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Archives - December 2002

December 27, 2002

"Junk Science Oscars" - "It’s time to pay homage to the year’s outstanding junk science performances. Without further ado, the envelope, please…" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

December 21, 2002

DDT use favored by New York Times - The New York Times editorialized today that DDT should be used to combat malaria in Africa -- echoing the Junkman's call. No doubt the enviros will go nuts.

December 20, 2002

"Scientists Should Decide Silicone Safety" - "Silicone breast implants are coming back. That’s good news for breast cancer survivors and other women who want implants. Blocking the way, though, are junk science-fueled, anti-implant activists and their personal injury lawyer-sponsors who may be poised to steer the outcome of an upcoming federal report on SBI safety." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"A Seed Europe Attacks - High-Yield Hogwash: 'Corporates' Against Organics" - "A Seed Europe, an Amsterdam-based anti-globalization group, is attacking Dr. Norman Borlaug's new Declaration in Support of Protecting Nature with High-Yield Farming and Forestry as a corporate effort to greenwash capitalist greed. But which of the founding signers of the Declaration is a corporate puppetmaster?" (CGFI)

"Couch potato culture that kills 54,000 'must end'" - "A 20-year strategy to combat Britain's "couch potato" culture and produce a new generation of sporting world champions was unveiled yesterday by Downing Street." (Independent)

"Dizzying Diet News" - "Almost every day brings a new study on the human diet. Most of them contradict each other ("for the last time, does fiber prevent colon cancer or not?!"), leaving readers perplexed about what and how much they should be eating." (Howard Fienberg, TCS)

From the land of fruits and nuts: "In San Francisco, pet owners recast as 'guardians'" - "Last week, the Board of Supervisors voted to change city codes to include the word "guardians" wherever "pet owners" are mentioned. The change - which requires a confirmation vote next month - would not give pets the rights to divorce bad owners or collect wages for years of servitude. But it is a powerful symbolic statement that accords pets a new level of respect in the public consciousness, supporters say." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Mercury in California rainwater traced to industrial emissions in Asia" - "Industrial emissions in Asia are a major source of mercury in rainwater that falls along the California coast, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz." (University of California, Santa Cruz)

UK - Police State?: "Drinkers face drug test as they enter the pub" - "Pub and club revellers face a drugs test as soon as they enter the premises. Anyone going into a bar, whether they arouse suspicion or not, will be asked to take a swab test, which highlights any drug use. The scheme is being run by police in south Staffordshire and will initially cover the towns of Cannock and Stafford. Police have warned that anyone refusing will automatically arouse suspicion and have told establishments that do not co-operate that it will be held against them when their licences come up for renewal." (Daily Telegraph)

"Kyoto will have little effect on global warming" - "Life expectancy and prosperity will continue to rise and food production should keep up with population growth, but the Kyoto agreement will have little effect on global warming according to this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ." (BMJ-British Medical Journal)

"SHIFTS IN RICE FARMING PRACTICES IN CHINA REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS" - "Changes to farming practices in rice paddies in China may have led to a decrease in methane emissions, and an observed decline in the rate that methane has entered the Earth’s atmosphere over the last 20 years, a NASA-funded study finds." (NASA/GSFC)

"Britain acknowledges concerns about planes' environmental impact" - "LONDON — Demands are increasing on the aviation industry to pay for the harm it inflicts on the environment, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said Thursday. Asked in the House of Commons about the greenhouse gases emitted by airplanes, Beckett said they were difficult to quantify." (Associated Press)

"Livermore researchers determine biosphere unaffected by geoengineering schemes" - "Using models that simulate the interaction between global climate and land ecosystems, atmospheric scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have shown that compensating for the carbon dioxide "greenhouse effect" by decreasing the amount of sunlight reaching the planet (geoengineering) could create a more vigorous ecosystem while helping to curb global warming." (DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

"Insurance costs to soar as temperatures rise" - "Climate change is being blamed for potential insurance premium rises as hailstorms and bushfires cause increased damage.

Australia's largest general insurance company, Insurance Australia Group, urged immediate action to deal with rising global temperatures.

The chief risk officer and group actuary for IAG, Tony Coleman, told a climate change conference in Canberra that "human-induced climate change is now a reality and it must be addressed with appropriate urgency".

As global temperatures rose, climate-related events such as cyclones, floods, bushfires and storms would increase. A small increase in temperature could have a dramatic effect on the level of damage, he warned." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"In Tax Twist, Big Vehicles Get the Bigger Deductions" - "Small-business owners are taking advantage of a tax loophole that allows them to take huge write-offs on purchases of S.U.V.'s." (New York Times)

"UK baulks at building new nuclear reactors" - "LONDON - The British government has decided to avoid making any commitment to building new nuclear power stations in draft legislation due early next year, a source close to the ruling Labour Party said on Thursday. The decision marks a first, key victory for the anti-nuclear lobby since the financial meltdown of privatised nuclear power firm British Energy this year exposed cracks in UK policy and left the atomic industry that produces a quarter of Britain's power in limbo." (Reuters)

"Let's not escalate the 'Frankenfood' war" - "WASHINGTON – While Washington is obsessed with the prospect of invading Iraq, a less frightening - but economically and politically costly - battle is shaping up between the US and Europe. In the next few weeks, the White House is due to decide whether to take legal action against the European Union (EU) in the World Trade Organization (WTO) over agricultural biotechnology." (Julia A. Moore and Gilbert Winham, The Christian Science Monitor)

"Discussing GMOs" - "19/12/02- A GM lawyer, an activist and an organic farmer at risk from GM will join Peter Melchett at the UK Soil Association's national conference taking place at the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester, UK from 3 - 5 January 2003.

Arnold Taylor, organic farmer and president of Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, Canada, Arnold has abandoned growing oilseed rape on his farm due to GM contamination. Donnie Macleod recently spent 12 days in jail for contempt of court after he refused to disclose in court who had been responsible for placing a (large) X across a field of GM oil seed rape near his farm. Sarah Burton, a GM lawyer, will discuss the legal position of organic farmers in the UK if GM crops are planted commercially in the UK." (FoodNavigator.com) [Complete]

"ANALYSIS - China seen a crouching dragon in biotechnology" - "HONG KONG - Is China a crouching cyborg dragon, ready to spout out new plant biotechnology and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) on the World? Scientists and industry officials familiar with the country's bio-technology sector say that is not just possible, but likely." (Reuters)

December 19, 2002

"267 Rules Up for Review; Referendum Names Environmental, Auto Standards" - "The Bush administration yesterday released the results of a public referendum that it sought to identify federal regulations that should be revised, eliminated or expanded -- including rules that cover natural resources, auto safety, timber sales and nursing homes. The catchall list was included in an annual report issued by the Office of Management and Budget that estimates how much regulation costs and benefits society. This year, much of the emphasis was on 267 regulations that are likely to be reviewed and then, possibly, changed or rescinded." (Washington Post)

"Once it's on the Web, whose law applies?" - "Australia court ruling applies its libel law to an article published online in the US. An American court differs." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Well fancy that: eating too much makes you fat" - "Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight will immediately understand the spell of the ghastly Aussie conman Peter Foster. We all know, intellectually, that there is only one way to do it.

So horrifying is that reality, so deep is our spiritual need for an alternative solution, that we will succumb to almost any quackery on offer. Some go for jogging, in the footsteps of Jim Fixx, who pioneered the method and was rewarded, in a display of cosmic justice, with a heart attack." (Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph)

"A bovine attempt to vaccinate us against the truth" - "My award for most brazen performance of the year in the face of hostile evidence, goes not to Peter Foster, who claimed that his advice to Cherie Blair was nothing more than “a little help from your friends”, but to Professor David King, the Government’s chief scientific adviser. He described the handling of last year’s foot-and-mouth epidemic as “quite an achievement . . . a magnificent record”. He told the Today programme yesterday that securing Britain’s status as an FMD-free country was a cause for “celebration.” (Magnus Linklater, The Times)

"Catastrophe costs drop, but rates to rise - Swiss Re" - "ZURICH - The cost of natural and man-made catastrophes to insurers was relatively low in 2002 compared with a disastrous 2001, Swiss Re said on Wednesday, but insurance policy rates still need to rise further." (Reuters)

"Rain will take greater toll on reindeer, climate change model shows" - "Rain falling on snow is becoming a more-common phenomenon in northern latitudes. When it happens, ungulates such as reindeer and caribou can be cut off from a substantial portion of their food supply." (University of Washington)

"Some Canadian firms dreaming of brown Christmas" - "CALGARY, Alberta - Ski resort operators and farmers may bemoan balmy temperatures and the lack of snowfall across Western Canada this winter, but some firms are looking forward to a brown Christmas. Companies in industries ranging from petroleum to transportation to outdoor sports are benefiting from unusually mild weather that is being credited to El Nino, a warming of the Pacific Ocean that disrupts global weather patterns." (Reuters)

"UK energy paper to plan ahead half a century" - "LONDON - British Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said on Wednesday that a government paper on restructuring the energy sector to be published in the New Year will set out plans for the sector for half a century.

Hewitt said the White Paper, which sets out the government's legislative plans, will address four main long-term objectives.

The paper will look at the scarcity of energy supply, at environmental issues such as climate change and will address "economic competitiveness" to ensure British energy firms can compete against rivals across the world." (Reuters)

"Going with the wind" - "For decades, wind power has been an underrated, and underperforming, energy source. Improved technology may change all that." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Germany approves second offshore wind project" - "FRANKFURT - German maritime planning authority BSH on Wednesday said it had approved a second North Sea wind farm, Butendieck, in a further move to boost the offshore wind energy sector." (Reuters)

"Energy firm unveils £375m plant plan" - "An energy firm has announced plans to build a £375m plant to produce power for more than 500,000 Welsh homes. Valleys Energy Ltd is seeking planning approval for a 460-megawatt power station near Onllwyn in the Dulais Valley in south Wales. It is being billed as one of the most environmentally friendly power stations of its kind in the world. The project is also expected to secure up to 1,000 jobs - as well as the future of Tower Colliery - and give Wales a head-start in the production of 'green' energy." (BBC News Online)

"Japan-led consortium ends rice genome sequencing" - "TOKYO - An international consortium set up to decode the rice genome announced the completion of their task on Wednesday, setting the stage for development of new crop varieties that will better feed a growing world population." (Reuters)

"Confusion on Biotech Affecting Famine, Trade, Official Says" - "Unjustified negative attitudes about agricultural biotechnology are contributing to the ongoing famine in southern Africa and harming U.S. agricultural trade, a senior U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) official says.

In December 16 remarks before a biotechnology forum at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, David Hegwood, USDA special counsel, said biotechnology is "one of the brightest hopes for improving food production in Africa" and decreasing hunger.

But, he said, fears that Europe will reject food exports if they contain some biotechnology has led Zimbabwe, one of the countries suffering from famine, to refuse U.S. food aid, which primarily is maize that may contain grain derived from biotechnology." (U.S. Department of State's Office of International Information Programs)

"The UN's Bizarre War on Biotech" - "The United Nations' abject failure to get Iraq to adhere to the Security Council's post-Gulf War resolutions might lead to a war that is costly to the United States and its allies and devastating to Iraq. But for a large portion of the world's population, UN failures in the economic and regulatory arenas will be far more damaging in the long run: The UN's self-serving involvement in excessive, unscientific biotechnology regulation will slow agricultural research and development, promote environmental damage and bring famine and to millions in developing countries." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, TCS)

"Argentine edge seen vs US if Brazil buys GM corn" - "BUENOS AIRES/SAO PAULO - Argentine corn growers will retain an edge over their U.S. counterparts, should Brazil import genetically modified corn in 2003 to feed its livestock, traders and analysts said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

December 18, 2002

"Activists claim victory as state insures HLS" - "Animal rights activists claimed a victory in their campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences on Tuesday after the government was forced to step in to provide insurance for the animal testing company. The move follows a campaign of intimidation by animal rights activists against Marsh, and its US parent Marsh & McLennan, the world's largest insurance broker, in an attempt to force it to cut its links with HLS. Staff in the UK and US have been harassed in their homes by protesters and an office in Seattle was smoke-bombed. The government has previously provided insurance through its own resources to a commercial organisation only in cases of terrorist risk. The Department of Trade and Industry said: "It is a direct response to the circumstances Huntingdon is under." (Financial Times)

"Australia's Great Barrier Reef recovers from disease to become one of world's healthiest" - "BRISBANE, Australia — Australia's Great Barrier Reef has recovered from severe bleaching and is now one of the world's healthiest coral reefs, according to a report released Tuesday." (Associated Press)

"UK 'close to record warmth'" - "This year will come within a whisker of being the warmest recorded in the UK for 350 years, according to weather experts. It is likely to be the fourth warmest in the last three and a half centuries. Globally, they think it is going to be the second warmest year recorded since 1860." (BBC News Online)

World Climate Report Volume 8, Number 8, December 23, 2002 (GES)

"California Dreamin': Some Remarks on a Recent Study of Grassland Responses to a Number of Global Environmental Changes and the Inverted Interpretation of the Study's Findings by Science Magazine and Many, Many Others" - "Summary: When statements of prestigious sources are blindly accepted without carefully evaluating the data upon which they are based - even if the data are correct, as they likely are in this particular study - it is very easy to come to a very wrong conclusion and thus take a very bad trip down a very wrong policy path." (co2science.org)

"Acclimation (Agricultural Species)" - "Summary: A review of the scientific literature indicates that under conditions of elevated CO2, many agricultural species experience insufficient sink strength, which leads to an accumulation of carbohydrates within source leaves triggering a slowdown of photosynthesis. But is this bad?" (co2science.org)

"Little Ice Age (Solar Influence)" - "Summary: Are variations in solar activity responsible for the millennial-scale oscillation of earth's climate that produced the Little Ice Age and the smaller centennial-scale climatic oscillations embedded within that coldest period of the past millennium?" (co2science.org)

"Were the Little Ice Age's Coldest Intervals Caused by Low Levels of Solar Activity?" - "Summary: Scientists studying rainfed peat bogs in England and Denmark suggest that they were. The Holocene 12: 1-6." (co2science.org)

"Twelve Thousand Years of ENSO Activity" - "Summary: Climate alarmists periodically claim that global warming will lead to more frequent and stronger El Niño/Southern Oscillation events. An important new study, however, seems to suggest otherwise. Nature 420: 162-165." (co2science.org)

"Forget Kyoto, let's clean up our air" - "Now that the Kyoto Protocol is signed, sealed and delivered, it seems that all sides in the debate have gotten, perhaps not what they want, but most of what they need. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Environment Minister David Anderson can crow about having prevented the Earth from turning into a giant toaster. Greenpeace, the New Democrats and small furry animals will praise their names. Meantime, Premier Ralph Klein of Alberta can assert the treaty is mere symbolism, since Ottawa's implementation plan has no teeth. The titans of the oil patch will laud Mr. Klein.

It's a classic political compromise, in which everybody can claim some share of the victory. Everybody, that is, but the Canadian people.

For if we look beyond the rhetoric and consider what we've gained from this exercise, and how we stand to benefit in the years ahead, we can't help but notice that the Protocol amounts to a big fat zero -- less, when one factors in the costs. Ironically, some of the greatest setbacks may be environmental." (Globe and Mail)

"Cold Leap on Global Warming" - "Canada ratified the Kyoto Protocol on climate change this week, an act of bold intention that will allow the United States to witness close up the real sacrifices that average North Americans would face in reducing the use of fossil fuels, and thus greenhouse-gas emissions." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"There's more at stake than Kyoto" - "Now that Canada has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the real fights begin. Not only will private industry contend with the federal government, Ottawa must also brace itself for major battles with provincial governments. In opposing ratification, provincial spokesmen have denied the federal government's right to carry into law the widely sweeping obligations that Canada must accept under the deal." (Globe and Mail)

"EU welcomes Canada's ratification of Kyoto treaty; Urges Russia to follow suit" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union on Tuesday welcomed Canada's ratification of the Kyoto accord on global warming and urged Russia to follow suit so the 1997 United Nations accord can take effect." (AP)

"India to pressure Russia to ratify Kyoto Protocol" - "CHENNAI Dec. 17. The Union Environment Minister, T.R. Baalu, has said that India, in association with like-minded countries, would pressure Russia for an early ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 treaty that mandates a sharp reduction of green house gases (GHGs) by developed nations." (The Hindu)

"Agricultural science helping farmers reduce greenhouse gas" - "With greenhouse gas reduction increasingly on the public agenda, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers say agricultural science may be part of the solution." (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

"Red light for green power" - "While most environmentalists are looking towards renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, the Federal Government is directing its focus - and its grants - to the coal industry. Stephanie Peatling reports. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"Pipeline Controversy Delays Search For Wild Peanut Ancestors; Scientists Fear Irreparable Loss of Biodiversity" - "The completion of a new US$2 billion pipeline bringing much-needed natural gas to Brazil may also threaten the survival of some of the world's most important wild peanut species.

