to lure children into the habit by making it seem cool and glamorous. Studies in this area typically define pro-tobacco messages broadly enough to include all instances of smoking, actual or implied, along with discussions of tobacco and glimpses of cigarette logos, lighters or ashtrays. A new study that takes a more discriminating approach, looking at the behavior of the leading characters in 447 popular films released since 1990, contradicts several claims made by critics who blame movies for encouraging kids to smoke." (Jacob Sullum, Washington Times)

"FEATURE - Reaching Balance: Europe Weighs Health Verses Industry" - "BRUSSELS - What price Europe's health? The question lies at the heart of a debate over a draft chemicals law that detractors say could cost Europe its dominance of the lucrative sector." (Reuters)

"Urban cyclists raise their risk of heart disease" - "After just one hour of cycling through traffic, tests showed microscopic particles in diesel fumes caused significant damage to blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease." (London Times)

Presumably Brussels will invoke the precautionary principle and ban cycling or at least protect self-destructive cyclists from themselves with draconian limits and massive publicly financed behaviour modification programs similar to the tobacco juggernaut. Which city will be the first to protect public health and go cycle-free?

"Wines fail the ... smog test?" - "Uncork a bottle of fine California wine and the delightful aroma it exudes is called bouquet. But multiply that bottle by the millions produced in the Central Valley, and regulators refer to those same wine gases by a less pleasant name: smog-forming pollution." (Los Angeles Times)

"Dutch to shield poultry from flu" - "The Netherlands is banning farmers from keeping fowl outdoors to try to prevent the spread of bird flu. Authorities fear the poultry could be infected through contact with birds migrating from Russia, where a strain of the virus has been found." (BBC)

So, the message here is that 'factory' farming is healthier than free-ranging, no?

"Scientists Fear Oceans on the Cusp Of a Wave of Marine Extinctions" - "Dozens of biologists believe the seas have reached a tipping point, with scores of species of ocean-dwelling fish, birds and mammals edging towards extinction." (Washington Post)

"From Genocide to Ecocide: The Rape of Rapa Nui" (116Kb, .pdf) - "ABSTRACT: The ‘decline and fall’ of Easter Island and its alleged self-destruction has become the poster child of a new environmentalist historiography, a school of thought that goes hand-in-hand with predictions of environmental disaster. Why did this exceptional civilisation crumble? What drove its population to extinction? These are some of the key questions Jared Diamond endeavours to answer in his new book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. According to Diamond, the people of Easter Island destroyed their forest, degraded the island’s topsoil, wiped out their plants and drove their animals to extinction. As a result of this selfinflicted environmental devastation, its complex society collapsed, descending into civil war, cannibalism and self-destruction. While his theory of ecocide has become almost paradigmatic in environmental circles, a dark and gory secret hangs over the premise of Easter Island’s self-destruction: an actual genocide terminated Rapa Nui’s indigenous populace and its culture. Diamond, however, ignores and fails to address the true reasons behind Rapa Nui’s collapse. Why has he turned the victims of cultural and physical extermination into the perpetrators of their own demise? This paper is a first attempt to address this disquieting quandary. It describes the foundation of Diamond’s environmental revisionism and explains why it does not hold up to scientific scrutiny." (Benny Peiser, Energy & Environment)

"Cool waters finally return to Northwest coast, but concerns linger" - "Upwellings of nutrient-rich cold water have finally arrived off the Pacific Northwest coast, purging the ocean of warmer surface temperatures that earlier in the year disrupted the food chain for seabirds, salmon and other maritime life." (Seattle Times)

"Finding hydroxyl" - "Expanding its role beyond dating ancient objects, carbon-14 is proving be a powerful tracer of the hydroxyl radical, a difficult-to-measure but all-important atmospheric cleanser that oxidizes greenhouse gases such as methane and pollutants such as carbon monoxide." (Chemical & Engineering News)

"Are Siberian swamps a global threat?" - "MOSCOW - Last week, the British press (the Guardian, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph) warned of "swamp terrorism" from Siberia. Citing experts, the newspapers claimed that the permafrost covering Siberian swamps is rapidly thawing due to climatic warming. They said that billions of tons of methane could be released into the air causing an ecological disaster. Academician Vladimir Melnikov spoke to RIA Novosti about the problem. Melnikov is the director of the world's only Institute of the Earth's Cryosphere. The Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute is located in the Siberian city of Tyumen and investigates the ways in which ground water becomes ice and permafrost. "This is just another scare story, this time about the Siberian swamps." This was Melnikov's first reaction when asked by RIA Novosti to comment on claims by The Daily Telegraph that thawing Siberian permafrost could cause an ecological crisis." (RIA Novosti)

"Winter of discontent in the pipeline" - "With a decline in North Sea supplies and experts predicting the worst weather in years, the cost of gas can only go one way - up, warns Neasa MacErlean." (The Observer)

One of the more interesting parts of the story is here:

The other key factor is the weather. Scare stories about energy prices and cold winters are not uncommon, but their stark predictions haven't come true. That's partly because over the past 15 years, most winters have been comparatively mild.

But that could be about to change: the Met Office has just published its first forecast covering the 2005/06 winter (the North Atlantic Oscillation Report) and it 'places the winter of 2005/06 among the coldest third of winters over the last 50 years of the 20th century'.

Odd. Don't seem to have noticed much in the press warning the public about looming cooling.

Ian Castles on IPCC Economic Assumptions (Climate Audit)

"A Big, Dirty Growth Engine" - "China's unrestrained growth makes it one of the world's worst polluters, but green technology is starting to emerge." (Business Week)

"[Organic] Crops aren’t healthier or safer" - "RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Many organic supporters are willing to pay exorbitant costs for organic foods. They claim that organic food is worth sometimes double the regular price because it is, among other things:
* “Natural,” grown without pesticides or antibiotics
* Better tasting, fresher
* Nutritionally superior
* Grown in an environmentally sustainable manner.
But is there scientific proof from independent, nonorganic food industry-funded studies to support these claims? Let’s investigate some of the popular organic folklore." (Alan McHughen, Kansas City Star)

"AFRICA: A Small Step From Barnyard to Pond" - "BROOKLIN, Canada - Africa must urgently boost investments in aquaculture to fight hunger, as natural fish stocks on the continent and elsewhere decline, scientists say." (IPS)

"Pro-GM scientist to give TV lectures" - "One of Britain's most provocative scientists, who has been accused of protecting the biotech food industry and has dismissed organic produce as "an image-led fad", will give the televised BBC Christmas science lectures, which are aimed at children and young adults." (The Guardian)

"Top of the crops" - "The world's population is expanding by 86 million a year - but GM rice can save us from famine." (Johnjoe McFadden, The Guardian)

"Ghana strongly favours GM Crops" - "Gm Food Accra, Aug. 18, GNA - Mr Ernest Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Thursday said Ghana had not taken any strong stand against the importation and cultivation of Genetically Modified Crops, but was rather strongly in favour of it." (GNA)

"Ghana Advances in Bio-Safety" - "The minister for Environment and Science, Ms. Christine Churcher, has launched a national framework on Bio-safety for Ghana at a ceremony in Accra." (Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra))

August 22, 2005

"Last implant gasp?" - "Silicone breast implants just moved a step closer to federal regulators' approval. That's bad news for personal injury lawyers involved in implant litigation. And they appear to be getting pretty desperate." (Steven Milloy, The Washington Times)

"Safe Water Is the Clear Solution for World Water Week" - "ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 21 -- Can economic growth, sustainable development, improved public health and reduced poverty levels of underprivileged communities all come from a glass of clean drinking water? According to the annual gathering of the global water community at this week's World Water Week events in Stockholm, Sweden (August 21-26), that glass of water is where the health and advancement of impoverished communities around the globe must begin. With nearly one person in five globally lacking access to safe drinking water, healthy water practices and products are fundamental to the preservation, protection and improvement of both individual and community well-being." (PRNewswire)

"DDT Contaminates Lake Victoria" - "Recent investigations into pesticide concentrations in Lake Victoria reveal "no detectable levels of DDT". However, certain groups continue to lobby for a ban on DDT based despite its life saving track record in malaria control." (AFM)

"Japan Donates $ 5 Mln As Fears Rise of Malaria Epidemic" - "In the face of a malaria epidemic, UNICEF predictably just wants to buy insecticide treated nets. If they put some money and effort into indoor residual spraying, many more lives would be saved." (AFM)

"New cancer risk from 24-hour society" - "With more than a million British women now working through the hours of darkness, researchers from Harvard University have established that regular night shifts increase the chance of developing breast cancer by as much as 50 per cent." (London Independent)

"Common virus linked to breast cancer" - "A common virus might explain the high rates of breast cancer in developed countries, a New Zealand researcher says." (Australian Associated Press)

"Warned, but Worse Off" - "Someday we will know if CT lung cancer scans help more than they hurt. But until then, everyone should know that screening is a two-edged sword." (New York Times)

"Vioxx: Good Medicine, Bad Verdict" - "Today's news that a jury found the pharmaceutical company Merck negligent in its marketing of the painkiller Vioxx, awarding $229 million in damages, is bad news for all consumers who hope that pharmaceutical companies will continue to develop new drugs -- to address not only their aches and pains but life-threatening conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes." (Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH)

"Risk and Public Perception: A Review of Lofstedt" - "Perhaps due to the advent of the Internet, twenty-four-hour news networks, and the tendency of the media to hype health scares, the public has faster and more extensive access to information (or misinformation) regarding health risks than ever before. So says Ragnar E. Lofstedt in his Risk Management in Post-Trust Society (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)." (Mara Burney, ACSH)

"Fishing: Mercury is the hot topic" - "Pennsylvania has been given the green light from an oversight panel to develop its own regulations for power plant mercury emissions, while it sues the federal government over pollution standards it believes fail to adequately address the public health risk." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

"FDA opposing state warnings on canned tuna" - "The Bush administration is siding with tuna companies in opposing a lawsuit by the state that would require signs on store shelves or labels on tuna cans in California warning of the dangers of mercury, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer reported Friday." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Dirty air a killer in Asia: WHO" - "The haze that has shrouded parts of Southeast Asia this month is just one visible element of a much larger problem that kills hundreds of thousands of people in the region every year, the World Health Organization said." (Associated Press)

"Craving the cookie" - "Kraft's quandary is one most foodmakers face: How can it serve shareholders and employees, ensuring that its more fattening brands thrive while still responding to consumer concerns that it is feeding the obesity epidemic?" (Chicago Tribune)

"Health movement has school cafeterias in a food fight" - "Concern about child obesity brings slimmed-down fare, but will the kids go for it?" (USA TODAY)

"Critics Say Soda Policy for Schools Lacks Teeth" - "A new policy curbing sales of sodas in schools is intended to address the urgent problem of childhood obesity. But critics see the move more as a clever marketing ploy than a noble attempt to protect children." (New York Times)

"Animal terrorism" - "International terrorism, exemplified by the September 11 attacks and most recently in London, may pose the greatest security threat facing America. But domestic terrorists also lurk among us, mostly in the guise of animal-rights and environmental activists." (Doug Bandow, Washington Times)

"American Eden" - "That some 5% of the world's population creates 25% of the world's wealth and yet has the land left over to consider recreating an Edenic pre-human environment seems to indicate that there's something to be said for the American economic model." (Tim Worstall)

"Climate change marks dawn of man" - "Complex variation of the East African climate may have played a key role in the development of our human ancestors. Scientists have identified extensive lake systems which formed and disappeared in East Africa between 1 and 3 million years ago. The lakes could be evidence that global climate changes occured throughout this pivotal period in human evolution." (BBC)

"Past droughts geographically widespread in the West, according to tree-ring data" - "When it's dry, it's dry all over, according to a new analysis of more than 400 years of annual streamflow in the Upper Colorado and Salt/Verde river basins. By using data from tree rings, University of Arizona researchers conclude that severe droughts and low-flow conditions in one basin are unlikely to be offset by abundant streamflow in the other basin. The study covers waterways from the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming." (University of Arizona)

"Flood forecasting proves tough task" - "Almost every year it is easy to predict that monsoon floods in South Asia will cause a tragedy. Predicting where the floods will be is a far harder art." (BBC)

"Cost of ending global warming 'too high'" - "BRINGING global warming to an end would cost almost half global GDP - €13,000bn - at least, one London analyst has calculated. Charles Dumas of Lombard Street Research says this is many times the cost of dealing with the damaging effects of global warming." (Unison.ie) | EDITOR'S NOTE: Full report available at http://www.lombardstreetresearch.com/Content/Home.asp | Global warming's £10 trillion cost (The Scotsman)

"New Zealand: EMA: Scrap Kyoto - Join new Australia, US, China, India, South Korea pact"- "The Employers and Manufacturers Association Northern is calling for the main parties to consider dropping Kyoto from 2008 and joining the new, non-coercive climate change pact announced last month by Australia, the US, China, India and South Korea. Government has acknowledged the costs of Kyoto are much greater than Climate Change Minister Hodgson first thought, said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive." (NBR) | Kyoto tax liability vital election consideration (Press Release)

"Who's afraid of scientific methods?" - "People who consider themselves very rational argue that most disputes about what is true and what is not can be settled by calmly looking at the evidence and letting it guide them to the proper conclusion. However, many who claim to be adherents of the scientific method seem to lose their "scientific objectivity" in some of the great debates of the day." (Richard W. Rahn, Washington Times)

"Plea to stop squabbles ends Greenland climate talks" - "COPENHAGEN - Representatives of 23 nations deeply split about how to combat global warming ended talks in Greenland on Friday with a plea from the host to stop years of squabbling and take urgent action." (Reuters)

"Search is on way to trap planet-heating carbon dioxide" - "With the world poised to generate huge volumes of carbon dioxide in the next 25 years, experts say the need to capture the planet-heating gas and store it in safe places is becoming urgent — and increasingly feasible." (Cox News Service)

Linear Climate Trends or Sudden Transitions of Climate - Which is More Likely? (Climate Science)

"Climate change: imagine a charging rhino" - "In what was old Rhodesia, a steam train used to go daily between Salisbury and Bulawayo along a single track through rhino territory. Eventually, a cranky alpha-rhino took umbrage. As the train chugged south at 70mph, the rhino mounted the track and charged north. The smash derailed the train and killed the rhino. So with global climate change. With greenhouse gas emissions still accelerating, we are now going down the tracks towards the oncoming rhino. The threatened impact challenges our economy and even our survival." (The Guardian)

"Global warming redux" - "A major objection to global warming theories appears to have been met. But the new findings provide no reason for embracing doomsday earth-is-gonna-boil scenarios." (Boston Herald editorial)

Uh-huh... "3,000-year-old ice shelf in jeopardy" - "Three years after a huge crack split one of Canada's last remaining ice shelves in half, scientists have found fresh evidence that global warming is splintering the mass of ice." (CanWest News)

The media impression over the last three years is one of total loss "It's gone, they tell you! Gone!" and now they have to admit it's still "threatened" by warming. Meanwhile, astute readers note the damn thing's only existed since the cosy Holocene Climatic Optimum (or Warm Period, if you're a cold freak). Oh gosh, oh darn, we're recovering from the last few thousand years' chilly period. Who can we call? Who can we telephone? We're all doomed because it's getting less cold. More goshing and darning.

"Sen. Clinton: 'Heartbreaking' climate trip spurs action" - "The political tide may be turning for Congress to curb greenhouse gases, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday at the end of what she called a "heartbreaking" tour of the Alaskan wilderness." (Associated Press)

"Hot And Bothered" - "Enough. We've had it with the sky-is-falling crowd that somehow knows more than science can prove. Some of them need to find productive day jobs." (Investor's Business Daily)

"EU 'pollution permits' could add £55 to cost of air tickets" - "Ticket prices for long-haul flights could go up by as much as £55 under proposals to cut pollution being considered by the European Commission." (London Independent)

"Feds plan changes to fuel rules" - "The Bush administration will unveil landmark changes to federal fuel economy standards for light trucks this week, the first major overhaul since Congress mandated them for all vehicles in 1975 after an Arab oil embargo sent gasoline prices soaring." (Detroit News)

"Big vehicles selling faster despite rising gas prices" - "Even as gasoline prices rise to record highs, more and more 5,000-pound vehicles are lumbering off lots from Carlsbad to Kennebunkport, with several of the newer models getting as little as 10 miles to the gallon." (San Diego North County Times)

"West Coast states unite on cleaner car regulations" - "SALEM, Ore. -- Despite an effort by auto industry lobbyists to kill the move, two Pacific Northwest States - Oregon and Washington - are getting ready to adopt California's new vehicle emission standards to reduce greenhouse gases. When that happens, California's newly implemented emissions standards - the toughest in the country - will be in effect along the entire West Coast from Canada to Mexico." (Associated Press)

"The Breaking Point" - "'The era of easy oil is over.' If consumption begins to exceed production by even a small amount, the price of a barrel of oil could soar to triple-digit levels, affecting the price of almost every product on the market." (New York Times)

"Extent of global oil reserves a matter of some dispute" - "Some experts say that the Earth's oil reserves are smaller than we think. Others maintain that crude is more plentiful than we suspect." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Can coal clean up its act and keep the home fires burning?" - "Despite controversy over nuclear power, coal, the bedrock of Britain's industrial revolution, remains energy's ugly sister." (London Observer)

"Spare wind turbine power to fuel hydrogen cars" - "GIANT wind turbines will be used to power a new breed of environmentally friendly cars that run on hydrogen gas under a pioneering scheme by Scots scientists." (The Sunday Times)

Diddums firms having trouble getting their snouts in the public trough... "We're fast running out of puff, energy firms warn" - "Some of the world's biggest wind energy companies have warned they could soon pull out of Australia because of a lack of Federal Government support for renewable power. Hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars worth of investment are at risk and farmers stand to lose over $19 million in landholder lease payments within the next five years if the industry stalls, the Australian Wind Energy Association says. Australia would also lose a big opportunity to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, the highest per capita in the world, said the association, which held a conference on wind energy in Sydney yesterday." (Sydney Morning Herald)

You're going to pack up your subsidy forms and go home? Don't forget to pay your departure tax on the way out...

"Britain's organic food scam exposed" - "Britain's organic food revolution was facing its first serious test last night after an Observer investigation revealed disturbing levels of fraud within the industry. ... The findings raise concerns that consumers paying high premiums for organic food are being ripped off." (The Observer)

Here's some sad news for you fellows: anyone buying 'organic' food is being ripped off - and ripping off the environment into the bargain. 'Organic' isn't better for biodiversity, it merely displaces efficient farming and natural habitat with a pale imitation of either - with a net loss of produce and wildlife habitat. 'Organic' farming provides habitats for pests and the delusional, it's up to you if you think that's a plus.

"If you buy 'organic produce', can you trust what you get?" - "Grocers falsely labelling food, farmers secretly spraying crops with pesticides by night - the food industry's new boom sector can leave a nasty taste in the mouth." (The Observer)

Hmm... perhaps if you buy 'organic' produce you deserve what you get.

"Fears of genetically modified crops are unfounded, panel says" - "Eating products made with genetically modified crops is not a risky venture, despite fears such scientific tinkering generates, a panel of experts said Saturday. "There is no example of anyone in the world being hurt or (becoming) sick, no documented case," said Michael Fromm, director for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center for Biotechnology. "It's one thing to worry about it, but it helps to put it against that fact . . . The record is actually perfect." (Lincoln Journal Star)

"Scientists hope to ease GM fears" - "US scientists have developed a new method for genetically modifying crops which they believe may remove some concerns over safety. Most GM plants contain a gene for antibiotic resistance, but there are fears this could transfer to bacteria, making them immune to common drugs. Researchers from Tennessee say their new method carries no such risk. Environmental groups say the work does not make the approval of new GM crops any more likely." (BBC)

August 19, 2005

"Africa feels EU's bite" - "In recent months it has become fashionable to say that future Western aid to Africa will be a hand up, not a handout. African governments, the aid lobby claims, will be encouraged to search for innovative solutions to their problems, free of Western interference. Yet, when the Ugandan government decided to introduce DDT, an effective insecticide, to its malaria-control program, the European Union threatened to embargo Ugandan agricultural exports to the EU. The EU threats are based on junk science. If carried out, they will cause a lot of harm." (Richard Tren and Marian L. Tupy, The Washington Times)

"The Real Tragedy of AIDS" - "The press these days is obsessed with avian flu. "Officials are preparing as though the virus is the heir apparent to the 1918 international flu pandemic, which killed more than 40 million," says the Baltimore Sun. Precautions are encouraging, but remember that the ability of scientists - not to mention the media - to predict the course of diseases is extremely limited." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Health Uber Alles?" - "The World Health Organization (WHO) has always had a rather expansive notion of what it means to be healthy. If one looks at the official definition it defines health as a "state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." According to that understanding there isn't much that is not in some way connected with health. And for the health promoters at WHO's recently completed Bangkok conference that means that health is the supremely important value that trumps everything else." (John Luik, TCS)

"Study finds link between fries and breast cancer" - "A study examining the role childhood diet plays in breast cancer has found an association between eating French fries regularly during the preschool years and developing breast cancer as an adult." (New York Newsday)

And telescopes are historically associated with seafaring and international trade, too but possession of a telescope does not a multinational trader make. When will the press learn that association and causation are beasts of very different nature?

"Obesity linked to graffiti in the local neighbourhood" - "City dwellers living in areas with little greenery and high levels of graffiti and litter are more likely to be obese than those living in pleasant areas with lots of greenery, say researchers in a study published on bmj.com today." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"How did you do in your fat report, son?" - "Mike Huckabee, the Governor of Arkansas, now requires annual fat reports. These are sent to the parents of every single child aged between 5 and 17; a response, he says, to “an absolutely epidemic issue that we could not ignore” in the 1,139 schools for which he is responsible." (London Times)

"Metals disturb seals' immune system" - "Exposure to metals triggers hypersensitivities in harbor seals from the North Sea, and may interfere with the animals’ ability to fight off infectious diseases, according to new research." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"Don't Call It a Comeback" - "A group of scientists has proposed to "re-wild" North America with elephants and lions, thereby replacing large megafauna that became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene about 12,000 years ago." (Jackson Kuhl, TCS)

"A Law Unto Themselves"- "'Saving Our Environment From Washington' makes a compelling case that Congress has imposed huge costs on the economy and bad choices on the environment." (CEI)

"Global Warming Doubt Dispelled? Not Really" - "Is the debate now over for skeptics of global warming hysteria? Readers of USA Today may certainly have that impression." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

They don't say? "Warming debate highlights poor data" - "An unusual truce has been reached in the turbulent field of climate science. Scientists who have spent 15 years arguing over a discrepancy in certain data on global warming now say they all agree: the data are inadequate." (Nature)

Hello! Where were you? Some of us have been pointing this out for years and yes, the data are inadequate, woefully so.

"Climate change sceptics bet $10,000 on cooler world: Russian pair challenge UK expert over global warming" - "Two climate change sceptics, who believe the dangers of global warming are overstated, have put their money where their mouth is and bet $10,000 that the planet will cool over the next decade.

The Russian solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev have agreed the wager with a British climate expert, James Annan.

The pair, based in Irkutsk, at the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics, believe that global temperatures are driven more by changes in the sun's activity than by the emission of greenhouse gases. They say the Earth warms and cools in response to changes in the number and size of sunspots. Most mainstream scientists dismiss the idea, but as the sun is expected to enter a less active phase over the next few decades the Russian duo are confident they will see a drop in global temperatures." (The Guardian)

"Global warming: Will you listen now, America?" - "Two of the leading contenders to contest the next US presidential election have delivered an urgent warning to the United States on global warming, saying the evidence of climate change has become too stark to ignore and human activity is a major cause." (London Independent)

"Microbe has huge role in ocean life, carbon cycle" - "Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that the smallest free-living cell known also has the smallest genome, or genetic structure, of any independent cell - and yet it dominates life in the oceans, thrives where most other cells would die, and plays a huge role in the cycling of carbon on Earth." (Oregon State University)

"Climate change a 'blind spot' for US insurers" - "Climate change is barely on the radar for the U.S. insurance industry, rating far less attention than asbestos and terrorist attacks. Unlike their counterparts overseas, American insurers suggest that climate change, while probably a very real phenomenon, isn't such a big deal." (Oakland Tribune)

Blind to change? Hardly - but they are aware there's no empirical evidence of radical change or significant risk increase.

"Arctic hunters blame global warming for vanishing polar bears" - "As Arctic ice shrinks, villagers in Greenland worry that global warming will kill off the Arctic's seals and polar bears." (Agence France-Presse) | Greenland to set quotas on polar bear hunt, but allow tourist hunt (Agence France-Presse)

August 8, 2005: "The Good News Bears" - "The polar bear has become, in the words of the WWF conservation group, "an ambassador for Arctic nature and a symbol of the impacts that global warming is increasingly having around the world." Conservation groups and scientists have been making headlines in the past year, warning that shrinking sea ice could make wild bears extinct by the end of the century, possibly within just 20 years.

Right now, though, Inuits like Nathaniel Kalluk here in Resolute Bay aren't exactly worried. "There are a lot more bears now than before," said Mr. Kalluk, who is 51 and has been hunting since childhood. "We'll spot 20 to 30 bears on a hunting trip. Twenty years ago, sometimes we didn't see any at all."

This is not an isolated trend. Although the bears seem to be hurting in some places, like the Hudson Bay region south of here, their numbers have increased worldwide. In Canada, home to most of the world's polar bears, the population has risen by more than 20 percent in the past decade." (John Tierney, New York Times)

"Britain's climate blamed for bird changes" - "LONDON -- Climate change is to blame for alterations in the number and distribution of birds in Britain, and more changes are expected, according to a report published Friday. Milder winters have pushed bird populations eastward and could result in new bird species being found in Britain, The State of U.K. Birds 2004 report found." (AP)

German Industry Association demands break from Kyoto Protocol: "BDI fordert Abkehr von Kyoto-Protokoll" - "Der überraschende Vorstoß aus der deutschen Industrie zur Lösung von festen internationalen Klimaschutzzielen ist bei Bundesregierung, Union, FDP und Umweltschützern auf Unverständnis gestoßen" (Die Welt)

"NZ study finds good news for clean air" - "New Zealand scientists have injected some good news into the gloom and doom of global warming by proving the atmosphere's natural cleaning agent is still doing its good work. A paper published today in one of the world's top science journals, Nature, shows hydroxyl, a reactive molecule of water which acts as a bleaching agent of nasty gases and hydrocarbons in the air, has remained the same over the past 13 years." (New Zealand Herald)

"Nuclear industry hopes to capitalize on surge in China" - "Within weeks, the Chinese government is expected to announce an $8 billion nuclear-reactor order that is just the beginning of a commercial bonanza the beleaguered nuclear industry has long craved." (USA Today)

"INTERVIEW - World Running Out of Time for Oil Alternatives" - "PETTEN - The world could run out of time to develop cleaner alternatives to oil and other fossil fuels before depletion drives prices through the roof, a leading Dutch energy researcher said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"EU proposes new PM and NOx emission limits" - "The EU is considering new limits on particulate matter and NOx emissions from diesel- and gas-powered vehicles, but the rules aren’t likely to go beyond those in the U.S." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"There's a gene in my soup" - "When did you last eat something fried in Crisco? When did you take a bite of meat, or shake a little soy sauce on your food? That moment is likely the last time you consumed a genetically modified organism." (Technician)

August 18, 2005

"Thimerosal, autism not now linked" - "Some parents have voiced concern that mercury-containing thimerosal, formerly used extensively as a preservative for vaccines, could cause autism. But health authorities say that except for some flu vaccines, immunizations for children 6 and younger have not contained thimerosal as a preservative since 2001." (Seattle Times)

"Beverage group says pull soda from primary schools" - "The American Beverage Association recommended Tuesday that soda and other sweetened beverages be pulled from vending machines at elementary schools across the county, saying the industry needs to help fight the increasing rate of childhood obesity." (Associated Press)

"Proposal would allow wild animals to roam North America" - "Cornell researchers Josh Donlan and Harry Greene and their colleagues propose a plan to restore large wild animals -- including cheetahs, lions, elephants and camels -- to the North American Great Plains. While their theory has strong ecological underpinnings, the researchers know social attitudes will pose the biggest obstacles. (Nature Vol. 436, No. 7053)" (Cornell University News Service)

"Researchers propose measures to curb lion attacks in Tanzania" - "Since 1990 lions have killed more than 563 Tanzanians. Consequently, increasing numbers of lions are being killed by local people. In an effort to find a way to protect both people and lions, University of Minnesota researchers have analyzed the factors involved in attacks and identified the control of bush pigs -- a major agricultural pest -- as the most promising strategy for curbing attacks." (University of Minnesota)

"California Cows Fail Latest Emissions Test" - "Standing around chewing the cud, cows don't look especially threatening. But dairy herds in California are the latest livestock to be branded an environmental health risk on account of their flatulent behavior." (National Geographic News)

"Senators say Alaska visit confirms climate change" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Anyone doubting the effects of human activity on global climate change should talk to the people it affects in Alaska and the Yukon, U.S. Sen. John McCain said Wednesday. Fresh from a trip to Barrow, America's northernmost city, McCain said anecdotes from Alaskans and residents of the Yukon Territory confirm scientific evidence of global warming. "We are convinced that the overwhelming scientific evidence indicated that climate change is taking place and human activities play a very large role," McCain said." (Associated Press)

Hmm... if it looks like a Clinton/McCain ticket and it sounds like a Clinton/McCain ticket...

"Record-breaking heat: is global warming to blame?" - "The dog days of summer are here, and many people are feeling the heat. From California to southern Europe, heat records are breaking." (National Geographic News)

Fanciful report du jour: "Sceptics forced into climate climb-down" - "Three independent studies have shown that climate sceptics who claim the Earth is not warming have been using faulty data to make their point." (New Scientist)

What is the Relevance of a Tropical Average Surface Temperature Change to Organisms in the Tropics? (Climate Science)

The Flannery Show: "Nation to feel the heat" - "AUSTRALIA faces the prospect of a dry and dusty Murray river, the disappearance of world heritage areas, the death of coral reefs and rising seas - and all by the end of this century. Environmental expert Tim Flannery, who spoke about climate change at a Museum of South Australia lecture in Adelaide last night, said temperatures were rising about 50 times faster than they had in the lead-up to the last ice age." (The Australian)

"Global Warming Blows—Or Does It? There's no shame in good hurricane science" - "Given the recent claims that hurricanes are getting dramatically worse because of global warming, it's too bad we’ve already exhausted the letter "G" for this hurricane season. "Gasbag" would have been a pretty good moniker for the next storm." (Patrick J. Michaels, Reason)

Revelation: "Global warming brings earlier spring thaw to Great Lakes" - "The Great Lakes of the US, the planet's largest concentration of fresh water, is thawing earlier each spring, according to an analysis of ice break-ups dating back to 1846." (New Scientist)

Gee, for basically the whole time we think Earth has been recovering from the Little Ice Age there's been like a less cold trend.

"Climate sceptics place bets on world cooling down" - "A British climate modeller has finally persuaded global-warming sceptics to wager money on their contrarian predictions about climate change." (Nature)

Looking for items on this that are not behind subscription barriers - send suggested links here.

"The Ice Meth Cometh" - "Little known to most people other than geologists is that deep beneath the ocean and buried under Arctic permafrost lie many more moles of methane, the main component of natural gas, than the U.S. could ever use. There is a catch, however: The methane is in the form of methane hydrates." (Chemical & Engineering News)

"No new nuclear plants" - "There is renewed interest in nuclear power in the United States, but experts say not to expect any new nuclear plants in California anytime soon, if ever." (San Luis Obispo Tribune)

Sigh... "Scientists warn of GM superweed risk" - "Scientists have identified 15 weed species that are resistant to a herbicide widely used on GM crops and are warning farmers they may become a serious problem unless a strategy for dealing with them is developed. Some of the most common weed species, including types of ryegrass, bindweed and goosegrass either have some strains with a natural resistance to the widely used GM herbicide glyphosate or have developed one." (The Guardian)

The only thing 'GM' about this is the headline. Indeed, while some plants are modified to be resistant to glyphosate, glyphosate is not a 'GM herbicide.'

"EU faces busy GMO timetable but no end to deadlock" - "BRUSSELS - EU governments face a slew of decisions in the next few months on whether to allow more imports of genetically modified (GMO) foods but nothing is expected that might break Europe's deadlock over biotechnology. With EU institutions mostly closed in August, ministers and national experts will be asked to process a backlog of applications for new GMO approvals in four crammed months. That doesn't necessarily mean they will be able to agree." (Reuters)

"GM junk fine; keep fruit free" - "Genetically modified cakes and doughnuts do not scare consumers, but they baulk at the genetically modified rosy tomato, and are even suspicious of the seedless watermelon. Public attitudes to genetically modified food are becoming increasingly complex, but are driven more by attitudes to food than gene technology, says Biotechnology Australia. The government agency's manager of public awareness, Craig Cormick, said a survey had found that shoppers would eat GM junk food but did not like the idea of meddling with fresh fruit and vegetables. They were against genetic engineering by multinational corporations, but Australian technology attracted less resistance. Modifying the genes of plants was seen as more acceptable than modifying animal genes. "Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They want more and more complex information to help them make decisions," Mr Cormick said." (Sydney Morning Herald)

August 17, 2005

"Free Enterprise Action Fund Asks Financial Service Companies Whether Their Support for Social Security Reform Has Been Impacted by Activist-Investor Pressure" - "Action Fund Management LLC (AFM), the investment adviser to the Free Enterprise Action Fund (www.FreeEnterpriseActionFund.com), asked 25 financial services owned by the Fund to disclose whether their support for social security reform has changed because of pressure from union pension funds and other activist-investor opponents of social security reform. " (PRWeb.com)

The Free Enterprise Action Fund seeks long-term capital appreciation through investment and advocacy that promote the American system of free enterprise. An investor should consider the fund's investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses carefully before investing or sending money. This and other important information about the Free Enterprise Action Fund can be found in the fund's prospectus. To obtain a prospectus, please call 1-800-766-3960 or visit www.FreeEnterpriseActionFund.com. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Equity securities (stocks) are more volatile and carry more risk than other forms of investments, including investments in high-grade fixed income securities. The net asset value per share of this Fund will fluctuate as the value of the securities in the portfolio changes. The Free Enterprise Action Fund is a new fund with limited investment history and there is no guarantee that it will achieve its investment objectives.

The Free Enterprise Action Fund is advised by Action Fund Management, LLC., which receives a fee for its services, and is distributed by BISYS Fund Services, LP, which is not affiliated with Action Fund Management, LLC.