Scientists fear that the pipeline, which runs through a remote area in the Gran Chaco region of southeastern Bolivia, may endanger one of the last remaining habitats for wild peanuts. The 3,000-kilometer pipeline was built by a consortium that includes the now bankrupt energy giant Enron.

"It's not just the pipeline that we're concerned about," says researcher David Williams. "The project has opened up remote areas to settlers and large-scale agricultural development. These are places where wild peanuts have survived undisturbed for thousands of years." (Future Harvest)

"Silkworm spins skin" - "A silkworm that spins a protein from human skin has been created in Japan. The technology could introduce biotechnology to silk-manufacturing countries.

The genetically engineered worms spool out thread that contains a form of the human protein collagen and weave it into their cocoons1. The insects carry sections of the human collagen gene.

Because silk threads are made from a pure natural protein, extracting the human addition should be relatively simple, hopes Katsutoshi Yoshizato of Hiroshima University in Japan, one of the research team. To make silk, cocoons are heated to kill the pupas inside and the silk filament is unwound. The team then extract the collagen by chemical means." (NSU)

"Greenpeace’s scare tactics didn’t work" - "The government’s approval of the commercial planting of the biotechnology-developed corn variety that would yield more with little or no application of toxic and highly polluting chemical pesticides is a triumph of sobriety and reason over blind fear and scare tactic espoused by the environmental group Greenpeace. Greenpeace has been raising so many bogeys about this new corn variety including the myth that biotech corn would cause homosexuality or that if the corn were widely propagated butterflies would disappear." (Alvin Capino, ABS-CBN)

"France does not expect ending of GM ban in 2003" - "PARIS - France will not back the lifting of an effective ban by the EU on new genetically modified crops until new labelling and traceability laws are in place, which could take until the end of 2003, it said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"UK government advisers say GM maize variety safe" - "LONDON - Britain could be back on track towards approving the country's first gene modified seeds for sale, after government advisers found that a variety of GM maize seeds were as safe as conventionally grown varieties." (Reuters)

December 17, 2002

"New Premise in Science: Get the Word Out Quickly, Online" - "A group of prominent scientists is mounting an electronic challenge to the leading scientific journals, accusing them of holding back the progress of science by restricting online access to their articles so they can reap higher profits.

Supported by a $9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the scientists say that this week they will announce the creation of two peer-reviewed online journals on biology and medicine, with the goal of cornering the best scientific papers and immediately depositing them in the public domain." (New York Times)

"Why All This Fear?" - "Syndicated columnist Dennis Prager has something to say about the scare tactics used by activists (and their complicit media friends) to whip up fear among the public." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Firefighters may have slightly higher cancer risk" - "NEW YORK - Firefighters appear to have slightly higher rates of cancer than others, providing more evidence that their occupation may pose health hazards even after fires have been put out, according to researchers.

The findings are based on almost 20 years of data from more than 30,000 male firefighters certified in Florida--the largest study ever conducted on cancer risks in this population, study author Dr. Fangchao Ma of the University of Miami told Reuters Health.

However, Ma cautioned that the current study does not show that the firefighters developed cancer as a result of their job, only that their risk seems somewhat higher than that seen in the general population. It's possible that lifestyle-related factors may be responsible for the higher risk." (Reuters Health)

"She's Not Pretending" - "We already knew that Chrissie Hynde, the lead singer of The Pretenders (remember “Back on the Chain Gang?) was a hard-core animal rights activist. But is she hard-core enough to suggest that other activists commit murder?" (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Adapting To Warming; The United States can do it, but Europe can't" - "The European Union, in an effort to deal with global warming, has approved two important measures: a community-wide cap on carbon emissions from fossil fuels and the trading of emissions allowances, both set to begin in 2005. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has said the United States will focus on adaptation to a hotter world with no greenhouse gas reductions of any kind until 2012 and then only through voluntary measures.

Obviously, the EU is far more worried about global warming than is the United States, and a failure to grasp the seriousness of this difference could undo 50 years of close transatlantic relations, eventually fracturing diplomatic and even economic ties." (Washington Post)

"Canadian PM Chretien Signs Instrument of Ratification for Kyoto Protocol" - "Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien (C) signs the instrument of ratification for the Kyoto Protocol as members of parliament look on, in Ottawa, December 16, 2002." (Reuters)

"Warning on Arctic mars Kyoto pact signing" - "OTTAWA—The strongest sign yet of a potential global climate catastrophe has emerged just as Canada prepares to formally ratify the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases today.

A just-published scientific study reports the first hard evidence of changes in the Arctic that would trigger a collapse in major ocean circulation patterns by the end of the century.

The collapse would throw the east coast of Canada and west coast of Europe into a deep chill and also probably send more and fiercer hurricanes and tropical storms north into Canada, scientists forecast." (Toronto Star)

"Sea change in move to renewable energy" - "Pounding and surging relentlessly, the seas of Yell Sound, off the Shetland Islands, are a formidable reminder of the raw power of the earth's natural forces. Tidal current, waves, wind, sun and soil; the potential for renewable energy seems massive. Yet, since a burst of enthusiasm in the 1970s, low energy prices and a lack of political will have made progress towards meeting more of the country's energy needs from renewables painfully slow. By cruel irony, one of the renewables sector's biggest outputs so far has been paperwork, with myriad reports both on the potential for development and, in the case of onshore wind farms, in planning permission battles." (Financial Times)

"Leaders who deny their people food `should be tried,' top U.S. food envoy says" - "ROME - World leaders who deny their people food should stand trial, the American envoy to U.N. food agencies said Monday, in a briefing on looming famines in Africa. Ambassador Tony Hall, speaking after a trip to southern Africa, did not identify any government allegedly denying its people food. He is the U.S. envoy to the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program." (Associated Press)

"IFDC innovative technology increases farmers' agricultural productivity, maintains resource base" - "IFDC has developed innovative technology, called Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM), which raises agricultural productivity level while maintaining the natural resource base. This technology involves combined use of soil amendments, organic materials, and mineral fertilizers to replenish soil nutrients and improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness of external inputs. It produces yields 2-3 times higher than average yields in sub-Saharan Africa. IFDC is now conducting ISFM work in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Togo with participations from over 2,000 farmers and more than 100 villages." (IFDC)

"GM Foods Debate Hits Latin America" - "WASHINGTON, DC, December 16, 2002 - A forum on Latin America and biotechnology did little to paint a clear picture of the future for genetically modified crops in the nations south of the United States. 'But it did clearly illustrate that the real debate over agricultural biotechnology rests between the European Union and the United States." (ENS)

"Brazil's new agriculture minister sees GM corn imports" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Brazil's new agriculture minister Roberto Rodrigues said Monday that Brazil would need to import corn next year from transgenic growers, such as the United States and Argentina, to feed its livestock." (Reuters)

December 16, 2002

"Parents protest U.S. schools irradiated meat plan" - "WASHINGTON — The Bush administration's plan to allow irradiated meat to be served to millions of U.S. school children is raising the ire of some concerned parents. Irradiation, which has been endorsed by the World Health Organization, exposes food to low doses of electrons or gamma rays to destroy deadly microorganisms such as E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella. Under the U.S. farm subsidy law enacted in May, the U.S. Agriculture Department must allow government-approved food safety technology such as irradiation to be used in commodities purchased by the federal school lunch program. Some 27 million schoolchildren receive free or low-cost meals daily in the program." (Reuters)

"Why employers are liable to go out of business" - "Wilfred Dolman has spent 14 years building up his business. He employs eight people. He has satisfied customers all over the town. He belongs to all the right trade bodies. He pays his VAT. In short, his Burnley Roofing Contractors Ltd is just the sort of enterprising small business that ministers are forever saying they want to encourage." (Daily Telegraph)

"Following the fate of waste – but should paper be recycled or burnt?" - "Paper should be incinerated rather than recycled, say Danish researchers, where burning paper would benefit the Danish economy. Across Europe, a new waste regulation requires EU countries to collect, analyse and report on waste data. Although Danish politicians have set targets to recycle 60% of household paper and cardboard and 75% from businesses, Denmark’s Environmental Assessment Institute (IMV) says that recycling paper is not necessarily the best alternative for the environment or the economy." (edie.net)

"Grass Science" - "It is now widely understood that enhanced levels of atmospheric CO2 will have beneficial effects on all plants, enabling them to grow faster, with greater vegetable mass, and use less water in doing so. The last thing the `global warming' proponents want is for any perceived benefit arising from CO2 emissions to be admitted to publicly. Consequently, we see several "It's a benefit to plants, but..." type papers, where the authors dig up obscure and unlikely reasons why the benefit might be less than anticipated." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Berkeley Bean Fascists and (100% Organic) Black Widow Spiders in Your Fruit" - "One of the nice side effects of last month's elections was the defeat of a proposal in Berkeley that would have sentenced people to jail for selling non-organic coffee beans." (Todd Seavey, ACSH)

"One Hand Clapping: Organic Farming in India" - "Vandana Shiva now consistently recommends agricultural policies that will damage Indian farm productivity and national competitiveness in global agricultural trade. Will Shiva's bad advice wreck Indian farming?" (Dave Wood, AgBioView, December 12, 2002)

"Gene engineering may make healthier plants - experts" - "WASHINGTON - Genetic engineering of crops, which many people fear could make plants dangerous, may in fact make them more nutritious and more able to protect people from cancer and other disease, two U.S. researchers said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Packaging precaution" - "The European Union's Agriculture Council's decision in July 2002 to make labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods mandatory has created more problems than it solved.

European Union (EU) health and consumer protection commissioner David Byrne welcomed the decision, but simultaneously deplored 'scaremongering', stressing that all genetically modified organisms authorised in the EU have been evaluated for safety. The new rules allegedly cater to consumer concerns, but in effect they accommodate to powerful lobbies - while maintaining doubt on the safety of GM products.

So far, European policy on GM food has been unscientific, misleading and internally inconsistent. It has created costly uncertainty for European food producers and consumers, delayed the uptake of this in developing countries, and has increased trade tensions with its most powerful trading partner, the USA. The labelling decision could well aggravate these tensions to the point of triggering an outright trade war." (Roger Bate, sp!ked)

"Australia sugar gets biotech boost from government" - "SYDNEY - The Australian government has granted A$28 million (US$16 million) over seven years to establish a new sugar research body, industry body the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations (BSES) said on Friday. The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Sugar Industry Innovation through Biotechnology would use sugarcane molecular biology to enhance sucrose production, BSES chief executive Eoin Wallis said.
The centre would also aim to produce valuable end products other than sugar from the cane, including biodegradable plastics, bio-fuels and pharmaceuticals." (Reuters)

December 13, 2002

"Feds Scare Public With Cancer ‘Causes’" - "The federal "cancer scare" machine this week labeled sunlight, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, wood dust and 12 other substances as "known" to cause cancer in humans." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"High-yield Conservation Declaration Signers Honored by Activists - At least they're paying attention" - "The High-Yield Conservation Declaration hosted by the Center for Global Food Issues has achieved one minor measure of success, if a recent article from a "whactivist" newsletter is any indication. According to the article, the High-Yield Conservation Declaration is merely a tool of big agribusinesses to "greenwash" in an effort that is "beyond the limits of sportsmanship." We're not sure which of the Declaration's initial signees is supposed to be the corporate puppetmaster. Is it one of the two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates? Perhaps it is Greenpeace co-founder, Patrick Moore. Is it Dr. James Lovelock, author of The Gaia Theory? Maybe it's Senator Rudy Boschwitz or Senator George McGovern? Even the president of Conservation International, surely no corporate lackey, has expressed the need for high-yield forestry to conserve wildlife habitats (see full article.) In any event, the activist rocket-scientists are paying attention and spelling the names right, so we'll take the free publicity and hope that a few more conservationists will sign on to the Declaration, which now has more than 750 signees from more than 50 countries. Click here to see the activist newsletter, just in time for the Copenhagen rioting!" (CGFI)

"Mercury in Vaccines: A Newsmaker Interview With Michael E. Pichichero, MD" - "Dec. 3, 2002 — Editor's Note: There has been much debate about the safety of thimerosal, which is used as a preservative in childhood vaccines and also in adult influenza vaccines. Although studies generally have shown that mercury levels after vaccination are not a problem, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) successfully lobbied to have thimerosal removed from all childhood vaccines. The first detailed analysis of blood, stool, and urine mercury levels in 61 infants who received vaccines containing thimerosal, published in the Nov. 30 issue of The Lancet, indicates that blood levels of mercury in children are well below current safety limits established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Surprisingly, the elimination of mercury in these children was much faster than predicted from studies of mercury toxicity from seafood. Based in part on these findings, the World Health Organization (WHO) put forth guidelines saying that thimerosal is safe and should continue to be used.

To clarify these findings and their implications, Medscape's Laurie Barclay interviews lead author and lead investigator of The Lancet article, Michael E. Pichichero, MD, a professor of microbiology, immunology, pediatrics, and medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York." (Medscape)

"Who Is In Denial?" - "The Bush Administration last week finished a three-day conference on the science and potential risks posed by climate change. The Administration's critics wasted no time. They pounced Monday and called for the U.S. to push ahead with the Kyoto Protocol and condemned the White House for being "in denial on warming" (Boston Globe, 12/9/02), for trying to "stall any meaningful action" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/9/02) and saying that the U.S. must stop being "unilateralist" and "must listen to others" (Los Angeles Times, 12/9/02).