"When an Ounce of Prevention Is Not Worth a Pound of Cure" - "It appears to be all about science. After five days of WHO-think on health prevention at the Bangkok Global Conference on Health Promotion, it would be easy to conclude that science is the foundation for everything that the World Health Organization (WHO) does on health promotion. Wherever you look there are references to the scientific basis of health promotion and how everything that is done by WHO's health promoters meets the standards of modern medicine by being "evidence-based". But the scientific basis of WHO's health promotion is about as genuine and as sturdy as a Potemkin village." (John Luik, TCS)

"Please Be Careful" - "The concept of the precautionary principle may sound relatively innocuous. Who can argue against being safe rather than sorry? But the idea is flawed in theory and practice, and the enshrinement of the precautionary principle sets Europe down a path that will wreak havoc on the economy and public health of not only itself but also its trading partners." (Gary E. Marchant & Kenneth L. Mossman, Legal Times via Truth About Trade)

"Are We in a Brave New World of 'Personalized' Medicine?" - "BiDil, a new drug labeled for treatment of blacks with severe heart failure, has begun to arrive in pharmacies. Approved by FDA in June, it has stimulated speculation that we're entering a brave new world of "personalized" medicine in which genetic tests or other "biomarkers" will be used to predict positive -- or sometimes negative -- responses to various therapies." (Henry I. Miller, TCS)

"Tap-Water Chemicals May Pose Little Pregnancy Risk" - "NEW YORK - Although some studies have suggested that certain chemical byproducts in tap water raise a woman's risk of miscarriage, new research suggests that the threat is small, if it exists at all." (Reuters)

"What will chipmakers' cancer study reveal?" - "The Semiconductor Industry Assn., which represents 85% of U.S. chip concerns, announced it would fund the first-ever industry-wide study examining whether semiconductor plant workers face a higher risk of getting cancer. But the best it might do is raise more questions for follow-up studies to answer. Perhaps then the government will get involved and conduct a truly independent study." (Business Week)

"Researcher says no link between Teflon chemical, major diseases" - "An independent study found no relationship between the amount of a chemical used to make Teflon found in the blood of people who live near a plant that uses it and their risk of liver, kidney, thyroid or cholesterol problems, a doctor told residents Monday night." (Associated Press)

"Hospitalizations because of chicken pox down dramatically since implementation of vaccine" - "Since the introduction of the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine in 1995, hospitalizations and doctor visits because of chicken pox have dropped dramatically, according to a study in the August 17 issue of JAMA." (JAMA and Archives Journals)

"Dangers for kids in alternative cures" - "Australian parents regularly give their children alternative medicines without telling their doctors, prompting a warning that complementary medicines can cause serious side effects." (Sydney Australian)

"BSE transmitted between sheep" - "BSE has been transmitted naturally between sheep for the first time, a study has shown. Confirmation that such a thing is possible reinforces fears that the disease may have entered sheep as well as cattle on farms in Britain. The revelation that lambs at a government experimental station appear to have caught BSE from their mothers coincides with plans to relax anti-BSE controls in cattle and was not mentioned at a meeting of the Food Standards Agency in London this week." (The Guardian)

"Is Your Medicine Cabinet Making You Fat?" - "Not only diabetes drugs but also certain psychiatric medications, some blood pressure treatments, corticosteroids (taken by people with severe allergies, asthma or arthritis) and even over-the-counter antihistamines can cause the patients who take them to gain weight." (New York Times)

"Parents may be passing on the pounds" - "Parents who skip meals and spend too much time in front of the TV may increasing the risk that their children will become obese later on in life, a new study suggests." (Toronto Globe and Mail)

From the tyrants of Brussels: "Britain faces court for failure to recycle" - "Across Europe governments have begun a drive to recycle millions of unwanted household electrical goods under a landmark new scheme to protect the environment. But Britain has delayed plans to introduce the scheme until next June." (London Independent)

"Bear study reveals heavy contamination of salmon" - "Canadian grizzly bears that gorge on spawning Pacific salmon have much higher contaminant levels in their bodies than those that consume mostly berries, plants and insects, according to research to be published Sept. 15 in the American Chemical Society journal, Environmental Science and Technology." (Washington Post)

"Pacific Coast Ecosystems Return to Normal" - "The northerly winds that sustain the Pacific Coast's marine ecosystems have returned, but their arrival came too late for fish and birds that couldn't survive the unseasonably warm waters. Coastal ecosystems rely on winds blowing south to push warmer surface waters away from shore and bring up colder water from the ocean bottom. That upwelling of nutrient-rich water feeds massive blooms of plankton — the tiny plant-like organisms that form the basis of the marine food web." (Associated Press)

The latest from Stuntsville: "Santa Claus Asks for Global Warming Relief" - "BERKELEY, Calif.--Aug. 16, 2005--Santa Claus is coming to towns early this year, fleeing the North Pole in his kayak to raise awareness about global warming. Due to changes in global climate conditions, Santa's Arctic homeland is rapidly melting and threatening the elves' workshop. This summer, Santa and an elite group of his elfin assistants will dash into major cities to educate citizens, politicians and business on ways to prevent global warming." (BUSINESS WIRE)

"From permafrost to permatan, Alaska basks in record heat" - "If Americans are clamouring to beat the heat this summer, they had better not do the obvious and travel to Alaska. For the second summer in a row, the glacier state has been baking under sweltering skies, stirring anxieties about global warming and its impact on the polar region." (London Independent)

Two summers, in a row? Well there's a trend for you.

"Fossil forest points to rapid climate change, scientists say" - "You would not expect to find a rainforest in what is now one of the hottest and driest places on the east coast of Queensland. Ancient fossil deposits found in caves near Rockhampton in central Queensland have revealed the area was once a tropical rainforest, wiped out by climate change. The caves are providing new evidence of how rapidly global warming can affect the environment." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Um... actually this indicates the problems of cooling and drying, against which warming would be protective. Oh well...

"Sea ice may be on increase in the Antarctic: A phenomenon due to a lot of 'hot air'?" - "A new NASA-funded study finds that predicted increases in precipitation due to warmer air temperatures from greenhouse gas emissions may actually increase sea ice volume in the Antarctic's Southern Ocean. This adds new evidence of potential asymmetry between the two poles, and may be an indication that climate change processes may have different impact on different areas of the globe." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

Perhaps. It may also be due to regional cooling. The simple answer is we don't know and climate models are, as yet, woeful prognostic tools.

Another Example of Cherrypicking (Climate Science)

"An interesting hypothesis" - "There is not much doubt that the Earth is getting warmer. Most global warming researchers believe that a significant part of the warming is a result of human activities, primarily the release of carbon dioxide from combustion of fossil fuels. However, skeptics argue that most of the warming is natural. The distinction has serious implications for policy: If the warming is anthropogenic, then there is a stronger argument for drastic restrictions on fossil fuel use to mitigate damage arising from climate change than if the warming is due to natural processes.

Jeff Norman at Debunkers has pointed out a curious coincidence that would seem to support the natural-warming hypothesis:" (Trolling In Shallow Water)

"Denmark Urges 'New Thinking' on Climate Change" - "COPENHAGEN - Denmark urged "new thinking" on Tuesday about ways to combat global warming at the start of climate talks by 25 nations in Greenland." (Reuters)

"Kyoto protocol member states to define carbon dioxide emission quotas in fall" - "MOSCOW, August 16 - The Kyoto protocol member states are to define quotas on carbon dioxide emissions in Montreal, Canada this fall, Economic Development Ministry representative Vsevolod Gavrilov said Tuesday. "The method of defining carbon dioxide emission quotas has yet to be established... I know of at least six possibilities," Gavrilov said. He added that the emission level might be "pegged to the basic period, or perhaps to the size of each country's GDP like now." (RIA Novosti)

"Critics poke holes in city’s greenhouse claim" - "Portland is lauded for reduction in carbon emissions, but the results are based on faulty calculations, some say" (The Tribune)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

Agroforestry in a CO 2 -Accreting Atmosphere: Does it make more sense than conventional cropping strategies?

Subject Index Summaries:
Cloud Condensation Nuclei (Condensation Nuclei: Biological Effects): How can certain aerosols and gases, especially those produced by plants, end up helping the plants that produced them?

Life Span (Plants): Just how long can some trees live?  What kind of "quality of life" do they have in their old age?  What makes it all possible?  And why are these questions important?

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: European Larch, European White Birch, Mountain Pine, and Potato.

Journal Reviews:
Climatic Effects of Methane Calculated to be Greater than Previously Believed: Is that bad news?  Or could it conceivably be good news?

Strong Evidence for the Asian Monsoon's Solar Connection: It is getting ever more difficult to deny a major role for the sun in orchestrating millennial-scale variations in the strength of the East Asian Monsoon.

Climate Oscillations of the Penultimate Interglacial: What message does the pollen from a European lake sediment core bear?

Earth's Land Mammals: Their Only Hope of Avoiding Extinction: What is it?

Recent Increases in Arabian Sea Productivity: How large are the increases?  And what's causing them? -- (co2science.org)

"Cost of China's Coal: Miners' Lives" - "The grisly turn of events has become all too predictable: A disclosure that dozens, scores, sometimes hundreds of Chinese coal miners are trapped in a shaft deep underground. A grueling wait by family members. Allegations of safety violations and corruption amid calls for reform. Then a few weeks' break until the next mining disaster hits." (Los Angeles Times)

Puts a little perspective on the hypothetical dangers of nukes doesn't it.

"Crocodile Blood may Yield Powerful New Antibiotics" - "SYDNEY - Scientists in Australia's tropical north are collecting blood from crocodiles in the hope of developing a powerful antibiotic for humans, after tests showed that the reptile's immune system kills the HIV virus." (Reuters)

"Health threat to cities from fast-growing superweeds" - "An epidemic of superweeds that can cause severe burns, lesions, and permanent blindness is threatening Scotland's cities." (Glasgow Herald)

Gasp! GM? Industrial farming mutants run amok? No, just sensational coverage of exotic species, sometimes termed 'invasive.'

"Africa's 200 Million Empty Plates" - "When the U.N. ponders the continent's ills and their tragic consequences, a sorry list of contributing factors needs to be on the table." (Business Week)

"The benefits of GM crops" - "Today’s agricultural practices are different from yesterday’s and tomorrow’s agriculture will be different from today’s. Winston Churchill said, “The farther backward you can look the farther forward you are likely to see”. He was emphasising change and improvement." (Jim Peacock, The National Forum)

"Can Gene-Altered Rice Rescue the Farm Belt?" - "This Missouri farmer is hoping to grow rice plants that have been genetically engineered to produce proteins found in human milk, saliva and tears. Once converted into a powder form, those proteins would be used in granola bars and drinks to help infants in developing countries avoid death from diarrhea." (New York Times)

"More crop for the drop" - The worst East Central U.S. drought in almost 20 years is decimating harvests of corn and soybeans, threatening farmers' economic survival and disrupting commercial shipping on several of the region's busiest waterways. The dry spell, now in its fifth month, is scorching some of America's most productive farmland and draining tributaries that feed the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, critical routes for hauling goods to and from Midwestern cities. Low water levels exert a far-reaching ripple effect: Barge operators lighten their loads to keep vessels from scraping the bottom. This slows delivery of commodities such as salt, petroleum products and building materials, and could impede the movement this fall of newly harvested crops. But droughts are just acts of God, about which nothing can be done, right? Wrong. Scientists might be able to provide a partial solution -- if federal policymakers permitted it." (Henry I. Miller, The Washington Times)

August 16, 2005

"Ethiopia says Battling Rise in Malaria Cases" - "ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia is rolling out the largest anti-malaria effort in its history to fight an epidemic of the killer disease that has raised infection rates tenfold in some regions, officials said on Monday. In one region in the north of Ethiopia, authorities recorded 20,000 cases in June, 10 times higher than the same month last year, accompanied by 21 deaths." (Reuters)

"Profiting from Fear (of Dental Amalgams)" - "The misguided anti-amalgam movement has been given new life by the widespread but bogus claims associating mercury with autism. Amalgams are dental fillings made of mercury, silver, and other metals. They have been used over a century and a half; millions, perhaps billions have been placed in patient's mouths, and no valid evidence has ever been unearthed of harm to anyone. But health frauds and quacks continue their assault on the public, and misinformation spreads. Sad to relate, there are dentists willing to exploit these unfounded fears." (Dr. Marvin Schissel, ACSH)

By special request: "Eat More Fish!" - "Basing consequential energy and health policies on myth is irresponsible and harmful." (Willie Soon and Robert Ferguson, The Wall Street Journal)

Apparently some people are having difficulty accessing this article so, with author permission, here's a reprint for you.

"An Organization Pregnant with Contradictions" - "Women's bodies are theirs to do what they want, but for the National Organization for Women (NOW) that only seems true as long as what the women want to do is politically correct. Despite NOW's rhetoric, the laws they have come out supporting the last couple of weeks appear to have more to do with forcing women to live the way NOW wants them to live than letting women have the freedom to make these decisions themselves." (John R. Lott, Jr. and April Dabney, TCS)

Whaddya mean 'medicalising everything'? "Warning over suntan 'addiction'" - 'Scientists at the University of Texas have found that some people might be addicted to getting a suntan. The research, published in the Archives of Dermatology, suggested up to 53% of beach-goers could be dependent on getting a tan." (BBC)

We understand there's quite a waiting list of those trying to get into a study involving significant hours lying on tropical beaches to see if they develop dependencies. Full disclosure: my application for funding for a comparison study was declined -- Ed.

"Emotional, not factual, ads win skeptical consumers, study shows" - "Naysaysers of advertisements are more accepting of aesthetically appealing commercials than ones that provide product information, according to a new study." (University of Washington)

Apparently quite true, were it otherwise scare campaigns wouldn't work, would they?

"Monsoons may dry up: Land use changes in India could turn off the rain" - "The Indian monsoon, which waters India's agriculture, could run dry because of human impacts on the environment, a team of climate researchers has warned." (Nature)

"Resignation from the CCSP Committee “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere-Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences”" - "I have reproduced my resignation communication below. I have consistently and patiently outlined overlooked issues associated with better assessing and understanding the spatial and temporal surface and tropospheric temperature trends that have occurred over the last few decades..." (Roger Pielke Sr., Climate Science)

"Global warming to boost Scots farmers" - "Climate change could be good news for Scottish farmers, according to ESRC funded research at the University of Stirling. Rising temperatures and increased CO2 levels could mean increased yields and a boost to local economies, according to Professor Nick Hanley, who led the project." (Economic & Social Research Council)

"Japan to set up climate change monitoring network with neighbours" - "TOKYO - Japan will set up a climate change monitoring and assessment network in cooperation with Asian neighbours to study how global warming affects developing countries in the region." (AFP)

"Study points the way to more nutritious animal feed" - "Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have traced the biochemical pathway by which plants build a compound that compromises the quality of corn and soybeans as an animal feed. Their studies indicate that it is feasible to engineer such plants to significantly improve their quality as animal feeds -- a potentially important boon to the hog and poultry industries, said the researchers." (Duke University Medical Center)

August 15, 2005

"Military exercises 'good for endangered species'" - "Military exercises are boosting biodiversity, according to a study of land used for US training manoeuvres in Germany. Such land has more endangered species than nearby national parks." (Nature)

"CEI Challenges Attempted Ecological Takeover of Bush Foreign Aid Program: Focus on Economic Freedom, Not P.C. Environmentalism" - "Washington, D.C., August 11, 2005—This week the Competitive Enterprise Institute submitted comments and a proposal to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) regarding its search for new natural resource management criteria. The MCC was established as a government corporation to disperse aid money in the form of grants to developing countries that demonstrate a commitment to democracy and economic freedom." (CEI)

"Study Claims Bus Stations (!) Cause Cancer" - "A new study by E.G. Knox of the University of Birmingham (UK) claims children who were born near "emissions hotspots" (bus stations, train stations, and other transportation hubs) are at greater risk for childhood cancers than those who were born farther away." (Mara Burney, ACSH)

"The Panic Du Jour: Trans Fats in Foods" - "On Wednesday, Dr. Thomas Frieden, the New York City health commissioner, comparing trans fats to toxic substances like asbestos or lead, asked restaurants to stop serving foods that contained them." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"Family environment is a significant predictor of adolescent obesity" - "Parents have a strong influence over whether or not their children will become overweight or obese, and it's not just their genes that they pass on." (Arizona State University)

"Eat More Fish!" - "Basing consequential energy and health policies on myth is irresponsible and harmful." (Willie Soon and Robert Ferguson, The Wall Street Journal)

"Estrogen found in waters alters sex organs of fish" - "Fish in the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair have been detected with sexual abnormalities and scientists say they may be linked to estrogen -- or chemicals that mimic estrogen -- showing up in waterways." (Detroit News)

"New Pest Rule Will Have a Few Bugs, Critics Say" - "On Sept. 16, the US will impose a new rule meant to prevent invasions of foreign pests like the forest-devouring Asian longhorned beetle. But critics say it will increase use of a highly toxic, ozone-destroying chemical that other industries and countries are struggling to eliminate." (Los Angeles Times)

Oddly enough, many of the same people whinging about the 'disaster' of 'invasive species' also whinge about methyl bromide. The bottom line is that routine fumigation of all non-livestock cross-border cargo would eliminate a lot of undesirable border-crossing.

"Balloons keep debate aloft over warming" - "New satellite and weather-balloon research released last week gives climate scientists better data to work with, but contrary to some reports does not eliminate doubts about dramatic global warming, said Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville." (Mobile Register)

The Week That Was Aug. 13, 2005 (SEPP)

"Icy Greenland turns green" - "Greenland's ice is melting rapidly. In some places, glacial levels have been falling by 10 metres a year and ultimately contributing to rising sea levels. Land is being exposed for the first time for millions of years." (BBC)

"This land was being exposed for the first time for millions of years." "A ruined church on the banks of a fjord marks the remains of a Viking farming civilisation." Right... Vikings were apparently a very ancient civilisation.

"State group urges focus on global warming" - "It was a race between a wind turbine vs. a coal smokestack, but no TV cameras and only one reporter showed up at a South End park where environmentalists staged the stunt yesterday to emphasize the problem of global warming." (Boston Globe)

Perhaps because warming stunts just plain aren't worth covering?

"Scientist reaches for the sky to curb global warming" - "FOR centuries man has dreamed of controlling the weather, from the rain dances of Native Americans to the fanciful exploits of Superman and other comic book heroes. Now Professor Stephen Salter, emeritus professor of Engineering Design at Edinburgh University, believes he can manufacture clouds that could help save the planet from global warming." | Cloud whitener offered as global warming cure (The Sunday Times)

That's great Professor! Now, just sit on your hands and do absolutely nothing while we figure out whether what warming might or might not be occurring and which might or might not continue (the trend is unclear having been cooling 'til the mid '70s) is anything other than desirable, okay?

"Warmer climate will change Lakes" - "Global warming could suck enough water from the Great Lakes to send their levels plunging several feet, wiping out wetlands and wounding commercial shipping." (Detroit News)

Yup... or it could keep them brimming or maybe even have no discernable effect at all.

"Warming permafrost is wreaking havoc above ground" - "Interior Alaska's permafrost has warmed in some places to the highest level since the ice age ended 10,000 years ago, its temperature now within a degree or two of thawing." (Anchorage Daily News)

Comment on [Friday’s] NY Times article “Errors Cited in Assessing Climate” (Climate Science)

"Current trend spells ruin for marine life" - "SCIENTISTS have discovered dramatic evidence of climate change in the South Pacific with "worrying" implications for Australia's rainfall and fisheries. Using new data from a network of floating robots, Australian, US and New Zealand scientists have detected a 20 per cent increase in the speed of a key South Pacific current over the past 10 years. As well as moving faster, the South Pacific sub-tropical gyre, a circular current that influences the East Australian current, has warmed by up to 0.25C and risen in height by 12cm at its centre." (The Australian)

"Global warming trends mean that siestas could become a sensible survival method" - "Siestas could become a normal part of life for Britons as summers get hotter, a leading scientist has predicted. According to Professor Bill Keatinge, an authority on the health hazards of heat, siestas might be life savers in the future if current predictions of warming trends are correct." (London Independent)

"Judge Balks At Warming Oversight" - "NEW YORK, Aug. 13, 2005: A federal judge expressed reluctance about beginning judicial oversight of pollution issues that affect global warming as she heard arguments Friday in a complaint brought by eight states against some of the nation's largest power companies. "Why should I do something that Congress and the president have decided they don't want to do as a matter of policy?" Judge Loretta Preska asked lawyers for the states." (AP)

"Leaving the Europeans Behind" - "Now that a new climate initiative has been signed by the US and five Asian and Pacific countries, the European Union finds itself increasingly isolated." (Carlo Stagnaro, TCS)

"UK: Climate-change boss gets £50,000 bonus as carbon emissions soar" - "The head of the Government's climate-change quango has been awarded a £50,000 bonus despite Britain's greenhouse gas emissions soaring for the third year running. Tom Delay, the chief executive of the Carbon Trust, has been awarded the sum on top of his £138,000-a-year salary. The bonus is equivalent to a pay increase of 36 per cent." (London Telegraph)

"DOE outlines research needed to improve solar energy technologies" - "DOE's Office of Science has released a report describing the basic research needed to produce "revolutionary progress in bringing solar energy to its full potential in the energy marketplace." Progress in the proposed research could lead to: artificial "molecular machines" that turn sunlight into chemical fuel; "smart materials" based on nature's ability to transfer captured solar energy with no energy loss; self-repairing solar conversion systems; and far more efficient solar cells created using nanotechnologies." (DOE/US Department of Energy)

"'US$15 billion needed' for African crop research" - "[LUSAKA] Some US$15 billion will need to be spent on agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa over the next 20 years if efforts to tackle hunger and malnutrition are to succeed, says the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)." (SciDev.Net)

"A food revolution beckons, but few show up" - "Resistance to genetically modified foods may stall plans for a second 'green revolution.'" (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Home-grown weeds are a bigger menace than modified ones" - "MORE debate recently about the possible threat of genetically modified "superweeds" after one resistant charlock plant was found in a crop of oilseed rape. A worry of sorts, but the encroachment on countryside, and town, of good old-fashioned, unmodified weeds should be of more concern." (Fordyce Maxwell, The Scotsman)

"Greenpeace anti-GM campaign doomed" - "Greenpeace campaigning has resulted in bans on the commercial planting of new genetically modified (GM) canola varieties by Australian farmers. So all Australian-produced canola should be GM-free. Last month, however, Bayer Crop Sciences confirmed that minuscule, but detectable quantities, of GM material were present in Victorian canola ready for export to Japan. A few weeks later Western Australian canola was found to be also contaminated with GM material." (Jennifer Marohasy, National forum)

August 12, 2005

"This Wormwood Is Sweet to Farmers and the Malarial" - "A new crop grown in the valleys of central China has been crowned king, driven by a desperate need for new malaria treatments." (New York Times)

"Beyond Bad Bureauspeak: Something Quite Menacing" - "According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about a billion people lack access to safe drinking water, while 80% of all illness in the world's poorest regions is linked to water-bred diseases. Poor water and sanitation annually kills about five million people, and 50% of people in the developing world suffer from a disease associated with poor water quality and inadequate sanitation. These are shocking statistics and you would think that in the normal course of things they and others like them would set the agenda and determine the direction of a five day conference organized by WHO on health promotion. But you would have to look very hard to find something as pedestrian as safe drinking water on the agenda of WHO's Sixth Global Conference on Health Promotion which has been meeting this week in Bangkok." (John Luik, TCS)

"Silicosis Scandal" - "Congratulations to House Republicans Joe Barton and Ed Whitfield, who last week opened a probe into the nation's asbestos and silicosis claims. Their decision to investigate the people responsible for recruiting and falsely diagnosing tens of thousands of plaintiffs is a major step toward exposing this fraud." (The Wall Street Journal)

"The autism epidemic that never was" - "What could be causing so many children to lose their footing on a normal developmental trajectory and crash-land into the nightmare world of autism? The change has occurred too suddenly to be genetic in origin, which points to some environmental factor. But what?" (New Scientist)

"EPA devises rules on the use of data from pesticide tests on humans" - "The EPA is set to release the first-ever federal standards governing use of data from tests that expose human subjects to toxic pesticides, but lawmakers and some medical experts said the rules fail to adequately protect children and pregnant women." (Washington Post)

"Proposed EPA rules on human testing come under attack" - "New rules drafted by the EPA to protect human subjects of scientific tests came under harsh criticism yesterday from environmental groups, government scientists and members of Congress, who called the proposal misleading, dangerous and industry-friendly." (Baltimore Sun)

"Waste Yes, Want Not" - "A remarkable productivity story is playing out in the trash business: operators of garbage dumps are stuffing more waste than anyone expected into landfills." (New York Times)

"New observations and climate model data confirm recent warming of the tropical atmosphere" - "For the first time, new climate observations and computer models provide a consistent picture of recent warming of the tropical atmosphere." (DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

Well, two out of three ain't bad.

Radiosonde Daytime Biases and Late-20th Century Warming by Sherwood, Lanzante and Meyer [Abstract] [PDF] [Supporting Online Material] is an interesting take on radiosonde data that suggests a plausible reason there's no trend evident in Angell's 850-300mb series - certainly worthy of serious attention. Whether the magnitude of the adjustment is reasonable is open to some conjecture. The estimated +0.14 °C/decade correction from 1979 -1997 for the tropics and +0.04 °C/decade for the northern hemisphere extratropics would bring Angell's radiosonde data back into near agreement with MSU Lower Troposphere data, providing yet more support for the apparently growing agreement that, should the trend last for a century (it didn't last century but you never know), then the globe will warm something less than the IPCC's low-end 'storyline' guesstimate of ~+1.5 °C over the next century.

UAHLTv5.1vsLT5.2.gif (33373 bytes) Mears and Wentz have presented The Effect of Diurnal Correction on Satellite-Derived Lower Tropospheric Temperature [Abstract] [PDF] [Supporting Online Material] - this is not the work which resulted in adjustment of the UAH MSU LT dataset. (More information in California group's answer to climate puzzler improves the accuracy of global climate data from the team at UAH and a visual comparison of the 'old' and newly adjusted datasets is available by clicking the thumbnail at right. Arguing the toss over a few hundredths of a degree may seem like nitpicking but it is a worthwhile tweak.) This paper attempts to fit MSU measures to climate models and is basically about interpretation - it doesn't solve anything but will likely liven up the discussion over satellite data interpretation.

Finally, the usual suspects present Amplification of Surface Temperature Trends and Variability in the Tropical Atmosphere [Abstract] [PDF] [Supporting Online Material] (see at least the abstract for extensive author list). Faced with disagreement between models and empirical data Santer et al prefer their 'robust' models over everyone's lying eyes - their abstract says it all really:

"The month-to-month variability of tropical temperatures is larger in the troposphere than at the Earth's surface. This amplification behavior is similar in a range of observations and climate model simulations, and is consistent with basic theory. On multi-decadal timescales, tropospheric amplification of surface warming is a robust feature of model simulations, but occurs in only one observational dataset. Other observations show weak or even negative amplification. These results suggest that either different physical mechanisms control amplification processes on monthly and decadal timescales, and models fail to capture such behavior, or (more plausibly) that residual errors in several observational datasets used here affect their representation of long-term trends."

Santer et al prefer to believe the world is wrong rather than that their models fail to adequately capture its behaviour. Right... A maybe, a perhaps and an eye-roller. Like we said, two out of three ain't bad.

Update: The above set of papers seems to be eliciting considerable excitement with claims that scepticism regarding climate catastrophe has evaporated, been destroyed, disproved, etc., etc.. Such claimants might want to settle down and actually read the papers.

Update II: Curiously, there seems to be a lot of traffic along the lines of "about time satellite and balloon data was subjected to some real scrutiny!" Fair enough, we believe careful scrutiny an excellent idea - no problem there. So, uh, why the screams of anguish when anyone wants to kick the tyres and check under the hood of the ol' hockey stick wagon?

Hmm... "We're All Global Warmers Now: Reconciling temperature trends that are all over the place" - "Anyone still holding onto the idea that there is no global warming ought to hang it up. All data sets—satellite, surface, and balloon—have been pointing to rising global temperatures. In fact, they all have had upward pointing arrows for nearly a decade, but now all of the data sets are in closer agreement due to some adjustments being published in three new articles in Science today.

People who have doubted predictions of catastrophic global warming (and that includes me) have long cited the satellite data series derived by climatologists John Christy and Roy Spencer at the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH). That data set showed a positive trend of 0.088 degrees centigrade per decade until recently. On a straight line extrapolation that trend implied warming of less than 1.0 degree centigrade by 2100.

A new article in Science by researchers Carl Mears and Frank Wentz from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) identified a problem with how the satellites drifted over time, so that a slight but spurious cooling trend was introduced into the data. When this drift is taken into account, the temperature trend increases by an additional 0.035 degrees per decade, raising the UAH per-decade increase to 0.123 degrees centigrade. Christy points out that this adjustment is still within his and Spencer's +/- 0.5 margin of error. What's the upshot? Although reluctant to make straight-line extrapolations, Christy notes in an e-mail, "The previous linear extrapolation indicated a temperature of +0.9 C +/- 0.5 C in 2100, the new data indicate a temperature of +1.2 +/- 0.5 C." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

I must admit that Bailey's article had me reread Mears and Wentz out of concern that I had misunderstood or not read it thoroughly. While that inevitably does happen I am pleased to say this is not one of those occasions [as Spencer's own piece makes clear below]. The methodological error handling tropical diurnal adjustments is not in this paper and readers should not confuse the two as Bailey appears to have done.

"Some Convergence of Global Warming Estimates" - "In one of a trio of new global warming papers in Science, Mears & Wentz (2005) address what they consider to be a large source of uncertainty in our (University of Alabama in Huntsville, "UAH") satellite estimate for global lower tropospheric ("LT") temperature trends since 1979. The satellite measurements come from the Microwave Sounding Units (MSUs) and Advanced Microwave Sounding Units (AMSUs) flying on NOAA's polar orbiting weather satellites. The UAH estimate of the globally averaged trend since 1979 to the present has been +0.09 deg. C/decade, considerably below the surface thermometer estimate that has been hovering around +0.20 deg. C/decade for the same period of record. This discrepancy between the UAH satellite LT trends and the surface thermometer trends has caused some consternation, since what we understand of atmospheric physics suggests that sustained warming at the surface should be amplified with height in the troposphere, not reduced." (Roy Spencer, TCS)

"Climate warning as Siberia melts" - "The world's largest frozen peat bog is melting and could unleash billions of tonnes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere." (New Scientist)

From Russia with Love: those melting moments... (EnviroSpin Watch)

"Middle to Late Holocene glacial variations, periglacial processes and alluvial sedimentation on the higher Apennine massifs (Italy)" - "Abstract: The major climatic variations that have affected the summit slopes of the higher Apennine massifs in the last 6000 yr are shown in alternating layers of organic matter-rich soils and alluvial, glacial and periglacial sediments. The burial of the soils, triggered by environmental–climatic variations, took place in several phases. For the last 3000 yr chronological correlations can be drawn between phases of glacial advance, scree and alluvial sedimentation and development of periglacial features. During some periods, the slopes were covered by vegetation up to 2700 m and beyond, while in other phases the same slopes were subject to glacial advances and periglacial processes, and alluvial sediments were deposited on the high plateaus. Around 5740–5590, 1560–1370 and 1300–970 cal yr B.P., organic matter-rich soils formed on slopes currently subject to periglacial and glacial processes; the mean annual temperature must therefore have been higher than at present. Furthermore, on the basis of the variations in the elevation of the lower limit reached by gelifraction, it can be concluded that the oscillations in the minimum winter temperatures could have ranged between 3.0°C lower (ca. 790–150 cal yr B.P.) and 1.2°C higher (ca. 5740–5590 cal yr B.P.) than present minimum winter temperatures. During the last 3000 yr the cold phases recorded by the Calderone Glacier advance in the Apennines essentially match basically the phases of glacial advance in the Alps." (Quaternary Research)

"Volcanic blast location influences climate reaction" - "Major volcanic eruptions far north of the equator affect the world's climate much differently than volcanoes in the tropics." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"High carbon dioxide levels spur Southern pines to grow more needles" - "A Duke University study has found that maturing stands of pines exposed to the higher levels of carbon dioxide expected by mid-century produce more needles than those absorbing today's levels of the gas, even under drought conditions. However, the study also found that lack of soil nutrients may impose limitations in many forests." (Duke University)

"Warming Most Evident at High Latitudes, but Greatest Impact Will Be in Tropics" - 'The impact of global warming has become obvious in high latitude regions, including Alaska, Siberia and the Arctic, where melting ice and softening tundra are causing profound changes. But, contrary to popular belief, the most serious impact in the next century likely will be in the tropics, says a group of researchers headed by a University of Washington ecologist." (Newswise)

"Researchers release air study results" - "NASA scientists bad air study of the eastern US results may help climatologists better understand global warming. It may help other scientists fine-tune carbon dioxide measuring devices mounted on satellites." (Associated Press)

"Dirty air masks strength of greenhouse effect" - "Although the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has held that a doubling of CO2 would boost the global temperature by 1.5–4.5 °C, uncertainty about the amount of climate cooling caused by atmospheric aerosols means that the temperature rise could exceed 6 °C, according to new research published in Nature." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"ANALYSIS-Global warming may take economic toll" - "WASHINGTON, Aug 11 - The White House's refusal to consider government caps on greenhouse gas emissions may save the U.S. economy short-term pain, but experts warn unchecked global heat could exact a heavy long-run toll. "While there are costs associated with reducing emissions, there are certainly costs associated with not doing anything," said Kevin Forbes, head of Catholic University's economics department. "It would be, in my opinion, folly not to try to do something." (Reuters)

"Canada: Environment minister proposes national greenhouse-emissions trading scheme" - "OTTAWA - Environment Minister Stephane Dion is challenging Canadians to come up with their own projects for cutting greenhouse gases, and offering them a way to make money doing it. In a discussion paper released Thursday, Dion has proposed a nationwide emissions-trading market in which initiators of environmentally friendly projects could earn credits for sale to big industrial emitters or the federal government." (CP)

"India seen heading for record cotton crop" - "BOMBAY - Cotton output in India, the world's third-largest producer, is expected to reach a record 25 million bales this year, thanks to good weather, higher land under the crop and more usage of genetically modified seeds." (Reuters)

August 11, 2005

"Nationalizing Science" - "It seems as if you can't turn anywhere without hearing that industry is destroying science these days. Former editors of the New England Journal of Medicine allege that pharmaceutical companies are perverting health science. The National Institutes of Health have instituted strict new ethics rules that forbid researchers dirtying their hands by collaborating with industry. And at the end of July the American Journal of Public Health devoted an entire supplement to essays alleging that industry was somehow distorting the legal and regulatory processes through a series of laws and judgments." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"Joint jabs no link to infections" - "Receiving multiple vaccinations does not increase a child's risk of being hospitalised due to infectious diseases, a study has concluded. Concerns had been raised that exposure to a number of vaccines "used up" the immune system, so children could not fight off other illnesses. Danish researchers monitored over 805,000 children to see if jabs, including MMR and Hib, increased risk." (BBC)

"Trade panel rejects Canadian firm's challenge to Calif MTBE ban" - "An international trade tribunal has rejected a Canadian company's challenge to California's ban on the gasoline additive MTBE under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The firm had filed a $970 million claim 6 years ago." (Associated Press)

"Tanning may be cancer culprit" - "The quest for the bronze -- under the sun or in the tanning booth -- may be contributing to an increase in the number of non-melanoma skin cancers in people under age 40." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Childhood cancers strongly linked to air pollution in early life" - "Childhood cancers are strongly linked to pollution from engine exhausts, concludes research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health." (BMJ Specialty Journals)

"Hold That Fat, New York Asks Its Restaurants" - "The New York City health department urged all city restaurants yesterday to stop serving food containing trans fats, chemically modified ingredients that health officials say significantly increase the risk of heart disease and should not be part of any healthy diet." (New York Times)

"Science's Quest to Banish Fat in Tasty Ways" - "With two-thirds of Americans overweight, food companies have commissioned their scientists to develop healthier products." (New York Times)

"Clear view of the clouds will bring better weather forecasts" - "Accurately forecasting rain will be easier thanks to new insights into clouds from an international team of researchers." (University College London)

Now you know: "California group's answer to climate puzzler improves the accuracy of global climate data" - "A curious puzzle in the study of climate science has been solved, and that solution is helping scientists at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) make the satellite record of global climate change more reliable than it was previously.

Research published this week by Carl Mears and Frank Wentz of Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) in Santa Rosa, Calif., identifies a problem that kept the UAH group from accurately correcting one error caused by NOAA satellites drifting in their orbits over the past 26 years.