What the debate over climate change needs today are fewer uninformed assertions and accusations in major newspapers, and a more sober assessment of the science. Here are just of few of the most relevant facts often ignored by Kyoto's proponents." (Sallie Baliunas, Tim Patterson and Allan MacRae, TCS)

"INCREASE IN RAINFALL VARIABILITY RELATED TO GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE" - "Projected increases in rainfall variability resulting from changes in global climate can rapidly reduce productivity and alter the composition of grassland plants, according to scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Although the diversity of plant species is increased in this scenario, the most important or dominant grasses were more water-stressed and their growth was reduced. Carbon dioxide release by roots and microbes below ground also was reduced." (NASA News)

"Study published in Science finds progressive increase in arctic river discharge" - "New research finds the average annual discharge of freshwater from the six largest Eurasian rivers into the Arctic Ocean to have increased 7% since 1936. The increase in discharge correlates to historic patterns of climate change. The authors find, that if these patterns hold, there will likely be an 18 – 70% increase in river discharge over the next 100 years. An increase of such magnitude may have large-scale impacts on ocean circulation patterns." (University of New Hampshire)

"Global stalemate" - "Resistance to the Kyoto protocol is preventing the reduction of carbon emissions. But there is a way out that could also cut world poverty" (Andrew Simms, The Guardian)

"EU emissions trading seen up to 8bln euros by 2007" - "LONDON - The European Union's decision to start an EU greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme from 2005 could create an eight billion euro ($8.07 billion) market by 2007, analysts said." (Reuters)

"US FERC seeks ways to speed up hydropower licenses" - "WASHINGTON - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's aim to propose new licensing rules for U.S. hydropower projects in February and finalize the reforms later in the year is too ambitious, the U.S. Interior Department said." (Reuters)

"Nordic consumers feel the cold" - "With temperatures rooted firmly below zero Celsius in most of the Nordic region this week, the cost of keeping warm is proving quite a shock for consumers." (Financial Times)

"Bush orders increase in mileage; SUVs must go on a diet, administration says" - 'WASHINGTON -- New light trucks, including minivans and sport utility vehicles, must get better gas mileage in the next few years, President Bush ordered Thursday. The average fuel efficiency for light trucks will rise from 20.7 miles per gallon to 22.2 miles by 2008 models under the Transportation Department rule approved by Bush." (CBS.MarketWatch.com)

"Tougher Rules Are Proposed for Gas Mileage" - "The White House is calling for a 7 percent improvement in automobile fuel economy. Critics say the proposal demands no more than the auto industry has already committed to achieve." (New York Times)

Letter of the moment: "US aid for Africa's famine" - "You quote (Eco soundings, December 4 [See US policy on aid is 'wicked' - Meacher]) a UK government minister [Michael Meacher, responding to a US offer of large quantities of GM grain to Africa in famine relief] as saying: "It's wicked, when there is such an excess of non-GM food available. We have the means to assist, but we are playing politics over GM." I was sad and angry when I read these words. They are not true." (William S Farish, The Guardian)

"US food group says won't allow pharm crops in food" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. food processing industry said this week it would not tolerate any experimental industrial or medicine crops seeping into the general food supply, fearing such an incident would provoke a consumer backlash. The National Food Processors Association's "zero tolerance" policy comes after a Texas biotech company was accused of tainting crops with an experimental corn plant engineered to produce medicine." (Reuters)

"EPA Fines Biotechs for Corn Violations" - "The Environmental Protection Agency fined two large biotechnology companies yesterday for violations in growing genetically altered corn in Hawaii, another black eye for an industry reeling from recent problems in complying with government rules on experimental crops." (Washington Post)

"INTERVIEW - GMOs help Argentina fight subsidies, Monsanto" - "BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Argentina must rely on genetically modified seeds that reduce production costs if it hopes to compete against major farm exporters that subsidize their farmers, Monsanto Argentina's No. 1 official said in a recent interview." (Reuters)

"Labels and Trade Wars" - "This week the Environment Committee of the European Parliament met to discuss the traceability of genetically modified (GM) food and its labeling. With some luck Parliament will base its decisions on sound science.

But it got no help or guidance last week when the European Union's Agriculture Council botched an opportunity to resolve the genetically modified food labeling dilemma. It chose to make labeling mandatory, shamefully exempting those products of large European multinationals." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"FEATURE - Brazil's Lula urged to resist pressure on GM crops" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Brazilian environmental groups are urging President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to stand firm against what they say is pressure to relax a ban on transgenic crops in return for food aid. They allege that a recent offer by former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich to support Lula's campaign to eradicate hunger in Brazil may have secret strings attached, following lobbying from U.S. companies. "It's an ingenuous attempt by U.S. multinationals to get GM (genetically modified) foods accepted in Brazil," said Mariana Paoli, a genetic engineering campaigner at Greenpeace." (Reuters)

December 12, 2002

"New federal report on carcinogens lists estrogen therapy, ultraviolet, wood dust" - "Report on Carcinogens adding steroidal estrogens used in estrogen replacement therapy and oral contraceptives to its official list of "known" human carcinogens. This and 15 other new listings bring the total of substances in the report, "known" or reasonably anticipated" to pose a cancer risk, to 228." (NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)

"US report suggests antibiotics are safe" - "In the US, a Consumer Reports article released yesterday does little to shed light on the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance, the National Chicken Council has said. The implications could be far-reaching for the European meat and poultry industry, where the subject of whether or not to use antibiotics is currently a hotly debated topic. "There is nothing in the article to indicate that the resistance found actually comes from use of antibiotics in live chickens. Campylobacter in particular is known to have a high level of natural resistance to antibiotics," NCC said in a statement. "Antibiotics are used in poultry to treat outbreaks of disease, to prevent and control disease, and to improve the intestinal health of the animals. Banning the use of antibiotics for prevention and control, and to improve intestinal health, is counterproductive to the objective of maintaining flock health. In Denmark, where low-level antibiotics have been banned, disease has increased and the use of therapeutic medications has increased more than 90 per cent,” the statement added." (FoodProductionDaily.com)

"Forest stress linked to climate phenomenon" - "Forest dieback in the Northeast has intensified in recent decades. A new study links escalating freeze-thaw episodes, which are known to harm trees, to the atmospheric pressure imbalance called the North Atlantic Oscillation. The research appears in the December 15 issue of the Journal of Climate." (NCAR/UCAR)

"Malaria rise in Africa parallels warming trends" - "A new analysis of research data concludes that the increase in the incidence of malaria in East Africa parallels warming trends over the last several decades. The new findings challenge the results of a study previously published in the journal Nature, which found "no significant changes" in long-term climate. The new analysis is published in the December 12, 2002, edition of Nature." (Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health)

"WORLD'S CORAL REEFS ARE RECOVERING BUT FOR HOW MUCH LONGER?" - "Paris, December 11 - A report on the health of the world's coral reefs just published shows that some of the areas worst hit by massive bleaching in 1997-98 have begun to recover. And the greatest progress has been in reefs safeguarded as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). A main threat to coral reefs, says the report, continues to come from humans. But the report also warns that this year's developing El Nino -an unusual warming of the surface of the tropical Pacific that caused most of the serious 1997-98 global bleaching events - could cause a new setback in recovery." (UNESCO)

"2002 Heading for No. 2 Spot in Climate Records" - "WASHINGTON, DC, December 11, 2002 - Temperature data for the first 11 months of the year show that the average global temperature is on the rise. The new data indicates that 2002 will go down in the recordbooks as the second warmest year to date, exceeded only by 1998, since recordkeeping of global temperatures began in 1867.

Temperatures for the first 11 months of 2002 averaged 14.65 degrees Celsius (58.37 degrees Fahrenheit), according to data from National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

This average is down slightly from 1998's record high of 14.69 degrees Celsius (58.44 degrees Fahrenheit), but it rises above the average temperature for the period from 1951 to 1980 - 14 degrees Celsius (57.2 degrees Fahrenheit)." (ENS)

Wow! Warmer than the average for 1951-1980? The period of the great global cooling/looming ice age scare? Imagine that...

"Climate agreement pits Canada's east against its west" - "Prime Minister Chrétien will ratify the Kyoto Protocol by year's end, but critics say his plan lacks details." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Canada says Kyoto vote ups U.S. green support" - "OTTAWA — A vote by Canada's Parliament to back ratification of the Kyoto protocol on global warming should encourage Americans to put pressure on Washington over its decision to abandon the treaty last year, the Canadian environment minister said Wednesday. U.S. President George W. Bush walked away from Kyoto on the grounds it would do too much damage to the U.S. economy but David Anderson said he thought it was quite possible Bush would change his mind before leaving office." (Reuters)

"Negotiations on how to implement Kyoto Protocol limits next step for Canada" - "TORONTO - With the go-ahead from Parliament to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, Canada now faces negotiations involving the national and provincial governments and the energy industry on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." (AP)

"Klein wins in watering down Kyoto" - "He's passionate. He's articulate. Business loves him. Hands down, he's now by far the most persuasive apologist for Canada's creative and singular approach to implementing the Kyoto Protocol. Could Jean Chrétien make him a special emissary and send him on a round-the-world tour? He's -- wait for it -- Ralph Klein, Premier of Alberta.

Mr. Klein, champion of the anti-Kyoto camp these past few months, made clear yesterday in a widely anticipated speech at the New York Yacht Club that his war with Ottawa is over, and he thinks he has won. Chances are he's right. Mr. Chrétien and his increasingly woebegone pack of MPs will vote to ratify the Kyoto Protocol this afternoon: There will be much prayerful murmuring about the sanctity of the environment, and puffy blather about Canada's heroic role in the effort to save the Earth.

But they will all know, in that quiet little back-of-mind nook politicians must reserve for the truth, that Kyoto will be ratified, then beached. Legislation to implement the treaty's targets -- reduction of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012 -- will be slow in coming, if at all.

The Prime Minister, with 15 months left in office at best, has neither the political muscle nor the will to force implementation over the objections of eight provinces. And prime-minister-in-waiting Paul Martin, as Mr. Klein pointed out yesterday, has already indicated that the "ram-it-through" approach is history." (Michael Den Tandt, Globe and Mail)

"Shareholders Press Car Makers to Cut Greenhouse Gases" - "WASHINGTON, Dec 11 - A coalition of religious bodies and other concerned investors is calling on the world's two biggest carmakers, U.S-based General Motors (GM) and Ford, to take more aggressive steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions from their plants and products by 2012.

The group, led by the Interfaith Coalition for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), has filed resolutions with both companies to be taken up at their annual shareholder meetings next spring. ICCR represents more than 275 faith-based institutional investors with about 120 billion dollars in total investment assets." (IPS)

"No apologies due for SUVs" - "Americans like the environment. But this November's elections also demonstrate that Americans don't particularly like the environmental movement. Why? Perhaps it's the moral self-righteousness, political shrillness, and, well, sheer loopiness that is part and parcel of Green rhetoric today. The growing campaign to shame people out of their SUVs is a clear case in point." (Jerry Taylor, Washington Times)

"Trade says EU's new GM import rules to boost costs" - "AMSTERDAM - Strict new European Union rules on importing genetically modified crops will push up costs and might be unworkable, a Dutch trade group said. The new regulations, agreed by EU environment ministers on Monday, require vessels carrying bulk shipments to detail exactly what GM products, if any, the shipments contain. "We will have to see how it is implemented, but it might be impractical," said Hans de Keijzer of the Royal Dutch Grain and Feed Trade Association." (Reuters)

"Top French medics say GM crops safe" - "PARIS, Dec 11 - France's Academy of Medicine on Wednesday called for European countries to end their moratorium on genetically-modified (GM) crops, saying it saw no evidence that these plants were a danger to health. In June 1999, seven European Union (EU) countries imposed a four-year suspension on granting licences to grow new GM crops until issues of traceability and corporate liability had been resolved. The academy said in a report that GM crops and their derivatives had been grown and eaten for around a decade, especially in the United States, and "no particular health problem has been detected." (AFP)

"GM expert warns of cancer risk from crops" - "EATING genetically modified (GM) food could give you cancer. That is the stark warning today from one of Scotland's leading experts in tissue diseases. Dr Stanley Ewen, a consultant histopathologist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, says that a cauliflower virus used in GM foods could increase the risk of stomach and colon cancers." (Sunday Herald)

"CHINA/USA: Bilateral agreement to cooperate on biotech study" - "Officials from China and the US have inked a protocol to work together to research and develop biotechnology in agriculture. According to a statement released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the cooperation will include work on food safety and food processing as well as biotechnology." (just-food.com)

December 11, 2002

"Internet Makes Dow Jones Open to Suit in Australia" - "The Australian High Court ruled yesterday that a local businessman could bring a libel action against Dow Jones & Company in a local court, a decision that reignited publishers' fears that posting material on Web sites could leave them open to libel prosecution in any country with Internet access.

A string of decisions like the one from Australia could ultimately end up restricting Internet communication, lawyers for a group of American and Australian publishers said. The fear, they said, is that the laws of the most censorious and autocratic governments could then be applied to material originating in countries with strong legal protections for speech and debate." | A Blow to Online Freedom (New York Times)

"Groups sue EPA over toxic wood preservatives" - "WASHINGTON — Environmental groups and a union asked a federal court to ban the use of several toxic materials in treated, pressurized wood products, saying the Environmental Protection Agency isn't moving quickly enough. Wood preservatives containing arsenic and dioxin have been increasingly targeted as unsafe by advocacy groups. Those preservatives have been commonly used in utility poles, wood decks, and playground equipment. On Tuesday, Beyond Pesticides and the Communication Workers of America sued in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, saying the EPA has enough evidence about health and environmental dangers to ban the use of chromated copper arsenate, pentachlorophenol, and creosote." (AP)

Here they go - again: "Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Found in U.S. Poultry" - "WASHINGTON, DC, December 10, 2002 - Three times more antibiotics by weight are fed to poultry in the United States than humans consume, and the poultry industry's use of antibiotics is a health risk to American turkey and chicken eaters, according to two independent studies released today. The studies, one from Consumer Reports and another jointly produced by the Sierra Club and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), raise concerns that Americans are increasingly likely to purchase chicken contaminated with strains of salmonella or campylobacter bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics often used to treat people." (ENS)

"Activists Seek End to 'Happy Cows' Ads" - "Animal rights activists who complain that California dairy cows do not live the happy life shown in a popular television advertising campaign for the state's cheese producers say they'll go to court to force the ads off the air. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and author John Robbins of Santa Cruz, using California's strong consumer protection laws, plan to ask a San Francisco Superior Court judge on Wednesday to ban the Happy Cows ads. They say the ads are false, unfairly favor California cheese over other states' cheeses and mislead consumers about environmental damage from the dairy industry." (AP)

Apparently, I gave the impression yesterday that "all the media are in thrall of environmental zealots," providing incentive for some to demonstrate the error of my ways, so, especially for Vero Beach:

"Editorial: Look before leaping; The Bush administration is right to wait for more studies on global warming" - "The Bush administration wants to study global warming more before doing anything drastic. Critics respond that there are studies enough to know catastrophe is afoot and the time to act is now. They are wrong." (The Vero Beach Press-Journal)

Book Review: "Climate change science v. the perversion of science" - "Taken By Storm is a wonderful book -- unique, powerful and long overdue in the climate change debate. With the federal government steamrolling the Canadian people on the Kyoto Accord, anybody who cares should read this book. The reader must be warned, however, that this is a book about science, and the perversion of science. It is not a flashy exposé to be finished in a single rainy afternoon. Some parts of it are downright deep." (David E. Wojick, National Post)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT December 9, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 35" - "On December 8th both The New York Times and the Los Angles Times carried major articles in their Sunday editions about the latest measurements of a shrinking area of Arctic sea ice and how global warming is to blame despite its relatively small extent. Even AOL climbed on the bandwagon on its homepage, today. What all of this coverage fails to mention is the strong likelihood that this year’s ice extent probably is not much different than that of summers earlier in the 20th century at a time before there could possibly have been much of a human contribution to the concentration of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which is cited as the driver of climate change." (GES)

"What's Happening to the Climate of the Arctic?" - "Summary: News reports nowadays are replete with stories of supposedly unprecedented warming in the Arctic, generating speculation ranging from the imminent disappearance of much of the region's permafrost to the ultimate demise of the ice that covers the Arctic Ocean. Is this the work of CO2-induced global warming or what?" (co2science.org)

"Arctic Sea Ice: Has It Thinned as Dramatically as They Say It Has?" - "Summary: As with many other climate-alarmist claims, the demise of the ice at the top of the world appears to be greatly exaggerated. Journal of Climate 15: 1691-1701." (co2science.org)

"The Warming of the Deep-Blue Sea" - "Summary: It's been going on for at least fifty years and has been heralded as strong evidence for anthropogenic-induced global warming. But is this interpretation correct? Geophysical Research Letters 29: 10.1029/2001GL014360." (co2science.org)

"Rising Temperatures, Atlantic Hurricanes, United States Forests and Carbon Sequestration: Another Negative Feedback Phenomenon That Reduces Global Warming" - "Summary: The world is a complex place, with innumerable interconnected phenomena that work to maintain the planet's temperature within limits conducive to the continued existence of life. We here describe another of these negative feedback loops that, to our knowledge, has not been identified previously." (co2science.org)

"Winter Precipitation Trends in Italy: 1960-1995" - "Summary: Were they driven by global warming? Theoretical and Applied Climatology 72: 221-229." (co2science.org)

"Precipitation (Solar Influence)" - "Summary: Could changes in solar activity be driving changes in global precipitation?" (co2science.org)

World Climate Report, Volume 8, Number 7, December 2, 2002 (GES)

"PM silent as Liberals put end to debate" - "OTTAWA - Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, did not address the House of Commons on the Kyoto Protocol yesterday, even as debate on the controversial climate-change treaty was cut off by legislative order." (National Post)

"Martin sidesteps sticky situation" - "OTTAWA - Paul Martin, the former finance minister, was conspicuously absent yesterday when the Commons voted to shut down debate over Kyoto -- a move his critics called cowardly, but one he tried to bill as strategic, or at least, diplomatic." (National Post)