The net result of changes in how the data are analyzed added about 0.09 C (about 0.16 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming over the past 26 years, with most of that previously unreported warming occurring in the tropics." (UAH)

Is CO2 a Pollutant? (Climate Science)

"The Pleasure of Climate Change" - "Assume dangerous global warming is happening. What to do about it? If accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere— gases produced by burning fossil fuels and other human activities—are to blame for increasing global temperatures, the adage "the first thing you do when you find you’re in hole is stop digging" comes to mind. So the obvious idea is, why not stop emitting greenhouse gases? This is the strategy embodied in the Kyoto Protocol which mandates cuts in the emissions of greenhouse gases by the industrialized countries that have ratified it." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Nitrogen in the air feeds the oceans" - "A new study provides the first direct evidence that atmospheric nitrogen is an important nutrient for marine life. The finding suggests a theoretical mechanism for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere." (University of Southern California)

"Are hurricanes increasing? Ask a Georgia Pine tree" - "Centuries of hurricane records have been discovered in the rings of southeastern US pine trees. This arboreal archive may contain critical information about how the Atlantic hurricane factory responds over the long term to natural and human-induced climate changes, say researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville." (Geological Society of America)

Handwringer du jour: "Warming hits 'tipping point'" - "A vast expanse of western Siberia is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today. Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age." (The Guardian)

"Thaw will speed warming" - "Siberia's peatbogs have been churning out methane for 11,000 years but billions of tonnes of the gas has remained locked within the permafrost that covers it." (The Guardian)

"A Roof Garden? It's Much More Than That" - "Proponents of the project, which has been two years in the making, are hoping to use data collected from it to convince commercial property owners and developers that not only are green roofs good for the environment, they can benefit the bottom line." (New York Times)

"Tires as fuel raises concern" - "Plant owners Lafarge North America wants to burn whole tires to replace up to 20 percent of its fuel -- it currently burns coal and coke, a coal byproduct -- to save money in its plant, which produces nearly 2 million tons of cement each year. It also is pitching the concept as a solution for New York's waste tire problem." (Albany Times Union)

"Carbon emissions from US autos on the rise - report" - "WASHINGTON - Emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from U.S. cars and trucks soared 25 percent between 1990 and 2003 as more vehicles hit the roads and consumers flocked to gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles, a U.S. environmental group said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Auto Emissions Report Ignores Safety Concerns" - "Today, Environmental Defense released an updated report advocating higher restrictions on automotive greenhouse gas emissions." (CEI)

Silly posturing of the day: "AEP expands CO2 reduction commitment through 2010; extends participation in Chicago Climate Exchange" - COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 10, 2005 -- American Electric Power today announced the company will expand and extend its commitment to voluntarily reduce, avoid or sequester its greenhouse gas emissions through 2010 and will continue its membership in the Chicago Climate Exchange, the first voluntary, legally binding greenhouse gas emissions reduction and trading program in North America." (Media Release)

"Ecology must be part of research on renewable energy" - "Too little of the research being done on renewable energy options is taking potential ecological implications into account, a major new review of the ecological implications of offshore renewable energy published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology has found. The review by Dr Andrew Gill of Cranfield University found that despite an explosion of academic interest in the subject, only a fraction of research papers look at environmental impact, positive or negative." (Blackwell Publishing Ltd.)

Gee Andy, wonder if there's a message in that for you?

"Rice genome unravelled at last" - "Scientists have unscrambled the genetic code of rice, a development that could help end hunger around the world, Nature magazine reports this week. The blueprint will speed up the hunt for genes that improve productivity and guard against disease and pests. In order to avoid shortages, rice yields must increase by 30% over the next 20 years, researchers say." (BBC)

"International research team announces finished rice genome" - "An international research team has sequenced the complete rice genome. Scientists at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), a contributor to the project, say the finished rice genome holds some surprises--and new tools to improve crops." (The Institute for Genomic Research)

August 10, 2005

Junkman on Fox tonight! The Junkman will be on Fox News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume tonight at about 6:15pm ET discussing the EPA's latest goof -- proposing to secure the Yucca Mountain nuclear depository for 1 million years EPA announcement | Washington Post article.

More info:

"Mozambique malaria vaccine trials show good result" - "MANHICA, Mozambique - Groundbreaking malaria vaccine trials in Mozambique have shown good results but cannot alone win the fight against one of Africa's biggest killers, a senior research scientist says." (Reuters)

"Florida Mom Calls For End of Vaccinations" - "We might expect concerned parents to live by slogans like: "Love them, protect them, tell them about the dangers of smoking" or "Love them, protect them, make them wear their seatbelts" or "Love them, protect them, keep them away from guns." But love them, protect them, never get them vaccinated? Huh?" (Mara Burney, ACSH)

"Noisy Spring" - "The six-year-old U.S. outbreak of West Nile virus is a significant threat to public health and shows no signs of abating. Last year, there were more than 2,500 serious cases and 100 deaths. Though still early in the West Nile virus season (there is a time lag during which animals are infected, mosquitoes convey the virus to humans, and the virus incubates until symptoms occur), this year the mosquito-borne virus has been found in animal hosts (primarily birds) in 39 states, and has caused more than a hundred serious infections and three human deaths in 18 states." (Henry I. Miller, NRO)

"Judge Rebukes EPA on Rat Poison Reversal" - "The EPA has failed to protect children from rat poison exposure, a federal judge ruled yesterday, suggesting chemical manufacturers should add a bittering agent to keep children from ingesting their products." (Washington Post)

"Europe's Push for Less-Toxic Tech" - "Electronics manufacturers have 12 months to comply with stringent and costly new EU environmental laws. Some may not make it." (Business Week)

"Taking a break from fractures: A closer look at vitamin D" - "While vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of bone fracture in the elderly, a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) raises the question of how much vitamin D is enough." (Tufts University)

"Is the Shuttle green?" - "The image of a shuttle at lift-off, enveloped in clouds of exhaust, is now iconic. As crowds gather to witness the dramatic displays as shuttles are made airborne though, many may wonder whether all those exhaust fumes are damaging our environment." (BBC)

"India's smoking gun: Dino-killing eruptions" - "New discoveries about the timing and speed of gigantic, 6500-foot (2-km) thick lava flows that poured out of the ground 65 million years ago could shift the blame for killing the dinos." (Geological Society of America)

"New window into ancient ozone holes" - "British researchers have hit on a clever way to search for ancient ozone holes and their relationship to mass extinctions: measure the remains of ultraviolet-B absorbing pigments ancient plants left in their fossilized spores and pollen." (Geological Society of America)

UAH MSU LT v5.2 dataset now available - Probably something of a disappointment for gloating advocates who have been writing to inform us that "Christy and Spencer have been proved wrong and had to retract" (sic), presumably referring to some posting on a global warming site, Christy et al have tweaked their dataset with a hat tip to Mears and Wentz for discovering an error (see below). Had this shocking fault been allowed to persist for just three centuries then UAH's LT v5.1 dataset would have been out by a whole degree! (Don't know how they'll be able to show their faces around a climate science meeting after this.)

UAHLTv5.1vsLT5.2.gif (33373 bytes) Click the thumbnail image at right to view a comparison of LT 5.1 and LT 5.2.
In case people miss it we've highlighted where this caused an underreporting of global temperature anomaly.

Information posted at UAH states:
"An artifact of the diurnal correction applied to LT has been discovered by Carl Mears and Frank Wentz (Remote Sensing Systems). This artifact contributed an error term in certain types of diurnal cycles, most notably in the tropics. We have applied a new diurnal correction based on 3 AMSU instruments and call the dataset v5.2. This artifact does not appear in MT or LS. The new global trend from Dec 1978 to July 2005 is +0.123 C/decade, or +0.035 C/decade warmer than v5.1. This particular error is within the published margin of error for LT of +/- 0.05 C/decade (Christy et al. 2003). We thank Carl and Frank for digging into our procedure and discovering this error. All radiosonde comparisons have been rerun and the agreement is still exceptionally good. There was virtually no impact of this error outside of the tropics."

Not dimming this week: "University of Oregon study says sunnier Oregon summers reflect global warming" - "University of Oregon physicists report clear evidence of climate change according to their analysis of high quality solar radiation data gathered continuously over a 25-year period." (University of Oregon)

"World energy agency warns Australia on global warming plan" - "The International Energy Agency on Tuesday warned Australia its plan to curb global warming with technology-based solutions was inadequate and urged Canberra to consider an emissions trading scheme." (Agence France-Presse)

Fortunately Australia is not that stupid.

"Europe's Low-Carbon Diet" - It was just two weeks ago that the U.S., China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia agreed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through technology rather than emissions caps like the ones found in Europe's beloved Kyoto Protocol. While it may take some time to judge any effects the newer treaty may have, it is already clear that one of the European Union's key strategies for complying with Kyoto -- its eight-month-old carbon-trading scheme -- is a failure on two fronts. It has significantly raised energy costs, and EU CO2 output has almost certainly risen rather than fallen. And this is all before round two of Kyoto, which calls for even deeper cuts and greater penalties -- far beyond what treaty participants can realistically achieve." (Dan Lewis, The Wall Street Journal)

"Global Warming: Bad for Good and Good for Bad" - "Whenever we read a story about some plant or animal showing up where they usually weren’t or disappearing from where they usual are, global warming always shows up in the list of the usual suspects. And, of course, global warming is up to no good. Usually, “bad” species are showing up where they are unwanted, while “good” ones are being endangered." (World Climate Report)

The fallacy of the incomplete balance sheet (Number watch)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

"Biospheric Breakdown: What We Must Do to Prevent It?" - "The primary ameliorative measure is as simple as A,B,C ... or make that C,O,2." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Cloud Condensation Nuclei (Climatic Effects of Biologically-Produced Aerosols and Gases)" - "As we learn more and more about the effects of the gaseous emissions associated with warming-induced increases in the biological activities of both terrestrial and aquatic plants, it is becoming ever more clear that one of their ultimate environmental impacts is the countering of the impetus for global warming." (co2science.org)

"Health Effects (Temperature - Respiratory)" - "Which is better, warmer or colder, with respect to the respiratory health of earth's populace?" (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: Crimson Clover, Sorghum, Sunn Hemp, and Unspecified Weeds." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
"Seven Decades of Indian Monsoon Prediction Failure" - "With all our scientific advances, why haven't the model predictions improved?" (co2science.org)

"The Pre-Observational Mean Temperature of Tachlovice, Czech Republic" - "What does its improved assessment imply about the nature of 20th-century warming?" (co2science.org)

"Ultra-High CO 2 Concentrations: Their Impact on Vitrified Sweetgum Shoots" - "A nearly 30-fold increase in the air's CO 2 concentration is still not enough to produce negative consequences for the growth of sweetgum plantlets." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Ultra-High Atmospheric CO 2 Concentrations on the Growth of Three Laminaceae Species" - "It is sometimes said that too much of a good thing can be harmful.  But could earth's plants ever get too much CO 2 ?" (co2science.org)

"More Evidence that Anthropogenic Aerosols Enhance the Growth of Forests" - "Can anything good possibly come from air pollution?" (co2science.org)

"Arguments raised for, against atomic energy" - "The case for and against nuclear energy highlights cost, the environment, and safety." (Knight Ridder)

"Chernobyl ecosystems 'remarkably healthy'" - "Despite high radioactivity, plants and animals seem to be thriving." (Nature)

"Drought, Heat Sap Power in Europe" - "A drought that has struck parts of Europe this summer, combined with a string of heat waves reminiscent of 2003, is creating a risk of power outages across the Continent." (Wall Street Journal)

"Electrical Inefficiency A Dark Spot for China" - "China has become among the world's most wasteful users of power, its growth in demand exacerbated by its striking inefficiency, say energy analysts and economists." (Washington Post)

"New law won't zap ethanol" - "The national energy bill signed Monday by President Bush removes a long-standing rule that forced ethanol into California's gasoline tanks and irked state officials to no end." (Sacramento Bee)

"Reclaimed wastewater" - "As water becomes ever more scarce, quenching thirsty crops with wastewater may be OK if done right, researchers here say. "Managing reclaimed water by pretreating before using it to irrigate, monitoring for viruses, choosing correct crops and periodically leaching the soils should be successful and safe," said Dr. George Di Giovanni, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station environmental microbiologist." (Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications)

"Much of world's corn is Hawai'i-engineered" - "Hawai'i fields once used for sugarcane and pineapple now serve as the incubators for hybrids and new, genetically manipulated strains of one of the nation's oldest staple foods: corn. Industry experts estimate about half of the nation's corn today has its beginnings in biotechnology, meaning at least some of a plant's genetic origins can be traced back to a laboratory instead of an open field. While the Islands are not a major source of the corn eaten by consumers or livestock, many parents of the plants that yield the seeds sold to farmers around the nation and the world have their origins in Hawai'i." (Associated Press)

August 9, 2005

"Mosquitoes are more attracted to individuals infected with malaria" - "In the premier open access journal PLoS Biology, a study of children in Kenya reveals that those individuals harboring the transmissible gametocyte stage of malaria parasites are more attractive to the mosquito vectors that spread this disease." (Public Library of Science)

"UN Fears Epidemic as Malaria Sweeps Ethiopia" - "ADDIS ABABA - A sharp increase in malaria cases and deaths across Ethiopia has raised fears of an epidemic in the east African country, the United Nations said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Melanoma Is Epidemic. Or Is It?" - "Experts don't agree on whether an increase in melanoma cases means it is becoming more common or that more people are getting screened for skin cancer." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"Taking the sugar out of sweet" - "As waistlines expand, the food industry is busy trying to reduce or mimic the calorie-filled fuel in its products, and to also fool taste buds." (Los Angeles Times)

"Grizzlies and salmon: Too much of a good thing?" - "Even grizzly bears should watch what they eat. It turns out that grizzlies that gorge themselves on salmon during the summer spawning season have much higher levels of contaminants in their bodies than their cousins who rely more on berries, plants and insects. The research by Canadian scientists is reported in journal, Environmental Science & Technology." (American Chemical Society)

"Lobster Boom and Bust" - "NEWPORT, R.I. - When marine biologists think about lobsters, here is what they want to know: Why are there so many of them, and why are there so few?" (New York Times)

"Independently, Two Frogs Blaze the Same Venomous Path" - "Among frogs and New Yorkers alike, those wearing loud colors are assumed to have very poor taste. As researchers have long observed, the brightest frog species in nature are often the most poisonous, and for good reason." (New York Times)

"Spaceship Earth: An Astronaut is up above the Clouds" - "NASA, the EPA, and the Greens have been trying to turn the space program into an Earth observation program as part of the nation's environmental protection mission." (Iain Murray and Robert J. Smith, NRO)

"A Better Environmental Treaty" - "Please allow me to add to James Glassman's excellent analysis of how the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which the United States recently announced, has shown the Kyoto Protocol to be yesterday's answer to yesterday's assessment of tomorrow's problem ("Way beyond Kyoto," Commentary, Wednesday)." (Christopher C. Horner, The Washington Times)

"Study yields mixed results on potential for pine trees to store extra carbon dioxide" - "MONTREAL -- Southern pines appear to grow and conserve water somewhat better in the carbon-dioxide-enriched atmosphere expected by mid-century, a Duke University study has found. However, any growth spurts appear to diminish over time, due at least in part to the kind of hot and dry weather that likely may become more common in the future. Thus, the researchers concluded, enhanced growth of pines may not constitute a long-term sink for human-produced carbon dioxide which might ameliorate global warming." (Duke University)

"Field tested: Grasslands won't help buffer climate change as carbon dioxide levels rise" - "The first five years of the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment show that production responses of the grassland to changes in climate and CO2 concentration are unlikely to lead to increased productivity on their own." (Public Library of Science)

Comment from Jim Hansen on the August 2 Climate Science Posting (Climate Science)

"Summer of 2005 provides new grist for debate on climate change" - "OTTAWA - From Toronto to Hans Island, the summer of 2005 is providing new material for the debate on climate change." (Canadian Press)

"So You Think You Can Nuance?" - " I guess it was only a matter of time before this happened: The Left is now blaming President Bush for the weather. Specifically they're claiming that the current heat wave is a result of the global warming President Bush just hasn't done enough to stop. Whereas the consensus in the scientific community seems to be leaning towards an alternate explanation: It's summertime. Oh, but this is a different kind of heat, the Left insists. It's...hotter, somehow. (At least they aren't claiming it's a dry heat). But if the current heat wave bolsters the theory of global warming favored by noted climatologists like Barbra Streisand and Bill Maher then surely last winter's record cold spells weakened the case for global warming, right? Well, no. See, global warming doesn't just make the Earth hotter. Sometimes it makes the Earth much, much colder, as depicted in the recent docudrama The Day After Tomorrow. So it's that kind of warming." (Ned Rice, NRO)

"Pollution fear amid high power waste in households" - "Hong Kong residents waste about 850 million kilowatt hours of electricity every year and this is equal to releasing more than 500 kilotons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to a pro-Beijing political party." (Hong Kong Standard)

"In some cases, genetic resistance takes on a life of its own" - "In the absence of the original chemical threat, most resistance mutations would cause a disadvantage to their hosts and might be expected to quickly leave the genetic landscape once the use of a drug or insecticide is suspended or withdrawn. But emerging research suggests that such assumptions need reconsideration. Researchers have obtained new evidence that in some cases, the mutations underlying resistance can actually offer an advantage to hosts -- and such advantages can lead to the resistance trait spreading widely in natural populations." (Cell Press)

"DDT-resistant insects have additional genetic advantage that helps resistance spread" - "Insects that can withstand the powerful pesticide DDT that was banned in the 1970s have an additional genetic advantage over their rivals that has helped them spread across the globe ever since, according to research published in Current Biology tomorrow (9 August 2005). This discovery overturns current theories that resistance to pesticides burdens insects with a genetic disadvantage that would stop them from competing with non-resistant insects once farmers stop using that pesticide." (University of Bath)

"Corn grain mould used as pesticide" - "Scientists from the University of Bonn and the IITA in Nigeria, want to combat the highly toxic mould Aspergillus flavus by an unusual method: they 'inoculate' the fields with a variant of aspergillus which cannot produce any toxin in the hope that the 'good' mould will displace the 'bad'. They are being supported in this by US researchers from Arizona, who by using this method have been able to reduce the aflatoxin contamination of cotton by 98 per cent." (University of Bonn)

If it ever existed... "Gene-Modified Corn Gone from Mexico, Study Finds" - "WASHINGTON - The Mexican region where modern corn originated shows no traces of a genetically engineered contamination that caused an international uproar and created tension over US corn imports, researchers said on Monday." (Reuters) | 'Worst GM pollution incident' vanishes (London Telegraph)

"Genetically modified maize not found in southern Mexico" - "Contrary to what many scientists thought, genetically modified (GM) corn has not yet spread to native maize crops in southern Mexico. After analyzing tens of thousands of seeds from maize crops grown in 2003 and 2004, researchers from Mexico and the United States found no evidence of transgenes in these indigenous varieties." (Ohio State University)

"GM rice 'could reduce reliance on phosphate fertiliser'" - "[BEIJING] Chinese scientists have genetically modified rice to grow well in soil that has low levels of the mineral phosphate. According to lead researcher Wu Ping of Zhejiang University this could reduce farmers' reliance on costly and environmentally-damaging phosphate fertilisers. The researchers published their findings in the July issue of Plant Physiology." (SciDev.Net)

"EU Authorises GMO Maize Type by Legal Rubberstamp" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union authorised imports of a genetically modified (GMO) maize on Monday, the third GMO product to win approval since the EU ended its unofficial biotech ban last year, officials said." (Reuters)

August 8, 2005

"Malaria: Corporate Nigeria to the Rescue" - "Good for the Nigerian Bolting Company (NBC) which is funding malaria control. The experience in Zambia with Konkola Copper Mines and in Mozambique with Mozal show that the private sector is often highly effective in controlling malaria. NBC may want to consider doing more than just ITNs and clearing breeding sites ... IRS could be a viable option too." (AFM)

"NTGL Devise Plan to Combat Malaria" - "Liberia announces a boost to its malaria control program, but this article is short on detail. Liberia would do well to take a leaf out of Mozambique's book and fund Indoor Residual Spraying with DDT and other insecticides." (AFM)

"FCT Fights Malaria" - "Nigeria's Federal Capital Territory Administration is going to be fogging to control malaria - using insecticides that last only 10 weeks. DDT on the other hand, when sprayed indoors, lasts for a year or more and would seem on the face of it to be a more sensible tool." (AFM)

"Kenya: Anti-Malaria project to receive additional UK funding" - "Sigh" ... the UK government is once again funding only ITNs, when they should be taking a broader view and should be funding Indoor Residual Spraying with insecticides which is so effective in malaria control." (AFM)

"Manufacturing science" - "A public health scientist suggests that much of the squabbling over scientific certainty in public policy debates about the environment is the result of a concerted strategy by those who want to avoid government regulation. It's a strategy to manufacture doubt, using techniques pioneered by the tobacco industry." (Living On Earth)

"Fears over health risk to children of mercury in tuna" - "The UK government is to conduct new research into the levels of mercury in fish amid claims that children who eat too much tuna may develop learning difficulties." (London Times)

"Court Rejects Effort to Halt Pollution Rules" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 - Two federal appeals court judges on Friday rejected an effort by environmental groups to block the Bush administration from carrying out regulations on power plants that emit mercury pollution." (AP)

"Pollution confusing fish hormone systems, scientists say" - "Male fish from the upper reaches of the Potomac River are producing a blood protein normally found only in females. Those intersex fish have put the Potomac River's headwaters at the center of an emerging national pollution problem." (Washington Post)

"Scientists Wary Of Expanding Taconite Tailings Use" - "For several decades, taconite tailings have been used in highways and other construction projects in Minnesota but there are concerns about the presence of asbestos-like fibers in taconite dust and scientists disagree whether it's been proven the tailings are safe." (Associated Press)

"Throw disease to the wolves?" - "Predation by wolves may be an effective way to stop a deadly brain disease of deer and elk in Colorado, according to a recent study." (Denver Post)

"Marine decline is exaggerated, expert contends" - "Reports of the decline of the marine ecosystem in Marin's coastal waters and along the West Coast are premature, according to a Tiburon scientist who just returned from a research trip on the open sea." (Marin Independent Journal)

Memory hole at RealClimate.org? As of August 3 RealClimate was hosting a guest commentary by Raimund Muscheler "Did the Sun hit record highs over the last few decades?" and the discussion was becoming interesting - right up to the time it disappeared. Fortunately, memory holes only really exist in Orwell's 1984 and the 'disappeared' commentary and some subsequent comments are available from MSN and Google caches: here and here, perhaps others have more complete cached copies. Curious...

Now partially restored here.

The Week That Was Aug. 6, 2005 (SEPP)

"Global warming's effects extend to world's smallest butterfly" - "A new study shows that human-induced global warming will accelerate the extinction of this species." (Blackwell Publishing Ltd.)

"Alaskan people tell of climate change" - "For the past 20 years climatologists and ice and atmosphere scientists have been working in Alaska studying climate change. Now they have discovered a rich new source of records extending their knowledge back by decades through the oral history of native Alaskans." (BBC)

Ooh! And in Maureen Dowd's space too! "The Good News Bears" - "The polar bear has become, in the words of the WWF conservation group, "an ambassador for Arctic nature and a symbol of the impacts that global warming is increasingly having around the world." Conservation groups and scientists have been making headlines in the past year, warning that shrinking sea ice could make wild bears extinct by the end of the century, possibly within just 20 years.

Right now, though, Inuits like Nathaniel Kalluk here in Resolute Bay aren't exactly worried. "There are a lot more bears now than before," said Mr. Kalluk, who is 51 and has been hunting since childhood. "We'll spot 20 to 30 bears on a hunting trip. Twenty years ago, sometimes we didn't see any at all."

This is not an isolated trend. Although the bears seem to be hurting in some places, like the Hudson Bay region south of here, their numbers have increased worldwide. In Canada, home to most of the world's polar bears, the population has risen by more than 20 percent in the past decade." (New York Times)

"FEATURE-Wildlife moves to stay cool in a warmer world" - "OSLO, Aug 8 - Salmon swim north into Arctic seas, locusts plague northern Italy and two heat-loving bee-eater birds nest in a hedge in Britain. Signs of global warming fed by greenhouse gases produced by human activity, or just summertime oddities?" (Reuters)

"Melting Mountain Majesties: Warming in Austrian Alps" - "Austria's glaciers are shrinking fast, and as they shrink, this part of the world is slowly losing one of its many attractions." (New York Times)

A New Alpine Melt Theory (Hilmar Schmundt, Der Spiegel)

"The Theology of Global Warming" - "Almost unnoticed, the theology of global warming has in recent weeks suffered a number of setbacks. In referring to the theology of global warming, one is not focusing on evidence of the earth's warming in recent decades, particularly in the Arctic, but rather on the widespread insistence that such warming is primarily a consequence of man's activities -- and that, if only we collectively had the will, we could alter our behavior and stop the warming of the planet." (James Schlesinger, The Wall Street Journal)

"Climate change unites senators" - "Bipartisanship was in unusually fine form in the Benedict Music Tent on Saturday evening as Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman stressed the importance of taking climate change seriously." (Denver Post)

"Planes go greener by shifting altitude" - "Aircraft could reduce their impact on global warming just by making small changes in altitude." (New Scientist)

"Ethanol plants gather steam, but at a price" - "Production is growing and corn farmers gain from subsidies, but some question the cost and the effectiveness of fuel." (Chicago Tribune)

"They’re blowing hot and cold on wind farms" - "One of the greenest forms of energy — wind power — is picking up opposition from the very people you might expect to champion it: environmentalists." (Kansas City Star)

"Nuclear energy can't solve global warming - Other remedies 7 times more beneficial" - "During a public lecture in San Francisco last month, Jared Diamond, the mega-selling author of "Guns, Germs and Steel,'' became the latest and most prominent environmental intellectual to endorse nuclear power as a necessary response to global warming." (Mark Hertsgaard, SF Chronicle)

"UK: Nucleus of the problem: Political dithering on nuclear energy has intensified public doubts" - "The Government’s continuing failure to produce its long promised strategy for meeting Britain’s future energy needs is damaging British industry. Uncertainty about future supplies compounds already acute concern about soaring prices and the added burden of the Climate Change Levy. Further delays in reaching a decision will affect not just industrial consumers, but households too. Immediately after the election, Alan Johnson, the minister responsible, was told by officials that policy must be decided before the summer recess if Britain was to avoid running short of energy as early as 2008." (London Times)

"UK: Voters prefer wind farms to new nuclear reactors" - "THE public is sceptical about the case for building new nuclear power stations, despite concerns that Britain may have to rely on imported gas for future energy needs. Hostility to nuclear power is matched by a belief that renewable sources of energy such as wind farms could fill the gap in energy needs in the next 20 years, the Populus survey finds. It also indicates that politicians are not trusted to tell the truth about nuclear safety." (London Times)

"A Lesson in Time" - "If you know me, you know my jokes. Here’s one that’s bad but raises a good question." (Tim Burrack, Truth About Trade and Technology)

"BPI approves commercialization of stacked trait corn, 3rd GM crop" - "The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has approved the propagation of genetically modified (GM) stacked trait corn, a combination of the Asiatic corn borer (ACB)-resistant corn and the Round-up Ready (RR) corn which will be the country’s third commercialized GM crop." (Manilla Bulletin)

"Roundup Ready alfalfa worries growers" - "Alfalfa growers in the Mid-Columbia say they aren't ready to grow Roundup Ready alfalfa because they're worried that if they do their export markets in Japan could ban Washington hay." (Tri-City Herald)

"UK: Growers can exploit GM loophole" - "GM crops can be grown in the UK without farmers having to notify the authorities or their neighbours, the Guardian has discovered after testing a loophole which allows enthusiasts to grow their own GM maize." (The Guardian)

"Science Defeats Superstition, So They Sue" - "In a victory for common sense and solid science over fear and superstition, the Hawaii Board of Agriculture (HBOA) June 28th rejected testimony from the usual suspects and approved Mera Pharmaceuticals’ application to grow genetically modified algae at the Natural Energy Laboratory in Kona." (Andrew Walden, Hawaii Free Press)

August 5, 2005

"Pesticides Not a Threat to Students" - "The anti-pesticide crowd tried to scare parents last week with a new report alleging that pesticide use in schools is dangerous for students." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com

"Unseen time bomb" - "A hundred Britons have received devastating news about "mad cow" disease. Jennifer Cooke reports." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Brominated flame retardant impairs male hormones" - "Animals may be feminized as a result of exposure to DE-71, or Penta, a commercial flame retardant mixture, according to research published online in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology." (Environmental Science & Technology)

"State board prepares to put school junk food on a diet" - "Diet sodas and some snacks can be sold in Kentucky public schools during the school day, but other snacks more laden with sugar and fat will be off-limits under regulations expected to be approved by the full state Board of Education today." (Louisville Courier-Journal)

"Diet and demise" - "Analysis of Finnish obesity study showed that those who wanted to lose weight and succeeded were significantly more likely to die young than those who stayed overweight." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Oh boy... "Environmental damage seen from shuttle" - "HOUSTON - Commander Eileen Collins said astronauts on shuttle Discovery had seen widespread environmental destruction on Earth and warned on Thursday that greater care was needed to protect natural resources.

Collins, flying her fourth shuttle mission, said the view from space made clear that Earth's atmosphere must be protected, too. "The atmosphere almost looks like an eggshell on an egg, it's so very thin," she said. "We know that we don't have much air, we need to protect what we have." (Reuters)

Lot of people sent links to this item - many with commentary. Said commentary ranges from "Houston, we have a problem - localised vacuum detected in shuttle" through "Californian?" [Actually not, I believe Collins is from New York] and "Too many missions?" on to "Does she include resources squandered on shuttle missions? How about ozone destruction and induced PSCs [Polar Stratospheric Clouds] from shuttle exhaust?" Reckon that about covers it.

"LSU researchers say 2005 Hurricane Season could be historic" - "On Tuesday, Aug. 2, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration revised its previous hurricane forecast, predicting that there would be an additional 11-14 named storms in 2005. This brought the total projection for the year to 18-21 storms. Based on their research into hurricane season records dating back to 1851, two LSU climatologists believe that this new prediction is likely accurate and that 2005 could rival some of the busiest seasons ever recorded." (Louisiana State University)

"Disease Traced to Extreme Weather" - "An analysis of four decades of disease records from Bangladesh shows that periods of extreme rainfall, drought or high temperatures can sharply increase cholera rates, a pattern that some researchers believe bolsters claims that global warming will increase disease outbreaks." (Los Angeles Times)

Hmm... "Climate change over the last 2000 years -- what do we (really) know? Panel discussion at PAGES Open Science Meeting, 10-12 August, Beijing" - "In a "warts and all" panel discussion, a group of influential scientists will battle out the myths and realities of what we really know about temperature records since the time of Christ. The so-called "hockey stick" curve by Michael Mann and others shows global temperature over the past millennium reconstructed from a variety of "proxy" records such as tree rings, ice core samples and corals. The curve underpinned the IPCC's (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 2001 Scientific Assessment that formed the basis of the Kyoto Protocol. Now the curve is the subject of considerable debate and controversy and has been scrutinised by scientists, politicians and other interested groups." (Past Global Changes IPO)

And the panel is... Mann, Schmidt and Sonechkin (Moberg co-author).

"Ice melt 'due to warmer globe'" - "The loss of the great Antarctic ice shelf Larsen B is firming as a milestone sign that human activity is warming the world." (Melbourne Age)

Lots of coverage on this so perhaps we'd better look at a bit of perspective. To begin with, while Larsen B was certainly way too much ice even for a great Aussie barbecue's worth of drinks, the description "the great Antarctic ice shelf" gives a mistaken impression - Larsen B was an insignificant flyspeck as Antarctic ice shelves go. Compare the cited 3,250 Km2 (1,250 Mile2) ice shelf with the >100 times larger Weddell polynya of three decades ago.

Now, since the Weddell Sea has 'gained' (regained, anyway) some 350,000 Km2 of ice, ironically over the very same period that we have gone from 'global cooling' to 'global warming', are we to claim ice formation 'due to warmer globe' in the same way that Larsen B's change is currently being associated? We tend to view the northern Antarctic Peninsula warming and Weddell polynya as local anomalies in the generally cooling Antarctic and find impetuous claims of association (and often causation) quite tedious.

That virtual world again... "Evolution of carbon sinks in a changing climate" [.pdf] - "Climate change is expected to influence the capacities of the land and oceans to act as repositories for anthropogenic CO2 and hence provide a feedback to climate change. A series of experiments with the National Center for Atmospheric Research–Climate System Model 1 coupled carbon–climate model shows that carbon sink strengths vary with the rate of fossil fuel emissions, so that carbon storage capacities of the land and oceans decrease and climate warming accelerates with faster CO2 emissions." (Fung et al, PNAS)

Testability of their assumptions and conclusions is, however, somewhat limited because "Here, we present and analyze a suite of transient experiments (1820–2100) from a new, coupled global carbon–climate model (unpublished work)..."

"Fear over Scottish climate change" - "Scotland's temperature has risen half way towards the limit recommended by scientists, according to WWF Scotland. The environmental group said the European Union had suggested trying to keep any rise in average global temperatures below 2C. But July's temperature in Scotland was nearly 1C above average and 2005 could be one of the warmest years on record." (BBC)

What is the "correct" temperature for the planet?

"Greenhouse effect could melt nearly all world's glaciers, says UN-backed report" – "Dramatic scenarios from man-made global warming can no longer be excluded, including the complete disappearance of glaciers from entire mountain ranges, leading to processes "without precedent in the history of the earth," according to the latest update of a five-yearly United Nations-supported report." (UN News)

Are mountain glaciers in western North America retreating and, if so, is the retreat accelerating? (Climate Science)

"Water shortage is more serious than global warming: expert" - "BEIJING, Aug. 4 -- Water shortage is more serious than global warming, and water-related problems are much harder to detect than temperature changes, said Syukuro Manabe, a meteorologist with the Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Program under Princeton University. He released a paper of his study at the on-going ninth Scientific Assembly of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences (IAMAS) held in Beijing." (Xinhuanet)

"Pataki Exit Won't Hurt US Carbon Dioxide Plan - New York" - "NEW YORK - A plan by nine Northeastern states to create a carbon dioxide emissions market similar to Europe's should not be hindered by the decision of its main proponent, New York Gov. George Pataki, to not seek a fourth term in 2006." (Reuters)

"Heated scientific climate" - "It is not for this newspaper to establish scientific facts on climate change. The matter is not susceptible to the arguments of opinion. But nor can science be straitjacketed by "consensus." (London Telegraph)

"Game, Set and Match?" - "The politics of climate change has been moving with breakneck speed recently. Leaked plans for Asia-Pacific Climate Plan, which generated the front page headline in Australia's national paper last week ("New Asia-Pacific Climate Plan"; The Australian, July 27), may signal the approaching culmination of a long and hard-fought match." (Bob Carter, TCS)

"Environmentalists see hope in Exxon CEO change" - "NEW YORK - Environmental groups expressed guarded optimism on Thursday that the management succession at Exxon Mobil Corp. may lead the oil company to taking a proactive role in protecting the planet. But the fact that the heir apparent has the full support of the financial community, which expects him to run the company in the same way as his predecessor, has some critics of Exxon dismissing the chances of any real change. Exxon, the world's largest public oil company, said Thursday CEO Lee Raymond would retire at year-end. Environmentalists revile the no-nonsense Raymond for his refusal to compromise on their issues, and for his stances minimizing the effects of global warming and the benefits of renewable energy." (Reuters)

"New Incentives for Being Green" - "Appliance makers are gearing up to push new energy-efficient clothes washers and refrigerators in the wake of the energy bill passed last week that offers tax credits to homeowners who upgrade to electricity-saving appliances." (Wall Street Journal)

"The advantages of nuclear energy" - "To enhance America's national security and energy security over the long term, it is imperative that the United States expand its use of nuclear power. To this end, it is encouraging that the nuclear power industry has enthusiastically welcomed the incentives contained in the energy bill that Congress has just approved." (The Washington Times)

"Researchers find ways to turn manure into power" - "Record oil prices and incentives to find alternative fuel sources are lighting a fire under research to turn biomass materials such as manure into energy." (Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications)