"PM says passing Kyoto is 'great day'" - "OTTAWA - Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said Dec. 10 will be known as a wonderful day for Canadians because Parliament approved the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases." (CBC News)

"Canadian parliament backs Kyoto protocol" - "The Canadian House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly in support of the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The 195-77 vote was non-binding, but Prime Minister Jean Chretien had already signalled his intention to ratify the agreement by the end of the year if it was approved by parliament." (BBC News Online)

"Canadian Lawmakers Advance Climate Pact as Discord Grows" - "TORONTO, Dec. 10 — The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to ratify the Kyoto climate change protocol today, but widespread disapproval by powerful provincial governments and business groups has called into question whether the agreement will ever be fully put in place in Canada." (New York Times)

"Many European Countries Short of Climate Targets" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, December 10, 2002 - More than half of European Union member states are not on track to meet agreed greenhouse gas limitation targets. They "have to do more," EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said today as she issued the Commssion's latest annual report on EU greenhouse gas emissions." (ENS)

"Renewable energy centre unrenewed" - "The Howard Government will close its research centre on renewable energy and instead increase funding for research to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the minerals sector. Science Minister Peter McGauran yesterday withdrew funding for the Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy, while announcing funding for 12 new research centres, including $25 million for a Victorian-based centre on bushfire research." (The Age)

"Secrecy over car-rotting petrol additive" - "Damning scientific evidence about the dangers to cars, their owners and the environment from ethanol-laced petrol is in a report being withheld by the Federal Government. Blends of 20 per cent ethanol, sold in about 200 outlets in NSW, cause corrosion of fuel system components, "potentially hazardous" fuel leaks and sharp increases in some pollutant emissions, the report shows. And while ethanol-blend fuels were slightly cheaper than pure petrol, a car would travel about 7 per cent less distance on a 20 per cent blend, resulting in poorer fuel economy." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"'Politically Correct' Stem Cell Is Licensed to Biotech Concern" - "A small biotechnology company has obtained the exclusive rights to commercial applications of a new type of stem cell." (New York Times)

"Green Giant" - "Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug is credited with saving the lives of 1 billion people. So why is a small cadre of activists bent on tarnishing his legacy?" (Dallas Observer)

"Farmers hail okay of biotech corn" - "Filipino farmers have lauded the recent approval by the Arroyo government of the guidelines for the domestic propagation of a popular biotechnology-processed corn variety which promises to radically increase farm yield without harming the environment. The official approval for the commercial availability of the Bacillus Thurigiensis or Bt Corn was recently signed by Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director Blo Umpar Adiong after the government completed five years of rigid assessment of the crop variety." (The Philippine Star)

"DuPont shares significant wheat genome information" - "In a move that will significantly boost industrywide research and enhance nutritional applications of wheat and other major cereal crops, DuPont announced today it is making proprietary wheat genome data available to public and private researchers without restriction." (DuPont)

December 10, 2002

"Study links chemical to sperm damage" - "WASHINGTON - Everyday exposure to a chemical ingredient used to preserve many cosmetics and soften plastics like those used in baby toys may contribute to sperm damage in adult men, according to a study published on Monday.

In one of the first trials asserting the effects of the chemical, phthalates, on humans, Harvard University researchers found signs of correlation between exposure to the chemical and damage to the DNA of human sperm.

The study, published in the government journal Environmental Health Perspectives, does not show whether this DNA damage could cause any reproductive harm, the researchers stressed." (Reuters)

"Air pollution kills thousands each year in Holland" - "AMSTERDAM - As many as 3,000 deaths each year in the Netherlands are linked directly to fine particulate matter in the air, according to a report out Monday. The study, released by the Rijksinstituut on Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the University of Utrecht, went on to state that the effects of ambient particulate matter (PM) could rise slightly in the next several years as the population increases." (Reuters Health)

"INDIA: Animal Lovers Get Scientists' Goat" - "NEW DELHI, Dec 6 - When five men were lynched for skinning a cow at Jhajjar, a small town 50 km west of the Indian capital in October, authorities ordered a post-mortem on the animal to determine whether it had been killed for its hide or was already dead previously.

Following the incident, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, leader of the World Hindu Forum that is closely affiliated to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), declared that the life of a cow, sacred in Hinduism, was worth more than that of five 'dalits' or people belonging to the lowest rung of the Hindu caste hierarchy.

To D Raghunandan, a member of the influential Delhi Science Forum (DSF), the gruesome incident and the bizarre reaction of authorities provides one example of the right-wing, pro-Hindu BJP government's callous attitude to the safety of ordinary people while being eager to protect fundamentalist and obscurantist interests.

Another example, Raghunandan and other scientists at the DSF say, is the move by the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA), a statutory body, to halt research at some of the country's leading laboratories and scientific institutions in the name of protecting laboratory animals." (IPS)

"Global warming brings new cash crop for fishermen" - "Struggling industry finds a lifeline in the West Country as rising water temperatures allow valuable shellfish to thrive." (The Guardian)

"Will climate change temper El Niño's tantrums?" - "El Niño typically brings flooding to some parts of the world and drought to others. New research suggests El Niños have weakened since prehistoric times and could change still further in the future." (NCAR/UCAR)

"North Atlantic Oscillation part of the global picture" - "An especially cold winter in Europe, lots of snow in Scandinavia or lots of rain in the Mediterranean are all symptoms of what meteorologists call the North Atlantic Oscillation, but a group of Penn State researchers has gone beyond the symptoms to try to decipher the dynamics of this atmospheric pattern." (Penn State)

"Are wildland fires fueling the greenhouse?" - "Wildland fires are taking tons of carbon out of storage and feeding it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, a primary greenhouse gas. New computer modeling studies of the 2002 Colorado wildfires suggest local fires have a global influence on the carbon budget." (NCAR/UCAR)

"Ancient sea creatures serve as natural thermometers for climate prediction" - "Three-hundred-million-year-old fossil creatures serve as "natural thermometers" and hold clues to Earth's past and future climate, believes Texas A&M University professor Ethan Grossman, who's been studying the fossils for years. Mineral deposits in fossilized brachiopod shells allow geochemists to plot changes in sea temperatures over millions of years. These patterns of climate change serve as tests for climate models used to predict global warming." (Texas A&M University)

"In denial on warming" - "A THREE-DAY conference the Bush administration held last week to plan years' more research on climate change is part of an unstated policy to avoid serious action by indefinitely studying the problem or pretending it does not exist. An example of the latter approach was the decision in September to drop the entire chapter on greenhouse gas emissions from the air quality report filed annually by the Environmental Protection Agency." (Boston Globe editorial) | Editorial: Global warming / A praiseworthy research program (Star Tribune) | Give Us Action, Not More Study (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) ...

News flash for The Globe (et al)! No one knows whether there is any significant anthropogenic influence on global climate and it will be decades, if not centuries, before we know enough about climate forcing to develop any really useful models (always assuming that it is possible to model a coupled, non-linear, chaotic system of atmospheric proportion and complexity).

Perhaps Clyde Haberman can offer a few clues on why climate reporting is like it is: Clichés Drift Down, Nipping at Our Ears (New York Times)

"U.S. oil warns over 'burden' of kyoto; American producers join domestic firms in claiming oilpatch investment could dry up" - "CALGARY - U.S. energy companies that made heavy bets on Canada in recent years are warning their money will move elsewhere if Ottawa's ratification of the Kyoto Accord drives up costs." (Financial Post)

"Canada Planning to Cap Industry's Kyoto Costs" - "OTTAWA - The Canadian government is working on a plan to offer to cap the costs businesses would have to pay to meet targets under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, an official said on Monday. Under the plan, still being hammered out, the federal government would cap the amount industry would have to pay for cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases at C$15 ($9.60) a tonne. "Anything up to C$15, industry would pay. Anything over that, government would pay," said Kelly Morgan, spokeswoman for Environment Minister David Anderson, adding that details still could change." (Reuters)

Um... 'scuse me, but... government uses the people's money, raised through taxes, levies, whatever, yes? And businesses remain in business by charging consumers all costs plus a margin, yes? So, the people are also the consumers, meaning that, either way, consumers are picking up the full cost of Jean Chrétien's "legacy," aren't they? So Fred and Freda Canadian will pay C$15 a tonne CO2 equivalent to export their industries and jobs while crippling their cash-cow provinces. And Canadians will fall for this? In self-defence they should opt to formalise their status as the 51st State.

"The terms of Canada's participation in Kyoto" - "Parliament is on the verge of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. A vote to approve the treaty aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions likely will be held in the Commons tomorrow, and in the Senate shortly. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is acting precipitately. His determination to forge ahead, probably using closure to shut down debate, is irresponsible." (Globe and Mail)

"EU OKs Agreement on Gas Emissions Trading" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Union environment ministers agreed Monday to establish the world's largest market for trading greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to reduce global warming." (AP)

"EU greenhouse deal sets example" - "The European Union's proposed emissions trading scheme offers hope it can still meet its international obligations. Without it, there is little prospect the EU will be able to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets. The scheme's approval would also set an important example to other countries and encourage similar initiatives. But critics say it will simply allow highly-polluting members to shuffle off their responsibilities." (BBC News Online)

The silliest part of all this Kyoto kafuffle is that, even if there is cause for concern regarding enhanced greenhouse, a non-inclusive protocol like Kyoto simply ensures that jobs are exported from the developed world to the developing as energy- / emission- intensive industries relocate to regions where different rules make them competitive. And an emissions accounting sleight-of-hand is supposed to be some sort of cure? It's just as well this imaginary fix involves a phantom problem isn't it.

The Zilder's sheep are in more trouble: "New Zealand Signs Up to Kyoto Climate Change Pact" - "WELLINGTON - New Zealand ratified the Kyoto Protocol on climate change Tuesday, saying signing up to the accord will begin a transition to a sustainable-energy economy. "Climate change is a global problem and a concerted international effort is required to combat it," Prime Minister Helen Clark said at the signing. "The Kyoto Protocol is the international community's response to climate change and New Zealand is playing its part." (Reuters)

"Irrigation may produce arsenic-tainted rice in Bangladesh" - "The arsenic that has contaminated much of Bangladesh's drinking water supply is also getting into its rice, according to a new study. Irrigating rice fields with tainted well water could be jeopardizing the country's staple food, which provides more than 70 percent of the population's daily intake of calories." (ACS)

"EU Mins Set To Agree On GMO Labeling, Traceability Rules" - "BRUSSELS - European Union environment ministers are set to agree later Monday on new labeling and traceability rules for food and livestock feed derived from genetically modified organisms. The new rules would allow GMO products to be traced and labeled through the food chain, beginning with corn from plants with inserted DNA to the animals that ate the corn. The measures are designed to reassure European consumers and build upon a separate agreement reached by agriculture ministers last week on the labeling of consumer GMO products. Together, the two pieces of legislation could clear the way for E.U. countries to lift their four-year moratorium on authorizing new GMO crops by easing fears about the potential risks of GM products. A minority of E.U. countries, including France and Italy, have refused to issue new approvals until the rules are in force." (Dow Jones)

December 9, 2002

"Pollution is linked to deaths from lung cancer" - "Air pollution and not smoking may cause about 4,000 deaths from lung cancer in Britain each year, about 10 per cent of the total, an air quality expert said yesterday. Prof Roy Harrison, a member of two Government advisory committees on air pollution, said studies in the United States provided stronger evidence of what had long been suspected, that fine particles emitted by vehicles and industry caused cancer as well as shortening the lives of people with respiratory diseases." (The Daily Telegraph)

"Anti-smoking agenda 'caused air pollution problem to be obscured'" - "Governments concealed the huge threat to public health caused by air pollution in the wake of the great London smog 50 years ago, and attempted to shift all the blame on to cigarette smoking, a medical historian will allege today." (The Guardian)

"LASER TECHNOLOGY HELPS MEASURE POLLUTION FROM NYC BUSES" - "Atmospheric scientists used laser technology while riding in traffic behind New York City transit buses to find out exactly how much and what type of pollution different types of buses emit in their exhausts, and the results were surprising. The findings may help other cities determine what kinds of buses to purchase for their transit systems." (NASA/GSFC)

"Calif. Air Proposal Targets Fireplaces" - "FRESNO, Calif. -- Residents of California's agricultural heartland for years have blamed their thick layer of smog on exhaust from cars and trucks in the San Francisco Bay area. Now, air regulators are proposing a solution that hits much closer to home: a ban on traditional wood-burning fireplaces." (AP)

"S. Calif. First to Ban Cleaning Solvent" - "DIAMOND BAR, Calif. - Southern California air quality officials voted Friday to impose the nation's first ban of the most commonly used dry cleaning solvent because of health concerns. Dry cleaning businesses would have to stop using perchloroethylene, known as perc, by the year 2020. The South Coast Air Quality Management District also approved $2 million in grants to help dry cleaners switch to other chemicals." (AP)

"Mich. Weighs Lower Dioxin Standards" - "Gov. John Engler (R) is seeking to increase by more than ninefold the allowable level of the cancer-causing agent dioxin in the soil of Midland, Mich., the home of Dow Chemical. In one of his final acts as Michigan governor, John Engler (R) is trying to ease state standards for toxic dioxin pollution, a move that could relieve Dow Chemical Co. of substantial liability for future cleanup operations at the company's headquarters and along a large watershed leading into Lake Huron." (Washington Post)

"Doctors urged to look at TV's role in obesity" - "Doctors have been asked to assess the link between watching television and obesity in children and adolescents. Draft guidelines released by the Health Minister, Kay Patterson, yesterday cite research linking inactivity caused by prolonged TV viewing with being overweight. The report compiled by the National Health and Medical Research Council says that "television viewing is a highly modifiable risk factor and should be assessed". It is less conclusive about whether what young people watch plays a role in causing them to gain weight." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"WAVES IN THE ATMOSPHERE BATTER SOUTH POLE, SHRINK 2002 OZONE HOLE" - "A greater number of large "planetary sized waves" in the atmosphere that move from the lower atmosphere into the upper atmosphere were responsible for the smaller Antarctic ozone hole this fall, according to NASA researchers. The September 2002 ozone hole was half the size it was in 2000. However, scientists say that these large-scale weather patterns in the Earth's atmosphere are not an indication that the ozone layer is recovering." (NASA/GSFC)

"FACTBOX - Australia, ancient land scarred by bushfires" - "SYDNEY - Australia is an ancient land scarred by fire. The fires raging around the island continent's biggest city, Sydney, this week are as natural to the bush as are kangaroos and emus, or sun and rain." (Reuters)

"E.P.A. Is Sued Over Emissions Classification" - "Three environmental groups have gone to court in an effort to force the Bush administration to declare that auto emissions contribute to global warming. In a lawsuit filed on Thursday in Federal District Court in Washington, the groups said the Environmental Protection Agency unlawfully failed to respond to their 1999 petition seeking restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. Agency officials said yesterday that they could not comment on the suit because they had not yet reviewed it." (New York Times)

Uh-huh... "Arctic Ice Is Melting at Record Level, Scientists Say" - "SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 7 — The melting of Greenland glaciers and Arctic Ocean sea ice this past summer reached levels not seen in decades, scientists reported today. This year's summertime melt, which provides more evidence of recent quick warming in the Arctic, is in part driven by natural climate oscillations, the researchers said. But they added that human-driven changes to the environment like the destruction of ozone and the emission of carbon dioxide could well have accelerated and enlarged the effect." (New York Times)

Hasn't been like this since the 1950s but this is a new and disastrous development that might/could well... be associated with anthropogenic forcing. Right...