"Soybean Farmers Developing Less Fatty Cooking Oil" - "Soybean farmers are battling to keep their market dominance in cooking oils with a new generation of plants that don't produce the transfats that are linked to heart disease. But competitors are pushing the food industry to replace soybeans with healthier fats from canola oils or cheaper tropical fats from palm oil - or to make a dramatic reduction in fats in processed foods using a zero-calorie gel made from corn bran. The food industry is involved in one of the largest shifts ever in reformulating its products, thanks to a decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requiring manufacturers to state on food labels beginning next January how much transfats are contained in their products. Nutrition groups campaigned for the disclosure of transfats on labels." (Scripps Howard)

August 4, 2005

"Less Live 8; More Self Help" - "So I guess that now the G8 have signed on for more aid to Africa, the Live8 stars are all cuddled up with their increased royalties and we are generally being more caring and sharing with the taxpayer's money, everything will be hunky dory in, ooh, any day now?" (Tim Worstall, TCS)

"Publish or be damned" - "I have a very long memory. So often with "science by press release", newspapers will cover a story, even though the scientific paper doesn't exist, assuming it's around the corner." (Ben Goldacre, The Guardian)

"Is melanoma being overdiagnosed in the United States?" - "New research published online by the BMJ today (Thursday 4 August 2005) suggests that melanoma is being overdiagnosed in the United States." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"Are our products our enemy?" - "You can't see endocrine mimicking molecules. There's no way to tell from a product label whether they've been used. They may do little harm to adults, but evidence mounts that they can wreak havoc in the development of fetuses and children." (USA Today)

"Poison alert as heron chicks die" - "An investigation is continuing into a disease at one of Britain's largest heronries, which is causing the legs and wings of heron chicks to snap as if they have rickets. Scientists fear that the poison that is causing serious deformities in the chicks could have the same effect on the human population." (London Guardian)

"Roundup(r) kills frogs as well as tadpoles, Pitt biologist finds" - "As amphibians continue to mysteriously disappear worldwide, a University of Pittsburgh researcher may have found more pieces of the puzzle. Elaborating on his previous research, Pitt assistant professor of biological sciences Rick Relyea has discovered that Roundup(r), the most commonly used herbicide in the world, is deadly to tadpoles at lower concentrations than previously tested; that the presence of soil does not mitigate its effects; and that the product kills frogs in addition to tadpoles." (University of Pittsburgh)

"US rice may carry an arsenic burden" - "As a legacy of cotton pesticides, rice grown in the US contains an average of 1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than rice from Europe, India and Bangladesh." (Nature)

"Study shows big game hunters, not climate change, killed off sloths" - "Prehistoric big game hunters and not the last Ice Age are the likely culprits in the extinction of giant ground sloths and other North American great mammals such as mammoths, mastodons and saber-toothed tigers, says a University of Florida researcher." (University of Florida)

"Secrets of life deep under the Arctic ice cap" - "Scientific findings on previously inaccessible marine species will help to measure the impact of climate change. It will also allow scientists to figure out the consequences, should the polar caps continue to recede, on the northern oceans and how it will affect energy exploitation, fishing and shipping." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"Collapse of Antarctic Ice shelf unprecedented" - "The Antarctic Peninsula is undergoing greater warming than almost anywhere on Earth, a condition perhaps associated with human-induced greenhouse effects. According to the cover article published in the August 4 issue of the journal Nature by Hamilton College Geosciences Professor Eugene Domack, the spectacular collapse of the Antarctica's Larson B Ice Shelf is unprecedented during the past 10,000 years." (Hamilton College)

Curious, we don't recall the repeal of the Holocene Climatic Optimum (a.k.a. "maximum warming"). According to reviews I recall seeing in IPCC TAR it must still be recognised and the southern hemisphere maximum is still believed to have preceded that of the northern hemisphere (~10-6 ky BP as opposed ~8-4 ky BP in the northern hemisphere, from memory).

Now, if Southern Ocean temps are believed to have peaked as much as 8 ky BP and have failed to recover to "optimum" since and the Antarctic Peninsula shows anomalous warming when the bulk of Antarctica is cooling, why would we associate this event with alleged anthropogenic global warming? And if the southern hemisphere was warmer 6,000 - 10,000 years ago, why would we assume a current local warming anomaly to be "unprecedented"? Curious indeed.

"Fossil fuel emissions can overwhelm planet's ability to absorb carbon" - "If fossil fuel emissions continue to rise, the land and oceans will eventually exceed their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a new, improved computer climate model developed by UC Berkeley, NCAR and Woods Hole. The model, one in the first generation to include the Earth's carbon cycle, indicates that vegetation and the oceans can only absorb so much CO2 before they top out and become less efficient at removing carbon." (University of California - Berkeley)

"Drought bumps up global thermostat" - "Climate research groups have warned that this summer's European drought will unleash large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, giving further impetus to global warming. Researchers in the US reported that since the early 1990s, hot dry summers across the northern hemisphere have reduced the ability of plants to absorb carbon dioxide during their normal growing season. This dashes the expectation that warm summer temperatures would speed plant growth and moderate climate change by soaking up some of the industrial carbon dioxide emissions." (New Scientist)

"Heat Wave Hot Air" - "In case you have been living in a cave, it has been hot this summer in the United States. Much of the nation has been in the midst of a substantial heat wave, and the global warming crusade is making the most of this opportunity." (Richard Balling, TCS)

"The hidden costs of the Kyoto gambit" - "New Zealand is finding out just where its foot has landed, writes Miranda Devine." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"How will new energy pact affect Kyoto?" - "CLIMATE negotiators are still scratching their heads about the significance of a pact signed by the US, Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea last week." (New Scientist)

Letters of the moment: "No cause for rejoicing over report on climate change" - Lord May, Dr. Etherington and Prof. Stott (London Telegraph)

"Cool rationality shatters greenhouse hype" - "In both politics and State of Origin footy, timing is everything. But sometimes even impeccable timing can produce a result quite the opposite of that intended, as exemplified by sensational recent developments in the politics of the global-warming debate. The pre-announcement of climate change as a theme for the G8 Gleneagles meeting led to a predictable burst of pressure-group propaganda on global warming. The apocalypse, it was asserted (time and again) would involve more melting ice, greater rises in sea levels, more and more intense storms, more droughts, dangerous changes in ocean currents and the destruction of both biodiversity and the global insurance industry." (Professor Bob Carter, Australian Financial Review)

"Paying for Environmental Pollution" - "Germany may be an eco-friendly place, but support for the environment does come at a price -- a fact that some organizations are trying to disprove. But environmental groups themselves aren't so sure." (Deutsche Welle)

"400,000 new gas wells needed by 2020, industry conference told" - "Energy companies will need to drill about 400,000 new natural-gas wells in the Rocky Mountain states during the next 15 years to meet projected demand, a Colorado energy executive told an industry conference Tuesday." (Denver Post)

"Biofuel drive is simply another form of aid for Europe's farms" - "Brussels is pushing for more power from plants. Biofuels, such as ethanol, sound good — fewer harmful emissions, a renewable resource and less dependence on oil imports." (London Times)

"Wind farms controversy just won't blow away" - "A new report has thrown plans for a major wind farm into doubt after ruling it would be a blot on the Lothian landscape." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"Bursting bubbles kill water bugs" - "UK scientists have developed a water treatment system which they hope could cut the risk of Legionnaire's disease, and aid people in the developing world." (BBC)

"French Organic Wheat Sector Hit by Sluggish Demand" - "PARIS - France's organic wheat harvest, which makes up less than one percent of the country's total wheat crop, will be plentiful this year but the sector is threatened by stagnant demand, producers said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Crop Circles" - "The expected World Trade Organization arbitration in the fight between Washington and Brussels over genetically modified (GM) crops did not happen at the end of June, but a revolution by the European Council unexpectedly did." (Lene Johansen, TCS)

"Philippines approves planting of 4th biotech corn" - "MANILA, Aug 3 - The Philippines, the first Asian country to commercialise genetically modified corn, has approved the sale and planting of the fourth biotech corn developed by U.S. agrochemical firm Monsanto Co.. The fourth biotech corn -- called stacked-trait corn -- is resistant to the Asiatic corn borer pest and tolerant to herbicides, a senior official of state-regulator Bureau of Plant Industry, who declined to be named, told Reuters." (Reuters)

August 3, 2005

"EPA Order Tells 28 States To Cut Downwind Pollutants" - "The Bush administration told 28 states Monday it plans to order specific pollution cuts from their power plants if state officials don't have their own plan by fall of next year for making the air cleaner for people downwind." (Associated Press)

"Judge overrules jury in Greenpeace case" - "A Ketchikan judge on Monday set aside guilty verdicts returned by a jury against the activist group Greenpeace and the captain of its boat for violating state environmental regulations during a 2004 visit to Alaska." (Anchorage Daily News)

"What's in the average Brit's shopping trolley? More booze, less fruit 'n' veg" - "The government's annual peek into the average British family's shopping trolley has revealed a nation which harbours an increasing fondness for boozing at home and prefers sugary foods to fruit and vegetables." (The Guardian)

"Megafauna Murder Mystery" - "After centuries of debate, paleontologists are converging towards the conclusion that human overkill caused the massive extinction of large animals in the late Pleistocene." So sayeth a new paper to be published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization which proposes that the deaths of woolly mammoths and other Ice Age animals 12,000 years ago were the result of humans having chance encounters with megafauna while out hunting smaller game. Such "converging" toward overkill may come as news to paleontologists." (Jackson Kuhl, TCS)

"Blowin' in the Wind" - "Five named storms before July 15! Obviously we're headed for some kind of record year. Or are we? And what does all of this have to do with planetary warming?" (Patrick J. Michaels, Cato Institute)

"NOAA sees more active hurricane season this year" - "WASHINGTON - This year's hurricane season will be worse than expected with as many as 21 tropical storms and 11 hurricanes that could menace the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts, government weather forecasters predicted Tuesday." (Reuters) | NOAA Release

"Storm-stirred waters help shrink Gulf's low-oxygen dead zone" - "The dead zone, large patches of water along Louisiana's coast containing very low levels of oxygen, was smaller than last year's but, at 4,564 square miles, still more than double the goal set in a multi-year abatement plan." (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

"Survey Finds Gulf 'Dead Zone' Much Larger" - "The dead zone off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas is nearly the size of Connecticut and much larger than federal researchers had predicted earlier this year, according to a new survey." (Associated Press)

"Bacteria froze the Earth, researchers say" - "Humans apparently aren't the first species to change the climate of the planet. Bacteria living 2.3 billion years ago could have plunged the planet into deep freeze, researchers at the California Institute of Technology claim in a new report." (CNET News.com)

"Climate change draws senators north to Alaska" - "Two senators with presidential ambitions are planning a trip to Alaska in two weeks to see first hand the consequences of global climate change in the high latitudes, Alaska's two senators told reporters Monday." (Anchorage Daily News)

"UK: 'Decades' of low rainfall ahead" - "Households in the South East are going to have to learn to live with less water, the Environment Agency has said. Rain in the last week had little effect on depleted reservoirs and the region has had 110mm of rain instead of the normal 160mm in the past three months." (BBC)

"Pielke and Christy Comment on Hansen et al. Science paper entitled “Earth’s Energy Imbalance: Confirmation and Implications.”" - "John Christy and I submitted a comment on the Hansen et al. 2005 paper (subscription required. Also available from NASA). Unfortunately, Science chose to reject it based on the response from Jim Hansen and the two reviews. While we agree on the value of using ocean heat storage changes to diagnosis the radiative imbalance of the climate system, as was published in 2003 (Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335; ), our concern regarding their Science paper remains." (Climate Science)

"Fossil Fuels May Decrease Earth's Natural Capacity to Store Carbon" - "Rising fossil fuel emissions may actually decrease the Earth's natural capacity to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a newly published study--which means that the warming of Earth's climate could accelerate even faster than scientists have anticipated." (I-Newswire.com)

"Yes to Growth; No to Kyoto" - "Japan's decision to join the new Asian Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate will raise anxiety in Europe's leading capitals, for overnight it transforms the European Union from climate change cock of the walk to climate change feather duster." (Alan Oxley, TCS)

"Group Applauds Bush, G8 on 'Global Warming'" - "He may be disdainful of the Kyoto global warming treaty, but President Bush is nevertheless a "force to be reckoned with" when it comes to plotting the best way to cut the production of greenhouse gases, according to conservative climate change experts assembled by a Washington, D.C. think tank on Tuesday." (CNSNews.com)

From CO2 Science Magazine this week:

Effects of Elevated CO 2 on Forest Leaf Damage Produced by Insect Herbivores: Will forests be decimated by more voracious leaf-chewing insects in a CO 2 -enriched world of the future?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
Cloud Condensation Nuclei (Climatic Effects of Anthropogenic Aerosols and Gases): As we learn ever more about the consequences of the gaseous and particulate emissions associated with human activities, it is becoming abundantly clear that their net effect is definitely not one of catastrophic global warming." (co2science.org)

Protein: One often hears that elevated levels of atmospheric CO 2 will decrease plant protein concentrations, thereby degrading their nutritive value for all animal life, including humans.  Is this true?" (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: Canada Cockleburr, Native semiarid shortgrass steppe in Colorado, USA, Soybean, and Wheat." (co2science.org)

Journal Reviews:
Discharge Rates of the Danube River: Have they increased, decreased or stayed about the same in the industrial, as compared to the pre-industrial, era?" (co2science.org)

The Urban CO 2 Dome of Rome: How strong is it?  And how does it compare with those of other cities?" (co2science.org)

Climate Variability of Central Asia: How has it varied over the past thousand years?" (co2science.org)

Some Biological and Climatic Consequences of CO 2 and O 3 Effects on the Foliar Chemistry of Birch and Aspen Trees: How might the foliar chemistry effects of concomitant increases in atmospheric CO 2 and O 3 concentrations impact earth's climate and the feeding habits of the forest tent caterpillar?" (co2science.org)

Effects of Elevated Atmospheric CO 2 on Micro-Propagated Grapevines Transferred from In Vitro to Ex Vitro Conditions: What problems are typically encountered in this operation, and how are they affected by atmospheric CO 2 enrichment?" (co2science.org)

"City experts team up to fight global warming" - "EDINBURGH scientists will become world leaders in the fight against global warming by examining ways to lock harmful emissions under the sea." (Edinburgh Evening News)

"National Academies news: Emissions-free, petroleum-free vehicles" - "A public-private effort to develop more fuel-efficient automobiles and eventually introduce hydrogen as a transportation fuel is well-planned and identifies all major hurdles the program will face, says a new report from the National Academies' National Research Council." (The National Academies)

"Proponents claim ethanol produces net energy gain" - "It's not like a scene from "The Beverly Hillbillies." Unlike oil, ethanol does not exist in fields under the earth. And it certainly does not gush out from a derrick. Essentially, ethanol is produced by fermenting and distilling crops like corn or sugar cane. In the Midwest, farmers prepare fields by plowing and treating the ground with fertilizer. They plant the corn, apply pesticides when needed, harvest the crop and truck it to the plant. Then comes the production process and finally shipping the ethanol to blending terminals. It's not exactly a simple process. But with recent advances in technology and increases in corn yields, it is becoming more efficient." (The News-Gazette)

"Vermont to follow new greenhouse gas rules for cars" - "MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermont will join other northeastern states in adopting new California rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cars." (Associated Press)

"Citizens Sue for Environmental Review of Biopharm Algae in Hawai'i" - "KAILUA-KONA, Hawai'i, Aug. 2 -- Today, citizen groups 'Ohana Pale Ke Ao, Kohanaiki 'Ohana, GMO Free Hawai'i, and Sierra Club, Hawai'i Chapter, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of the State of Hawai'i, against the Board of Agriculture, State of Hawai'i, challenging the approval of a permit to allow the production of potentially dangerous genetically modified microorganisms on the Big Island." (U.S. Newswire)

August 2, 2005

"Don't get into a lather over sweatshops" - Buying products from much-maligned foreign factories will gradually raise pay, standards. (Benjamin Powell and David Skarbek, Christian Science Monitor)

"REACH and Risk" - "One of the key reasons the European Union's proposed constitution was rejected by French and Dutch voters is that they dislike having their lives controlled by rigid, centralized dictates from Brussels. The most recent example of job-killing, nanny-state policy from the EU is a chemicals regulation called REACH, an acronym for Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals. The E.U. Parliament is currently amending the proposal, with final passage expected in 2007." (Angela Logomasini and Henry I. Miller, TCS)

"Mercury and Tuna: U.S. Advice Leaves Lots of Questions" - "The FDA had known for many years that canned tuna contained mercury, which studies link to learning impairment in children. It wasn't until March 2004, after regulator tussles, that an advisory cited mercury. But those limits may exceed safe levels too." (Wall Street Journal)

"Hormones in water blamed as more men seek breast reduction" - "A sharp rise in the number of men requesting breast- reduction operations is being blamed by surgeons on the effects of excess female hormones in tap water and food. Clinics are reporting a doubling in the number of operations being carried out over just one year." (London Times)

"Concern Grows About Antibiotic Use in Food" - "The FDA's decision last week to ban the antibiotic Baytril in poultry production is among the latest in a series of steps to limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals. The only problem: Many consumers are baffled by what risks antibiotic use in chickens, cows and pigs could pose to human health." (Wall Street Journal)

"Food firms balked at targets to cut salt" - "Proposed targets to reduce the level of salt in food were scrapped after manufacturers said they could not meet them, according to a foods watchdog report published today." (The Guardian)

"Rats' response to 'stop snacking' signal diminished by high fat diet" - "Rats fed a high fat diet were less sensitive to a hormonal 'stop eating' signal than rats on a low fat diet when they were given access to a high calorie, high fat snack that the animals find yummy. Dr. Mihai Covasa, assistant professor of nutritional sciences and a member of the Penn State Neuroscience Institute, led the study. He says, "When we gave the rats doses of a 'stop eating' hormone, the rats on the low fat diet significantly suppressed their intake of the snack but not the rats on the high fat diet." (Penn State)

"The price of obesity" - "Could obesity be as dangerous to individuals' wealth as to their health? The preliminary evidence suggests that the answer is yes." (Los Angeles Times)

"Obesity fears over British eating trends" - "Doctors are expecting a rise in obesity as growing numbers of unhappy Britons turn to junk food for comfort." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"Turned on to junk food by the web" - "Children are being targeted by "insidious" internet adverts for junk food as major brands attempt to avoid UK government regulations, a new report has warned." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"Only global disaster will bring about major environmental action - survey findings" - "Some seven out of ten people in Europe agreed that 'it will take a man-made environmental catastrophe with global consequences' before society and the government takes any serious action on environmental issues." (AME Info)

A bit of a breakthrough (Number Watch)

"What Cicerone Left Unsaid" - "Sometimes, what's not said about an issue tells us more than what is. Consider the global warming testimony of Ralph Cicerone, the head of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), before the Senate's Subcommittee on Global Climate Change on July 20 and before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on July 21." (Patrick Michaels, TCS)

"Alan Oxley: Unlike Kyoto, this climate deal suits us fine" - "AT last. With the announcement of Australian membership of the Asia-Pacific climate change pact, Canberra's policies on climate change now sit squarely on the foundation of our national interests. The global debate has been conducted in the language of environmental policy but it has been a debate about energy policy. Like most debates, it has been shaped by basic national interests." (The Australian)

"James K. Glassman: Way beyond Kyoto" - "In a surprise move that caught Europe's smug moralists and the environmental movement's noisy extremists flatfooted, the United States announced in Vientiane, Laos, last week that it was joining five other nations — China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia — in a new pact that offers a refreshing and effective alternative route to tackling the problem of climate change. While given short shrift by the puzzled media, this is a big deal in many ways." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Fruits of global warming" - "It's the year of the apricot. In the remorseless march of global warming, a small golden fruit hanging from a branch may make 2005 one of the most significant years for Britain." (London Independent)

"A Plague of Alarmists" - "Tragedy is striking the Niger. An estimated 3.5 million people are starving in the former French Colony of West Africa, and thousands are expected to die daily. Drought and poverty are the main causes for the lack of food, but over this past year West Africa has also been ravaged by a plague of locusts. What's the cause of the problem? Some commentators, such as David Loyn of the BBC, have cited man-made climate change as a contributor." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"July heat chases record" - "While triple-digit temperatures are causing Fresnans to flee to the mountains, coast, or even to a little shade, we still need 13 more days of 100-degree highs just to hit the average." (Fresno Bee)

"UK: Carbon dioxide emissions rise despite climate change pledge" - "Britain's carbon dioxide emissions are expected to rise significantly in 2005 for the third year running and will reach the highest level since 1992, when the UK signed the Climate Change Convention at the Rio Earth Summit and pledged to combat global warming.