"Raining on the Parade" - "The November/December issue of Harvard Magazine features a cover article entitled "The Great Global Experiment." The article claims that climate models predicting increased concentrations of greenhouse gases (CO2) suggest there will be a warming and drying of the equatorial tropics and that "Brazil's rainforest could dry out and disappear" as early as the 2050s. Sounds serious. So what do we know about climatic conditions over the Amazon and Brazilian rainforests? Is this prediction from Harvard Magazine of a dried out and disappearing rainforest accurate or is it hype and exaggeration?" (Willie Soon and David Legates, TCS)

"Still Lagging on Warming" - "President Bush's Secretary of Commerce, Donald Evans, told more than 1,000 scientists, economists and other experts attending a conference on global warming last week that their task was to "jump-start" President Bush's new five-year program of research into the causes of global warming and possible responses. The secretary is just a bit behind the times. There is already an enormous body of research on the subject, perhaps 20 years' worth, nearly all of it pointing to the need to adopt exactly the kind of remedial steps that the Bush administration has so far refused to take. What needs jump-starting is not research but policy." (New York Times editorial)

What needs scrapping is precipitous action to "address" a phantom menace. If ridiculous "storylines" developed from fantasy-world computer models fed garbage diets frighten you so much then there's an easy cure - turn off the 'puter and the big, bad boogey man goes away. Get a life and worry about real-world problems first - when cures are effected for genuine ills, then, and only then, can effort be diverted for defences against the slight chance of an if/could/might/maybe one day be a problem (always provided everything possible goes wrong and no improvements ever occur and we're really unlucky besides). Wake up to the reality that the looming disaster industry is nothing more than the gravy train of self-appointer seers.

"INTERVIEW - Global warming may nurture extremism, expert says" - "BERLIN - Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions will exacerbate world poverty and could make millions of people more open to extremism, the chief of the United Nations' climate advisory body said." (Reuters)

"Prepare to be surprised by future climate changes" - "Current debate in the U.S. on climate change often focuses on whether things will really be as bad as scientists say they will be, but according to a Penn State climatologist, perhaps the question we should be asking is, are we confident that things will be as good as they are saying." (Penn State)

"A global warming Catch-22?" - "The ability of the ocean to buffer the effects of global warming may hinge upon the interactions of tiny marine organisms at various temperatures according to a marine scientist at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey." (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey)

"The Greenhouse Delusion" - Book Review - "The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of `Climate Change 2001' " by Dr Vincent Gray (New Zealand), Multi-Science Publishing, Brentwood, Essex, UK 2002" (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Canadian support for Kyoto slipping: poll" - "OTTAWA - Support for the Kyoto Protocol has dropped 12 percentage points in Canada over the past six months, and a split in opinion has developed between the East and the West, a new poll suggests." (CBC News)

"Canada and the Kyoto accord" - "I have just returned from a few days in Canada where there has been a lively national debate on whether to ratify the Kyoto Accord. It looks like Parliament will do so under the urging of Prime Minister Jean Chretien. If Russia also ratifies, this would be sufficient to activate Kyoto. Canadian consumers would then be forced to cut back their use of energy by more than 30 percent within a decade. There is no such debate in the United States where public interest is focused on other issues, like terrorism, and where the average citizen has difficulty distinguishing between Kyoto Accord and Honda Accord." (S. Fred Singer, Washington Times)

"Liberals prepare to force vote on Kyoto" - "OTTAWA - The federal government is expected to invoke closure in the House of Commons Monday night, ending MPs' debate over the Kyoto Protocol. A vote on ratification of the international agreement will probably be held Tuesday at 3 p.m., according to Liberal House leader Don Boudria." (CBC News)

"The Kyoto goal -- Is it possible?" - "Experts offer their analysis on the feasibility of Canada's effort to cut 240 megatonnes of greenhouse gases." (The Ottawa Citizen)

"EU will miss Kyoto goals without more effort - report" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union will miss its international target for cutting "greenhouse gas" emissions unless it makes more effort to tackle the pollution blamed for climate change, the European Environment Agency said." (Reuters)

"First Kyoto greenhouse deal snapped up by Slovakia" - "NEW YORK - The Kyoto Protocol on controlling global warming isn't yet a reality. But the first deal on greenhouse gases within the framework of the pact has been signed and sealed. The government of Slovakia has sold greenhouse gas emissions credits to a Japanese trading house under one of the Kyoto pact's market-based mechanisms, the broker of the deal, New York-based Evolution Markets LLC, said last week." (Reuters)

"Government bypasses doubts on road to Kyoto" - "Prime Minister Helen Clark is due to formally ratify the Kyoto Protocol on New Zealand's behalf tomorrow. It is a watershed event. Assuming Russia also ratifies as expected next year, the protocol will come into force and begin the transition from a world which runs on fossil carbon, and in which the right to emit greenhouse gases is untrammelled, to a world which relies on renewable energy sources and in which emissions will incur a cost. However, it remains a divisive issue." (New Zealand Herald)

"German power firms want emissions trade exemptions" - "FRANKFURT - German power industry association VDEW said last week it was pushing government negotiators to ensure certain opt out rights at a key EU policy meeting next week on cutting environmentally damaging emissions." (Reuters)

"Use of Renewable Energy Took a Big Fall in 2001" - "WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — Consumption of energy from renewable sources, like the sun, the wind and biological fuels, fell sharply in 2001, the Department of Energy has reported. The department attributed much of the decline to a drought that cut generation of hydroelectric power by 23 percent. Such variations are natural. But in a report last month, the department's Energy Information Administration also said solar equipment was being retired faster than new equipment was being built." (New York Times)

"Belgian lower house passes nuclear phase-out bill" - "BRUSSELS - Belgium's lower house early last week passed a controversial bill to shut down the country's seven nuclear reactors by 2025, emulating similar moves by Germany and other European countries." (Reuters)

"UK wood-chip power plant wins 2mln pound govt cash" - "LONDON - Britain awarded a prototype biomass power station in southwest England two million pounds in a drive to boost green energy and reduce polluting greenhouse gas emissions." (Reuters)

"More German CHP plants seen due to subsidy deadline" - "FRANKFURT - The German local utility of Muenster said it had decided to build a new gas and steam plant to take advantage of environmental subsidies paid if such plants are applied for by the end of first quarter 2003." (Reuters)

"Wind Turbines Are Sprouting Off Europe's Shores" - "Going offshore is the new trend, and it's huge," said Bruce Douglas of the European Wind Energy Association, an industry group based in Brussels. "The demonstration projects out at sea have been a success. Now people are going for full-scale marine wind parks. Some are close to land, some are so far you can't see them."

In the business, the talk is of a veritable rush offshore. Power companies are staking out suitable tracts of sandbanks, reefs and shallow open waters from the shores of Ireland to the Baltic Sea. They are joining with traditional offshore oil and gas companies, including giants like Shell, that have the capability to drill and rig up the 100-ton towers at sea.

Engineers say that wind parks at sea have two main advantages: the wind blows harder and more steadily than on land and there are no residents protesting against great wind parks marring the landscape." (New York Times)

"How Green Is BP?" - "Last March, Lord John Browne, the group chief executive of the British oil giant BP, gave a speech at Stanford University. Had you stumbled into the auditorium partway through, you might be forgiven for assuming the man at the podium was not an oil baron, an industrialist, an extractor of fossil fuels from the tender earth but an environmentalist of the high church calling for the abolition of hydrocarbons, the very substance that had made his company and himself so fabulously rich. His subject was global climate change -- in particular, the process by which humans, by burning oil and gas, have been slowly, perhaps irreversibly, warming the earth's atmosphere. And instead of hewing to the line of industry, instead of calling (as President Bush and the head of Exxon Mobil have) for caution and further research, he said, ''I believe the American people expect a company like BP . . . to offer answers and not excuses.'' He also said, ''Climate change is an issue which raises fundamental questions about the relationship between companies and society as a whole, and between one generation and the next.'' He even said, ''Companies composed of highly skilled and trained people can't live in denial of mounting evidence gathered by hundreds of the most reputable scientists in the world.'' (New York Times Magazine)

"Meacher asks food chief to be positive on organic produce" - "Britain's food standards watchdog has clashed with environment minister Michael Meacher after he was asked by the minister to be more positive about the benefits of organic food." (The Guardian)

"Splice of Life" - "It made page one of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Yet it had nothing to do with terrorism, Iraq, nor even "American Idol."

Instead it was a vaccine made by splicing a protein into what makes bread rise, yeast. But what's going to rise dramatically with this development are life expectancies both here and especially in parts of the world already wracked by disease. This vaccine has the potential to prevent - not just cure or treat - over a quarter million female deaths a year. Much more than that, it's a harbinger of the wonders that await us with biotech vaccines." (Michael Fumento, TCS)

"FEATURE - Scientists fret as plant-derived drugs hit crossroad" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In Kentucky, tobacco plants are turning into cancer-fighting drug factories. In Virginia, corn is being harvested to treat cystic fibrosis, and in Nebraska, researchers are hoping that fertile farm fields will yield part of a cure for AIDS.

From fields of barley in Washington State to Hawaiian sugar cane groves, U.S. scientists are cultivating agricultural advances that have nothing to do with food and everything to do with finding cheaper, faster and more effective ways to treat a range of human ailments.
The work, which involves using human or other donor DNA to modify plants to genetically produce human proteins, has been ongoing for more than a decade. But it has only recently reached the critical end stage of clinical trials and commercialization where real patients are receiving dosages of the plant-derived drugs." (Reuters)

"Editorial: Bring on biopharming" - "A policy switch will help, but it is no guarantee the industry will blossom here.

Iowa leaders, especially Senator Chuck Grassley, deserve credit for pressuring a major biotechnology association into dropping its moratorium on planting pharmaceutical or industrial corn in the Midwest.

Logic was on Iowa's side. If proper procedures are in place, there's no scientific reason Iowa should be cut out of new industries from drugs or chemicals extracted from gene-altered plants. But the voluntary ban was issued anyway in October because grain handlers, grocery manufacturers and others fear that consumers could lose confidence in food safety." (The Des Moines Register)

"ProdiGene to spend millions on bio-corn tainting" - "WASHINGTON - ProdiGene Inc. will pay a $250,000 fine, plus an estimated $2.8 million to buy and destroy contaminated soybeans, to settle federal allegations that it tainted crops with an experimental corn plant engineered to produce medicine, the company said." (Reuters)

"US calls food aid refusal a crime against humanity" - "BRUSSELS - African leaders who refuse to accept food aid due to fears of genetically modified products are committing crimes against humanity and should be put on trial, a senior U.S. official said." (Reuters)

"Intellectual property: Enhancing corporate monopoly and bioserfdom" - "Twenty years ago, the concept of intellectual property was little known or discussed outside of corporate boardrooms, government patent offices, or an exclusive circle of trade negotiators. Today, intellectual property has become a powerful tool to enhance corporate monopoly and consolidate market power. Exclusive monopoly patents are giving a steadily shrinking number of corporate "gene giants" unprecedented control over the biological basis for commercial agriculture." (Hope J. Shand, ENN)

"US to give hungry Zambia food despite GM spat" - "LUSAKA - The United States, while condemning Zambia's rejection of genetically-modified food to save its people from starvation, was reported last week to have promised the country 30,000 tonnes of unmodified grain. "I am pleased to announce that the United States has secured 15,000 tonnes of sorghum and 15,000 tonnes of wheat to help Zambia in this time of need," the government-owned Zambia Daily Mail quoted U.S. ambassador in Lusaka Martin Brennan as saying. Despite having up to three million people at risk of starvation in the region's worst food crisis in years, Zambia has refused previous gifts of genetically-modified (GM) U.S. maize, citing health concerns." (Reuters)

"Philippines approves first GMO crop - Monsanto" - "ST. LOUIS - Agriculture officials in the Philippines have approved the country's first genetically modified crop for commercial planting, a type of insect-resistant corn made by Monsanto Co., the U.S. company said." (Reuters)

December 6, 2002

"Fake Fat, Fake Fears" - "The "food police" must be at wits’ end in their crusade against the fat substitute Olestra. Frustrated in attacks on Olestra’s safety, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is leading a bizarre attack on the credibility of a science journal." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Hold the Lard! The Atkins Diet still doesn't work" - "Issue settled. The Atkins Diet—the famous high-fat, low-carb regime that lets dieters load up on pork rinds and Scrapple as long as they avoid potatoes and Wheaties—works. The American Heart Association has been wrong all along, as has essentially the entirely American medical establishment. Not only is gorging on fat the key to becoming thin, it's heart-healthy to boot. So say the headlines:" (Michael Fumento, Reason)

"The Technophobes" - "A guide to assorted Luddites, labor monopolists, muddled intellectuals and otherworldly pietists who kept resisting modernity even as it overwhelmed them. It is hard to resist technology's endless landslide, but people keep trying. Why? One discerns four possible reasons:" (Dan Seligman, Forbes.com)

"Food safety: measuring exposure" - "A European funded project currently underway will seek to facilitate the assessment of exposure to a range of food chemicals – to include food additives, pesticides and nutrients, in a bid to meet the growing need for food safety guarantees. The new technology is intended for use by regulatory authorities, industries, nutritionists and researchers. Led by Prof. Dr Michael Gibney at the Institute of European Food Studies in Dublin, Ireland, the principal remit of the project is to provide insights into all aspects related to the safety of the food supply; including exposure to, for example, pesticide residues, micronutrients and mycotoxins." (NutraIngredients.com)

"When Activists Win" - "Today data are released from PhRMA, the pharmaceutical lobby group, which show that AIDS drugs in development are in shocking decline, down by 33% over the past 5 years. What the industry is unwilling to admit is that drug activists have been successful in their campaign of demanding lower prices for AIDS drugs. The result is that in some drug company boardrooms, investment is obviously switching from AIDS research into areas where profits can still be made." (Dr. Roger Bate, TCS)

"Pesticides blown into Sierra kill frogs, suit claims - Environmental group sues California for not doing enough; state says evidence isn't conclusive" - "SACRAMENTO -- High in the most popular and the most remote areas of the Sierra Nevada, pesticides blown a hundred miles from Central Valley farms are wiping out threatened frogs that serve as sentinel or indicator species, a lawsuit alleged Wednesday." (AP)

"Arson is a crime, not a statement" - "There's no good cause for arson. Jacob Sherman mistakenly thought there was. Now the 20-year-old Portland man is headed to federal prison for up to 41 months.

The young man's prison sentence could have -- perhaps even should have -- been longer. Sherman faced 40 years in prison for his role in the 2001 arsons of logging trucks near Estacada and concrete trucks at Portland's Ross Island Sand & Gravel. In exchange for a guilty plea and his cooperation in the ongoing arson investigations, the government dropped six arson-related charges against Sherman.

This case is said to be the first time a member of the loosely organized Earth Liberation Front has been brought to justice in the West. It reinforces an important message from the criminal-justice system: Arson cannot be justified by political beliefs." (The Oregonian)

"Ve haf vays of making you green" - "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, those of us who still like to grow our own produce and enjoy the textures and flavours that our forefathers took for granted, are now beginning to learn how the Green dictatorship at the heart of Europe works. Many of the tried and trusted chemicals that we have always used to control pests and diseases are now being withdrawn. More than that: it will be illegal even to store them in our potting sheds. Why is this? Is it because they have been proved dangerous? No it is that damned precautionary principle again." (John Brignell, Number Watch)

History revision du jour: "Historic smog death toll rises" - "Officials believe that as many as 12,000 people may have died in the great London smog of 1952." (BBC News Online)

"Britain could face expulsion from EU under Prodi plan" - "Britain could be expelled from the European Union if it refuses to accept a fully-fledged European government with powers to launch military or police actions on British soil, according to a draft constitution unveiled by Brussels yesterday. The new proposals, secretly drawn up by Romano Prodi, the European Commission president, call for the total abolition of the national veto to prevent policy paralysis after the arrival of 10 new states in 2004. Utter confusion reigned in Brussels yesterday after Mr Prodi astounded his own top lieutenants by unveiling the plans alongside a separate, less radical text approved by all 20 Commissioners, including Neil Kinnock and Chris Patten." (The Daily Telegraph)

"Studies dispute ultraviolet effect on amphibian population declines" - "It has been widely believed that increased ultraviolet-B radiation, because of thinning of atmospheric ozone, was a major culprit in deforming amphibian offspring and dwindling populations. Now, two new studies cast serious doubt on that assumption; and the lead author of one says the belief could have had negative impacts on efforts to save amphibians." (University of Washington)

"Early Winter Storm Hits East Coast; 1.5 Million Lose Power in Carolinas" - "The first major snowstorm of the season — uncommon in its timing and its intensity — bullied its way up the Eastern Seaboard on Thursday." (New York Times)

Cue global warming accusations: three; two...

"Combining global environmental changes yields surprising ecosystem response" - "Scientists have discovered that elevated atmospheric CO2 (carbon dioxide) can suppress plant growth when increases of this important greenhouse gas are combined with a broad suite of already-occurring environmental changes. The traditional view that elevated CO2 always stimulates plant growth simply isn't correct. The research is published in the December 6, 2002, issue of Science." (Carnegie Institution)

"CLIMATE CHANGE: U.S. Pushes Research As U.N. Stresses What Is Known" - "WASHINGTON -- As U.S. President George W. Bush's administration today wraps up a controversial three-day meeting to plan further research on climate change, U.N. officials have been stressing what is already known about the phenomenon while largely avoiding direct criticism of U.S. policy." (UN Wire)

Hmm... things must be desperate indeed down IPCC way, when you get passages like this:

Drawing on his panel's third and most recent global climate change assessment, Pachauri said most warming over the last 50 years has been human-induced, carbon dioxide emissions in this century will be the dominant factor in climate change, and important means of mitigating climate change exist.  He also cited work by the Union of Concerned Scientists on the effects of climate change on the United States in particular, which include deadly heat waves, water shortages, endangerment of natural resources and wildlife, human health problems and economic losses.

The 3rd "report" is actually a collection of "storylines," the relative warming relies on careful selection of start & end points and is certainly less impressive than that of pre-1940 (when there was little apparent change in atmospheric CO2 levels) and there remains negligible evidence that CO2 climate forcing is of such magnitude as to be in any way threatening. Then he goes on to cite the UCS flights of fantasy? Oh dear!

"Bush's Plan on Warming Needs Work and Money, Experts Say" - "WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 — The Bush administration's proposed four-year plan to study global warming is unlikely to clear up uncertainties — and thus unlikely to lead to shifts in policy — without significant changes and new money, a variety of climate experts said today.

Their comments came at the end of a three-day meeting organized by the administration and attended by more than 1,200 scientists, economists, officials and lobbyists from the energy industry and environmental groups. A final version of the administration's plan will be released in the spring, the administration said.

The meeting was intended to provide a public forum for dissecting the 170-page draft plan, issued in November, outlining a host of new climate questions that the administration wants answered." (New York Times)

"Groups Sue Government Agency Over Global Warming" - "WASHINGTON, Dec 5 - Amid growing anger among environmentalists over the record and intentions of President George W. Bush, three major U.S. environmental groups said Thursday they are suing his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to curb global warming. The lawsuit by the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and the International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA) charges the EPA with violating the 1977 Clear Air Act by failing to limit air pollution caused by automobiles that ''may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare''. Despite growing impacts of global warming on human health and the environment, the three groups charged, the EPA has steadfastly refused to control automobile emissions, which contribute to global warming." (IPS)

"Greenhouse gas trading looks set to balloon" - "The emissions trading business - the use of trading schemes to allow countries to reduce emission of greenhouse gases at the lowest possible cost - could receive one of its most significant boosts on Monday, when European Union environment ministers are likely to agree on an EU-wide system. Another milestone should be passed today, when the Slovak Republic announces the sale of greenhouse gas emissions "allowances" to a Japanese group - the first trade of a government quota under the regime set up by the 1997 Kyoto protocol to combat climate change." (Financial Times)

"Green" credits to boost farm income-USDA official" - "WASHINGTON - "Green" credits for combating greenhouse gases or water pollution may provide a welcome boost to U.S. farm income in the future, the Agriculture Department's conservation chief said." (Reuters)

"Germany clears way for key EU global warming plan" - "BRUSSELS - Germany said this week it will back a European Union climate emissions trading scheme, paving the way for approval of a key EU policy to fight global warming." (Reuters)

"Fossil fuels for household use are viable option for world's poor" - "Contrary to conventional wisdom, the use of fossil fuels for household cooking and heating may make more environmental sense for the estimated 2 billion rural poor in the world, says a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, in an editorial in this week's Science." (University of California - Berkeley)

"UK nuclear option to be kept open" - "Britain's most senior energy policy official on Thursday hinted that the nuclear option would be kept open in the forthcoming energy white paper, despite the financial crisis at British Energy and continuing concerns over long-term waste disposal." (Financial Times)

"Bovine romaine with Ranch dressing" - "'We oppose the introduction of animal genes into plant foods," declares a pledge adopted at the 33rd World Vegetarian Congress. "When animal genes are inserted in bio-engineered foods, these plant foods are no longer truly vegetarian," argues an article in the Vegetarian Advocate.

It is easy to see how committed vegetarians, concerned as they are with animal welfare, might be worried about the effects of genetic engineering on the health and well-being of animals. But it is far from clear why vegetarians would object to inserting animal genes into plants. Ethical vegetarians want to prevent animal suffering. But genes have no feelings, no capacity to suffer, no desires of any kind. Genes are just sequences of the chemical bases adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine that provide recipes for combining amino acids to produce various proteins. Worrying about eating animal genes is akin to worrying about the ethical implications of eating a page out of a steak cookbook." (Ronald Bailey, National Post)

"Millions Served" - "While the West debates the ethics of genetically modified food, Florence Wambugu is using it to feed her country." (Forbes.com)

"U.S. Food Aid May Contain Bio-Engineered Crops" - "Three fact sheets designed to provide information to address concerns about the presence of bio-engineered crops in U.S. food aid. The U.S. Government respects the rights of countries to make their own decisions about the acceptance of food aid. Further, we are committed to providing information and technical assistance to governments who have raised concerns about bio-engineered crops in food aid." Agricultural Development and Trade Issues for Bio-Engineered Crops in U.S. Food Aid Donations | Food Safety Assessments for Bio-Engineered Crops in U.S. Food Aid Donations | Environmental Considerations for Bio-Engineered Crops in U.S. Food Aid Donations (US Dept of State)

"Veneman says stricter regulations on GM crops in the pipeline" - "US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman has indicated her department is about to get tough on the planting of GM crops designed for use in pharmaceuticals. Veneman’s words came yesterday [Wednesday] amidst calls for stricter regulations, just weeks after some half a million soybean bushels were put into quarantine after it emerged they had been cultivated on land used the previous season to grow GM corn for ProdiGene, and that some of that corn had been found in the soybeans." (just-food.com)

"GMO science network launched in EU" - "05/12/02 - A further step marking the importance of the traceability of GMOs in Europe was made yesterday when the European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin inaugurated a European network of genetically modified organism (GMO) laboratories. The new network will consist of more than 45 control laboratories located in EU Member States. The objective is to improve traceability of GMOs in the food chain and to support regulation of their use in Europe. Co-ordinated by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, the network will develop and validate methods for detecting and quantifying GMOs in food and feed." (NutraIngredients.com)

"INDIA: Public forum calls for ban on genetic engineering" - "A public forum held this week in Hyderabad, India, has demanded an outright ban on genetic engineering. Attended by farmers, scientific researchers and environmental activists from a number of South Asian countries, the forum released a declaration of its conclusions yesterday [Wednesday], reported The Hindu newspaper. The declaration stated categorically that there is no place for transgenic crops in Asia or for that matter anywhere else in the world. It praised the African continent’s “brave” refusal to accept GM crops, and said that as Europe remained strongly in opposition and Latin American countries including Argentina and Mexico recorded “a string of GE disasters”, the focus of the biotech sector had sharpened on the Indian subcontinent." (just-food.com)

December 5, 2002

"Scientific Literacy and the Sleeping Giant" - "For over three decades we have been made to fear the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. And if that wasn't fear aplenty, we were frightened by a non-existent, nationwide cancer epidemic. Indeed, a quarter-of-a-century of chaff passing for wisdom is more than enough. This century need not be saddled with the baggage of the twentieth. A modicum of reason is needed to level an inordinately uneven playing field." (Melvin A. Benarde, ACSH)

"Environment likely not to blame for Marin County breast cancer rates, scientists say" - "SAN FRANCISCO — Suspicions that something in the environment is causing Marin County's high rate of breast cancer have led to a big fund drive and public awareness campaign. But some scientists say the people, not the place, are the reason for the cancer levels.

Some community activists have pronounced well-to-do Marin County "the breast cancer capital of the world" and are worried the air or the water is to blame. But some researchers who have studied the county doubt it.

"It's not the geography; it's the demography," said Tina Clarke, an epidemiologist at the Northern California Cancer Center in Union City, which monitors cancer rates in Marin and eight other San Francisco Bay area counties. "It's the type of person living in Marin County." (AP)

"No Credible Evidence That Acrylamide In Foods Poses Human Cancer Risk" - "Scientists associated with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) find no compelling evidence that acrylamide, when consumed in foods such as French fries and bread, poses a risk of human cancer. Their conclusions are presented today in a report on acrylamide in food and its relation to human health: "Acrylamide in Food: Is It Really a Risk to Human Health?" (ACSH)

"They drive us mad with false fears about mad cows" - "It is time to call a halt to the series of unprincipled scare stories that are being peddled about BSE and new variant CJD. The latest, which comes directly from the Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Stanley Prusiner, is the most outrageous of them all. Last weekend he gave warning that people who had eaten beef or lamb in Britain were still at risk from vCJD, a disease for which there is no known cure. He called for nationwide tests to determine how many of us had been exposed to the infectious prion proteins he believes to be the cause of the disease. His latest experiments, he said, suggested that the prions might be lurking, not just in the brains and spinal columns of cattle and sheep, but in the muscles as well. “A million cattle infected with BSE entered the British food chain, so almost everyone in the country will have been exposed. . .” he said.

It would be hard to exaggerate the sheer folly and irresponsibility of this comment." (Magnus Linklater, The Times)

"Swiss want big Syngenta chemical on UN control list" - "ZURICH - The Swiss government wants a top selling chemical from Syngenta AG, the world's biggest agro-chemical maker, put on a list of products the United Nations is seeking to have tightly regulated. The substance, paraquat, is already banned in some countries and is contained in the Syngenta product Gramoxone. Paraquat is a non-selective herbicide used to kill weeds and became famous when sprayed on Latin American marijuana fields in the 1970s." (Reuters)

"Pollution call on smog anniversary" - "Environmental groups have renewed calls to reduce pollution on the 50th anniversary of London's Great Smog, which killed thousands of people. The National Society for Clean Air (NSCA) said air pollution could be killing at least twice as many people as the official estimates state." (BBC News Online) | Smog may kill 50,000 every year (Independent)

Comment du jour: "Ford getting greener; Union of Concerned Scientists ranks six largest automakers" - "The group of scientists and citizens ranked DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota on their friendliness to the environment based on smog-forming emissions and carbon dioxide emissions of their vehicles.

According to the group, the world's six largest automakers account for 93 percent of the smog-forming pollution and 92 percent of carbon dioxide pollution.

"This information has been repackaged more than Bing Crosby's greatest holiday hits," said Charles Territo, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents all of the big six automakers except Honda, as well as seven other car and truck manufacturers." (Medill News Service)

"UV radiation may not be a factor in amphibian declines" - "Two reports published in a leading science journal cast doubt on the importance of ultraviolet-b radiation (UV-B) as a factor driving amphibian population declines. Scientists with the USGS, the University of Washington, and the EPA just released their research findings in the journal Ecology." (United States Geological Survey)

"Global warming is good for you" - "The world's climate has always changed and that should not scare us. We should just be prepared." (Duncan Steel, The Guardian)

"Oil corporations must assume responsibility for the climate" - "A study commissioned by Greenpeace: "Oil Corporations and the Destruction of the Climate"

Internationally active oil corporations can be economically profitable in the long term if they now invest in protecting the climate. This is the finding made by the study "Oil Corporations and the Destruction of the Climate", Greenpeace is publishing in Hamburg today. According to it oil corporations must channel their investment into renewable sources of energy instead of continuing to support oil and gas. Greenpeace is calling for oil corporations to face up to their responsibility to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases throughout the world much in the way that the industrialised nations have done in the Kyoto agreement on climate protection. Greenpeace's study proves that in technical terms business in energy can be successful using other sources of energy, and that the oil industry can do this financially.

The study's authors are Edda Mueller (of the German Consumer Advice Centre's Federation), Joachim Nitsch (the German Centre for Air and Space Travel) and Hans-Joachim Ziesing (German Economic Research Institute) and Hans-Jochen Luhmann, the study's project leader at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.

The study can be downloaded as a pdf-file (49pp, 592KB)." (Wuppertal Institute)

"Administration Suggests Faster Pace on Emission Worries" - "WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 — Facing criticism over the pace and focus of the president's policy on global warming, Bush administration officials said today that future scientific findings could speed consideration of more aggressive actions to rein in emissions of heat-trapping gases." (New York Times)

"McLellan threatens resignation if Kyoto ratification hurts oil industry" - "OTTAWA - Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, brushing aside criticism from his Liberal colleagues on the Kyoto Protocol, said the government will vote to support ratification of the treaty on Monday. Anne McLellan, the Health Minister and the senior federal politician from Alberta, hinted she may resign from the Cabinet if the accord harms her home province." (National Post) | McLellan suggests she'll turn against Kyoto if Alberta is hurt (Globe and Mail)

"Chrétien reassures oil sector Kyoto won't harm industry" - "EDMONTON - Prime Minister Jean Chrétien told a group of Alberta oil industry players he will protect companies from harm caused by the Kyoto Protocol. The Alberta government and energy sector have been the loudest critics of Kyoto. They say the emissions reductions called for in the agreement will kill jobs, reduce investment and reduce oil revenue for the province. But Chrétien said the Kyoto reductions won't harm industry any more than the measures taken to reduce acid rain or remove lead from gasoline." (CBC News)

"Dutch raise green energy subsidy after backlash" - "AMSTERDAM - The Dutch caretaker government said yesterday it would increase subsidies for clean energy, a month after its earlier proposals triggered a storm of criticism from power firms and green groups as being too modest." (Reuters)

"GM crops get good press? Surely not" - "Everyone from religious scholars to British lords seems to have an opinion on genetically modified foods -- whether it is that they are "Frankensteinian" or that they are creations revealing the promise of biotechnology in the service of humanity. With the recent publication of a technique to genetically engineer rice and other crops to improve their yields, while also making them more tolerant to drought and temperature stresses, the fortunes of genetic technology would seem to be ever rising." (Japan Times)

December 4, 2002

"Health, wealth, free time: 'We've never had it so good'" - "Imagine a bank statement that lists your earthly wealth not only in pounds sterling but also through increased longevity, how long you work and your access to technology from antibiotics to air travel. This was the concept of economic well-being put forward by a leading economist yesterday in an effort to prove that Britons are really at least twice as wealthy as they think they are." (Independent)

"Study Suggests Mercury in Vaccine Was Not Harmful" - "A small but groundbreaking study of infants who received vaccines containing a mercury-based preservative has found that the levels of mercury in their blood were well within federal safety limits. The study, reported on Saturday in the British medical journal The Lancet, also found that infants excrete the mercury much faster than expected, suggesting that it does not build up from one vaccination to the next." (New York Times)

"Gingerbread found to contain cancer-linked chemical" - "BERLIN - A nationwide study carried out in Germany on the threat of acrylamide in fried and baked starchy foods has found gingerbread samples contained seven times the levels found in fried potatoes. Acrylamide, believed to be formed by high-temperature cooking, has been linked to cancer, neurological damage and infertility. The new findings come as part of a nationwide study being carried out in Germany by the German Consumer, Nutrition and Agriculture Ministry. It is the widest ranging yet of the presence of acrylamide in food." (Reuters Health)

"Asbestos-linked cancers show unexpected decline" - "STOCKHOLM - The incidence of asbestos-related lung cancer seems to have leveled off in Sweden, according to a report that suggests rates of the disease elsewhere in Europe could also peak sooner than expected." (Reuters Health)

"Global analysis finds nearly half the Earth is still wilderness" - "According to the most comprehensive global analysis ever conducted, wilderness areas still cover close to half the Earth's land, but contain only a tiny percentage of the world's population. The 37 wilderness areas identified represent 46 percent of the Earth's land surface, but are occupied by just 2.4 percent of the world's population, excluding urban centers." (Conservation International)