Energy statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry show that oil and coal burning have both risen in the first five months of this year compared with the same period in 2004. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions are expected to rise by more than 2% this year, when they should be falling by at least 1% a year to reach Labour's 20% reduction target." (The Guardian)

"Wind Direction Changes" - "FOR Peter Carruthers, even the name "wind farm" is an Orwellian attempt to make vast industrial developments sound cuddly, playing down the image of huge whistling turbines and encouraging the image of beaming farmers in wellies watching green energy being generated." (Scotland on Sunday)

"Scorpion gene gives plants a sting in their tail" - "Chinese scientists have inserted scorpion and moth genes into oilseed rape (canola) plants to make them poisonous to insects feeding on them. The researchers say that using two foreign genes at the same time means insect pests will be less likely to develop resistance to the genetically modified (GM) plants. The findings were published online in Plant Cell Report on 19 July." (SciDev.Net)

"GM Corn Protesters Send Message" - "The issue of genetically-modified corn strikes a nerve with many Europeans. To vent their indignation about the lifting of a moratorium, ecology campaigners protested at a GM cornfield near Berlin." (Deutsche Welle)

August 1, 2005

"Malaria in Africa" - "Each year in Africa, an estimated one million people die from the effects of Malaria, and most of the dead are children under the age of five. It's also thought that on average, an African has about one bout of malaria a year. Listen to an interview with Dr. Keith Arrow on the state of malaria in Africa." (AFM)

"Britain doubles disease donations" - "Britain has announced it is doubling its official support for the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Department for International Development will give £100 million to the fund in each of the next two years - double the £51 million previously promised." (AFM)

"Fears, Phobias and Facts: How Risky is the Real World?" - "Introduction: As a society, do we have a problem with risk as a reality of our lives? People are willing to apportion blame, but are they willing to accept it? "Fears, phobias and facts", the second in a series of joint policy forums between the New Statesman and Pfizer, aimed to unravel what different groups of people understand about risk and how they respond to it.

One of the most important factors appears to be the level of trust that people have in the information given to them. This is evidenced by the public's response to the MMR debate. But how far does the public understand that scientific knowledge is developed through uncertainty, argument and debate?

The age of the public deferring to experts is over; there has been a decline in trust in traditional institutions. Ordinary people are now subject to a cacophony of news stories. But who edits that information and how does the public decide who to trust? What does government, public authority or industry need to do to inform the public debate?" (New Statesman via Red Nova)

"School-vaccine waivers inject concern in experts" - "Thousands of parents across the state are exempting their children from required school vaccines, despite concerns that Texas is one of the most poorly immunized states in the nation." (Houston Chronicle)

"Anti-terror money better spent on smog: critics" - "OTTAWA — The billions of dollars Canada is spending to protect people from the remote threat of terrorism would be better used fighting far greater risks such as disease and smog, critics say. Ottawa has allotted more than $10 billion for enhanced public safety since the 9-11 attacks in New York, while thousands die from air and water pollution. "I think we're investing a lot of money on feel-good programs, that we could be saving a lot more lives in some of our environmental problems," said David Schindler, a prominent ecology professor at the University of Alberta." (Canadian Press)

"Fears for millions as UN says HRT causes cancer" - "Hormone replacement therapy used by millions of women around the world causes cancer, according to the UN's cancer agency. And the combined contraceptive pill causes more types of cancer while decreasing the risk of others." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"Major new UNC-based drinking water study suggests pregnancy fears may be overstated" - "Fears that chemical byproducts resulting from purifying drinking water with chlorine boost the chances that pregnant women will miscarry were not supported by the results of a major new study. If such threats exist at all, which is uncertain, they likely are modest, it concludes." (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

"Research may provide new link between soft drinks and weight gain" - "A University of Cincinnati (UC) study provides new evidence that drinking large amounts of beverages containing fructose adds body fat, and might explain why sweetening with fructose could be even worse than using other sweeteners." (University of Cincinnati)

"Babies 'learn' lifetime of obesity while in the womb" - "Mothers who do not eat properly at crucial stages during pregnancy cause their children to become obese in later life, scientists have warned, because it alters sensitivity to hormones involved in weight regulation later in life." (Edinburgh Scotsman)

"Getting our kids to eat a healthy diet - fat chance" - "Most Australian parents know childhood obesity is a problem but do not think it affects their own children." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"How 'Green' Is Home Cooking?" - "Which is better for the environment: a meal cooked from scratch at home or a packaged frozen or freeze-dried meal cooked up in distant industrial kitchens and trucked to supermarkets? Most consumers would guess the former, notes environmental engineer Ulf Sonesson. Even many food scientists would vote for home cooking as the greener option, he says.

However, those guesses probably wouldn't be taking into account economies of scale in food companies' mass preparation of meals, says Sonesson." (Science News)

"Ruling Sets Off Tug of War Over Private Property" - "SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - More than a month after the Supreme Court ruled that governments could take one person's property and give it to another in the name of public interest, the decision has set off a storm of legislative action and protest, as states have moved to protect homes and businesses from the expanded reach of eminent domain." (New York Times)

"Energy bill raises fears about pollution, fraud" - "The bill exempts oil and gas industries from some clean-water laws, streamlines permits for oil wells and power lines on public lands, and helps the hydropower industry appeal environmental restrictions. It also includes an estimated $85 billion worth of subsidies and tax breaks for most forms of energy." (Washington Post)

"Benefits of Planned Forest Fires Are Cited" - "Five years ago, the federal government adopted a national fire plan that called for treating 40 million acres of brush and dense forest by 2010 through logging and burning. But now people are objecting to the pollution and timber damage." (Washington Post)

"The State of Nature" - "Is the world getting greener? Or are we selling it short for a fistful of greenbacks? Apparently, even committed environmentalists can disagree. When Carl Pope looks out his door, he sees the polar ice caps melting, ecosystems on life support, and clean water disappearing. But Bjørn Lomborg believes humanity’s backyard has never looked better. Who’s got it right? For young and old, rich and poor, the answer might just mean the world." (Foreign Policy)

"Nature never tries to be nice" - "MOSCOW -- Planet Earth, aka Mother Nature, is a sturdy killer. Preachers, environmentalists and sunset lovers keep trying to persuade us that it is as benevolent and fragile as a loving aging parent. Not at all. The environment we live in is hard-nosed and violent -- hardly a mother figure but rather a mean impartial witch." (Constantine Pleshakov, The Japan Times)

"Iain Murray: PETA's cruelty to humans and animals" - "THE FBI recently declared environmental and animal rights extremism its top domestic terrorism priority. The bureau is currently investigating over 150 cases of arson, bombings and other violent crimes likely related to these movements. So does this suggest that concern over animals' welfare necessarily leads to crime? Hardly, but fanaticism does." (Union Leader)

"Joe Barton: How bad is global warming? Congress and taxpayers have every right to learn the facts behind the science" - "In 1998, three climate scientists produced a graph of global temperatures over the past millennium, which showed an abrupt upswing around 1900. That line on paper, dubbed the "hockey stick," has been widely cited and, more recently, vehemently questioned.

In June, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, asked the scientists to provide the data underlying their conclusions, as well as information about the financing of their research. Other scientists accused Mr. Barton of taking a hockey stick to the integrity of their profession. Should he go to the penalty box? You be the judge." (Dallas Morning News)

The Week That Was July 30, 2005 (SEPP)

"Tropical storms more intense, new research shows" - "Tropical storms have become significantly more intense in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the past 30 years, according to an analysis published Sunday." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Global warming is not brewing stronger hurricanes" - "There is some disagreement among climate scientists on the potential impact of global climate change on future hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. Last year claims were made that the frequency of hurricanes will increase due to global climate change.

For example, after Hurricane Bonnie, Charley and Frances hit Florida in 2004, the prime minister of England, Tony Blair, and many prominent American scientists told the world that the hurricanes were due to global warming.

Luckily, scientists who actually regularly study hurricanes quickly responded with the facts and for once the misinformation was curbed quickly and effectively. But now the alarmists are at it again, claiming that global warning will increase the intensity of hurricanes.

Don't worry, readers. There is absolutely no scientific support or correlation of hurricane intensity or hurricane frequency with global warming." (Dr. James O'Brien, Daily News)

"Droughts, twisters, floods: what on earth has happened to our weather?" - "Britain's water crisis is mirrored by heatwaves and droughts afflicting much of Europe. A brutal heatwave has hit the US, killing dozens of people and frying areas already suffering severe drought. The death toll from the worst flooding to hit western India in nearly a century has reached 853." (London Observer)

"Canadians blame summer heat on global warming: poll" - "A majority of Canadians polled said they thought this summer's hot weather was part of a trend towards increased global warming." (Canadian Press)

"A European Sahara?" - "With bursting thermometers, historic droughts and dozens of fires raging from Portugal to Greece, it isn't hard to imagine an apocalyptic future for southern Europe, almost as if the vast Sahara Desert were reaching out across the Mediterranean." (Newsweek)

"Reconstruction of temperature in the Central Alps during the past 2000 yr from a d18O stalagmite record" - "ABSTRACT: The precisely dated isotopic composition of a stalagmite from Spannagel Cave in the Central Alps is translated into a highly resolved record of temperature at high elevation during the past 2000 yr. Temperature maxima during the Medieval Warm Period between 800 and 1300 AD are in average about 1.7°C higher than the minima in the Little Ice Age and similar to present-day values. The high correlation of this record to Δ14C suggests that solar variability was a major driver of climate in Central Europe during the past 2 millennia." (Earth and Planetary Science Letters)

"UK: Global warming ‘could boost agricultural income north of the border’" - "Scottish farmers stand to reap huge financial windfalls over the next century as temperatures soar as a result of climate change, according to scientists." (London Times)

"Brown counters Bush global warming snub with own global study" - "Britain's Chancellor Gordon Brown is launching an unprecedented investigation into the damage global warming will do to Britain and the world, and the cost of bringing it under control, in a direct challenge to President George Bush." (London Independent)

"Warnings grow on global warming" - "Doubt about climate change and humanity’s contribution to global warming is trickling away like sand in an hourglass, a wide spectrum of scientists say." (New Haven Register)

". . . and climate questions" - "U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is breaking the crockery of the global warming establishment with his demands for information about how a flawed and misleading reconstruction of global temperature for the last 1,000 years was assembled. He should ignore the wounded egos of scientific advocates and push ahead." (Boston Herald)

"International conference on climate change in August in Greenland" - "COPENHAGEN - Environment ministers from 25 industrialized and developing countries will meet in Greenland in mid-August to discuss how to improve international cooperation on climate change, the Danish environment ministry said. The informal meeting will take place August 16-19 in Ilulissat, in western Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, and will be attended by ministers from Brazil, China, India, Japan, the United States and a number of European countries." (AFP)

"Perhaps now Europe will come clean about climate change" - "Wednesday, July 6 was a day to bury good news. The members of the House of Lords select committee on economic affairs could hardly have anticipated the bizarre decision of the International Olympic Committee, which did so much to help their report on "The Economics of Climate Change" to pass unnoticed - and we all know what happened the following day.

In fact, the report is a sensational document. It is, in effect, an attack on the Kyoto accord through its weakest point, the underlying science. The committee savages the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body on whose "research" Kyoto is built. The language, as befits their lordships, is suitably restrained." (Neil Collins, London Telegraph)

"Climate Pact Is No Kyoto, Experts Say" - "India, China and four other nations have agreed to a new climate change pact championed by the United States that advocates new technologies instead of emissions reductions." (Inter Press Service)

"Strangling the son of Kyoto" - "Shortly after Russia agreed to join the Kyoto Protocol, the director of environmental policy in Bush's White House quietly floated the idea of an Asia-Pacific regional climate alliance that would sideline the Europeans' Kyoto dream." (Sydney Australian)

"ASEAN states welcome to join new climate pact: Australia" - "Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations would be welcome to join a new six-country pact on curbing greenhouse gases once details are worked out, Australia said Sunday." (Agence France-Presse)

"How big energy won the climate battle" - "Australia's former chief climate change official has accused the Federal Government of allowing the fossil fuel, energy and mining industries too much influence over its policies." (Melbourne Age)

"Climate pact cold on carbon tax" - "AUSTRALIA will not support a carbon tax or a carbon-trading scheme as part of a new international partnership to combat climate change. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said yesterday that such proposals were "a very long way from our thinking at the moment". "I think the adoption of new technologies to lower greenhouse emissions will come without any punitive measures," he told The Australian. Mr Macfarlane's strong intervention in the renewed debate over greenhouse policy follows the announcement last week of an alliance between the US, Australia and Asian nations to fight global warming. It also follows a recent softening in Prime Minister John Howard's attitude to climate change, which was interpreted by some state premiers as leaving the door open for a national carbon-trading scheme." (The Australian)

"First wind farm in national forest planned" - "The evergreen trees of the Green Mountain National Forest in southern Vermont could soon be dwarfed by 370-foot-tall wind turbines. A company wants to build up to 30 of the turbines in the forest in what would be the first-ever wind power project on U.S. Forest Service land." (Associated Press)

"Coal gets a new lease on life" - "Facing record-high oil prices and depleting reserves, the energy market may benefit from a return to the coal mines and to an often-overlooked energy source that's proved to be more than just a worthy rival to natural gas." (Investors Business Daily)

"Nuclear power poised for comeback" - "Nestled in the energy bill that Congress approved last week is perhaps the most tangible evidence yet that nuclear power, long shunned by many as a dangerous energy source, is on the verge of a comeback." (San Diego Union-Tribune)

"UK: Energy climate changes for the worse" - "Britain enjoyed the best of all worlds only two years ago. Economic growth outstripped most of our competitors, energy prices were below the European average and emissions of carbon were falling while many others were struggling to prevent them from rising.

But this year the golden glow has turned to rust as economic growth has fallen below trend, energy prices have risen rapidly to among the highest in Europe and carbon emissions have started to rise again. Stories of potential power shortages this winter causing factory shutdowns that once seemed alarmist now have a ring of credibility." (The Guardian)

"2006 Lexus RX 400h: The Hybrid Emperor's New Clothes" - "One question lingers after driving the 2006 Lexus RX 400h: How did it come to this, that Toyota is now selling a hybrid gas-electric vehicle with no tangible fuel economy benefits?" (New York Times)

"The Next Petroleum" - "With oil prices going through the roof, so-called biofuels are at last becoming a viable alternative to gasoline and diesel." (Newsweek)

"Heading down a new tobacco road" - "Think of tobacco as a component of cosmetics, diet supplements, medicine or shampoo. New GMO tobacco may make that possible." (Baltimore Sun)

"Ghana Stops Importation of GM Foods" - "The Food and Agriculture minister, Mr. Ernest Debrah said the country would reject, without hesitation, the importation of any Genetically Modified (GM) foods, crops and materials into the country although it might solve the famine problems being experienced, especially in the Northern part." (GhanaHomePage)

"Fear Not Biotech" - "How nervous should we be about biotechnology and its potential for changing humanity? Critics of biotech, such as Francis Fukuyama and Bill McKibben, coming from different points on the political spectrum, think we should be plenty worried. They argue that the emerging biotech revolution will lead to dehumanization, inequality and authoritarianism.

Ronald Bailey disagrees, and elaborates his contrasting view in Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution (Prometheus Books). Bailey, a science journalist and correspondent for the libertarian magazine Reason, offers a wide-ranging celebration of biotechnology and a rebuttal to the varied "bioconservatives" (as he terms them) who view the field's advances with hostility and alarm." (Kenneth Silber, TCS)