"Effects of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment on the Growth and Water Use Efficiencies of Sour Orange and Other Trees" - "Summary: The results of a multi-year experiment with sour orange trees and numerous real-world observations of several other woody species suggest that their growth rates and water-use efficiencies will be dramatically increased as the air's CO2 content continues to climb." (co2science.org)

"Regional Precipitation Trends (Asia)" - "Summary: Is real-world precipitation in Asia doing what climate models say it should?" (co2science.org)

"Three Centuries of Climate Change on Canada's Highest Mountain" - "Summary: Snow accumulation data from an important new study add to the ever-growing body of evidence that demonstrates that the "hockey stick" temperature history of the Northern Hemisphere, which is so highly-hyped by climate alarmists, is not a valid representation of the real world. Nature 420: 401-403." (co2science.org)

"High-Frequency Air Temperature Variability in the Arctic" - "Summary: What does it tell us about anthropogenic-induced global warming? International Journal of Climatology 22: 1017-1032." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated Atmospheric CO2 on Soil Microbial Organisms" - "Summary: Increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration often lead to greater plant growth, both above- and below-ground. The below-ground part of this observation suggests there might possibly be a concomitant increase in the number of soil microorganisms associated with the bigger plants. This paper tests this hypothesis. Plant and Soil 243: 197-207." (co2science.org)

"U.S. maps strategy for researching global warming, critics say it's been studied enough" - "WASHINGTON — The government mapped out a strategy for researching climate change and its causes over the next five years, studies that critics say are just a means to delay the toughest decisions on global warming until after President George W. Bush leaves office. The Bush administration strategy calls for more accurate projections of the potential economic impacts of climate policy changes and gives the White House more control over the research efforts of more than a dozen federal agencies." (Associated Press)

"U.S. Climate Change Strategy Up for Public Comment" - "WASHINGTON, DC, December 3, 2002 - A new U.S. climate change research strategy that U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans terms "aggressive" is the focus of a three day workshop that opened today in Washington. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program has welcomed more than 1,100 experts from across the country and around the world to receive comments on a discussion draft version of its "Strategic Plan" for climate change and global change studies." (ENS)

"Group Meets on Global Warming; Bush Officials Say Uncertainties Remain on Cause, Effects" - "The Bush administration acknowledges that global warming poses serious problems, but senior officials speaking at a climate-change policy conference yesterday said numerous uncertainties remain about global warming's cause and effects. They urged caution in committing the country to long-term solutions that might hurt the economy." (Washington Post)

"Oilpatch skeptical on Petro-Can; Paul Martin suggests Ottawa could sell stake to meet Kyoto targets" - "CALGARY - Oilpatch analysts expressed skepticism yesterday at the suggestion by Paul Martin that the federal government fund clean-air initiatives to help meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol by selling its 18% stake in Petro-Canada. Mr. Martin, the frontrunner to replace Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, as Liberal leader, told the House of Commons the estimated $1.5-billion profit it would reap from the sale could be used to help develop new technology." (Financial Post)

"Canada plans Kyoto ratification vote as soon as Monday" - "TORONTO — Canada's Parliament will vote next week on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, concluding months of rancorous debate that has divided the nation along economic and geographic lines. Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Tuesday that the House of Commons chamber will decide the issue as soon as Monday. His governing Liberal Party holds 169 of the 301 seats, and he has demanded support from his caucus on what is considered a legacy issue for the outgoing prime minister." (Associated Press)

"McLellan sets pre-conditions for Kyoto support" - "OTTAWA - Anne McLellan, the minister of health and the senior minister for Alberta, says she will support her government's resolution to ratify the Kyoto accord." (CBC News)

"Link between energy and climate change focus of latest UN lecture" - "3 December – The link between energy and climate change was the focus of a discussion today by noted experts at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the third in a series of talks hosted by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on issues outside the normal range of UN topics and on matters at the forefront of both the humanities and natural sciences." (UN News)

"Climate change will affect carbon sequestration in oceans, scientists say" - "The direct injection of unwanted carbon dioxide deep into the ocean is one suggested strategy to help control rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and mitigate the effects of global warming. But, like the problems associated with the long-term storage of nuclear waste, finding a safe place to sequester the carbon may be more difficult than scientists first anticipated." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Kyoto is Still Far" - "PARIS, Dec 3 - France has made considerable progress in reduction of greenhouse gases, but will still fail to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol if it does not intensify efforts to reduce emissions, according to an official report published last week. The report produced by the Interministerial Commission on Greenhouse Effects (MIES, after its French name), says that by present trends France will exceed the limits on carbon dioxide emissions fixed under the Kyoto Protocol by 10 per cent." (IPS)

Hmm... and a large percentage of France's electricity is nuke-generated too.

"Appeals Court To Hear Arguments On Mountaintop Removal" - "NEW YORK - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., is scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday on a contentious ruling by a West Virginia judge forbidding the filling of streams with debris from surface mines. The coal industry wants the appeals court to overturn a ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Haden II that blocks so-called valley fills that aren't part of post-mining development plans." (Dow Jones)

"Concerns To Grow With Energy Demand, Says IEA Projection" - "HOUSTON - International energy resources are adequate to meet projected demand over the next three decades but serious concerns will grow with demand, according to a recent survey. Fossil fuels will remain dominant until at least 2030, but inexorable growth in energy use will raise questions about security of energy supply, investment in energy infrastructure and environmental damage, according to the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook 2002." (Dow Jones)

"Drought causes Scandinavian electricity squeeze" - "HELSINKI - A freak drought that has lasted since the summer has left Scandinavians facing soaring electricity bills and possible power shortfalls. Electricity prices across the integrated Nordic grid have surged to all-time highs this autumn as reservoir water levels in a region heavily dependent on hydro-electric power have sunk to 10-year lows." (Reuters)

"Power struggle" - "Will Tony Blair feed our nuclear habit or invest in clean energy? Tony Juniper says it's decision time for the government." (The Guardian)

"Scotland 'used as windfarm for south'" - "THE Scottish Parliament was urged yesterday to stop the country being used as a “windfarm for England”. Residents from Skye and Moray told Holyrood’s Public Petitions Committee that a proliferation of windfarms was being driven by nationally imposed targets and the commercial interests of developers. They claimed local planning authorities were “unwilling or unable” to assess the wider impact of approving individual windfarms, and called for a moratorium until a national strategy was developed by the Scottish Executive." (The Times)

"Seeds sown to ease climate change" - "In suburban Washington, a grain silo towers over the landscape. It's filled with corn that residents use to heat homes in their fight against global warming." (St. Petersburg Times)

"Let’s Take the False Labels Off Dairy Products" - "With the prevailing emphasis on truth in advertising and consumer rights, why isn’t the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banning the false and misleading labels and advertising of the organic milk and dairy products in our retail stores?" (Dennis T. Avery, CGFI)

"World Population Headed for 9.2 Billion by 2050" - "NEW YORK, New York, December 3, 2002 - Global population is projected to increase from 6.28 billion today to 9.2 billion by 2050, according to "The State of World Population 2002" a report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released today. The least developed countries have the highest fertility and population growth, and their populations are expected to triple in the next 50 years, from 600 million to 1.8 billion, the UN agency predicts." (ENS)

"Mass starvation in Africa looms, but political will can stop it, Security Council told" - "3 December – Some 38 million Africans are at risk from an unprecedented hunger crisis on the continent, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today, stressing that adequate political will and resources can stem the tide of famine." (UN News)

"Advocates for Animals Turn Attention to Chickens" - "The animal welfare movement has a new target: farmers who raise millions of chickens, cows and pigs in closed, confined areas." (New York Times)

"Biotech companies change self-imposed moratorium" - "WASHINGTON -- Biotechnology companies are softening a self-imposed moratorium on growing pharmaceutical crops in major corn-growing states after Iowa lawmakers complained that the policy unfairly discriminated against their state." (AP)

"Cotton could make corn pests Bt resistant" - "Moths in the United States are feeding on corn all summer before flying south to munch cotton in the autumn, new research shows. The annual exodus could stymie efforts to stem pests' resistance to genetically modified crops." (NSU)

"PAKISTAN: Petition Highlights Concerns About GE Food Imports" - "ISLAMABAD, Dec 3 - In the first ever case of the sort in Pakistan's legal history, food rights groups have sought a court order to stay the import and sale of genetically engineered (GE) food in the country -- soybeans from the United States. In a petition before the Lahore High Court, the highest court in the Punjab province, the rights groups -- the Islamabad-based the Network for Consumer Protection and the Sungi Development Foundation -- maintain that the imported soybeans may have hazardous affects on human health and the environment. Most soybean in the country is consumed in the form of poultry feed, purchased by the manufacturing industries -- indirectly making the product part of people's diet." (IPS)

December 3, 2002

"Keeping Momentum on the Energy Bill" - "Following nearly a year of heated debate over polar bears, caribou and S.U.V.'s, a divided Congress decided to put its energy bill on hold late last month. It did so even after such politically charged issues as oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and increases in automobile mileage standards were taken off the table. Now that Republicans will control the new Congress, what will they do about energy, and how will the Democrats respond?

If Senator Pete V. Domenici, the Republican from New Mexico who will take over as Energy Committee chairman, decides to load up a new energy bill with these same contentious issues, the Democrats will resist, as they did this year. But if he has the foresight to reintroduce the compromise bill reached by the last Congress, Democrats should put their objections aside and support it.

Why? Because this bill will help the economy and boost solid, environmentally sound energy policies.

... We all know that renewable energy resources are mostly pollution-free. But this isn't their only virtue. They are by definition domestically based, and for this reason contribute to our energy security. They provide fuel diversity and price stability. After all, the fuel — the wind, the sun, heat from the core of the earth — costs nothing. And they provide jobs. In fact, according to a study released last summer by the California Public Interest Research Group, renewable energy plants create four times the number of jobs — in construction, operation and maintenance — as traditional plants." (Bob Kerrey, New York Times)

Hmm... pollution free? Moot point, in fact, the environmental costs can be considerable. Energy security? Nope, if the sun don't shine or the wind don't blow, ya got nuthin'! Even geothermal has fairly severe limitations on the amount of extractable energy in a given timeframe (and has a nasty habit of relying on impressive water supplies, usually eventually vented to atmosphere as that most prolific and potent greenhouse gas, water vapour). And what about all these jobs supposedly created, four times as many as conventional energy sources eh? So, either these sources are even more prohibitively expensive due to huge labour costs or, to be even marginally competitive, they're offering garbage jobs and paying pitiful wages. Either way, how is this supposed to boost the economy, by sucking huge energy costs out of it or by absorbing large numbers of people into dead-end, low-wage jobs? Seems to me, those that arrive at these starry-eyed images of expensive, unreliable energy supplies being good for people and economies are arithmetically severely challenged.

"The Cost of Wind Power" - "Wind turbines, tens of thousands of them, are being installed on exposed hilltops, passes, and coastlines all over the world - all in a costly effort to indulge the fantasies of environmental lobbies. The deficiencies of wind power are now all too clear. Without massive government subsidies, they would never be built, such is their inherent energy inefficiency. No wind, no power - no society can run on such an unreliable and inefficient source." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Nuclear, Free!" - "At 4 A.M. on March 28, 1979, the Three Mile Island (TMI) Unit 2 nuclear power plant malfunctioned. The reactor suffered a partial meltdown, but it could not compare to the one suffered by news media, anti-nuclear activists and public opinion. It should be easier now, after more than two decades, to gauge the impact of the TMI accident. Was there a measurable public health impact? Did it lead to an epidemic of early deaths from radiation-induced cancers?" (Howard Fienberg, TCS)

"The Fear Factor Meets Its Match" - "CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In this world of new occupations, David Ropeik, a former television reporter, is the director of risk communication at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. As a professional "risk communicator" for a research group, Mr. Ropeik writes essays, books and opinion articles about reasons for people's fears, using the tools of statistics, psychology and evolutionary biology." (New York Times)

"GE sues CTI Molecular Imaging over secrets; Three individuals also named" - "Knoxville-based CTI Molecular Imaging, a member of its senior management team and two others have been sued by General Electric for allegedly stealing trade secrets and other proprietary information concerning GE's PET imaging business.

In response to one GE's of complaints, a Kansas judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing former GE employee Lawrence Kessler from attending this week's Radiological Society of North America conference, a top annual trade show both CTI and GE plan to attend." (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

"Fossilized clues to global warming?; Researcher examines plants from period of mass extinction" - "CHICAGO, Dec. 2 — Jennifer McElwain will spend the next year chipping her way through more than a ton of sediment and plant fossils at the Field Museum, hoping to find rock-solid evidence of global warming’s ecological toll. McElwain, a paleobotanist at the natural history museum, led a team of scientists who collected more than 1,000 fossils during a one-month expedition to Greenland funded by the National Geographic Society." (AP)

"Can Global Warming Be Studied Too Much?" - "WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 — On Tuesday, the Bush administration convenes a three-day meeting here to set its new agenda for research on climate change. But many climate experts who will attend say talking about more research will simply delay decisions that need to be made now to avert serious harm from global warming." (New York Times)

"Martin slams government's plan for Kyoto" - "MONTREAL and OTTAWA -- Paul Martin attacked the Chrétien government's plan for putting the Kyoto Protocol into effect yesterday, even as he committed himself to voting for ratification of the accord and to reaching its pollution-reduction targets.

Mr. Martin said money should be spent on improving green technology, rather than on buying emissions credits from foreign countries, as Ottawa has proposed be done if necessary to meet the emissions-reduction targets.

"I don't think it's going to help the environment one bit for anybody to buy hot-air credits from Russia, credits which arose because of a failed economy, and not because they put money into new projects," Mr. Martin said in a speech during a convention of the Liberal Party's Quebec wing." (Globe and Mail)

"Auto parts firm slams Kyoto; CEO sees investment decrease in sector as Canada's competitive standing eroded" - "TORONTO -- Al Power, president of auto parts maker Decoma International Inc., has added his voice to those criticizing Ottawa's decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol -- one of the first chief executive officers outside the oil patch to take a strong public stand on the issue. The key issue for auto parts makers and the auto industry is the potential damage that could be done to investment here if Canada ratifies the accord, Mr. Power said in an interview." (Globe and Mail)

"UK Energy Majors Ask Government To Charge For Carbon Emissions" - "LONDON - U.K. energy majors such as National Grid Transco PLC and BP , Monday asked the government to impose a price, or tax, on the emission of carbon dioxide when it publishes its new energy policy in February. The companies, represented by U.K. Business Council for Sustainable Energy, or UKbcse, held a meeting with government officials to formally ask for changes in energy policy. UKbcse said that it wants a carbon tax because it will bring money to companies emitting less carbon dioxide and will force high emitters to pay. It also wants the government to make the transport sector bear more responsibility for cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The group made a general request for the government to say clearly how it intends to reach its goals for cutting carbon dioxide emissions." (Dow Jones)

This sort of activity generally confuses the populace until it's pointed out that no energy company, or transport firm or anyone but the consumer ever actually pays the bill for these measures. So what are they doing? Trying to steal market share at your expense actually, because they figure their energy mix can give them a competitive advantage, if, and only if, governments enact legislation to channel your money into their pockets.

"Robert Redford urges a different kind of patriotism" - "The actor and director Robert Redford has accused President Bush of pursuing a "dangerous and self-defeating" path in the Middle East and asserted that true American patriotism lies in reducing the country's dependence on oil." (The Guardian)

"Flying High" - "According to the BBC (29 Nov), an `independent UK environment advisory group' says the contribution of aircraft to climate change is `deeply worrying'. (Since when are environmental bodies `independent'?). That aside, this report comes from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, who warns that civil aircraft are likely to contribute to 6-10% of `climate change' by 2050.

And their solution? They say the British government should restrain airport expansion plans, restrict the use of air freight to strictly high-value or perishable goods, and - wait for it - increase air ticket prices by imposing `climate protection charges' for aircraft taking off and landing within Europe, and pressing for them to be adopted elsewhere (presumably by those countries foolish enough to sign onto Kyoto)." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Senator Jeffords blasts Bush on environment" - "WASHINGTON - The chairman of the Senate environment panel criticized President Bush for moving backward on the environment, saying he is putting special interests above clean air, clean water and public health.

Vermont independent Sen. James Jeffords, who will give up the gavel of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee when Republicans take over the Senate in January, said Bush is rolling back protections for clean air and water, cutting Superfund site cleanups and clearing new oil and gas drilling on national lands." (Reuters)

So, tell us James, in hindsight, was it worth it?

"Cleaner air by increments" - "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a few new air pollution rules under its New Source Review (NSR) program. While the announcement set off a firestorm of criticism, concerned parties would be wise to take a deep breath, since those changes are more likely to result in air that becomes cleaner by increments than in anyone's lungs being filled with anything particularly sulfurous or particulate-laden anytime soon." (Washington Times)

"Ice core from Greenland reveals 250-year record of lead pollution" - "LOS ANGELES - A new study suggests the ebb and flow of North American industry since the dawn of the Industrial Age can be tracked through lead traces found in a 135-meter (450-foot) ice core drilled in Greenland three years ago. The core contains a high-resolution record of how much lead settled from the atmosphere onto Greenland between 1750 and 1998. The study says the source of the lead appears to have been factories in the United States and Canada." (AP)

"Appeal renewed for famine relief" - "The nation's major international relief groups will begin a campaign today to alert Americans of what is being called the worst scourge of starvation in Africa since an Ethiopian famine pulled public heartstrings in the mid-1980s." (Washington Times)

"Food Aid Deal Collapses" - "A deal for the government to swap organic maize for genetically modified (GM) grain to feed close to seven million Zimbabweans facing starvation has virtually collapsed because Harare has insufficient maize stocks, jeopardising future food aid, the Financial Gazette established this week. The agreement, signed two months ago between the government and the United States of America, was supposed to result in Zimbabwe swapping naturally grown maize for genetically altered grain from the United States." (Financial Gazette (Harare))

"Commission seeks consensus on GM labels" - "Denmark and the European Commission will push environment ministers to agree new rules on genetically modified organisms this month, building on a separate deal reached by agriculture ministers last week. Both measures, setting out rules for labelling, have become sensitive as a minority of states has denied EU authorisation for new GM products for the past four years. The effective moratorium has stoked tensions with the US." (Financial Times)

"New US-EU trade war looms" - "The United States is considering a fresh trade war with Europe over the issue of genetically modified (GM) foods. The move would increase tension with Europe at a delicate time for the world trade talks, which were launched one year ago. US trade officials are urging the Bush administration to begin proceedings against the EU in the World Trade Organisation for blocking imports of GM food." (BBC News Online)

"China says unaware of GMO soy deal with Brazil" - "BEIJING - China's agriculture ministry said yesterday it was unaware of any deals with Brazil to keep soybeans flowing from the South American country after temporary measures that have kept up trade expire later this month." (Reuters)

December 2, 2002

"Study Looks at Mercury-Tainted Fish" - "Two studies have yielded contradictory findings about the possible heart dangers of eating mercury-laden fish. Plenty of research shows that mercury accumulated from fish can harm the developing brain of a fetus or child. Far less is known about how the toxic, widespread pollutant affects the heart. Two studies in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine on the long-term effects of mercury exposure on the hearts of middle-aged and elderly men had opposite findings." (Associated Press)

"Stress link to chronic fatigue" - "A hormone imbalance may cause chronic fatigue syndrome, a study suggests.

The study is published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine." (BBC News Online)

"True threat of human BSE may be hidden" - "Results from experiments suggest that the incidence of "human BSE" in Britain could be significantly greater than thought, a leading scientific team says in a report published today. Since 1990 there have been 588 cases of "sporadic" CJD in Britain, compared with only 117 cases of the variant CJD that is usually linked with mad cow disease. The National CJD Surveillance Unit is considering re-evaluating these sporadic cases to see if they too are caused by BSE. The new work also raises the disturbing - though speculative - possibility that there are other types of human BSE, where people may show unexpected patterns of symptoms, whether depression or abnormal behaviour." (The Daily Telegraph)

"Call for national CJD tests" - "A Nobel Prize-winning scientist has reportedly said all Britons should be tested for variant CJD. Professor Stan Prusiner, who discovered the cause of mad cow disease (BSE), said the government should also be testing livestock. Speaking on a visit to Britain from his native US, he claimed thousands of infected cows and sheep were still entering the human food chain." (BBC News Online)

"vCJD screening may be years away, warns scientist" - "Reliable tests for the human form of BSE, variant CJD, might not be available for three to five years despite earlier hopes they could be used to screen blood donations in a few months.

Translating promising laboratory research into cost effective monitoring for the fatal condition is proving difficult to the frustration of public health officials. Signs of delay in introducing tests came as Stanley Prusiner, world expert on the disease in animals and humans, said: "Every Briton should be tested so that if they are developing the disease it can be spotted before symptoms appear." (The Guardian)

"Bad medicine" - "Homeopathy is based on a 300-year-old mistake and magnetic therapy is simply fraudulent. As for oxygen-fortified drinks ... Christopher Wanjek debunks some popular medical myths." (The Guardian)

"Ethically unemployed; Corporate social irresponsibility" - "HOW little the dangerous fashion for corporate social responsibility has to do with a truly responsible attitude by businesses is aptly shown by Reebok International. This American sports-goods supplier claims to have pioneered good corporate practice. Doug Cahn, the company's head of human rights, talks about values, fairness and principles, with all the zeal of an anti-corporate lobbyist. He presents the news that Reebok has just decided to withdraw business from a subcontracted factory in Thailand as a proof of corporate caring. The reason: the 400 or so workers employed there to make shorts and shirts were working for more than 72 hours a week. It is responsible to press for better standards, but the supply of good jobs matters too." (The Economist)

"A bad package" - "2002 has been designated the International Year of Eco-tourism by the United Nations, with a host of conferences and consultation processes culminating in the World Eco-tourism Summit in Quebec in October. But why an Eco-tourism Summit? There has never been a Package Holiday Summit or a Sun, Sea and Sand Symposium. Maybe there should be - after all, package holidays are far more widespread than the small (if growing) niche of eco-tourism." (Jim Butcher, sp!ked)

"Trading might save nature; Economists encourage conservationists to buy biodiversity" - "Want wildlife? Then pay for it, say two US economists. Schemes to maintain biodiversity by funding economic development have failed on both fronts, they contend. Others are concerned that nature is not ours to trade.

In developing countries, conservation cash often comes as subsidies for ecotourism, green agriculture, education or irrigation. The hope is that economic growth will benefit nature, and that conservation will eventually become self-financing." (NSU)

"Endangered Fly Stalls Some California Projects" - "FONTANA, Calif., Nov. 26 — The Delhi Sands fly spends its two days of life sipping nectar and mating in the local sand dunes. This brief frolic has given rise to a bitter dispute, however, for the pollinating fly is on the federal endangered species list and the region, known as the Inland Empire, is growing as fast as any in the nation." (New York Times)

"Saved, or Ruined, by 'White Gold'; Corruption-Plagued Dam Project Is Also Lifeline for Lesotho" - "KATSE, Lesotho -- The Lesotho Highlands Water Project has throttled wild rivers and drowned verdant valleys. Its concrete megadams have flooded out thatched huts, subsistence farms and grazing lands here in the impoverished mountain region known as the Roof of Africa. And now the project is embroiled in one of the biggest corruption scandals in the checkered history of African development.

"People love to attack big dams, but water is Lesotho's only natural resource," said Malefetsane Lepele, the general manager of the project's environmental and social services group. "It's cash. It's business. This project is the only way to keep this country alive." (Washington Post)

"Environmental watchdog calls for £40 tax on flights" - "They may be cheap, cheerful and convenient. But budget flights to short-haul destinations will leave a catastrophic environmental legacy, according to scientists who yesterday slammed the government for indulging Britain's passion for air travel. The royal commission on environmental pollution told the transport secretary, Alistair Darling, that his expansion policy was "deeply flawed". A scathing report said ministers showed "little sign of having recognised" the atmospheric havoc wreaked by aircraft. It advocated a freeze on airport expansion, together with a tax of between £40 and £100 on every ticket, which would double the price of many journeys. Sir Tom Blundell, the commission's chairman, said: "We believe we should restrict airport development, rather than just expand in response to demand." (The Guardian)

"Attention to climate change key to managing natural disasters, Annan says" - "Attention to climate change is key to mitigating the impact of natural disasters, which last year caused an estimated $56 billion in damages globally, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message to a two-day meeting on flood management which opened today in Budapest. “The reasons for enormous disasters are never one dimensional, nor even purely 'natural,'” said Mr. Annan, placing blame on poor land use, deforestation and the destruction of wetlands." (UN News)

"Ice core evidence of global warming in west Canada" - "LONDON - An ice core drilled out of a mountain shows climate change has been occurring in western Canada for the past 150 years, scientists said." (Reuters) | University of Toronto study reveals climate change in western Canada (University of Toronto)

Um... there's never been any doubt that the world is recovering from the Little Ice Age but this does nothing beyond noting the same without indicating any human involvement.

"The arctic perennial sea ice could be gone by end of the century" - "A NASA study finds that perennial sea ice in the Arctic is melting faster than previously thought--at a rate of 9 percent per decade. If these melting rates continue for a few more decades, the perennial sea ice will likely disappear entirely within this century, due to rising temperatures and interactions between ice, ocean and the atmosphere that accelerate the melting process." (NASA/GSFC)

Still wringing hands: "Shrinking Glaciers" - "Every so often a report comes out of a remote part of the world that is so shocking it makes us sit bolt upright and start thinking hard about global warming. Now it is news from the Bolivian Andes, where glaciers more than three miles above sea level are retreating with alarming speed, creating the threat of potentially disastrous water shortages." (New York Times editorial)

"A Better Way" - "WASHINGTON - Addressing the potential threat of climate change requires a different approach from the one chosen by policymakers in the European Union.

Our allies in the EU are moving toward implementation of the Kyoto Protocol at great peril to their economies. For example, a recent analysis by the well-respected climate policy modelers at DRI-WEFA, an econometric forecasting firm with offices around the globe, concludes that complying with Kyoto will reduce German GDP by 2.8 percent in 2010 and cut employment by 1 million jobs." (Margo Thorning, TCS)

"Nothing must harm oil sands plans-Canada minister" - "OTTAWA - A senior Canadian minister added to the turmoil inside Ottawa over the Kyoto climate change protocol this week by saying nothing should be done to harm projects to extract synthetic crude from oil sands, which critics say would escalate carbon dioxide emissions." (Reuters)

"Chretien Vows to Stop Talking and Ratify Kyoto" - "OTTAWA, Nov 28 - Canada will ratify Kyoto by mid-December, despite the powerful regional and financial opposition lining up against the accord. Prime minister Jean Chretien, whose party has majority control of Canada's parliament, says he has talked enough with provincial leaders and industry executives. "We have had dozens and dozens of meetings with officials and ministers,'' said Chretien, ''and it was always postponement, postponement and postponement. The time has come," he told the House of Commons this week." (IPS)

"Hard Science" - "In 1897, at the behest of a crank mathematician, the Indiana House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill proclaiming that the value of pi was 9.2376 rather than the true value of 3.14159. In the face-off between man's laws and nature's laws, nature won. Pi's true value, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, remained unchanged.

Surely, more than 100 years later we are much too sophisticated to believe that man's laws can override physical laws. Then again, maybe not!

In 1996, the Clinton administration signed the Kyoto Protocol to prevent global warming. Although the catastrophic global warming hypothesis is far from being an established fact, it isn't out of the realm of possibility so one may forgive hand-wringing over the fear, however unfounded, of being burned to a crisp.

The point at which advocates of global warming policies cross the line from the realm of the possible to pure science fiction is when they claim that implementing such policies would be nearly painless or even beneficial. They also claim that the technologies necessary to comply with Kyoto are already available and awaiting deployment." (Paul Georgia, TCS)

"Understanding Petroleum" - "Two questions nag America's energy policy. First, when will America move from fossil fuels? Second, what is the next source of BTUs?

No one knows the answers - but knowledgeable people agree the shift won't come soon. Aside from temporary shortages caused by political disruptions, the world is awash in cheap oil and will be for a long time. Supplies of coal are even cheaper and far more abundant. " (Pete Geddes, TCS)

"‘Misinformation’ damaging for the irradiation industry" - "Countering negative, misinformation campaigns with repetitive messages focusing on the positive is one way to improve consumers' willingness to buy irradiated foods which benefit their health and safety, according to a series of studies described in this month's issue of Food Technology magazine, the Institute of Food Technologists publication. The November article, "Influences on Purchase of Irradiated Foods," reveals that equal amounts of promotion and criticism of the irradiation of food result in unequal buying decisions by consumers." (FoodProductionDaily.com)

"UK food tops chemicals league" - "More chemicals are used to grow food in Britain than in any other major industrialised country, according to a new report. A review of British environmental performance by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggests that the amount of pesticides and fertilizers used per acre of farmland is greater than in any other country.

The report shows that Britain uses 0.58 tons of pesticides for every square kilometre of land, more than twice the OECD average and nearly three times as much as in the US ­ though Japan and Italy use more and France about the same." (Independent on Sunday)

Rough conversion, that's ~5.25lb/acre pesticide use by the Brits & French, with Japan & Italy using more. Sounds like a really good case for biotech-enhanced crops, doesn't it?

"Gardens 'greater threat than GM'" - "The leader of the UK's scientific establishment says genetically modified (GM) crops are a lesser threat to biodiversity than some imported garden plants. He says some "fundamentalist" lobby groups opposing GM crops dismiss scientific facts as irrelevant." (BBC News Online)

"US policy on aid is 'wicked' - Meacher" - "Forcing starving countries to accept genetically modified (GM) food in aid is "wicked", Michael Meacher, the environment minister, said late last week. He called for "anger to be harnessed" against the policy, which is being vigorously pushed by the United States government." (Independent on Sunday)

Yeah! How dare you 'muricans give starving people food from your domestic supply? Obviously some kind of fiendish plot but Mike Meacher's got you all worked out! Better people should starve than allow you 'muricans to give them food from your own tables, that's for sure... Just because the US doesn't distinguish and segregate biotech-enhanced grain into a separate supply is no reason for you not to pick out all them unnatural seeds from real food before giving it away!

The Greens, Naturists and so-called Environmentalists obviously have much to answer for and, given Meacher's waffling about enhanced-greenhouse climate forcing (the much hyped, populist-perceived "global warming"), it's hardly surprising he should espouse such an absurd and misanthropic position. Sadly, the fool is in a position to cause/prolong untold human suffering.

"Modified crop breeds toxic hybrid" - "Crosses between genetically modified oilseed rape and a wild relative produce hybrid plants that are as toxic to insects as the original crop. The finding, from lab experiments in America, will fuel fears that "superweeds" containing foreign genes might spread rapidly." (New Scientist)

"Review of GM strategy will ignore field trials" - "A new government-funded review of the safety and usefulness of genetically modified crops will ignore the results of Britain's GM field trials, carried out over years at great cost in money, trouble and protest. The review, to be completed next summer, will be critical to the government's decision over whether to allow the growing of GM crops in Britain. But the only scientific study carried out of what actually happens when GM crops are grown in Britain - the field trials, also due to finish next summer - will not form part of it." (The Guardian)

"GM could be good for you" - "The government has launched a national debate on GM, but there is a risk it will be hijacked by fundamentalist lobby groups. This could prevent scientists, policy-makers and the public from properly assessing the potential threat of genetically modified crops to our countryside, ahead of a decision next year about whether to grow them on a commercial scale in the UK." (Robert May, The Guardian)

"New GM thresholds in EU worry Canadian exporters" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Canadian shippers will find it difficult to meet new tolerance levels proposed for genetically modified (GM) grain in the European Union, industry sources said." (Reuters)

"Nothing to Fear" - "Acceptance of genetically-modified foods - in theory, at least - continues to grow among Europe's political leaders, but the mixed messages sent by the European Commission and EU member states will make public support more difficult to encourage." (Craig Winneker, TCS)